Food and beverage industry has caught up with the Cannabidiol – a non-psychoactive cannabis ingredient — trend which has the potential to grow up to $200 billion a year. Even with the lack of regulations, there is no dearth of people finding creative ways to take CBD – especially in the form of CBD infused food and drinks. The industry has tapped into this lucrative market because of CBD’s apparent popularity to help with many health conditions including stress, sleep disorders, joint pain and behavioral issues.
CBD stands for cannabidiol, a molecular compound that has almost exactly the same chemical structure as THC: tetrahydrocannabinol. While THC is psychoactive, CBD is not psychoactive and it does not affect the body’s neural receptors which creates mood-altering highs. It is said to offer much the same benefits as medical marijuana.
Effects of CBD in beverages
CBD infused drinks are not meant to be intoxicating and the amount of CBD in the average drink is rather low. However, promoters suggest that drinking cannabidiol provides longer-lasting effects. CBD drinks are not used for daily consumption but rather a treat. However, users are unlikely to experience anything profound. Studies have shown that CBD is effective at reducing anxiety at the same time consuming large amounts of CBD is likely to make the person feel fatigued and inattentive.
Bioavailability is defined as: “the degree and rate of which a substance (such as a drug) is absorbed into a living system or is made available at the site of interaction”, or in other words, how effectively your body can process and use a substance, like CBD. Oral CBD administration has a more prolonged onset. However, CBD-infused foods and drinks have low bioavailability of around 6%, which means 94% of the CBD ingested is wasted. This is because the fat-soluble molecules don’t dissolve well in our water-rich bodies. This led to the invention of water-soluble CBD.
Adding CBD to drinks
CBD advocates have made health claims that are far beyond scientific evidence, meanwhile critics have dismissed Cannabidiol as just another scam. Over the last two years, CBD was distributed in the form of oils and supplements, even in places with no level of cannabis legalization. However, in recent times, there is a shift from supplements towards chocolates and beverages.
Water is the most popular CBD drink. In its natural form, cannabinoids are oil based compounds that do not mix in water. This becomes a problem when you ingest CBD oils, because our bodies are made of 60% water and therefore have trouble absorbing the oils effectively. Brands that create it claim that they use nanotechnology to reduce particle size. This process seemingly increases the body’s ability to absorb CBD according to studies based on lipid based nanoparticles. Nanotechnology utilizes sound waves to break CBD into even smaller particles. These minuscule particles can then be transferred by nanocarriers (such as liposomes) that protect the CBD while attracting water. However, supermarket shelves are exposed to light and air which degrades CBD particles.
For CBD users, this drink is expensive and provides lesser CBD content. CBD Living’s plain water for example has a pH of 9.0 and 10mg of CBD per 500ml. This brand contains more cannabidiol than most water brands. The majority of users ultimately take at least 20mg a day, though some feel happy with what 10mg does for them. The debate on the efficacy of using nanotechnology continues to rage.
There were rumor that Coca Cola began talks with a Canadian cannabis provider to create a wellness beverage and it shook the market. Canadian cannabis providers experienced their stock ballooning more than 300%. The Coco Cola stamp of credibility would have changed the game for the cannabis chemical formulation, with policy makers and regulators taking it very seriously. Meanwhile, Warren Buffet, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway and its Vice Chairman stated that it would be a wrong move for Coca-Cola to enter the marijuana-cannabis industry.
CBD soda is a carbonated drink infused with the cannabinoid. It typically comes in a variety of pleasant flavors. As it is ingested and absorbed like CBD oil, it has the same effects in theory. In most cases, makers of this beverage infuse it with CBD isolate or a full-spectrum CBD oil. You can add a few drops of a tincture to a soda if you wish. It will float on the surface but could save you a few bucks!
