FDA tells CBD companies: Stop making ‘unfounded’ claims about CBD products

The Food and Drug Administration has sent warning letters to companies it says are making "egregious and unfounded" claims about the benefits of products made with CBD, a non-psychoactive compound found in cannabis, the agency said Tuesday.

Scott Gottlieb, the agency's commissioner, also said he was "concerned" that several national pharmacy chains have begun selling CBD products and warned that the FDA will be contacting those chains to "remind them of FDA obligations." Walgreens and CVS both recently announced that they will begin selling products with CBD.

The warnings about CBD marketing come as the FDA also tries to construct a regulatory framework for products infused with CBD, which can be derived from legal hemp plants. Hemp, a type of cannabis plant containing extremely low amounts of THC, the psychoactive compound responsible for marijuana highs, was legalized last year under the 2018 Farm Bill. 

RELATED: Take a look at the health benefits of marijuana: 

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Health benefits of marijuana

1. Parkinson's 

Cannabis has been found to help slow tremors and pain in Parkinson's patients. According to Medical News Today, the compounds in marijuana help to "reduce the effects of reduced dopamine in the brain". 

A study conducted by Israeli scientists found smoking marijuana helped reduce these tremors. "We not only saw improvement in tremor in these patients, but also in rigidity and in bradykinesia," said researcher Ruth Djaldetti.

Furthermore, marijuana has been found to slow the progression of Parkinson's because of its antioxidant qualities. 

2. Glaucoma 

The American Academy of Ophthalmology describes glaucoma as a condition in which the optic nerve is damaged over long periods of time. It can limit vision and sometimes lead to blindness. 

The link between glaucoma and marijuana has been studied since the 1970s, as smoking marijuana has been found to lower eye pressure. Doctors are working on ways to elongate the effects of marijuana. 

It has been speculated that smoking the drug can slow the progression of the disease. 

3. Chemo patients

There has been extensive research on the benefits of cannabis and chemotherapy patients. The "wonder drug", as it is hailed, does miracles for cancer patients. 

According to Dr. Donald Abrams, marijuana "is the only anti-nausea medicine that increases appetite.”

The American Cancer Society claims that the drug can also lower pain, reduce inflammation and calm anxieties of not just chemo patients, but patients suffering from a chronic illness or disease. 

Scientists have found that cannabinoids, one of the many chemical compounds found in the plant, can inhibit tumor growth. It was particularly effective in the inhibition of colon cancer. 

4. Alzheimer's

According to an article published by CNN Health, marijuana may be beneficial for Alzheimer's patients. It was found that THC, an ingredient in cannabis, blocks inflammation in the brain and "stimulates the removal of toxic plaque". 

Marijuana has also been used to help dementia patients. Author and doctor David Casarett told CNN, "I spoke to many family members of people with mild or moderate dementia who believed that THC or whole-plant marijuana was effective in alleviating the confusion and agitation that sometimes occurs."

5. Skin Diseases 

It is widely known that marijuana possesses antiinflammatory benefits, helpful to patients who suffer from arthritis and cancer, amongst many others.

A study published by the University of Colorado found that using the drug topically can alleviate pain and "may be effective against eczema, psoriasis, atopic and contact dermatitis. More and more dermatologists are encouraging the use of cannabinoid cream. 

6. Stroke victims 

Cannabis and stroke victims is an interesting topic of study for many researchers, some of whom contend the drug can "shrink" the damaged area of the brain. 

Doctors, who tested the drug on mice, rats and monkeys, believe the chemical "shows promise as a neuroprotective treatment for stroke”, according to the Huffington Post.

7. PTSD

Advocates have argued that marijuana can provide immense relief for patients, specifically veterans, who suffer from PTSD. In states like New Mexico, "medical marijuana is legally prescribed for PTSD". 

A study conducted by the University of Haifa fond that marijuana helped block the "development" and progression of PTSD in rats. But, researchers explain, that there is a critical window of what marijuana can do. 

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The FDA sent letters to three companies – Advanced Spine and Pain LLC, Nutra Pure LLC and PotNetwork Holdings Inc. – in response to their claims that CBD can treat or cure cancers, autoimmune diseases and opioid use disorder, among other conditions, the FDA said.

According to the FDA, the companies made claims such as, "CBD successfully stopped cancer cells in multiple different cervical cancer varieties," and "CBD reduced the rewarding effects of morphine and reduced drug seeking of heroin."

"I believe these are egregious, over-the-line claims and we won't tolerate this kind of deceptive marketing to vulnerable patients," Gottleib said in a press release. "As our actions today make clear, the FDA stands ready to protect consumers from companies illegally selling CBD products that claim to prevent, diagnose, treat, or cure serious diseases, such as cancer, Alzheimer's disease, psychiatric disorders and diabetes."

While research on CBD and its effects is ongoing, the compound is the main, active component in the FDA-approved medication Epidiolex. The medication is used to treat seizures.

As the FDA considers plans for CBD regulation, it plans to hold a public hearing at the end of May and will also form an internal working group that will consider CBD marketing rules, it said.

Copyright 2019 U.S. News & World Report

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