What's in your CBD? Raleigh company tests, reviews popular remedies

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- CBD is a booming business that promises "natural" remedies for everything from anxiety to sleep disorders, but not all CBD is created equal. The industry is largely unregulated which can make it difficult for consumers to know which brands to trust.

The staff at a Raleigh-based company said they want to help people looking for CBD make a more informed choice.

Marc Lewis and Jay Butler are the Executive Editor and Managing Director of Remedy Review. The site reviews and tests natural remedies. They say their goal is to help consumers navigate the ever-changing landscape of natural health with articles and information that are easy to understand.

"There's not a lot of regulation in this space. The manufacturing processes are kind of still in the infancy so people are still learning to make good CBD products," Lewis said. "The biggest issue there is are you getting what you pay for when you buy a CBD product."

Remedy Review recently purchased 15 popular CBD products from different brands and took them to Avazyme, Inc. for testing. Avazyme is an independent lab that is certified and licensed by both the U.S. Federal Drug Enforcement Administration and the State of North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

The products were tested for levels of CBD, pesticides, heavy metals, and solvents.

"At the end of the day, if you're consuming products for your health benefit, you care about what's in it and namely that you're getting the right levels of whatever that thing is," said Butler.

Avazyme CEO Volker Borneman said testing found discrepancies with some of the product labels. Results from Avazyme found eight of the 15 products tested contained at least 20 percent less CBD than what was advertised.

Medical experts say in addition to potentially varying CBD levels, consumers should be concerned about the possibility of ingesting or inhaling pesticides, solvents, or other unknown substances that can lead to serious side effects.

"That can cause seizures, that can cause muscle breakdown, it can cause kidney failure, the most common thing we see is probably confusion," said Dr. Matt Young, an emergency department physician at WakeMed in Cary.

Dr. Young said treating patients who have adverse reactions after using CBD products can be difficult because there is no way to know exactly what was in the product.

"You're kind of at the mercy of whoever filled that vape pen or bottle as to know what's in there. Is there pesticide? Is there heavy metal? How did they grow the hemp? How did they extract the CBD oils?" Young said.

Remedy Review said answering all of those questions is the main goal.

"We're trying to be that consumer voice and really inform and connect consumers with products they can trust," Butler said.

You can see all of the Avazyme test results and complete product reviews at Remedy Review.

The Food and Drug Administration is also concerned with what's in CBD products. The agency stresses these points:

  • The FDA has approved only one CBD product, a prescription drug product to treat two rare, severe forms of epilepsy.
  • It is illegal to market CBD by adding it to a food or labeling it as a dietary supplement.
  • The FDA has seen only limited data about CBD safety and these data point to real risks that need to be considered before taking CBD for any reason.
  • Some CBD products are being marketed with unproven medical claims and are of unknown quality.
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