CBD And Food: Everything You Need To Know

CBD And Food: Everything You Need To Know
CBD has become a mainstream supplement in people’s everyday life. Most consumers choose to ingest it: capsules, gummies, oils, tinctures, and all sorts of edibles have filled the CBD market, offering a wide array of choice. But can you combine CBD and food?

As more consumers include CBD in their diets, new issues pop up in people’s mind, such as how to mask CBD’s earthy taste or whether CBD can be included in a vegan regimen. Others wonder about mixing CBD and alcohol and whether CBD is halal.

This comprehensive guide of CBD, food, and all the special qualities of CBD as a comestible ingredient can help consumers make intelligent and informed choices about how they want to take their CBD.

What does CBD taste like?

Most consumers agree that CBD tastes earthy, musky, and a bit ‘grassy’. Its taste is not to everyone’s liking but there are ways to mask the taste or avoid it altogether.

Why does CBD taste as it does?

No matter its content in CBD and THC, all hemp tastes the same. Hemp contains more than 100 cannabinoids, including CBD and THC. None of them gives hemp its aroma.

Instead, it’s terpenes that are responsible for the distinct taste of CBD. Terpenes are aromatic compounds found in plants and flowers. They are the chemical behind essential oils and they are the reason why flowers and plants smell the way they do.

Terpenes were devised by nature to help flowers pollinate by attracting bugs and insects while simultaneously preventing predators from attacking plants. They have a range of amazing properties beyond their rich aromas. For example, research suggests they may possess anti-inflammatory, antifungal, antiparasitic, and antibacterial properties.

Terpenoid phenols are used by the plant to protect it from microbes and fungi, as is the case with carvacrol—a component of oregano also found in hemp. Carvacrol exhibits potent antifungal activity against a wide range of pathogens including Candida albicans, Staphylococcus aureus, and Pseudomonas aeruginos.

Besides carvacrol, hemp contains several terpenes such as myrcene, beta-caryophyllene, limonene, pinene, linalool, humulene, and terpinolene. They all have unique properties that may be beneficial to our health.

Each terpene is characterized by its own scent: limonene, as its name suggests, has a citric aroma; pinene gives pines and conifers their characteristic scent, and linalool is found in lavender. All together, they give hemp its distinctive smell.

Why does CBD smell ‘grassy’?

CBD smells grassy due to chlorophyll.

Like all plants, hemp contains chlorophyll, which smells ‘grassy’. However, some producers filter their CBD products for chlorophyll and remove it. This, however, may weaken the so-called entourage effect whereby terpenes and cannabinoids seem to work together to enhance each other’s properties. The entourage effect is a great example of the whole being more than the sum of its parts.

While chlorophyll has been linked to several potential health benefits and is often consumed as a nutritional supplement, it’s less than alluring to most people’s palate.

Therefore, if your CBD has an intense aroma of grass, perhaps you should consider switching brands to a CBD product that filters chlorophyll.

Do all CBD products taste the same?

As long as a CBD product contains terpenes, it will have the characteristic flavour of hemp.

However, not all CBD products contain terpenes. Full-spectrum CBD contains all cannabinoids, including CBD and THC, terpenes, flavonoids, and fatty acids. Broad-spectrum CBD is similar to full-spectrum CBD: it contains all cannabinoids but no THC, terpenes, flavonoids and fatty acids. Full-spectrum and broad-spectrum CBD taste identical because they both include terpenes.

CBD isolate, however, is 100% CBD: all other cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids have been extracted, leaving behind only CBD. In this case, CBD isolate products don’t contain any terpenes and therefore lack the characteristic aroma of CBD. In fact, CBD isolate tends to be slightly bitter.

What else influences the taste of CBD? 

CBD oils usually include CBD extract and some type of carrier oil. The most common carrier oils are olive oil, hemp seed oil, MCT and coconut oil.

MCT and coconut oil are pretty flavourless while olive oil and hemp seed oil have their own characteristic earthy aromas. Some people prefer their carrier oils to be olive oil or hemp seed oil so that these oils can mask CBD’s taste.

How can I hide the taste of CBD?

The easiest way to avoid the taste of CBD is to choose capsules or pills, where the flavour of CBD disappears.

