One aspect of the CBD industry that’s booming right now are CBD edibles. CBD edibles are types of foods that have been infused with CBD. They’re becoming an increasingly popular option for many who may be interested in CBD but don’t wish to consume in smoking or vaping. To better understand the mechanics of CBD in foods, I interviewed three professionals specializing in nutrition: Katie Stem, Claudia le Feuvre and Dr. Elisabeth Philipps.
Stem is a professional herbalist as well as the Founder and CEO of Peak Extracts, an Oregon based cannabis company that produces some truly sensational edibles. Le Feuvre is a Nutritional Therapist and Eating Psychology Coach with 14 years of experience in clinical practice. She’s also the Co-Founder of Mighty Green, an online, UK based CBD marketplace, and lectures at the UK College of Nutrition & Health in her spare time. Dr. Philipps is a clinical neuroscientist who runs a health consultancy specialising in nutritional neurology, gut-brain axis disorders, the endocannabinoid system and CBD. She’s also the Clinical & Scientific Advisor for fourfivecbd.
Before we dive into all of the new types of CBD edibles on the market, let’s briefly consider what benefits could come from adding CBD to foods.
There are plenty of compelling reasons why adding CBD to food could be a good thing. One of those is increased access to CBD.
“From a medicinal standpoint, that helps with compliance. People will be more likely to take medicine consistently if it is something they want to eat and would consume usually,” says Stem.
A larger number of available CBD edibles also means that, “…it’s more likely that those with dietary restrictions will be able to find a product that works for them,” adds Stem.
“The right extract of CBD in the right food product may well have benefits,” begins Dr. Philipps.
“There are lots of studies that have looked at CBD naturally balancing the body’s endocannabinoid system, which in turn controls inflammation, sleep cycles, and helps in conditions like anxiety,” she continues. “Studies also suggest CBD and hormone control helping conditions like PMS and endometriosis; as well as epilepsy, PTSD and multiple sclerosis.”
In other words, CBD acts on our endocannabinoid systems (known as the ECS) to help our bodies maintain a state of balance, or homeostasis. CBD’s therapeutic effects stem from this need for balance, which is why CBD can affect everyone differently depending on your own unique needs.
So just what kind of CBD goodies are available on shelves nowadays? Nearly every kind of product you can think of.
One of the most popular types of CBD foods are CBD gummies. Gummies can come in all shapes, sizes and forms imaginable across a variety of dosages. Many consumers enjoy gummies because they’re accessible, discreet and portable.
In this vein CBD edibles in the “candy” category have become extremely commonplace, if not the established norm. You can now find CBD candy such as Sunday Scaries’ “Unicorn Jerky”; enjoy snacking on CBD fruit chews, pop a CBD mint in your mouth or even delight in some super discreet CBD gum.
Many “candy” based edibles, however, are laden with sugars and preservatives which poses an issue for consumers seeking the therapeutic properties of CBD.
“I would always suggest eating as many whole foods as possible and avoiding overly processed foods and drinks, especially those containing additives, artificial sweeteners, and chemically processed fats and sugar,” suggests Dr. Philipps.
These edibles can come in full spectrum, broad spectrum and as isolate products. Products that use CBD isolate are by far the most common, however.
“Chocolates are another good way of consuming CBD,” begins Stem. That’s due to the fact that chocolate is rich in fat, which makes chocolate an ideal vessel for CBD.
“CBD oil loves fat,” adds Le Feuvre, “so combining for example with chocolate, salad dressings or even the natural oils from coffee beans is a good pairing for CBD.”
Chocolate bars, like gummies, are available as full/broad spectrum as well as isolate based products.
Unlike many manufacturers who commonly opt for cheap isolates, Peak Extracts’ chocolate bars rely on CO2 extraction and a proprietary process that preserves terpenes. They source flower from local farms such as East Fork Cultivars who are well-known for their organic CBD, and ensure every chocolate bar is thoroughly lab tested.
The end result is nothing short of magical: an antioxidant rich, dark chocolate bar loaded with CBD and terpenes.
