The short answer is moderation is key to allow the body to detox as much as possible. However, specific additives should be avoided altogether such as PG, PEG, and others. Some ingredients, as we discuss below, are the lesser of two evils so we encourage you to educate yourself as much as possible.
Since we know that smoking of any kind is harmful, replacing it with vaping has got to be an improvement no matter what...right? And with all the benefits of CBD oil, getting it into your body regardless of method is the highest priority...right? You may be or may not be surprised at the answers to both these assumptions. Today we’ve sought out the most updated research and professional opinions on the matter, however, and brought you the info so far. Come find out the latest on safe CBD use currently available:
How can CBD get into the body?
There are a few ways to get CBD into the body. According to CBD entrepreneur Caulen Lauria, “Essentially, smoking is the least healthy way to absorb CBD, vaping is much better by almost 1000%, and ingestion or topical are certainly the best. Vaping and smoking the plant oils require your body to detox (oil and carcinogens) more as compared ingestion, but vaping is the safest way to do if it you are going to inhale it. The debate about the uses of vegetable glycerine and propylene glycol (general toxicity is very low) as thinning agents is necessary to determine the best way to thin the oil to carry it into the lungs properly. Other relatively safe additives are terpenes for flavoring.”
So why vaping in the first place?
To explain the popularity of vaporizing,or “vaping”, it’s firstly said to be the method through which CBD is most easily absorbed into the bloodstream. To adequately vaporize, or generate the vapor that carries the CBD and any additional flavor along, an e-liquid ingredient must be included in vaping hemp oil, the type of hemp oil considered suitable for vaping with an e-cig vaporizer. This vape oil must be combined with either vegetable glycerin (VG) or propylene glycol (PG), with some claiming it’s an ideal blend to use 50% of each together. Additionally, vaping bypasses the smoke and free radicals formed with the burning of cannabis, as it’s heated without combustion.
What are carbonyl compounds?
There is some ongoing concern regarding when cannabis oils are mixed with thinning agents, (necessary for their use in certain vaping devices) as some of them give off cancer-causing chemicals called carbonyl compounds. (Lerner, Sundar, Yao et al., 2015). These contain formaldehyde (a group 1 carcinogen according to the IARC) and have been linked to low birth weight in babies and spontaneous abortions in pregnant women. One of these used commonly is called propylene glycol. (Chun, Moazed, Calfee et al., 2017). Unfortunately, most of the research has centered on e-cigarettes where these chemicals are concerned, making it difficult to ascertain exactly how hazardous they are for use with cannabis oils (Jensen, Luo, Pankow et al., 2015). And although certain thinning agents may have been tested as safe to ingest, there have not been studies focused on their safety following heating and inhalation.
Another study by the Medical Marijuana Research Institute in Arizona explored heating propylene glycol (or PG; also found in asthma inhalers, toothpastes, and food colorings), vegetable glycerine (VG, a “vegetable-based sweet thickener...present in cough syrup and...chewing gum”), polyethylene glycol (PEG), and medium chain triglycerides (MCT), all byproducts produced by vaporizing cannabis oil, to see what the resulting vapors contained. When these thinning agents were heated to 450 degrees Fahrenheit, the presence of formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, and acrolein were detected. However, polyethylene glycol (PEG) produced much higher rates of byproducts than the others. From this research, authors determined that those who use cannabis oil with these thinning agents are at potential risk of harmful exposure to them, especially polyethylene glycol. (Trout & DiDonato, 2017, March 29).
What are some less risky options?
For the more health-conscious vapers, there are terpenes, which both thin the oils and improve their taste with assorted flavors, like pineapple, blueberry, or cheese. Terpenes are plant-derived fragrance molecules, found in all plants including the cannabis plant. There are over 100 terpenes identified in cannabis alone, with α-Pinene being the most commonly found terpene in nature with traces in pine trees, rosemary, and cannabis, frequently used in insect repellents. Certain terpenes are known for:
Enhancing the benefits of CBD
Mood enhancing and anxiolytics from linalool
Memory and focus from limonene
Relaxation from myrcene
Stress relief from beta-carophyllene
Although Generally Recognized As Safe by the FDA due to their safe use in medicinal inhalers for over 70 years, possession of universal pharmaceuticals licenses for inhalation, freedom from contra-indications, and promotion by pharmaceutical inhalation by Dow, there are some downsides. They may not be good for those who previously smoked and have lung damage, like people with emphysema or COPD. This is because there is a greater likelihood for them to develop lipid pneumonia, or inflammation of the lungs, from frequent inhalation. One company is trying to create a safer terpene product.
Found in coconut and palm kernels, MCTs,or medium triglycerides, are another safer alternative to PG and VG. MCTs also provide other health benefits as well. They also improve glucose levels in those with Type II diabetes, work as an appetite suppressant, and are used immediately as an energy source rather than stored as fat.
Even though MCTs have several health benefits and aren’t carcinogenic, they can still pose a risk in the form of lipid pneumonia. For frequent vapers, this can occur due to a build-up of oil in the lungs over time which can interfere with proper breathing. (Simmons, Rouf & Whittle, 2007, November 22).
As far as we’ve covered today, Vegetable Glycerine with CBD and Terpenes works the best by far... or MCTs/medium triglycerides and terpenes appear to next on the list of options with NO polyethylene glycol and NO PEG as they are the least safe. If possible, vapers should try to avoid PG, and PEG whenever possible. As we explore further research in future blogs, we will cover more area on the subject, such as the relevance of temperature/flash point on the safety of thinners/carrier oils. Thanks for reading with us, and Happy Vaping!
If you’re ready to try CBD or want to find out if you’d be a good candidate, give us a call or stop in anytime we’re open -- or you can visit our website at CBDAustin.org! Our friendly, informed staff can answer any questions you may have and help you select your ideal product. We offer walk-in pickup and shipping, too!
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Chun, Moazed, Calfee et al. (2017). Pulmonary toxicity of e-cigarettes. Retrieved from: https://www.leafly.com/news/health/cannabis-vape-oil-ingredients-to-avoid
Jensen, Luo, Pankow et al. (2015). Hidden Formaldehyde in E-Cigarette Aerosols. Retrieved from: https://www.leafly.com/news/health/cannabis-vape-oil-ingredients-to-avoid
Lerner, Sundar, Yao et al. (2015). Vapors Produced by Electronic Cigarettes and E-Juices with Flavorings Induce Toxicity, Oxidative Stress, and Inflammatory Response in Lung Epithelial Cells and in Mouse Lung. Retrieved from: https://www.quora.com/Does-inhaling-vapours-of-glycerine-affect-human-health
Simmons, Rouf & Whittle. (2007, November 22). Not Your Typical Pneumonia: A Case of Exogenous Lipoid Pneumonia. Retrieved from: https://blackbearhemp.com/blog/vg-and-pg-safe-vaping/
Trout & DiDonato. (2017, March 29). Carbonyl Compounds Produced by Vaporizing Cannabis Oil Thinning Agents. Retrieved from: https://www.leafly.com/news/health/cannabis-vape-oil-ingredients-to-avoid