cbd oil in coffeeDecember 15, 2021
Coffee, though, is a brave new frontier with more and more cosmopolitan coffee shops offering CBD drops to take the anxious edge off our morning latte.
Eastenders’ favourite flat-white spot Deeney’s in Leyton keeps CBD drops by the counter for anyone looking to take the edge of their caffiene-induced anxiety and at branches of Planet Organic the latest brew combines espresso, butter, coconut oil and CBD. In Notting Hill, Farm Girl serves a Happy Hot Chocolate, which includes CBD oil too.
f your desk mate is looking less rattly post-morning mochaccino it’s because cannabidiol coffees are piping hot right now.
“It’s the perfect drink for gym-goers and professionals alike looking to improve focus and energy inside, and outside, the gym or office,” says Josh Kay, co-founder of High Tide, which distributes CBD-infused cold brew coffee cans in the UK. Obviously, he’s keen to debunk the notion that it’s a stoner supplement.
Certainly CBD, the voguish cannabis derivative finding it’s way into everything from bath bombs to dog treats, is becoming as crucial to the London caffeine run as oat milk and an extra shot.
“It’s really just engineered to help you relax and restore balance,” says Stuart Forsyth, CEO of Minor Figures, an east London-based coffee company which sells CBD tincture with coffee at £20 per 10ml bottle. “Our CBD is full-spectrum, which means you maintain all ingredients found in the hemp flower. The product is completely safe to use, as recently verified by the World Health Organisation, and it has no psychoactive properties. It acts as the yin to coffee’s yang.”
“We use three ingredients — namely hand-roasted Columbian coffee beans, filtered water and CBD, the non-psychoactive derivative of the cannabis plant guaranteed to contain no THC,” says Kay. “This means it can be used by athletes and does not cause a high — which is great news given that CBD has been found to help inflammation and speed-up muscle recovery time.” Think of it as a clean, healthy, sugar-free, energy drink, he says, one that uses CBD to counteract the negative side effects of caffeine.
“By combining coffee and CBD we discovered that we could eliminate the jitters often caused by coffee,” he adds. “This is because we have a receptor in our brain called the adenosine receptor that picks up both caffeine and CBD. The addition of CBD can, in a lot of cases, remove caffeine jitters entirely.”
CBD treats ailments as diverse as inflammation, pain, acne, anxiety, insomnia, depression, post-traumatic stress and even cancer.
In Fitzrovia, Mortimer House is really doubling down — creating a whole wellbeing “Potions” menu to accompany coffees with CBD oil and tea infusions such as The Balance, which contains ashwagandha, liquorice, turmeric, ginger, black pepper and cayenne. “It’s all part of offering guests a holistic sense of balance and wellbeing,” says Francesco del Prete, its food and beverage manager. And. relax.
Naturally, there are sceptics. While CBD has become wildly popular, only a fraction of users understand its properties.
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“If you use a tiny amount of psilocybin, it still does something,” says Blessing. “Microdosing with psilocybin still has effects biologically, but there isn’t any evidence that low doses of CBD, like 5 mg, do anything at all.” The only study I could find indicating that low doses of CBD have an effect concluded that a rare form of childhood epilepsy called Lennox-Gastaut syndrome is treatable using 10 mg of CBD. For anxiety in adults? Nothing.
And that’s what’s maddening and fascinating about CBD: It isn’t bullshit. Crystals are bullshit. Himalayan salt ionizers are bullshit. SugarBearHair apparently doesn’t contain what it says it does, though it wouldn’t work better than a well-balanced diet even if it did. CBD, though wildly understudied, is not bullshit. In fact, the FDA just approved its very first cannabis-derived drug, a CBD-based epilepsy treatment called Epidiolex. The dosage for Epidiolex starts at around 2.5 mg/kg and is increased to 5 mg/kg, so a 150-pound adult would settle onto a dose of just over 340 mg per day, though the diseases it targets start in childhood.
To get caught, a consumer or partner would have to report a product to the FTC and/or FDA, and those organizations would have to work out among themselves whose job it was, and then they’d have to actually go investigate, all while the product remains on shelves.
