As CBD has surged in popularity, consumers are beginning to flock to all manner of products containing the cannabinoid. From CBD infused chocolate and other sweets to anti-aging serums and CBD sunscreen, the list of items containing cannabidiol is growing.
Despite the FDA’s official position on CBD in food and drinks, new CBD beverage brands are cropping up every week. And those who are new to CBD or even people who have been using it for years are confused.
The biggest concern, of course, is around safety. Who is regulating these products and how are they manufactured? Are CBD beverages safe to drink alongside your other daily cannabinoid products? Furthermore, are they even effective?
Let’s dive in and answer some of these questions.
How Are CBD Beverages Regulated?
This is an easy question to answer. They are not. In fact, the entire industry remains unregulated, at least at the federal level. There was a lot of talk in 2019 about the establishment of an FDA task force to oversee the CBD industry, but so far that has not happened.
What has taken place, however, is that in March 2020, the FDA announced it has embarked on a more comprehensive evaluation of CBD and the products made with it. This evaluation includes education about the potential risks and unknowns of CBD and more science-based research.
Additionally, the administration has been looking much closer at the way products are marketed. Claims about potential medical benefits (especially those for serious illnesses and diseases) are being heavily scrutinized, and warning letters have been sent to many companies making such claims.
These are important steps toward policies that will keep the public safe and informed, but as it has been since the beginning, it falls on consumers to perform their own due diligence before using any CBD products. This includes checking third-party lab reports, ingredient lists, company backgrounds, the source of the hemp, extraction and manufacturing processes, and more.
Are CBD Beverages Effective?
So far, CBD has only been approved to treat two rare and severe forms of epilepsy. Although there are many studies to suggest that the compound may be effective for other conditions, research is still ongoing and it may be some time before we have definitive answers about CBD’s effectiveness.
There is no shortage of anecdotal information though, and people have been using CBD oil, capsules, and topicals to treat a range of conditions for a few years now.
But do drinks containing CBD really work? Possibly. One of the main concerns is that Cannabinoids are hydrophobic—meaning they just don’t dissolve in water. So making a cannabidiol-infused beverage is not as simple as pouring some CBD oil into a mocktail and calling it good.
While users may experience some benefit from a drink like this, most of the CBD will be metabolized by your liver before it can be utilized in the body. For this reason, it’s unlikely that mixing your own CBD drinks is going to cause any harm beyond that done to your wallet.
Experts say that to get the most benefit from a CBD oil, it should be taken sublingually by holding it under your tongue for 60 to 90 seconds before swallowing. This allows it to be absorbed into the bloodstream via the small mucous membranes in your mouth.
Given that people truly seem to want CBD-based beverages, it’s no surprise that new technologies have been developed to address the problem of solubility. One of the most popular of these is nanoemulsion, where ultrasonic liquid processors are used to break cannabinoids into small particles that can be carried alongside water to penetrate the body’s cells.
CBD brands using nanotechnologies like this claim that the process improves bioavailability, meaning that more CBD is absorbed by the body than with other methods. Theoretically at least, this seems probable. Nanoemulsion has been used successfully for foods and pharmaceuticals for a while now.
Are CBD Beverages Safe to Drink Alongside Your Other Daily Cannabinoid Products?
Whether you are just starting out with CBD or you have been using it for some time, you are probably aware of the challenges of dosing. Because everyone is different, serving sizes vary widely and depend upon factors like weight, age, metabolism, and more.
The problem with beverages and CBD edibles arises primarily when the additional CBD from these products increases the level of cannabinoids in the body. While sipping a CBD seltzer that contains only 15 mg of hemp extract is probably fine, drinking 10 of them in addition to your regular dose of tincture might not be.
The first reason is that we still don’t know the long-term effects of consuming too much CBD. Secondly, CBD has been shown to interact with certain medications just as grapefruit does by inhibiting cytochrome p450 enzymes. If your doctor has given you the green light to take CBD alongside your prescriptions, he or she may not have factored in larger daily doses via CBD-infused beverages. In this case, it’s better to be cautious.
Perhaps more controversial is the perceived benefit of CBD beverages compared to the costs. For those already struggling to purchase CBD oil, specialty products like beverages may feel like an unnecessary splurge. And while they may have potential benefits, there are still a lot of variables.
Our conclusions: CBD beverages may work as an occasional treat but sticking with tried and true products is probably the best way to potentially achieve better health.