THC in food and cosmetics

There is lots of controversy regarding THC in food and cosmetics product. In doses typical for cannabis consumers THC is not genotoxic, mutagenic or carcinogenic. If THC is applied directly in extremely high doses to cells it reduces the synthesis of DNA, RNA and proteins. However, these effects are not specific and do not occur naturally in the human body.

In majority of the THC toxicity studies were used extreme doses. For example, in a monkey study it was given equivalent of 15 kg of cannabis in a single dose. Cell culture studies have used doses 2000 to 3000 times the threshold level for psychotropic effects. The concentration of THC in food and cosmetics are known to be much lower than the studied doses.

Interestingly the attempts to deliver therapeutic THC via skin patch were unsuccessful, which is indication of the safety of hemp bodycare products.

Another interesting fact is THC tolerance – decreasing effect with repeated or sustains exposure – which is reversible. This means that any undesired effect of THC in food or cosmetics will be short-lived.

In unprocessed hemp, THC is in the form of monocarbon acid (THCA), which is not absorbed well by the intestines. This is why one cannot expect much effect of eating uncooked cannabis. Absorption of THC by the human intestines depends on the properties of the carrier. Lipophilic carriers, such as hemp oil, promote absorption of decarbosylated THC. However, if the carrier is less fatty, such as hemp bread or beverages, the bioavailability of THC is reduced by 50% or more.

The lowest observed effect levels for THC’s psychoactive effects is 0.2 to 0.3 mg/kg, about 10-20 mg THC in a single dose to an average adult. The no observed effect levels are 0.07 mg/kg, about 5 mg for an average adult. Chronic consumption of THC will not increase rick but it will decrease it due to build up tolerance. The average daily consumption of hemp oil for Germans who consume this product is 33 g/day. In this case the safe dose that do not exceed no observed effect levels will be 0,020 mg per gram of oil, or 20 mg/kg.

Food benefits

Hemp food prepared of hemp seeds practically does not contain THC. Hemp seeds contain oil and nutmeat. Hemp oil is made by cold-pressing the seed and is commonly converted to flour for hemp bread and similar foods. Some of the most important ingredients of hemp oil are essential fatty acids, linoleic acid (Omega 6) and linolenic acid (Omega 3). They are presented in hemp oil in the ration of 3:1. Hemp oil is known to reduce bad cholesterol (LDL), reduce inflammation in the blood vessels, thins the blood (by reducing platelet stickiness), reduce blood pressure and strengthen the immune system.

Cosmetics benefits

Hemp oils are used to make body lotions, soaps and other products. The essential fatty acids that are used by the body to maintain healthy body cells work directly on epidermal cells, entering the lipid layers of dry skin cells to replenish their oils.

Fatty acids also repair skin damage, promoting healing in wounds and burns, and they are antibiotic, effectively used in treatment for atopic dermatitis, eczema, and psoriasis.


1. THC in Hemp Foods and Cosmetics: The Appropriate Risk Assessment

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