Researchers like Blessing are legitimately excited about CBD. It shows real promise in treating previously intractable disorders like schizophrenia, and without the destructive side effects of existing drugs. Still, that doesn’t mean CBD is harmless. Research on drug interactions with CBD is in its infancy, but what is known within the medical community is that CBD can cause serious problems for people taking certain classes of drugs, namely SSRIs (a group of antidepressants including Zoloft and Prozac) and opioids.
CBD exists at the confluence of three huge consumer trends. The first is the herbal supplement boom, a $49 billion-a-year industry that has seen rapid expansion since about 2010. The second is the rise of the anxiety economy, in which all sorts of products, from fidget spinners to weighted blankets, are pitched as reducers of the mild panic of everyday life. And the third is the near-overnight creation of a legitimate cannabis industry, thanks to the spread of marijuana legalization.
The dosages in consumer CBD products are very low.
“CBD inhibits the cytochrome P450 enzymes that break down important psychiatric drugs,” says Blessing. CBD isn’t the only substance that messes with the body’s ability to metabolize these drugs — both St. John’s wort and the humble grapefruit are unfriendly — but CBD is comparatively poorly studied. The way CBD inhibits those enzymes could dramatically raise the levels of SSRIs or opioids in the system, potentially leading to an overdose.
Here’s what we do know: The cannabis plant contains a wide variety of chemical compounds, many of which fall under the broad category of cannabinoids. There are more than 100 — exactly how many, we’re not sure. The best-known and certainly most profitable are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). Both of these compounds stimulate the same receptor in the brain, called CB1, but have differing effects on the brain. Researchers aren’t totally sure why.
Recreational marijuana is not legal in New York state. What the coffee shop is selling is CBD-infused lattes; CBD, which stands for cannabidiol, is a non-psychoactive compound found in the cannabis plant. Out of curiosity, I bought one. It cost $9 and tasted like a latte with that hint of marijuana herbiness you get from a weed cookie. Google research informed me I would not get high but would be calmer, less anxious, maybe a little sleepy. I have no idea if I felt anything at all. Mostly, I felt like I just spent $9 on coffee.
They’re wrong, of course, because this stuff sells like gangbusters.
My coffee shop is not unusual in selling CBD products. In New York, and all over the country, you can find CBD oil in convenience stores, CBD vapes in smoke shops, and CBD tinctures and topical creams in beauty stores. You can buy CBD dog treats in Chicago, a $700 CBD couples massage in Philadelphia, and CBD chocolate chip cookies in Miami. CBD is also being combined with ice cream, savory snacks, and cocktails. Even Coca-Cola is reportedly working on a CBD-infused beverage.
Even some of the claims made by recreational CBD sellers aren’t bullshit, in the abstract. CBD really does show some anti-inflammatory properties. It really does have anxiolytic effects, in certain situations. Of course, it’s the scammy nature of herbal supplements that a seller can say something like “CBD has been indicated to reduce anxiety” (a true statement!), even though the actual product you’ve got in your hand has never been indicated to do so. Nutmeg, for example, will act as a dangerous psychoactive drug at high levels, but it would be deranged to put “scientific research has shown that nutmeg can get you high as hell” on a pumpkin spice latte. It’s correct, but it’s also incredibly misleading.
Clancy readily admits that potential interactions could be dangerous and says that educating customers is a major part of the Alchemist Kitchen’s approach: “We want to make sure that [our customers] have a well-rounded understanding of the medicinal applications of CBD, because right now it’s being thrown in everything, as I’m sure you’re aware.”
The Alchemist’s Kitchen and Clover Grocery are high-end stores that cheerfully tell customers where they source their products from and only stock brands with similarly transparent sourcing. This CBD usually comes from cannabis plants farmed in Colorado or Oregon, or, increasingly, states not normally associated with the cannabis trade. EarthE CBD, a prominent online seller of CBD products, for example, sources from local farms in New Jersey; it also publishes lab results on its website showing that its products have been tested to have no THC and the amount of CBD the company says they should have.
Hudson Hemp, like all cannabis farms in New York, has to get its CBD powder tested by one of only a few reputable labs approved by the state; if it contains more than 0.3 percent THC, it’s illegal.
What’s even in your favorite CBD product?
CBD has drug interactions with SSRIs and opioids. Jeremy Sachs Michaels/Hudson Hemp.
