This supplement claims to reduce the negative effects of caffeine consumption – so does it really work or is there a whiff of snake oil?
A relatively new product to hit the coffee market is CBD oil, which has proved popular in the United States and is now appearing on the shelves of several speciality coffee shops in the UK. Like most products claiming innovation, there is a cloud of ambiguity surrounding its legitimacy.
What is it?
CBD, or cannabidiol, is one of 104 cannabinoid compounds found in cannabis. The best-known of these is probably THC, which is the psychoactive compound that causes the “high”. CBD is extracted, combined with a carrier oil such as coconut or hemp seed, and sold as a health supplement. The CBD oil market is predicted to be worth over US$2 billion by 2026, according to data compiled by Transparency Market Research.
Is it definitely legal?
Cannabis itself is a controlled substance under the 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act. However, CBD is extracted from non-drug strains of cannabis such as hemp and does not contain THC. Plainly speaking, it is legal to sell, purchase and possess CBD oil in the UK, as long as the THC levels in each bottle remain under 0.2%. However, there is no standardised testing and some tests have shown varying levels of THC.
CBD oil is sometimes prescribed by healthcare professionals to combat anxiety in patients. There are more than 2,100 published studies relating to CBD on biomedical literature resource PubMed alone, of which 970 relate to human studies. However, the differences between what is available on prescription and over the counter are significant.
According to the NHS, there is no guarantee that CBD products in health food stores and cafés will be of good quality, and a good chance that many of these products will contain traces of THC.
Why is it used in coffee?
It’s a well-known fact that the caffeine in coffee stimulates the brain, spiking energy levels and sharpening mental focus. However, a common side effect of drinking coffee is increased anxiety levels, particularly for those who have over-consumed. Although brands cannot legally make any hard medical claims about CBD oil’s effects on the body (as it falls into the nutraceutical category rather than pharmaceutical), brands that sell it are suggesting that CBD consumption may prevent some of the negative effects of caffeine.
Several notable UK coffee brands such as Minor Figures have recently cashed in on the trend, creating their very own CBD oil blend. The typical method of using CBD is as a tincture, placing a few drops under your tongue after drinking coffee to supposedly reduce hyperactivity of the mind and nervous system. Another method of CBD consumption is CBD-infused coffee.
Does it actually work?
Individual consumers have reported positive effects on their body, but objective research has largely been unable to trace these observations back to scientific reasoning. To add to the dubiousness of its efficacy, there is no standardised dosage for CBD oil – some brands suggest a few drops (up to 15) per usage, while others say you need at least 30mg to get any real effect.
Essentially, the evidence backing its efficacy has thus far been anecdotal, and empirical data proving it can reduce anxiety and enhance your mood is lacking.
It seems to be a space that is about individual exploration and finding what works for you. Do your research, understand the language and if it works for you then test, try, taste! However,we will have to wait for more conclusive research before it significantly changes the way we all consume coffee.