CBD has become the buzzword of 2020 when it comes to food and drink. There are TV shows dedicated to cooking with CBD, and drinks containing CBD are available to buy in supermarkets, corner shops and in vending machines.
But, starting from the very beginning, what actually is CBD? And why have CBD products – and in particular – drinks become so popular recently? Oh, and *whispers* will they get you high? Asking for a friend…
We spoke to OTO’s managing directer and co-founder, Gemma Colao and co-founder of Little Rick, Charlotte Nielsen, to get their expert insight into CBD drinks, and how they can benefit you.
What is CBD?
CBD (also known as cannabidiol) is a molecule from the cannabis or hemp plant similar to ones naturally produced in our bodies. These are responsible for keeping the body in balance – or to use the technical term – homeostasis.
When your body doesn’t produce enough, you may struggle with sleep, feel unnecessarily stressed or anxious. And it can also exacerbate chronic illnesses. Supplementing your natural cannabinoids with plant-based CBD can help restore your body’s equilibrium
What are the benefits of CBD? And in particular, the benefits of CBD in food and drink?
CBD is incredibly versatile and can be applied and enjoyed in a variety of ways. When it comes to food and drink, CBD has become very popular. We eat and drink every day; providing many opportunities then for consuming CBD. In fact, over 50% of UK consumers who expect to try CBD for the first time this year, want to do so through a drink. It’s a ritual for trying things that we are very comfortable and familiar with – as we expect an effect from a drink or food; making it an accessible way to try something new.
“You either love or hate the taste of CBD,” Charlotte says. “So consuming it as part of a food/drink makes it palatable for those who are in the ‘hate’ camp. The benefit of having CBD in a drink (as an emulsion) is that there are tiny balls of CBD oil – called Liposomes – submersed in the drink, which makes it much easier to absorb, which in turn, makes means it gets to work faster. When drinking Little Rick it takes around 30 minutes, on a full stomach, for cannabinoids to reach the bloodstream, and the effects last around 6-8 hours.
What are the effects of CBD?
“I first discovered CBD as a way of managing my own anxiety whilst working in fashion, which led to me setting up OTO,” Gemma explains.
CBD is incredibly powerful, and we are only just beginning to scratch the surface of its potential benefits. A growing body of evidence is revealing how CBD can help with sleep, stress, mood and certain skin conditions, as well as pain management and inflammation.
With so many of us experiencing problems getting the sleep our bodies need, troubling sleeping is one of the most popular reasons for taking CBD. The need for natural, powerful remedies like CBD has never been greater.
Gemma adds, “A lot of times, people think CBD is a cure-all, and it’s not. You should also lead a healthy lifestyle with plenty of exercise and good nutrition. In short, CBD forms part of the solution not the whole solution.”
How can you tell how much CBD is in a product?
Charlotte explains, “It’s always worth looking for CBD content in terms of milligrams, or trying to calculate the milligrams from the % advertised, as this will help consumers understand how to dose. The FSA has a recommended dose of up to 70mg per day, and anything less than 10mg will likely not have much effect.”
Why do you think CBD drinks have become so popular recently?
Gemma says that while there is absolutely a danger of this becoming a fad driven by low-quality CBD drinks, there remains a huge demand for the category.
“We’ve seen a growing ‘healthy hedonism’ trend towards wellness and ‘mindful drinking’ when socialising. It doesn’t have to mean abstaining from alcohol entirely, but instead is about having the option to create a balanced life and empowering people to make decisions that work for them.
She adds, “In the UK, 65% of consumers aged 25-34 surveyed said they were trying to reduce their alcohol intake, but 61% had not considered low or no alcohol products which shows a huge market growth potential in this category.
“There is increasing media coverage of mental health, self-care, and how to moderate alcohol consumption as part of a ‘best-lived life’. And the wellness drive can also be seen in changing attitudes towards soft drinks. Consumers are flocking to soft drinks with added benefits through vitamins, ‘super-foods’ and probiotics. Look at the rise of coconut water, kombucha, ginger ‘shots’ etc. – all of which are already being trumped by CBD given its potential.
“I think growth will continue to be massive – so long as there’s no shortage of demand for high quality, good tasting products that recreate the ‘treat experience’ of a traditional drink whilst providing the benefits of a health supplement.”
What does the future of CBD in the food and drink industry look like?
According to Savills, the CBD market in general is currently worth £300million in the UK, a figure that is expected to more than triple in the next five years. That equates to a £1billion market in CBD alone by 2025.
But it’s not as simple as that, thanks to good ol’ Brexit.
Charlotte says, “The future of CBD-based food and drink in the UK is a little unknown at the moment as we wait for Brexit and new FSA guidelines to be made. We know that from March next year we will definitely start seeing the number of companies decreasing as valid FSA food applications will be due then, which will be a rarity in the market.
“So, although the demand is increasing, the number of brands left will be much smaller. But we will be left with high quality, trusted companies who will be able to innovate more freely amongst the regulations so it will be an exciting time for us all. Think CBD restaurants, and more research into how it can be used for various applications.”
And finally, can CBD get you high?
In a word, no. CBD will not make you ‘high’. It’s best to think of it as a naturally occurring substance similar to a vitamin, that’s used to impart a feeling of relaxation and calm. Cannabis plants produce tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) as well as cannabidiol (CBD). It’s the THC that causes the ‘high’ you get from smoking or ingesting cannabis, but seeing as there’s none of that in CBD products, no… CBD does not get you high.
Speak to your GP before trying CBD if you are taking medication.