The only study that has tested the bioavailability of inhaled CBD is from 2014; it found a bioavailability of about 25 percent for 100 mg and 200 mg doses of CBD using a Volcano vaporizer. (The topical lotions are even less studied; there have been no clinical trials on them at all.) This is more efficient than ingesting CBD, in the same way that vaporizing THC is more efficient than eating it. To get an effect, you should ingest a different amount of CBD than you’d inhale . but how much is that? How much is too much?
Is it possible that all of this is just … the placebo effect? It feels condescending to suggest that, given there are hoards of people who love their CBD tinctures and gummies and claim effects from it. It’s a tremendously rude thing to say, hey, you’re all being hoodwinked. But the placebo effect is much stronger than you might think.
The exact legality of CBD is tricky. The Drug Enforcement Administration maintains that CBD is federally illegal but will not bother going after anyone for possessing or using it. Many argue that a provision in the 2014 farm bill allowing industrial hemp pilot programs, mostly aimed at the textile industry, actually made non-THC use of cannabis legal; while the much-delayed 2018 farm bill signed into law at the end of the year made industrial hemp legal nationwide, CBD has largely yet to be reclassified.
This isn’t simply an issue of legality, but one of safety. “If you have just, say, 8 mg of THC, that’ll have an effect,” says Blessing. “That’ll get you high. That could impair driving.”
Clancy says his dose estimates are based on a book called CBD: A Patient’s Guide to Medicinal Cannabis: Healing Without the High. The co-author of that book is Leonard Leinow, the founder of Synergy Wellness, which calls itself a “hand crafted artisanal CBD cannabis collective.” He is not a doctor or a scientist, but he is a sculptor of erotic bronze pieces, like a yin-yang symbol made up of two interlocking penises.
We know basically nothing about CBD.
“If you’re taking Prozac or some other medication, you really need to think carefully about what you’re doing, because it can harm you, and you should talk to your doctor about it,” says Blessing. Blessing does note that while the drug interactions are potentially very serious, the doses in consumer CBD products are so low that the risk is likely minimal. Regardless, the fact that CBD has drug interactions should indicate that it is, at least sometimes, in some doses, actually doing something.
That lines up with one of the rare instances of FDA testing. In 2016, the FDA tested several “CBD oils,” ultimately issuing warnings to eight companies. Some of those oils were found to contain no or barely any CBD, and many contained illegal quantities of THC. For example, Healthy Hemp Oil’s “Herbal Renewals 25% CBD Hemp Oil Gold Label” contained 8.4 mg/g of THC. Sana Te Premium Oils, which sold 25 mg “CBD oil” capsules on Etsy, contained between 13 and 19 mg/g of THC and less than 0.1 mg/g of CBD.
“Not all CBD on the market is created equal, and there is really a lack of understanding about even what cannabis is, let alone CBD,” says Melany Dobson, the chief administrative officer of Hudson Hemp.
“There is a huge void of research in terms of confirming most effective dosing for various symptoms,” says Eric Baron of the Cleveland Clinic Neurological Institute, who has written several papers about the effects of THC and CBD on headaches, “so most of this is done by trial and error and self-titration.” Yes, most of the research on CBD is being done by consumers who are just . trying stuff.
This indicates that CBD has what’s called an inverted bell curve of effectiveness; it works within a window, like Goldilocks’ porridge. Another study showed success in treating social anxiety with doses of 400 mg, though the study was small — just 10 patients.
The few CBD studies out there give us limited information, and hardly any about recreational CBD use. One study gave people different amounts of ingested CBD (100, 300, and 900 mg), as well as, for comparison, a placebo and Klonopin; those people then had to give a public speech, an action associated with high levels of anxiety in the broad populace. Neither 100 mg nor 900 mg, nor the placebo, had any effect. The 300 mg dose, though, did have a measurable calming effect on heart rate, blood pressure, and anxiety. (The Klonopin also worked.)
The Alchemist’s Kitchen makes it a point to tell customers everything they know, or think they know, about CBD, and to emphasize that if CBD is going to be a regular part of their lives, they should consult with a doctor to make sure they won’t have any adverse reactions. Your bodega guy, who’s selling a little jar of CBD oil right next to the Dentyne Ice gum, almost certainly isn’t doing the same.