CBD Edibles: Are They Worth It?
The market for CBD consumer products has boomed since passage of the Hemp Farming Act of 2018, which made industrial hemp growing legal in the U.S. You may already be familiar with them: CBD tinctures, CBD edibles, CBD lotions and salves, CBD capsules, CBD chapstick, CBD vape distillate and so on. Products can be purchased in nearly all states, but the federal government doesn’t regulate the CBD market as it does with FDA-approved supplements. So, you’re on your own to investigate the claims on a CBD supplier’s product label or website.
Perhaps you’ve researched edibles, but you still have doubts as to whether they’re worth buying. Let’s look into some of the important issues concerning CBD edibles.
1. What types are available?
Several types of CBD-infused edibles have grown in popularity for their convenience of use: pills and capsules, gummies, chocolate bites and protein bars, to name a few. Having individual pieces makes it easy to know how much CBD you’ve taken, although the amount of CBD varies from one product to another. Other types of infused products, such as water and sodas, are available in some areas. But the FDA’s position is that CBD isn’t generally recognized as safe for use in human or animal food, and it doesn’t accept any suggestion that you can cook with CBD oil or add it to other foods.
2. Are CBD edibles safe and effective?
CBD edibles are generally safe if taken as directed on the product labeling. But because there are currently no industry standards for the amount of CBD you can take, you shouldn’t take as much as you want. For example, chewing a handful of gummies or chocolate bites—instead of melting only one under your tongue—might cause side effects like diarrhea, nausea, headache, dry mouth or fatigue. Edibles might look like snacks, but it doesn’t mean you consume them that way.
But the jury is still out on whether CBD edibles are truly effective to ease pain or anxiety, due to limited scientific studies. In addition, CBD has not been approved by the FDA as a dietary supplement, and processors and sellers can’t make claims about any medical benefits of CBD. A reputable company will inform you in their marketing and packaging that their products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease or condition.
To increase your knowledge about a product’s safety, make sure that the CBD edible you’re thinking of buying has been tested by a third-party lab and has a Certificate of Analysis—either online through a package’s QR code or at the shop itself—that lists the amount of CBD and other ingredients. An isolate will have only CBD as its active ingredient; a broad-spectrum product will contain every chemical compound in the hemp flower except for THC; and a full-spectrum product will also include <0.3% THC.
3. How does CBD work?
Endocannabinoid receptors in the body receive signals from the brain that trigger the onset of pain or distress. When CBD enters the bloodstream and interacts with these receptors, it can inhibit or reduce the intensity of the signals. But since everybody is unique, CBD affects each person differently (and sometimes not at all). A particular product might help ease pain for you, but it may not work for someone else.
A concern unique to CBD edibles is bioavailability, or how much of the product remains active after passing through the stomach and the liver. Some studies suggest that only a certain percentage of CBD—estimates range from 5 to 30 percent—is actually bioavailable, the majority having been dissolved by liver enzymes. Because CBD is fat-soluble in the body, many processors add a “carrier oil” to increase the bioavailability level and speed CBD into the bloodstream, Also, a capsule or pill with coconut oil might be your preferred type of edible because it can be taken during a meal, when most digestion occurs. Desired effects could begin from a half-hour to two or more hours after taking it, but they might last six to eight hours.
Some capsules are designed for either daytime or nighttime use. Daytime capsules often include caffeine (to increase alertness), while nighttime capsules may contain melatonin (to induce drowsiness). If you buy both, be sure you know which bottle you open before you take the capsule—otherwise, you might take a nighttime capsule during the daytime, or vice versa.
4. How much should I take?
It’s always a good idea to follow the directions on the label. But still the best advice is to start low and ramp up slowly until you reach the desired effect. CBD affects people differently, and the right amount that proves effective can depend on your weight, metabolism and CBD tolerance. It might take a few weeks to reach that amount—but once you do, keep taking the same amount when going forward. And before you begin taking it, check with your doctor to find out whether CBD can help you with your conditions, what the starting amount should be, and what interactions it could have with medications you’re currently on.