Is Vaping CBD Safe? Our Experts Weigh In
First, there was CBD oil. Then, it came in fancy flavors like mint chocolate and lemon. Next, there were CBD truffles and lattes, and not long after, body oils, face serums, and sore muscle balms hit the market. Now, we're seeing CBD vape pens left and right.
In theory, vape pens are a great way to use CBD. They're convenient, fast—because you get the benefits of the CBD just as fast as you would if you were smoking it—and as vape pen enthusiasts will tell you, a healthier alternative to smoking because it's free of tar and carcinogens. That said, the CDC currently does not recommend the use of vaping products of any kind.
So is vaping CBD unsafe? With all the different ways to take CBD, is this really the best choice? I tracked down five CBD-savvy health experts to see what they had to say.
1. There are no long-term studies—and anyone with lung issues should avoid it.
"The biggest benefit of vaping CBD is it has a quick onset of action, within 5 to 10 minutes. You can also titrate the dose very effectively when vaping, which can be tougher with a sublingual or oral application. If you are going to vape, the best ones are products where ethanol or CO2 is used as the solvent to extract the CBD. There are some potential drawbacks. There are no long-term safety studies on vaporization, so the long-term effects are still unknown. And anyone who has lung issues, such as asthma or COPD should absolutely avoid vaping as it can exacerbate those issues." —Jon Mitchell, PA-C, certified physician assistant and functional medicine health consultant
2. It's important to be a discerning shopper.
"The quality of hemp and CBD products is the most important aspect of safety and effectiveness in any type of delivery, especially vaping because of the direct contact to the throat and lungs. If you're going to use it, look for a product that is made from the whole plant, which provides full-spectrum cannabinoids as opposed to CBD isolate, which doesn't have as much benefit and can be difficult to trace the source and safety. Choose products made by CO2 extraction because that's the cleanest processing method for vaping cartridges and does not produce added chemicals. The great part about today's hemp industry is that there are many choices. Be a discerning shopper and choose products that come from a clean, full-spectrum source with CO2 extraction and are tested for potency and toxins like heavy metals and pesticides. For daily and long-term use, I prefer extracts formulated for sublingual delivery to avoid the unnecessary potential of burden on the lungs. However, for patients who are using hemp for pain management, a vape pen is the fastest delivery method and fastest way to stop the pain. Pairing limited vaping followed by sublingual delivery is a great strategy for those who have concerns about lung health." —Sara DeFranceso, N.D., naturopathic doctor, licensed acupuncturist, and founder of Thriving Force
3. Vape pens may contain unwanted chemicals.
"I'm a fan of CBD in general, but since it's not regulated at all, the quality and purity of CBD oil varies widely. You really want to make sure that you are getting a third-party tested product that is grown organically from a reputable company. Do your research. I am not a fan of vape pens but prefer CBD oral drops and capsules. The cartridges used in vape pens may contain chemicals such as polyethylene glycol and propylene glycol, which can be irritants and may cause allergic reactions when inhaled. When the batteries in vape pens heat up the CBD oil, these chemicals can degrade, making more toxic chemicals, which are then inhaled along with the CBD." —Amy Shah, M.D., integrative medicine doctor and mindbodygreen Collective member
4. It may be beneficial for immediate relief, but sourcing is everything.
"The benefits of CBD oil for helping to decrease inflammation and calm anxiety have been well-documented. With vaping becoming increasingly popular, many CBD users have taken to vaping rather than taking CBD orally. While there isn't much research at this time about the risks or benefits of vaping, I would consider it safe as long as you are getting your oil from a high-quality source. Some people have expressed concerns, though, about possible heavy metal exposure from the heating coils, which end up in the vapor being inhaled—but more studies need to be done to really know the long-term effects. As a functional medicine practitioner, I have recommended vaping CBD when more immediate results are needed like more severe pain and anxiety attacks." —Will Cole, D.C., IFMCP, mindbodygreen Collective member and functional medicine practitioner
So what's the take-home here? There just isn't enough research on the long-term effects of vaping CBD to know for sure that it's safe, even though it appears to be. That said, doctors would typically recommend you go with a different route of administration—in general, physicians are recommending against the use of vape pens. At the end of the day, It's up to you to weigh the pros and cons and make the best choice for you; just remember, there are a ton of different ways to take CBD!