Breweries have been experimenting with CBD-infused beers and they are seen largely as a novelty. In Vermont, the Long Trail Brewery is fast becoming one of the east coast’s biggest sellers of CBD-infused beer. Big names in the beer world, like Molson Coors and Constellation Brands have entered the market ,and similarly smaller breweries such as Portland’s Coalition Brewing Company. In 2018, the Stockton Brewing Company based out of the United Kingdom announced its plan to release a CBD beer called Buffalo Soldier Hemp Ale and classified it as a ‘refreshing blonde ale.’ Constellation Brands, which owns Modelo Beers and Corona acquired a 40% stake for $4bn of Canopy Growth Corp, Canada’s largest cannabis producer. Brewers are also taking chances with wine and spirits but there is no study yet on how CBD mixes with water. Those who have tried the combination suggest it amplifies the experience. In 2018, Wild Horse Winery, Mark West, Ruffin and spirits, raised their stakes to 38% from 10% in Canopy Growth. CBD is mixed with wine via nanoemulsion. The flavor and aroma of wine remain intact while the alcohol is replaced with CBD. Although there is reduced calorie intake, dosage needs to be monitored. For medicinal benefits, users might have to consume excessive amounts of wine. Studies have found that CBD helped reduce alcohol intake, prevented relapse, and decreased motivation to consume alcohol.
A CBD energy drink offers a healthier alternative to brands such as Red Bull. CBD is a natural energy booster and so it makes perfect sense that it would be introduced into the sugar-saturated energy drink market. The most common ingredient in energy drinks is caffeine. There is currently no official recommendation for caffeine consumption, but increased amounts can be linked to high blood pressure and even sudden death. The second ingredient is guarana. It is reported that the FDA has not examined the risks or benefits of guarana so its properties are completely unknown. A third active energy drink ingredient is sugar which is addictive and bad for health. CBD energy drinks are said to provide perks of an energy drink without causing much damage
Tea and Coffee drinkers have also options for adding CBD into their drink. People living with chronic pain are turning to CBD as it is considered as a natural analgesic and shown to inhibit the body’s absorption of anandamide. They are being encouraged to try CBD Turmeric teas, Turmeric Golden Milk CBD etc. Combining turmeric and black pepper is said to boost the fight against inflammation, increase digestion and boost immunity. The critical starting point in the ingredients for CBD tea and other products is to get rid of THC content and make sure it is below the federally accepted level of 0.3%. Hemp contains 0.3-1.5% but marijuana ranges from 5-12% .
Cannabidiol can be added to coffee, whether it’s a roast, an espresso, a cold brew, or blended with milk. CBD can be infused during the roasting process or added as CBD oil after coffee is prepared. Each process has different aroma and users are likely to make the choice. CBD coffee has been on the circuit for quite a while now. None of the users have reported any ill-effects on their bodies.
Kombucha is a naturally-carbonated, sweet-and-sour drink made from tea that dates back almost 2,000 years. CBD kombucha is prepared by mixing CBD oil with kombucha tea. The CBD-infused kombucha market is still fairly shallow. Its promoters suggest that Cannabucha or Cannabis Kombucha can help those who suffer from gut diseases, obesity and can help with risk of heart diseases.
Companies are also making CBD and THC powder packets that allow users to concoct their own instant drinks in the comfort of your home. As long as the brand can provide third-party lab testing, users can understand how much CBD they can take with each serving. However, safety is a huge concern.
Challenges faced by the F&B industry
Lack of clear legal status presents real challenges. In 2019, U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued warning letters to 15 companies for illegally selling products containing CBD, saying they had violated the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. The federal government has not concluded that CBD is “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS) for use in human or animal food. Thus, CBD in food and drink is still illegal in the US. The UK on the other hand allows the sale of CBD products as long as they contain less than 0.2 percent THC and don’t claim any medical benefits.
It is not easy to find cheap or inexpensive CBD drinks because brands have to use high quality hemp. In addition to this, brands have to consider the need for refrigerated storage.
Another challenge is that misinformation about CBS is prevalent in the market and when the chemical compositions are added into lattes and other beverages, its effects get even more opaque. There is no way for consumers to feel confident about what or how much they are ingesting and dosage has a big impact. Customers also do not have the information if a pure form of CBD has been used. Coffee shops decide the sourcing and dosing and it is upto them whether to be transparent or not.
Growth can happen if there is authorized CBD research. This depends on how many organizations can fund such research. As awareness grows, so does the demand.