For those who enjoy CBD oil, its taste can easily be masked by mixing it with a spoonful of yoghurt, honey or peanut, butter. Alternatively, some consumers choose to mix it in their smoothie, coffee, or hot chocolate.

Cooking with CBD

Cooking with CBD is relatively uncomplicated and many CBD recipes exist online. If you wish to experiment with CBD in your cooking, adhere to a few simple rules to maximize the potential benefits.

Add fats when cooking CBD

Cooking CBD with good fats only brings advantages.

Because CBD is fat-soluble, it’s better to eat it with fats. Adding fats to your CBD also increases its bioavailability.

Bioavailability refers to the ultimate quantity of CBD that reaches your bloodstream. When ingesting CBD, it passes through our digestive system where it is broken down before entering the bloodstream. Only 5 to 20% of CBD reaches our bloodstream when eaten. Adding healthy fats helps CBD get stored in the fatty tissue and stay longer in the body. 

Avocados, olives, almonds, and peanut butter are examples of healthy fats that can increase the bioavailability of CBD. Full-fat milk is also a good choice, hence adding CBD to your smoothie is another option.

Don’t overheat

As it is still unclear how well CBD is preserved under heat, it may be best to avoid cooking it. The best option is to sprinkle or add CBD after preparing the dish.

Make sure you keep track of your dosage

When cooking with CBD, you could lose track of how much CBD you are taking. If you can divide portions and measure the CBD you put in each, then you would have a better measurement of your CBD. This is easy with small chocolates or granola bars where you can easily control how much CBD you put in each portion.

CBD vs. hemp oil: is it the same?

CBD is made from hemp, as is hemp oil. However, CBD oil and hemp oil are two different products.

CBD oil is produced from the flowers, leaves and stalks of hemp. These are dried and then put through an extraction process to produce CBD.

Hemp oil or hemp seed oil is made from the seeds of hemp—much like sunflower oil. The major difference between CBD oil and hemp oil is that hemp oil contains no CBD because the seeds do not contain any. All the CBD and other cannabinoids found in hemp are concentrated in the leaves, flowers, and stalks.

The health benefits of hemp oil vs CBD oil

CBD has been researched for its potential in helping with several conditions such as arthritis, inflammation, chronic pain, depression, and anxiety. Although there is no scientific endorsement yet of CBD’s healing potential, preliminary findings are promising. 

On the other hand, hemp oil has been shown to have moisturizing qualities and is often used in cosmetic products. It is used for acne and eczema and has antioxidant qualities. It is also a flavoursome cooking oil that contains many omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. These fatty acids contribute to a healthy heart.

Consumers often get confused about CBD oil and hemp oil. CBD oil requires particular equipment and an expensive extraction process. Hemp oil requires a cold-press process to extract the oil from the hemp seeds.

Although these two products are made from industrial hemp, their constituency differs immensely as does their healing potential. This is reflected in their price, with CBD products being more expensive than hemp oil products. When buying a CBD product, it is good to check the ingredients to make sure it truly contains CBD rather than hemp seed oil.     

Is CBD vegan?

CBD on itself is vegan, as it comes from a plant. However, you should account for derived products like gummies, tinctures or oils that might not be.

People following a vegan diet often wonder whether CBD is vegan.

CBD by itself is vegan since it is produced from a plant, hemp. Vegan people often eat raw hemp leaves for their content in CBD and CBDa, which is the precursor of CBD. 

However, CBD oils, tinctures, gummies and other edibles might contain ingredients that are not vegan. For instance, capsules contain gelatine, which is often made from animal by-products. Similarly, CBD chocolates could contain dairy, making then non-vegan.

Vegan consumers should be careful when choosing their CBD product. Most CBD producers offering vegan CBD products advertise their unique selling point and help consumers feel safe about their choice. For instance, there are plant-based CBD capsules that do not use animal gelatine.

In any case, while raw hemp is vegan, it’s best to do due diligence before buying a vegan CBD product.

CBD and alcohol

CBD-infused beers and other CBD-containing alcoholic beverages are now widely available. Cocktails with CBD are also catching people’s attention. But what happens when you mix CBD and alcohol?

Alcohol: a powerful depressant

Alcohol interacts directly with several brain neurotransmitters, like dopamine and serotonin. The first effects are usually feelings of happiness and relaxation. Dopamine is the ‘feel-good’ neurotransmitter and creates feelings of pleasure when it is released into the brain. 

