Should You Try CBD- and Hemp-Infused Drinks?

These recently popular drinks claim to relieve anxiety and stress, but more research is needed
person reading a CBD oil bottle with cup of tea

Cannabidiol, or CBD, seems to be getting more and more attention with each passing year. This active ingredient from cannabis plants is extracted and used for its possible health benefits. 

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Along with hemp — which also comes from the cannabis plant — these two ingredients are now available to buy in beverage form. And you may have some questions about it when it’s caught your eye on the grocery shelves. 

Sure — just like your iced coffee helps you fuel up in the morning, a drink that helps you wind down and relax at the end of the day sounds like a good deal. But are these cannabis products really a dose of stress relief?

David Streem, MD, explains what to know about CBD- and hemp-infused drinks before trying them yourself. 

What are CBD and hemp?

First, it’s good to understand the difference between CBD and hemp.

As Dr. Streem explains, hemp is an organic plant material that’s part of the cannabis family. CBD is a specific chemical compound found in cannabis plants, including hemp. For example, marijuana has high amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and low amounts of CBD, while hemp has low amounts of THC and high amounts of CBD. 

CBD-infused drinks are beverages that have been formulated with CBD oil or other CBD extracts. They’re designed to provide a convenient and enjoyable way to consume CBD. These drinks come in various forms, such as sparkling water, teas and sports beverages.

What are the benefits of CBD and hemp drinks?

It’s important to note that there’s still research being done on the efficacy and benefits of CBD and hemp in general. In addition, Dr. Streem notes that the form in which you consume these ingredients doesn’t really matter.

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“There’s no particular advantage to CBD being in liquid or infused form,” he says. 

Generally, CBD has been associated with several potential benefits, although, again, further research is still needed to fully understand its effects.

Some of the benefits include:

  • Relaxation and stress relief. CBD may promote a sense of calmness and relaxation, potentially helping people manage stress and anxiety. A 2011 study found that students felt less social anxiety before a big speech after taking a 600-milligram CBD capsule. 
  • Sleep support. CBD-infused drinks might aid in improving sleep quality by promoting relaxation and reducing insomnia symptoms. A 2019 study found that people who experienced anxiety, sleep troubles or both saw improvements after consuming CBD on a daily basis for a month. 
  • Anti-inflammatory effects. CBD has been studied for its potential anti-inflammatory properties, which could help people who live with chronic pain due to conditions like arthritis. A 2015 study explored this, but further research is needed on the effects of CBD on pain management. 

What are the risks of CBD and hemp drinks?

As far as risks go, most of the things to look out for when buying CBD and hemp drinks are the same precautions you should take when consuming them in any other form. This includes:

Lack of regulation

Currently, CBD products, including drinks, aren’t well-regulated. The main concern is that these products don’t go through the proper evaluation when they’re being formulated. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) did note its concern over CBD products, many of which don’t have FDA approval.

“The problem is that these CBD products — like waters, gummies, edibles and oils — none of these are regulated to the extent that we’re monitoring their production and supply chain,” says Dr. Streem.

This lack of regulation can lead to certain products being mislabeled. Specifically, Dr. Streem warns that some CBD-infused drinks may contain THC (the psychoactive compound in cannabis). This could lead to failed drug tests or unwanted psychoactive effects. In short: There’s no way to know what goes into these drinks and how they’re made. 

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Unproven efficacy

While CBD shows promise in the management of certain conditions, the evidence supporting its benefits is still limited. That’s why it’s important to consider alternative treatments backed by more robust research before solely relying on CBD-infused drinks for specific health concerns. 

Interactions with other medications

While most CBD- and hemp-infused drinks don’t have enough of a dose to create much of an effect on your system, there’s still a concern about how CBD can, in some cases, interact with certain medications.

Taking CBD combined with certain medications can cause higher or lower levels of these medications in the bloodstream, which may alter their effects.

Some medications that are known to potentially interact with CBD include:

  • Antidepressants. CBD may interact with certain antidepressants, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), and increase the risk of side effects like sedation or serotonin syndrome.
  • Antipsychotic medications. CBD can interact with antipsychotic drugs, such as those used to treat schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. CBD may, in some cases, inhibit the enzymes responsible for metabolizing these medications, leading to increased levels in your bloodstream. This may increase the risk of side effects.
  • Pain medications. CBD may affect the metabolism of opioids, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and other pain medications. This can lead to altered blood levels of these medications, potentially affecting their efficacy or increasing the risk of side effects. 

Should I ask my doctor before I try a CBD or hemp drink?

Given the uncertainties surrounding CBD-infused drinks, it’s advisable to consult with a healthcare professional, especially if you have an underlying medical condition or are taking other medications. They can provide personalized advice, considering your specific health needs and any potential interactions or risks.

The bottom line

Essentially, CBD-infused drinks offer a convenient way to consume CBD. But it’s important to be aware of the lack of regulation in the industry, the potential presence of THC and the limited evidence supporting the benefits of CBD alone.

Consulting with a healthcare provider can help you make an informed decision about CBD use — whether you’re getting it from a beverage or another form.

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