What does the science say about CBD?26 Aug 2019
Research into the effects of CBD oil has been hampered by strict regulation, but a growing number of consumers swear by its efficacy for a wide range of issues including relief from pain, anxiety, insomnia and depression.
CBD, or cannabidiol, is a non-hallucinogenic component of the cannabis plant, the second most prevalent after its psychoactive counterpart THC. While CBD is found in medical marijuana, most CBD oil for food and drink use is sourced from the hemp plant, a close relation of marijuana. According to a World Health Organization report, CBD has a good safety profile and to date there is no evidence of any public health related problems associated with its use.
Evidence of safety is one thing, but evidence of efficacy is something else entirely. While CBD has been touted for many health benefits, the strongest evidence so far is as a treatment for certain childhood epilepsy syndromes, and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved a cannabis-derived drug for this use, Epidiolex, which contains CBD. Apart from this, more research is needed to prove the specific effects of CBD, although a recent study suggested it might be useful for alleviating insomnia and anxiety in some people.
The small study, published in The Permanente Journal, looked at how it affected just 103 patients, and had variable results. Evidence for its purported pain relief effects is even scarcer, although some researchers suggest that studies in animals look promising.
It is possible – perhaps probable – that researchers will not be able to prove that CBD provides all the benefits that industry currently promises. But it is also possible that the current body of research does not tell the full story. Research into the effects of CBD is in its infancy, partly because governments have regulated it as an illegal drug. In the United States, for instance, many of the studies that form the basis for the country’s burgeoning CBD market were conducted in other countries, but the FDA relaxed regulations in December 2015, meaning it is now easier for researchers to conduct CBD trials.
Those providing CBD as an ingredient to the food and beverage industry are not all small players or start-ups. Sustainable ingredient specialist Amyris, for example, signed a commercialisation partnership for cannabinoids with a confidential partner in early 2019 in a deal reportedly worth up to $255 million. And while market entry tends to be slower for big brand manufacturers, Heineken-owned Lagunitas Brewing has developed an IPA brewed with cannabis terpenes, Coca-Cola has discussed making cannabis-infused beverages with Canadian supplier Aurora Cannabis, and AB InBev has announced a $100 million investment in cannabis-infused non-alcoholic beverages in partnership with grower and distributor Tilray.
While it may seem unlikely that any compound could be efficacious for treating the many conditions for which CBD is marketed, there are some common pathways to seemingly disparate health outcomes. Inflammation and oxidative stress, for instance, occur in both heart disease and schizophrenia. Only time – and further research – will tell if CBD can live up to industry’s many promises. For now, scientific interest continues to rise, and strong consumer interest looks set to sustain the high CBD oil currently enjoys, even while the science lags behind.
Boom or bust: Are consumers ready for the alternative protein revolution?
24 Jun 2022
While excitement over alt-proteins is high among industry and investors, major challenges remain for companies looking to convince consumers to switch to a plant-based ‘meat alternative’.Read more
New EU mineral oil limits an ‘important step for food safety’
23 Jun 2022
The EU’s decision to restrict aromatic mineral oils (MOAH) in food products has been hailed as an important step in food safety and consumer protection but consumer organisation, Foodwatch, is calling for binding regulation to go one step further.Read more
NutriScore logo could help young people make healthier food choices – but more awareness is needed
22 Jun 2022
The European Nutri-Score labelling system can help young people make healthier food choices, according to a Spanish study – but one third still do not know what the label indicates.Read more
Mars launches animal-free chocolate with Perfect Day’s whey protein
21 Jun 2022
Mars has launched a vegan chocolate bar made with biotech unicorn Perfect Day’s animal-free whey protein made via precision fermentation.Read more
Unilever in $120m biotech venture to scale palm oil alternative
20 Jun 2022
Unilever has teamed up with US biotech company Genomatica to commercialise its palm oil alternative produced via a biotechnology fermentation process.Read more
Clear and accurate precautionary allergen labelling is vitally important, says regulatory expert
17 Jun 2022
As the UK’s Food Standards Agency looks to standardise allergen label wording, it is “vitally important” that food businesses provide consumers with clear and accurate precautionary information about potential unintended allergens in ...Read more
Monterey Mushrooms gets EU approval for vitamin D-rich mushroom powder
16 Jun 2022
Monterey Mushrooms’ vitamin D-rich mushroom powder, produced using ultraviolet (UV) to boost the nutrient content, can be sold in the EU, following novel food approval from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).Read more
Soil sequestration: An emerging opportunity for farmers and food producers
15 Jun 2022
Sequestration of carbon into soil has almost the same potential to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions as the use of wind or solar power and provides farmers with an opportunity equal to that of reforestation strategies, according to Berry Marttin of...Read more
Nitrite and nitrate alternatives gain ground for processed meat applications
14 Jun 2022
As France finalises its review into the health risks of nitrite in cured meats, industry research focuses on the potential substitutes for nitrite and nitrate in processed meats to offer consumers healthy alternatives.Read more
Metrics matter: Measuring the true price of food for a healthy and sustainable future
13 Jun 2022
Food value chains must begin to price in the ‘externalities’ of production, including impacts on human and planetary health, if the world is to realistically create a healthy and sustainable food supply to feed a growing population, according to one of...Read more
Are you a supplier?
Here's what we can do for you
- Generate quality leads for your business
- Stay visible for 365 days of the year
- Receive product inquiries and respond to meeting requests directly
- Improve company online presence through Search Engine Optimisation