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It’s become a maxim in the CBD industry that it’s the wild west out here. And it’s true that, until the FDA chooses to impose a regulatory framework on the CBD industry, there’s no one checking to make sure that your bottle of CBD contains what it says it does.

Still, that doesn’t mean that anything goes when it comes to the language a CBD company can use on its marketing materials. In the past, we’ve seen the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) and the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) crack down on companies that go too far, making claims for CBD that haven’t been adequately proven by scientific studies.

The most recent round of warning letters went out recently to seven CBD companies, each of which were given 48 hours to remove the offending language from their websites and other marketing materials. Being named in one of these lists is always a major blow for a CBD company since, by questioning its legitimacy,  it hits the company squarely where it really hurts in this industry. No one in CBDland wants to be called out as a snake-oil salesperson.

Many of the claims that the FDA looks out for in particular pertain to potentially life-threatening illnesses (like cancer) – or anything that has to do with CBD for children.  These are rightly flagged since there is still so much that is unknown regarding CBD – and therefore a lot of potential harm that could be caused by replacing well-studied therapies for a CBD tincture.

When it comes to Covid, it seems that the FDA is very concerned that CBD could give people a false sense of security, leading to choices that have a much less certain outcome than what has so far been established as the best method of Covid prevention (namely, vaccinations and masking) and treatment.

The claims that CBD companies are making are not just coming out of thin air though. There have been a series of studies, beginning in 2020, suggesting that CBD may prove useful as a tool in both preventing and treating the symptoms of Covid.

The latest of these studies, published in January 2022, found that CBD inhibited viral replication of Covid in lung cells – un unexpected discovery, according to Marsha Rosner, Ph.D., a senior author of the study:

“We just wanted to know if CBD would affect the immune system,” Rosner said. “No one in their right mind would have ever thought that it blocked viral replication, but that’s what it did.”

The team at the University of Chicago pretreated mice with CBD for one week prior to infection with SARS-CoV-2, finding that it suppressed infection both in the lung and nasal passages of infected mice.

“Our research suggest that CBD and its metabolite 7-OH-CBD,” which is a compound produced after the body processes CBD, “can block SARS-Cov-2 infection at early and even later stages of infection,” reported the researchers at the University of Chicago.

The study notes that these results are compounded with evidence that people with epilepsy who use the FDA-approved CBD solution (Epidiolex) to manage their symptoms test positive for Covid at significantly lower rates than a sample of matched patients from similar demographic backgrounds who were not taking CBD.


These results are extremely promising, but researchers are also concerned that people will try to use commercially available CBD to prevent or treat Covid:

“Going to your corner bakery and buying some CBD muffins or gummy bears probably won’t do anything,” said Rosner. “The commercially available CBD powder we looked at, which was off the shelf and something you could order online, was sometimes surprisingly of high purity but also of inconsistent quality. It is also hard to get into an oral solution that can be absorbed without the special, FDA-approved formulation,” Rosner said.

The results of these studies make human trials testing the efficacy of CBD for Covid very likely in the future. But until these studies have gone through the same rigorous process that all potential treatments – and vaccines – go through, the FDA website makes clear that people should not be relying on commercially available CBD as a Covid treatment:

“The FDA has not approved or authorized any drug containing CBD for the treatment or prevention of COVID-19. The agency is concerned these deceptive and misleading product claims could cause people to delay or stop appropriate medical treatment for COVID-19, leading to serious and life-threatening harm.”