Brand new medical research released today shows if you’re buying tinctures and oils online that claim to contain CBD, and can cure everything, you may not be getting what you’re paying for.
Or, in some cases, you might be getting more than you’re paying for. It depends on what CBD products you’re buying, and how you look at and interpret “unproven” medical claims.
Concurrently, the FDA last week issue a stern warning to several CBD companies telling them to quit claiming CBD cures cancer when there is no scientific proof.
In a report published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine obtained CBD oils and tinctures from several online manufacturers. Only online manufacturers were tested.
They found that a quarter of the 84 products they sent to a lab for testing had lower levels of CBD than what the labels claimed.
The report also showed that some CBD products for sale actually contained higher amounts of CBD than what it advertised. And some even contained THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.
“Of tested products, 26 percent contained less CBD than labeled, which could negate any potential clinical response,” reported the authors in a research letter. “Underlabeling is less concerning as CBD appears to neither have abuse liability nor serious adverse consequences at high doses; however, the THC content observed may be sufficient to produce intoxication or impairment, especially among children.”
The one-two punch from the research and the FDA comes as the greening of America — the marijuana legalization movement taking root from coast to coast — is giving cancer patients new hope.
Does CBD really cure cancer? Why facts must accompany hope
When I first received my medical cannabis card – and summarily had a gig end with a Fortune 500 healthcare company (maybe totally unrelated) – I knew right away I wanted to start writing professionally about medical cannabis.
I eagerly began to join some online Facebook groups about CBD. Admittedly, I cringed a bit at the cancer-curing claims. The marketing by these companies in the Facebook rooms is relentless. I was told I was being too self-promoting with my blog so I left the rooms.
But I saw a lot of testimonials (and videos) of children being helped with seizures. Overwhelmingly so. And yet, there was a parent or two who said their child began to cry on the medication and was not helped by it.
Of course, some of these people were buying CBD oil with THC legally inside of it, and undoubtedly it had higher levels.
I’m not sure why the cancer testimonials bugged me, other than I always saw my mother grasping for hope. But hope is necessary. How selfish of those of us not going through the battle to scoff at those grasping for hope.
And there is some scientific evidence that CBD destroys certain types of cancer cells. So, it’s not grasping!
On the other hand, when I used to frequently write about HIV and Hepatitis C, my articles would be “spammed” with snake oil advertisements. And that made me very angry.
When I turned to the American Cancer Society to see what they had to say about CBD/cannabis and cancer, I was glad to see an honest assessment of the situation:
Studies have long shown that people who took marijuana extracts in clinical trials tended to need less pain medicine.
More recently, scientists reported that THC and other cannabinoids such as CBD slow growth and/or cause death in certain types of cancer cells growing in lab dishes. Some animal studies also suggest certain cannabinoids may slow growth and reduce spread of some forms of cancer.
There have been some early clinical trials of cannabinoids in treating cancer in humans and more studies are planned. While the studies so far have shown that cannabinoids can be safe in treating cancer, they do not show that they help control or cure the disease.
Relying on marijuana alone as treatment while avoiding or delaying conventional medical care for cancer may have serious health consequences.
Adding CBD to proven cancer-killing methods may save your life
My take on all of this from day one, quite cynically (and incorrectly, as science has shown CBD to kill some cancer cells at least in laboratory dishes) is that people using CBD and cannabis in general fare better during cancer treatment and therefore win the battle.
Wellness consultant Devon at Nature’s Treatment of Illinois told a news crew during a recent medical cannabis expo how he beat cancer with a stem cell transplant. He never could have survived the harsh treatment, he explained, without cannabis.
It makes sense that people using CBD oil who are undergoing cancer treatment will be better able to tolerate treatment symptoms such as nausea, as well as cancer-related pain. That will lead to lead to better outcomes for patients undergoing proven, yet harsh, cancer therapies.
But Washington won’t even admit that much. They don’t have to. I would not hesitate one millisecond to treat symptoms of cancer treatments with cannabis, nor would I pause for even a fraction that long before recommending a total stranger do the same.
The same could be said of people undergoing old-school Hepatitis C interferon treatments in terms of how cannabis could help them get through treatment.
Despite all of that, and the science that shows CBD does kill cancer cells (even if not in humans…we don’t know), here’s what the FDA had to say last week:
The companies used these online platforms to make unfounded claims about their products’ ability to limit, treat or cure cancer and other serious diseases. Examples of claims made by these companies include:
”Combats tumor and cancer cells;”
”CBD makes cancer cells commit ‘suicide’ without killing other cells;”
“CBD … [has] anti-proliferative properties that inhibit cell division and growth in certain types of cancer, not allowing the tumor to grow;” and
“Non-psychoactive cannabinoids like CBD (cannabidiol) may be effective in treating tumors from cancer – including breast cancer.”
I’m extremely disturbed by the FDA’s handling of this, particularly in light of the 60 Minutes investigation on the Washington, D.C. opioid scandal.
Those Pharma coins fuel our country. Cannabis already has taken a big bite out of their profits. And Washington’s assault on cannabis is all about protecting Pharma profits.
Let’s ramp up the capitalism machine and see who wins: Legal cannabis tax revenue or Pharma.
It’s obvious why the states are making the smart choice. If cannabis is ever to become legal as medicine, the Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services will need to begin negotiating with all the nation’s cannabis cultivators to pay for our medicine. CMS is our nation’s largest third-party payer after all.
Can you imagine?
Lots of poppycock and nonsense in healthcare that has nothing to do with the best interest of your health.
The bottom line seems so less sleazy in other businesses, and ones where Washington’s not involved.
Of course, I’m not a medical professional. But as someone with PTSD who gets through each day with CBD-rich cannabis strains, I don’t have to be.
Wouldn’t it be something if God gave us a cure for every disease that ever would haunt the planet? In the form of a delicious-smelling plant growing right out of the ground ?
Why, it would mean the end of Pharma! What would we have for commercials, and who would we have on Capitol Hill?
I report. You decide.
Until next time.
You can find me on Twitter @DavidHeitz
I also write about addiction and recovery (I live a sober life every day), medical cannabis (I am a legal cardholder), mental illness (I have chronic PTSD) and elder advocacy (lost dad to FTD, a rare brain disease). I have quite a story to tell and I hope you will indulge me. Thanks!