Imported health foods and cosmetics that contain a hemp-derived ingredient called cannabidiol, or CBD, are widely used in Japan due to their purported medicinal benefits and other effects, such as improving insomnia and relieving pain.
However, at the same time, requests for advice on health harms from products increased while cases of mixing illegal ingredients were found, prompting the Ministry of Health to be vigilant.
CBD, which is extracted from the stems and seeds of the hemp plant, has no psychoactive effects. By contrast, tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, which can be extracted from other parts of the cannabis plant, is regulated by cannabis law, mainly because of its hallucinogenic effect.
According to the Japan Cosmetic Association, the number of imported products containing CBD on the Japanese market has increased dramatically after the Ministry of Health said in 2019 that a refractory epilepsy treatment containing CBD could be used in clinical trials under certain conditions.
Companies advertise CBD products as a drinkable cosmetic oil, for example, on their websites. But in 2020, a Japanese health food importer specializing in CBD products was forced to withdraw about 1,000 petroleum products from Denmark due to the discovery of THC in some of them.
Also, there have been a number of cases where CBD oil products have been found to contain THC. By February 2021, the Ministry of Health conducted a sample survey of products in the local market. Although no THC has been detected, the department remains on the alert, with an official saying that the surveys need to continue.
The number of inquiries about CBD products received by Tokyo’s comprehensive consumer center increased from 84 in fiscal year 2019 to 316 in fiscal year 2020.
Of those, the number of people concerned with health harms was two in fiscal 2019 and 11 in fiscal 2020, including cases where users of unburned tobacco products containing CBD complained of headaches or nausea, according to Atsushi Momose, president of Center Consulting. Section.
“There have been external reports of side effects from CBD products, including impaired liver function, diarrhea and nausea,” said Masahiko Fonada, M.D., head of the Drug Addiction Research Laboratory at the National Center for Neurology and Psychiatry. “We want people to inform the relevant organization immediately if they feel unwell after using these products.”
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