The National Poison Hotline is 800-222-1222.
One of the reasons I started looking into what is in CBD tinctures and other cannabis products is because I had witnessed first hand a person who smoked a joint of marijuana flower produced by a large name company break out in hives, have shortness of breath, nausea right after inhaling. She had the symptoms of heavy metal and pesticide poisoning. The joint was tested and the results were off the charts. The levels of heavy metals, pesticides, and even the residual solvents used were extremely high. I have seen flower with black mold on it being sold in stores in recreational legal states. I have seen no testing for anything done in medical legal states. The Vape cartridges for cannabis had been tested high for heavy metals recently, and I believe California is now testing those for their state. It is amazing. So, here I am. Learning and sharing. And This is what I discovered why Heavy Metals are a no-no.
There are many Heavy Metals that are all around us in life. Arsenic, Lead, Mercury, Iron, and others are all around us and when exposed in high levels can even make you sick. However, small amounts of certain metals, like Copper, Zinc, and Iron, are needed for normal body functions. There are Trace Elements of Heavy Metals in almost everything, but we can be more vigilant and aware of the amounts we allow on and in our bodies just by using trustworthy and open companies.
Heavy metal poisoning isn’t very common in the US and occurs when the body’s soft tissue absorbs too much of a particular metal. Heavy Metal Poisoning could happen if you use herbal medicines that have heavy metals in them, food pollution, air pollution, water pollution, eat fish caught with high levels of mercury, food containers with improper coating, breathe in old lead paint dust when you fix up your home, or work in a factory that uses heavy metals (Ratini, 2018).
Symptoms of Heavy Metal Poisoning
“The Most common metals that the human body can absorb in toxic amounts are: mercury, lead, cadmium, arsenic,” (Gotter, 2018). Some the listed general symptoms by the HealthLine article referenced below are;
- abdominal pain
- tingling in hands and feet, vomiting
- more depending on the specific metal.
There are 2 Types of Heavy Metal Poisoning, Acute and Chronic, and then the other variable is the specific metal itself.
“Acute poisoning. This happens if you get a high dose at one time, like in a chemical accident in a factory or after a child swallows a toy made with lead,” (Ratini, 2018). If you have acute poisoning;
- you will immediately feel bad
- possibly become nauseous and vomit
- go numb
- feel confused
- even pass out.
If a person were exposed to a low dose of heavy metal over a long period of time, that is called Chronic Poisoning and these symptoms creep up on people.
- Achy joints and muscles
Now that you have an idea about Heavy Metals in general, let’s get specific. Let’s talk about LEAD.
Allowable Amounts of LEAD Ingestion per FDA Standards
The Interim References Level (IRL) is a daily maximum intake for lead set by the FDA after they asses “whether the amount of lead in a food product is high enough to raise a person’s blood lead level to a point of concern,” (FDA, 2019). The established IRL of blood lead levels for children is 3 ug and 12.5 ug for adults. The level for adult child bearing women is very important, as well as infants’ exposure during nursing (FDA, 2019). The FDA conducts the Total Diet Study (TDS) several times a year and also test for pesticide residues, industrial and other toxic chemicals, and nutrient elements in food.
So, yes, the FDA knows there will be lead in things we consume. The most important thing though is knowing how much is too much to the point we start feeling bad and getting sick? Well how do you know if the products you use are not tested for it? More importantly, what about your health products you use? Are they tested? The FDA does surprise sampling of multiple types of products, but with all of these new CBD companies popping up, how can you be sure the item you have is up to par with the allowable amounts? Well you don’t if they do not test for it. It is very important that you do your research when purchasing CBD products. Make sure they have a heavy metals test.
Causes and Effects of Lead Poisoning
Lead poisoning may be caused by exposure, such as ingesting or chewing, but also via being in firing ranges, using kohl cosmetics, certain hair dyes, calcium products, and more. It was also the metal found most commonly in tinctures that were tested and some of those symptoms are subtle to extreme. They include:
- loss of appetite
- sleep problems
- memory loss
- aggressive behavior
- high blood pressure
- loss of developmental skills in children
Testing to Determine if You Have Heavy Metal Poisoning
A blood test is usually where most doctors will start if you have symptoms of heavy metal poisoning. But these tests are not in your routine full panel yearly. You would have to talk to your doctor about specifically testing for it if you are concerned. However, if your blood tests show low amounts, they may dive into more:
- kidney/liver function tests
- fingernail, hair, urine analysis
(Gotter, 2018). Don’t try the at-home tests for this as there is no hard evidence that they work or to even tell you if you are sick or need treatment.
If it is determined that Heavy Metal Poisoning occurred, the doctor will usually prescribe medication (chelators) via pill or needle that will bind to the heavy metals and send them out of your body in the form of waste. Sometimes this type of therapy can be dangerous and is not successful with all heavy metals. They may prescribe that the person’s stomach be pumped.
I could list all of the heavy metals and symptoms and such here, but I only wanted to stick with the broad spectrum of them and Lead, since that one turns up more often in the tests I have seen. Like the beginning of the article stated, there are Heavy Metals in everything and there are ways to be more vigilant and aware of the Cannabis/Hemp/CBD products that we use, as well as requesting that Lab Report from the companies. If they are an open, honest, and trustworthy company, they will happily share their results from Heavy Metal, Pesticides, Residual Solvents, Microbials, and Cannabinoid Potency. If they do not offer that testing I would not give that company my money. Make sure you know what is in your products, and follow us for more related articles and company’s lab reports for their products that I research!
FDA. 19 February 2019. “Lead in Food, Foodwares, and Dietary SUpplements”. FDA Monitoring and Testing of Lead in Food, Including Dietary Supplements and Foodwares. https://www.fda.gov/food/metals/lead-food-foodwares-and-dietary-supplements.
Gotter, Anna & Murrell, Daniel, M.D. 13 December 2018. “HealthLine”. Heavy Metal Poisoning. https://www.healthline.com/health/heavy-metal-poisoning.
Ratini, Malinda DO, MS. 09 January 2018. “WebMD Medical Reference”. What is Heavy Metal Poisoning. https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/what-is-heavy-metal-poisoning#1.