CBD Not Approved to Treat or Cure Illness Warns the FDA

CBD Not Approved to Treat or Cure Illness Warns the FDA July 29, 2019
Photo of CBD Oil – image Shutterstock

Vendors that sell cannabidiol (CBD), a marijuana derivative, are on notice by the Food and Drug Administration for making claims the product can cure cancer, Alzheimer’s, and treat mental health conditions. The FDA issued a warning to CuraLeaf for promoting the oil as a pharmaceutical despite the product not having approval to treat any known illnesses.

According to a press release by the FDA, CuraLeaf is misleading consumers by claiming their product can treat multiple diseases. The step by the agency is a signal that they will be clamping down on the billion-dollar cannabis industry for their advertising and marketing tactics.

Additionally, the FDA says that promoting the CBD in misleading ways will prevent patients from seeking medical care for their conditions.

“As we examine potential regulatory pathways for the lawful marketing of products containing cannabis and cannabis-derived compounds like CBD, protecting and promoting public health remains our top priority. Selling unapproved products with unsubstantiated therapeutic claims — such as claims that CBD products can treat serious diseases and conditions — can put patients and consumers at risk by leading them to put off important medical care.”

“Additionally, there are many unanswered questions about the science, safety, effectiveness and quality of unapproved products containing CBD,” said Acting FDA Commissioner Ned Sharpless, M.D. “Consumers should beware of purchasing or using any such products.”

The FDA is serious about the risk to public health due to unknown dangers of the products sold as CBD. Additionally, the FDA established a working group in May to discuss the numerous issues within the hemp and marijuana industry.

“As part of that work, the FDA held a public hearing in May, and opened a docket for written comments, to obtain scientific data and information about the safety, manufacturing, product quality, marketing, labeling and sale of products containing cannabis or cannabis-derived compounds.”

According to the FDA, vendors like CuraLeaf make unsubstantiated claims about their products. Additionally, the CBD bottles do not provide dosing information which can lead to overdoses.

Examples of the outlandish claims made by CuraLeaf included,

  • “CBD has been demonstrated to have properties that counteract the growth of [and/or] spread of cancer.”
  • “CBD was effective in killing human breast cancer cells.” • “CBD has also been shown to be effective in treating Parkinson’s disease.”
  • “has been linked to the effective treatment of Alzheimer’s disease ….”
  •  ” is being adopted more and more as a natural alternative to pharmaceutical-grade treatments for depression and anxiety.”
  • “CBD can also be used in conjunction with opioid medications, and a number of studies have demonstrated that CBD can in fact reduce the severity of opioid-related withdrawal and lessen the buildup of tolerance.”
  • “CBD oil is becoming a popular, all-natural source of relief used to address the symptoms of many common conditions, such as chronic pain, anxiety … ADHD.”
  • “What are the benefits of CBD oil? …. Some of the most researched and well-supported hemp oil uses include …. Anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorders, and even schizophrenia …. Chronic pain from fibromyalgia, slipped spinal discs . . . Eating disorders and addiction . . ..”

The FDA says that customers are lead to believe they can bypass medical advice from a doctor. Additionally, the products may contain dangerous or harmful additives. The FDA says they approved only once form of CBD to treat a rare type of epilepsy. However, the CBD sold online is not the same composition as the pharmaceutical form.

Also, the FDA is concerned that the CBD could cause unknown adverse reactions in customers. Rather than purchasing the products online, they urge consumers to work with their health care professional. There is no testing that shows CBD is safe for pets. Due to the lack of testing on pets, they urge people not to use these products on their furry friends.

According to the FDA, CuraLeaf has 15 days to respond to the warning letter.

Finally, Read the full letter here.

*Katie Joy is a columnist and hosts Without A Crystal Ball on Patheos Non-Religious Channel. She writes articles on parenting, disability advocacy, debunking pseudoscience, atheism, and crimes against women and children.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • FDA is full of shirt on this one.

  • Katie Joy

    No they aren’t.

