CBD or cannabidiol, the non-psychoactive element of the cannabis plant, continues to be the most-talked-about ingredient in wellness right now. From leggings to deodorants to lube, that good (wellness) kush is in almost too many things—including squishy gummy candies. But given that there are so many different ways to consume CBD—from powders and supplements to tinctures—are CBD gummies’ effects worth spending your hard-earned cash on?
Here’s the thing: People turn to CBD for a number of reasons: to support thier sleep, quell anxiety, or fight inflammation. And boy do they sound great when your grandmother, sister-and-law, and coworkers sing their praises. But when you’re deciding whether CBD gummies (or CBD in any form) are right for you, remember that the science has yet caught up to most of CBD’s fanfare.
“There is very little data from rigorous scientific research on the therapeutic effects of CBD,” J. H. Atkinson, MD, of the Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research at the University of California, San Diego previously told Well+Good.
Still, though, the massive market for CBD (which is estimated to reach $24 billion by 2024) suggests that many people can make an anecdotal case for the ingredient. And Jessica Mulligan, founder of gummy CBD company Winged, believes that peoples’ interest in CBD in its gummy form (and others) really comes down to a need to calm the nervous system in a world that’s stress-inducing and fast-paced.
“CBD nourishes an important system in our bodies called the endocannabinoid system, which balances and regulates our other systems, such as the nervous system and the immune system,” says Mulligan. “Once in the bloodstream, CBD has been shown to affect nearly every tissue and gland by stimulating receptor sites of the endocannabinoid system.” She adds that CBD has been found to positively affect your serotonin or “happiness” chemicals while decreasing cortisol (stress hormone) levels.
Again: It bears repeating that much of this research was conducted on non-human subjects like rats, or happens to be a couple of decades old. (Read: non-conclusive.) So, really, most of the benefits of CBD should be taken with a hefty grain of salt. Once you’ve weighed the evidence—both anecdotal and scientific—here’s a dietitian’s verdict on whether or not gummies are the best way to consume your CBD.
Dear dietitian, are CBD gummies’ effects worth the rest of the ingredient list?
Since CBD supplements such as gummies aren’t heavily regulated by the FDA, you won’t always find a nutrition label that tells you exactly how many milligrams of sugar and added sugar you’re dealing with. That’s a problem, because if you perform a quick Google search, you’ll find one trend consistent over many, many CBD gummy products: sugar is the first, or one of the first, ingredients. PureKana Premium CBD Gummies ($40), for example, list organic cane sugar, organic tapioca syrup, and organic grape juice concentrate as its first three components (all of which are sugar). Premium Jane’s Premium CBD Gummies ($55) has organic glucose syrup and organic cane sugar as its first two ingredients.
That’s why Brooke Alpert, RD, dietitian and founder of CBD company Daily Habit, isn’t a big fan of CBD gummies. “From a nutrition perspective, there are no benefits of having CBD in a gummy form,” she says. “As a dietitian, and as someone who was outspoken against extra sugar in your diet, for me, gummies seem like a bit of a contradiction when it comes to health.”
Experts recommend eating no more than 25 milligrams of added sugar per day, and a gummy here and there can certainly count toward that guideline. So the question, really, is whether or not you’re okay with CBD contributing to the amount of sugar you eat in a day. “From a habitual perspective, if it’s something that people are excited and looking forward to taking, then that means they’re going to be getting the CBD they need for whatever ails them,” says Alpert. Review the pros and cons and make a call on what’s right for your body (… and mind, adrenal glands, etcetera).
Whether you decide to nix CBD gummies in favor of a less sugary option or not, Alpert really wants you to remember that just because you’re taking CBD, that doesn’t mean your body is absorbing it properly. “When it comes to consuming CBD for the best benefits, you need to consume it with fat,” says Alpert. “It’s very similar to the fat-soluble vitamin. For vitamins A, D, and K, you fat in the diet for it to be well absorbed.”
CBD tinctures and powders will often use some sort of fat as the base for their formula, and that’s really what you need to look for when you pick up gummies, too, Alpert says. Winged’s Relaxation CBD Gummies ($35) use olive oil, Charlotte’s Web Calm CBD Gummies ($55) use MCT oil.
Last, but certainly not least, Alpert notes that she always follows three rules when purchasing CBD—regardless of whether or not it’s in candy form:
1. Always, always buy a full spectrum product: “There lot of other awesome compounds that are found in the cannabis plant along with CBD, like CBG, CBN, and even perhaps a very small dose of THC,” says Alpert. When they mix together, they form something that Alpert refers to as the entourage effect. Meaning, they make CBD work even better.
2. Buy it organic and grown in the USA: “At this stage, things are so unregulated with the CBD world and it’s still the Wild, Wild West. I feel very comfortable with CBD that has been grown in the United States and ideally grown in organic soil,” says Alpert.
3. Look for a transparent brand: By this, Alpert simply means to invest in brands that are open and honest about their practices. “Any brand that’s willing to show you what their most recent third-party test is will be most likely a brand that’s doing the right thing,” says Alpert. Those gummies should (metaphorically speaking) be see-through. Not green. Not red, but clear.
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