CBD companies are failing to provide accurate information about how CBD can reduce the effectiveness of the contraceptive pill, putting users at risk of unwanted pregnancy and breakthrough bleeding. Many well-known CBD companies actively target young women with their branding and advertising yet no reference to this issue can be found on their websites.
The lack of transparency on this topic is made more concerning by the fact that CBD is increasingly popular with young women aged between 24-35 looking to manage anxiety and sleep problems. When searching for CBD online, none of the top listed companies mention how CBD can impact contraception. They have blogs and guides with as many as 200 topics but
they fail to mention how CBD can impact women’s health in this critical way.
On the website of one of the largest European CBD brands, the section addressing interactions with CBD and medication highlights potential problems with steroids, antibiotics, antidepressants and even antihistamines but fails to mention contraceptives.
When searching specifically for this information one of the only companies that can be found publishing information on this topic is a brand named Pure Organic CBD. They have published a detailed article on the topic and collated results from various studies on contraceptive interaction. This is a risky strategy for a CBD brand as disclosing this information could discourage potential customers from buying CBD products.
When asked why Pure Organic CBD had chosen to publish information about this, Robert Thompson, Communications Coordinator, said, “I just find it hard to believe that companies aren’t talking about this more when it’s well known that CBD is primarily marketed towards women in their early twenties to late thirties. If you look at the CBD companies in the
UK space now, they’re putting profits before health. We’ve always had the motivation that if you truly help people, profits will follow.”
CBD, also known by its full name cannabidiol, is grown from cannabis plants. However, it does not have any psychedelic effects. CBD has been approved for medical use in the UK to help manage side effects from cancer treatment and epilepsy. It is available to purchase legally in many health shops and online in the UK as a food supplement.
In the same way as many other medications, CBD is broken down in the liver. The research suggests that high quantities of CBD can stop or slow the liver breaking down hormonal contraception. This can lead to unwanted pregnancy and bleeding and this risk appears to be higher with oestrogen-based contraception. The slowing in the breakdown in contraception could also lead to increases in side effects as higher levels of contraception
remain in the bloodstream for longer.
A study at the University of Oregon led by Dr Shaalini Ramandhan is currently taking place to try and improve the research on the topic. Volunteers are taking CBD and the contraceptive pill simultaneously to assess if one interferes with the other, alongside a control group. Results from this study are expected to be published in the next few months. Dr
Ramandhan declined our request for comment.
As CBD products have grown in popularity, they have come under increased scrutiny from the UK government. From the beginning of April 2021, companies must be authorised to sell CBD under novel food guidelines. The UK government is currently considering further restrictions on CBD.