CBD, short for cannabidiol, began to make waves in 2018, as it was believed to have some effect on a variety of health issues, from inflammation to diabetes. It was soon popping up in products relating to skincare and pain relief. Even some athletes were openly supporting it as a way to boost both energy and workout recovery. But what exactly is it and how is it making its way into our food and drink?
As its name suggests, CBD is derived from cannabis and hemp. A close cousin to THC, the idea driving it as a trend is its ability to relieve pain and anxiety without the psychoactive side effects normally associated with THC. You get what that means. So, as cannabis is slowly starting to become legalized in states across America, so too is CBD making its presence known.
You won’t find CBD as a widespread ingredient just yet, but there are products out there already that use it and like to flaunt its supposed health benefits. One example of this is a drink called Vybes, an organic, CBD-infused beverage sold in 19 states. It comes in flavors like Peach Ginger and Strawberry Lavender. Trendy coffee shops serve it as an add-on and a doughnut shop in Denver even has a CBD glaze for one of their popular menu items.
For many people, CBD’s calming effects are exactly what they want or need, but because of federal laws, serving it can still be a problem for trend-setting bars and restaurants. Regulators in New York City and Los Angeles, for example, have ordered restaurants not to add it to food and drinks. Still, small operations continue to do so as the demand rises.
Despite the praise CBD has been getting lately, most of what we hear about it is unofficial and second-hand. There have been studies done to show that it has positive effects on seizures, for example, but very few others to back up the anti-anxiety and pain relief it is more generally associated with. A lot of this is because of federal regulations that make those kinds of studies difficult.
That doesn’t stop the hype machine, though. CBD is still gaining traction, especially in the cocktail scene, where there are already CBD-focused bars in places like New York City. There’s even talk of it being specifically used in alcohol-free or low-ABV cocktails as a counter to the negative effects of alcohol.
What can be taken from all of this is clear: While CBD is trendy and shows promise through many of the health benefits marketers hold on to, there just isn’t enough scientific evidence to back them up yet. For the time being, it’s just the new “it” ingredient, as noted by some of America’s leading culinary professionals. When you’re even seeing it marketed to your pet, that’s a sure sign it’s here to stay. At least for a while.