There is an overwhelming volume of anecdotal evidence of the many positive health benefits of cannabidiol, also known as CBD. So much so that CBD retailers are cropping up all over the place, both online, and in brick and mortar shops.
However, the FDA is warning consumers to be very careful who they are purchasing CBD products from, because according to their investigations, a majority of them are unsafe!
On November 26, the FDA issued warning letters to 15 companies that sell CBD products because the products violate federal law. The agency also issued an update to consumers about popular products, and stressed that there is limited evidence for their safety. CBD is a chemical found in cannabis that does not produce the “high” typical of marijuana. Although drug developers have long sought to uncover the potential health benefits of CBD, to date, only one CBD product has survived the FDA approval process — a prescription drug to treat rare forms of childhood epilepsy.
Nonetheless, consumers can now purchase any number of unapproved CBD products, from oils to chocolate bars to pet foods, from companies that claim their goods deliver therapeutic benefits or help treat disease.
These companies have broken federal law by marketing the unproven health benefits of their CBD products, mixing the drug into food, or advertising CBD as a dietary supplement, the FDA announced in November. What’s more, these companies may have placed their customers at unknown risk, the FDA said.
“We remain concerned that some people wrongly think that the myriad of CBD products on the market, many of which are illegal, have been evaluated by the FDA and determined to be safe, or that trying CBD ‘can’t hurt,'” Dr. Amy Abernethy, the FDA’s principal deputy commissioner, said in a statement. In reality, the FDA does not have enough data to say whether CBD can be “generally recognized as safe,” and several reports raise questions about the unintended health consequences of consuming the compound.
For instance, listed among the known side effects of the approved CBD epilepsy drug, is that it could inflict damage to the liver. If taken without medical supervision, the damage could prove more extensive, the FDA said in a consumer update on cannabis-derived compounds.
In addition, several studies indicate that CBD may alter how the body breaks down other drugs, either increasing or decreasing their potency. Also, studies in animals suggest the compound may impede the function of testes and sperm, deplete testosterone levels and impair male sexual behavior.
“As we work quickly to further clarify our regulatory approach for products containing cannabis and cannabis-derived compounds like CBD, we’ll continue to monitor the marketplace and take action as needed against companies that violate the law in ways that raise a variety of public health concerns,” Abernethy said.