False Medical Claims About CBD and COVID-19: Consumers Beware

There’s yet another health threat emerging as we all grapple with the knowns and overwhelming unknowns surrounding COVID-19. Unfortunately, this global pandemic has created a dangerous environment where unsuspecting consumers are being led to believe that CBD has medical benefits that can prevent and stop the spread of the coronavirus.

CBD products are not scientifically tested nor proven to cure, stop the spread, or mitigate the symptoms associated with COVID-19. Studies have found that consumers using CBD may face some higher risks if they are infected with COVID-19. Aurelius Data recently cautioned the public against the potential harmful side effects that can come from consuming cannabis products with Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) if a patient is infected with the coronavirus. Given the mislabeling issues related to unregulated CBD products, consumers would do well to avoid CBD altogether.

Despite government warnings, misinformation and unsubstantiated claims about CBD products are growing by the day. For example:

  • Some businesses are claiming that CBD can strengthen immune systems and act as a bronchodilator.

  • Others claim CBD can reduce inflammation and relieve pain.

  • A university in Denmark claimed that combining antibiotics with CBD can increase the effectiveness of the antibiotic.

  • A fake article promoting CBD oil as a treatment for the virus. A massive number of text messages went out to Americans linking to this article, which ultimately pointed viewers to a CBD sales site.

  • Med Care Certification website has stated that CBD “is now being recommended by doctors in many of the United States…and touting the medicinal benefits of CBD oil that could help …with the coronavirus crisis.”

Regulators are taking these unsubstantiated claims seriously. The Food and Drug Administration and the Federal Trade Commission recently sent letters to companies warning them about “deceptive and scientifically unsupported” claims regarding products they are marketing as coronavirus treatments.

In Oregon, the Attorney General forced a Portland cannabis company to take down misleading advertisements claiming their CBD oil could cure COVID-19.

These actions are a step in the right direction, however, much more needs to be done as products made with CBD were a growing health threat well before we started battling the coronavirus. Consumers risk illness, exposure to contaminants, and more from untested, unregulated, and mislabeled CBD products. The vast majority of CBD products available today fail to meet safety and efficacy standards. CBD carries potential risks, including liver toxicity, fatigue, and harmful interaction with other drugs.

Consumers for Safe CBD is strongly advocating for additional efforts by the FDA and others to educate consumers about CBD, enforce regulations against products that make medical claims that pose high risks, establish a clear distinction between approved medicines and other consumer products, and encourage further research.

We urge consumers to listen to medical experts, follow CDC guidelines and to disregard any medical claims that CBD is a “cure all” for COVID-19. These are uncharted waters, and we must be diligent about understanding the risks associated with CBD and use only products and treatments that have been tested, proven to be safe, scientifically backed, and effective.

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