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Did Tainted CBD Lead To This Woman’s Death From Septic Shock?

cbd septic shock
Written by Alexandra Hicks

Although CBD has found unparalleled popularity in the health and wellness sector, and even though it’s legal in all 50 states now, the sale of CBD products still remains largely unregulated.

Numerous studies have found Cannabidiol (CBD) to safe, non-intoxicating, and non-addictive. It’s a natural, plant-based compound that can safely treat an extremely diverse range of conditions. All that said, it’s no surprise that so many people are adding CBD to their personal regimens.

However, since it’s unregulated, there is a risk of getting products that aren’t completely on-the-level, as may be a case from New York, in which researchers are looking at the possibility of CBD causing septic shock.

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A Mysterious and Concerning Case

A team of doctors from New York and Florida published a case study regarding a 56-year-old woman who died from septic shock following use of CBD. According to the documents, “Two days following the use of the new CBD product, she noticed a mild rash on her extremities, which was treated by her primary care physician with diphenhydramine and oral prednisone without improvement. Her symptoms progressed and she developed diffuse erythematous and vesicular rashes involving her entire body over the next 48 hours.”

Her symptoms eventually developed into a fatal case of Stevens-Johnson Syndrome/toxic epidermal necrolysis (SJS-TEN) which a condition characterized by a severe rash on the skin and mucous membranes. Although it’s quite rare, it has a mortality rate of 10-50% and very little is understood about SJS-TEN. It’s most common in women, immune-suppressed individuals, and the elderly. Most cases are believed to be caused by negative drug interactions and/or infections, but many instances still don’t have a clearly-defined cause.

The patient was on numerous medications to treat chronic pain, hypertension and coronary artery disease. One month after her SJS-TEN diagnoses, she passed away from septic shock, a condition that occurs when infection leads to dangerously low blood pressure.

Was it Tainted?

In short, it’s hard to say. It’s honestly hard to say if it was even the CBD at all. Since this woman was on a few other medications, it’s possible that there was a negative interaction with the CBD, although such a severe reaction seems unlikely.

It was noted in the study that once the woman told her doctors that she used CBD, they discontinued use of all other medications. When suddenly stopping numerous medications that are necessary to a patient’s health, there of course could be adverse effects.

And then, of course, there is the possibility that the CBD was tainted with a toxic ingredient. The doctors noted that, “the patient has previously utilized other commercial products without side effects or associated allergic reactions. This suggests involvement of other ingredients in this non-FDA-regulated product as the causative agent.”

It’s also important to note that all of the other medications were ones that she had been taking for many years, so it’s unlikely there was a negative interaction among just her pharmaceutical drugs. However, stranger things have happened in the world of medicine so it can’t be completely ruled out either.

As of now, the CBD oil in question has not yet been analyzed for any unlisted chemical components.

Due Diligence

Despite a congressional degree, CBD and hemp products are still largely unregulated in the United States, and the issue is only being exacerbated as COVID-19 management strategies have put most other regulatory issues on the backburner for now.

That’s why it’s extremely important for consumers to do as much research as humanly possible before buying CBD products. Let’s be honest here, it’s important to do a certain level of research before buying anything you plan to ingest.

There are a few key things to look out for when buying products:

  1. Make sure they have lab results from a well-known, accredited lab. Lab results should include things like cannabinoid content, heavy metal and pesticide levels, and so forth.
  2. Check the ingredient list to make sure it doesn’t contain anything you may be allergic to, or something you just don’t like using.
  3. It possible, use products that are made with domestically-grown, organic cannabis and hemp.
  4. Go with companies that have good customer service and communicate well.

Regardless of how cautious you are though, if a product is unregulated (and even if it is regulated) there is always a risk that it can somehow end up contaminated. And that applies to everything from food, to cosmetics, to supplements, and even prescription medications.

Final Thoughts

So back the original question, did tainted CBD cause this woman’s septic shock? At this time, there is no way to know for sure. But this case does draw attention to the importance of implementing a reasonable regulatory plan for CBD products. Yes, our world is in a bit of mild-chaos. But people will continue to use CBD so there faster we can get some guidelines, the better.

For more articles like this one, subscribe to the Medical Cannabis Weekly Newsletter. We will make sure to update you on this article as well, once the CBD oil has been tested for contaminants.

About the author

Alexandra Hicks

Alexandra is the managing editor at CBD Testers. She has always been interested in alternative and natural remedies, and the versatility of cannabis as a healing plant is something that greatly appeals to her. It's for this reason that she decided to work as a cannabis industry journalist and editor, to help spread accurate information about the benefits of this plant.

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