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Do CBD-infused massages live up to their marketing claims?

Spas tout benefits of CBD oil
Spas promote benefits of CBD oil, but the science isn't in yet 02:17

CBD has been popping up as an ingredient in drinks, snacks, and even cosmetics across the country. The latest wellness trend is derived from cannabis but doesn't contain THC, the chemical that gets you high.

CBD, or cannabidiol, is being marketed as the answer for all kinds of health problems, and a growing number of spas across the U.S. are adding CBD-infused massages to their list of services.

"CBD is great for relieving inflammation and pain and it's also good for relaxation and reduction of anxiety and stress," Demetri Travlos, a massage therapist at Chillhouse in New York City, told CBS News.

But experts say the CBD trend is taking off faster than the science can keep up. 

"We are still at the beginning of trying to understand what CBD does in the body," said Dr. Margaret Haney from Columbia University Medical Center. 

Haney is internationally recognized for her research on cannabis. She says while she's excited about the potential of CBD, right now there is little evidence to support its medical claims. 

"We don't know as scientists if it gets absorbed, how it's acting, what dose one needs, so there's so many unanswered questions. I need placebo-controlled evidence to be convinced," Haney said.

Still, CBD has many advocates.

Breanna Arrington is an actor and a personal trainer, so it was a major setback when she recently injured a muscle in her hip.

"An injury will definitely not only not allow me to do my 'job-job', but also it takes a little bit of me away, a little bit of me dies," she said.

Physical therapy didn't help, so a few months ago she turned to massages using cream infused with CBD. Arrington says she quickly saw results. She gets a CBD massage twice a month and says, "I'm back doing the things that I like to do, back at Taekwondo, back lifting, using my body in dynamic ways."

Experts say consumers should be aware that products made with CBD are not currently regulated by the FDA.

In March, U.S. health officials announced the FDA will hold a public hearing on May 31 to gather more information on the science, manufacturing and sale of cannabis compounds like CBD.

One major concern is that CBD labels are not always accurate. A 2017 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found 70 percent of the 84 CBD products tested were mislabeled.

"You're really flying by the seat of your pants when you buy this stuff," Marcel Bonn-Miller, Ph.D., of the University of Pennsylvania, told the Associated Press.

A product labeled as containing 100 milligrams of CBD may only have 5 milligrams, or it may have 200, he said. Bonn-Miller is now an adviser for a company that sells CBD and other cannabis products. He didn't work in the industry when he did the research. 

"I wouldn't trust any of it until I knew independently it was safe," he said.

Experts recommend asking to see testing reports before purchasing CBS products.

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