However, alcohol is also a powerful depressant. It produces sedation and affects people’s mood, speech, and motor coordination. Alcohol diminishes brain stimulation and makes our brain cells work more slowly. This is the reason why most people experience blurred speech and find it difficult to stand upright when they have drunk significant quantities of alcohol. 

CBD: a gentle relaxant

CBD’s effect on the body is less direct than alcohol’s.

CBD interacts with the human endocannabinoid system (ECS)—the system that keeps our bodies in balance. Our ECS is tasked with regulating mood, appetite, motor perception, reproduction, inflammation, pain management, and even temperature perception. CBD interacts with the receptors related to the ECS.

Research suggests that CBD may give a gentle nudge to the ECS to work better and more effectively. CBD’s effects seem to be indirect, without impacting on the brain or the body in a direct way. As a result, many people taking CBD experience mild relaxation and a subtle mellowing sensation.

However, CBD may be biphasic—i.e. provide one effect at a low dosage and its opposite at a high one. That may explain why some people use CBD to relax while others to keep alert. So, the exact effect may depend on the quantity of CBD consumed: low doses may help you stay alert while higher ones may relax you.

CBD and alcohol together

CBD and alcohol are thought to be intensifiers of each other's effects.

When taking CBD with alcohol, the relaxant and depressant aspects of alcohol are matched by the relaxant features of CBD. CBD and alcohol seem to intensify each other’s effects. Depending on the amount of CBD consumed, CBD and alcohol taken together may relax and lower people’s inhibitions, offering people a stronger sedating effect.

Can CBD help with the harmful effects of alcohol?

Some research suggests that CBD could mitigate to a certain degree some of alcohol’s damaging effects.

Because alcohol interacts with the Central Nervous System (CNS), it also damages it and causes neurodegeneration. CBD may help prevent this, as a 2013 study on rodents showed that CBD ‘attenuates binge alcohol-induced neurodegeneration’.

A further 2014 study showed that alcohol could help with liver oxidative stress. Significant alcohol production produces fatty tissue build-up on the liver. Fatty liver occurs when damaged cells fail to degenerate; CBD appears to help these cells to degrade and fall.

A much older study from 1979 showed that CBD could lower blood-alcohol levels. In the study, people were given CBD, alcohol, or both. While those who consumed alcohol displayed cognitive impairments, those that took the combination of CBD and alcohol displayed lower blood-alcohol levels. Those given just CBD did not show any cognitive impairment at all.

These findings should not be taken as indications that taking CBD with alcohol can mitigate all of the latter’s negative effects. Besides affecting the CND, alcohol can cause neurodegeneration and brain damage. It may also impact people’s cardiovascular health as it increases blood pressure and cholesterol levels. And it causes liver and pancreas damage. It is still unclear how much—if any—of this damage may be prevented by CBD.

Can CBD cure a hangover?

A hangover occurs when an important quantity of alcohol reaches our bloodstream and interacts with our CNS.

The most common hangover symptoms are tiredness, headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and inability to stand upright. Some people become sensitive to light.

CBD could potentially help with at least one aspect of a hangover, namely vomiting. Our vomiting instinct kicks in when the body is trying to protect itself from further alcohol intake. Hence, when a drinker keeps drinking alcohol, the body activates the vomiting centre to expel any more alcohol.

Interestingly, the vomiting centre is controlled by the ECS—and CBD interacts with the ECS.

Initial research shows that CBD activates the serotonin receptor 5-HT1A. Serotonin is the neurotransmitter that produces vomiting. When activated, the 5-HT1A receptor lowers the release of serotonin and stops the vomiting centre. 

Although more research on humans is required, the preclinical findings look promising and CBD could emerge as a potential treatment for alcohol hangover.

Will CBD cause a hangover?

CBD is non-intoxicating and non-psychedelic so on itself it will not cause a hangover.

CBD is non-intoxicating and non-psychedelic. It is not addictive and well-tolerated by the human body, as attested by the World Health Organization.

A hangover is a by-product of a withdrawal symptom. The body craves for the addictive substance because it has got used to having constant levels of the addictive substance in the bloodstream.

The consensus is that CBD products that do not contain THC are non-addictive and will not cause a hangover. It is near impossible to overdose with CBD and there have been no deaths related to CBD over-consumption.