  • Cozmo the Magician

    when will the FDA rule that PRAYER does not treat anythng…

  • Crazy Aussie Pagan

    As someone who lives with chronic pain and mental illness, I disagree with this article and the FDA on a few points.
    CBD oil helped ease the severity of my chronic pain to the extent that my quality of life improved. This isn’t to say that it stopped my chronic pain, just made it more bearable and treatable without opiod medications.
    And as for opiod medications, I was addicted to them for over 5 years. CBD oil helped me break that addiction. I say helped not cured because once an “addict, always an addict”.
    It also helped ease the severity of my mental health conditions such as severe depression, anxiety, agoraphobia and PTSD.
    I took the oil under the supervision of my GP after discussing it with him and him insisting on me seeing mental health nurse to help ease me through the process of withdrawal symptoms and mood swings.
    The Australian government has approved the oil for production under certain controls to make sure of purity, strength and lack of additives.
    They are growing their own crops with some growers licensed to grow for the government.
    Unfortunately due to the cost of the oil I had to go back onto antidepressants and very monitored opiod medication use under my GP.
    But I am looking forward to when it becomes more affordable for myself and others who do need it.
    It isn’t a treatment for everyone, and it doesn’t cure cancer and other things but in conjunction with some modern medical treatments and monitoring can help treat certain conditions.
    Before anyone says that it is a placebo and it was myself that broke the addition, I am not strong willed enough to do that myself and know that.
    CBD oil treatment does have its place in the medical field and some governments now recognise this and want their piece of the big pie of money. But other governments prefer big pharma companies that pay them to keep this treatment as a hoax of some kind so they can continue getting their money.
    I only say this as someone who lives with these conditions and has seen for myself how CBD oil has helped me.

  • nmgirl

    The problem I have with the FDA is that by classifying marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug, scientists are unable to do real research on the anecdotal benefits. It is time to give up this political BS and apply real science. My doctor and the CBD seller both told me: it works on pain for some and not others. Unfortunately it really didn’t help me.

  • nmgirl

    I’m really glad it helped. I encourage all my friends to at least try it. If it doesn’t help, you’re out a few bucks.

  • Katie Joy

    Not true. they are 100% open to research as referenced in their position on THC

  • Tiny but fierce

    As a fellow chronic pain sufferer, I second this. It helps, unquestionably. I talked with my doctor about it. I get it online from a facility that does lab testing for quality. Since I started taking it, I’ve been able to reduce my need for opioids significantly. My anxiety is less of an issue, as is my depression.

  • thatotherjean

    CBD oil diminishes arthritis pain, at least for me. That’s what I care most about, since it helps me get more comfortably through the day. Just because some companies oversell its benefits does not mean that it has none. Please, FDA, keep your regulatory powers from making this impossible to get. I’d really rather not be forced to take opioids for lack of other options.

  • WallofSleep

    Anecdotal, but I’ve talked to a number of people who say it does work for them, and people who say it doesn’t. This doesn’t surprise me, as OTC painkillers don’t do anything for me, and opioids (at recommended dosage) don’t do much more than constipate me.

  • WallofSleep

    Well, they are a federal agency, so they have to toe the federal line. Not just on the Schedule 1 classification of marijuana, but they’re also not allowed to evaluate/regulate supplements either, so they basically have to say they don’t/didn’t approve any supplement of any kind, including vitamins. Just about every bottle of vitamins/supplements has a disclaimer that goes something like: “These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease”. This serves as both a warning to the consumer, and as a bit of gov’t cya too.

    You can thank reactionary libertarians, conservatives, crunchy “all-natural” types, “Karen”, and Mel Gibson for the fact that the FDA is not allowed to test/evaluate/approve/regulate supplements.

    Yes, Mel Gibson…


  • WallofSleep

    I haven’t tried CBD oil yet, but I have tried marijuana edibles and I can say that they definitely relive my joint pain and muscle tension, as well as insomnia and anxiety.

    BTW, the FDA can’t exercise their regulatory powers on anything classified as a supplement (see my reply to WMDKItty elsewhere in these comments). Honestly, I wish they could; it would eliminate a lot of nonsense woo that at best does nothing to help, and at worst actually harms people.

  • yparah

    CBD not approved, but it works well (for my chronical pain). Whats wrong, FDA?

  • Adam Smith

    The CBD helps me a lot with my anxiety, and overall my health has improved significantly. Whatever they say, it works.