Other manufacturers such as Gron are opting for a different approach entirely. Gron relies on lichen derived CBD for their chocolate bars rather than hemp-derived CBD. While the therapeutic benefits of this type of CBD have yet to be researched, this process creates a bar that’s blissfully free of the tell-tale hemp flavor.
The most common type of CBD edible is the old school baked good, usually a cookie or brownie. Today the term ‘baked good’ has expanded considerably beyond its original meaning. It now includes a litany of new CBD products such as savory crackers, CBD-rich bread and even CBD cereals. These goods are usually made by baking with CBD oil.
Tempting though they may be, baked CBD goods have a few caveats attached to them.
“Baked goods and gummies can be prone to inconsistent dosing (hot spots) so I never recommend them unless it’s from a reputable source,” says Stem.
Another issue associated with baked goods? Heat may affect your CBD.
“Heating may well denature (destroy) CBD’s activity,” explains Dr. Philipps. “If you cook/ bake with CBD, whatever little bit is absorbed may not work in the body. For this reason I add CBD to my own raw food recipes.”
Dr. Philipps’ Instagram page, incidentally, is full with plenty of CBD recipes, facts and other fun tips to help you incorporate CBD into your diet.
“Raw” foods is an umbrella term that encompasses many common health foods which are not heated or extensively processed. This includes CBD honey, trail mix, granola, energy balls/bites and related items. It can also include powder blends such as CBD protein powder. These types of foods are ideal for those seeking full health benefits of CBD as they have not been heated, preserving the volatile CBD and terpenes within. Select foods in this category such as CBD cacao powder are also rich in antioxidants.
The type of CBD used in these products can vary greatly. Many use CBD isolate, but with careful shopping you can find products that use broad or full spectrum CBD oil.
The latest and greatest CBD food trend to emerge? Pairing CBD with adaptogens. But just what exactly are adaptogens? Dr. Philipps explains:
“Adaptogens are a select group of herbs (and some mushrooms) that support the body’s natural ability to deal with stress. They are called adaptogens because of their unique ability to “adapt” their function according to the specific needs of the body.”
It’s easy to see why consumers love pairing adaptogens with CBD: the two are a clear match for one another. The adaptogenic market is projected to grow by leaps and bounds over the next decade. And while adaptogens are traditionally thought of as belonging to a select group of herbs (ashwagandha, maca root, rhodiola, siberian ginseng and holy basil), there are some who are beginning to consider CBD to be an adaptogen in and of itself.
Adaptogens help the ECS function by regulating the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, “the system that modulates the body’s response to stress, immune function, energy expenditure, mood, emotions, and libido,” says Dr. Philipps.
You can find CBD and adaptogenic gourmet truffles now along with CBD adaptogen powder blends used to make cocoa and other drinks. Adaptogenic based tinctures are also quickly becoming popular as are gummies that pair them with CBD.
The idea of adding CBD to food is extremely appealing for a number of reasons: increased ease of use, access, discretion and portability are just a few. But all of those benefits are contingent on finding and correctly using the right type of CBD.
Determining the right type of CBD can prove to be a challenge.
“In general, the CBD health bandwagon has been hijacked and really the best way of getting CBD is through carefully extracted and produced food supplements,” notes Dr. Philipps.
Many consumers, for one thing, may not respond to CBD edibles very well or at all. This is due to a phenomenon known as “the first pass effect.”
“Consuming CBD as food relies on it passing through the digestive system. This means it can take longer for CBD to be assimilated into the bloodstream and to have an effect,” explains Le Feuvre. “Using CBD drops means you have an exact dose and assimilation happens under the tongue. This bypasses the digestive system altogether, which can be a huge advantage especially if a client has digestive/assimilation issues.”
Choosing a CBD food that’s high in beneficial fats may help with absorption as well, says Dr. Philipps.
“Eating CBD with foods high in healthy fats (either as capsules or CBD food products) may help absorption in the gut.”
You should always consult a CBD purchasing guide before shopping for products to ensure your edible is safe to consume. Make sure your product has been tested by a third party lab and be wary of any brand making health claims as doing so is currently banned across the US and UK.
What edibles and trends will we continue to see over the next few years? Only time will tell.