Is CBD halal?

Islam considers alcohol haram, or unclean, because alcohol is intoxicating and there is growing discussion regarding CBD and its status as a halal (permissible) or haram (unclean) food.

CBD is halal

Most Muslim scholars accept CBD as halal as long as it contains no THC because it is produced from a plant, hemp. The presence of THC traces is considered insignificant and even full-spectrum CBD is halal.

Non-halal ingredients in CBD products

However, Muslim consumers should check whether the CBD product they are about to consume includes other ingredients as well. For example, gummies contain gelatine, which is made from animal by-products and is considered haram.

Likewise, flavourings and other ingredients might contain alcohol and other haram components.

Vaping CBD for Muslims: it’s a form of smoking

Muslim religion labels haram any intoxicating or habit-forming ingredients. For that reason, smoking and drinking alcohol are forbidden. Because of its closeness to smoking, vaping CBD is also perceived as haram.

CBD and alcohol: has the alcohol evaporated?

CBD tinctures are infused in alcohol to preserve their nutrients. CBD tinctures are not haram, because the alcohol is still present and has not evaporated completely.   

As for CBD products made from ethanol production that uses food-grade alcohol, most Muslim scholars agree that the alcohol has evaporated during the extraction process and therefore CBD products made with ethanol extraction are considered halal.

Should I choose organic CBD?

Many consumers prefer organic CBD when choosing CBD products.

Just like most plants, vegetables, fruits and flowers, growing organically means there are fewer pollutants in the final product. Pollution connected to agriculture is immense: pesticides pollute the soil and aquatic life while the whole process of producing pesticides is highly damaging.

Organically grown CBD reduces pollution and soil erosion and protects wildlife. It is also more nutritional as the roots absorb all their nutrients from clean and healthy soil.

Speaking of soil, another reason why organic CBD is often perceived as better than conventional CBD is that hemp is a bio-remediation plant. Hemp has deep roots that can clean soils from pesticides and heavy metals. This ability to clean soils is called bio-remediation.

Because of its bio-remediation properties, farmers in certain countries, especially in Asia, often use hemp to clean up their land before planting new crops. Unscrupulous CBD producers may use this hemp to produce CBD products. However, hemp grown in polluted soil will have sucked up all the harmful substances, which then leak into the flowers, leaves, and stalk. All these pollutants and heavy metals find their way into the end product.

CBD and food: a closely-knit relationship

CBD has a specific taste that not everyone likes. When combined with food, it can be very pleasant.

 Due to the many ways to ingest CBD, eating it is often the easiest and most versatile way to make it part of your life. However, CBD’s taste might not be to everyone’s liking. The culprit is the terpenes found in hemp. They give hemp its distinctive earthy and grassy scent. Unless consumers choose CBD isolate, which contains no terpenes, all other CBD products contain terpenes and therefore have that flavour.

There are ways to avoid the taste of CBD by including it in food, choosing carrier oils that are more flavoursome, or by choosing CBD capsules, gels, and edibles that have no taste.

CBD is vegan because it is produced from a plant, hemp. However, vegan consumers should make sure the rest of the ingredients are also vegan.

Some consumers choose to take their CBD with alcohol. It is still unclear how CBD interacts with alcohol although initial findings suggest they may intensify each other’s effects and produce a feeling of sedation and drowsiness.

CBD could help with alcohol hangovers by stopping the vomiting centre in the brain from sending its neurotransmitter messages to the stomach. While some clinical trials also suggest that CBD may potentially counteract some of alcohol’s damaging effects, such as liver stress and neural damage, this is no excuse to consume excessive quantities of alcohol with CBD.

Muslims adhering to halal food can consume CBD because it is produced from a plant. However, they should be careful about other ingredients, such as gelatine in capsules.

Organic products often have a low impact on marine life, soil erosion, and wildlife. One additional reason to opt for organic CBD is that hemp is often used as a bio-remediation plant to clean soils from heavy metals and pesticides. Alternatively, choose CBD products that carry a Certificate of Analysis (CoA). CoAs certify exactly what’s in the product.

With an enormous array of CBD edibles available on the market, consumers are spoilt for choice. By choosing CBD from a reputable brand that tests its products regularly, consumers can feel safe they are including wholesome CBD in their lifestyle.  

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