When it comes to trendy supplements, CBD has exploded in popularity — and controversy — over the last year. Derived from cannabidol, an active ingredient in cannabis (aka marijuana), CBD is extracted from the hemp plant. Proponents say CBD can provide relief for chronic pain, anxiety, and insomnia. And so far, the science is looking somewhat positive: Studies show CBD may be effective for those conditions.
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It’s likely you’ve encountered CBD in a coffee shop or a cocktail bar, or on the shelves of your neighborhood market next to the incense and JUUL paraphernalia. Bartenders and baristas are rushing to add CBD oil to their concoctions, just as deli owners are stocking vials of the stuff, and food manufacturers are adding it to chocolates and gummy candies. It was only a matter of time before the latest CBD-infused product hit the shelves: CBD water.
What Is CBD Water?
CBD water is bottled H20 that contains a very small amount of CBD — just a few milligrams.
It’s generally much less than what may be infused into a CBD coffee or cocktail, or the serving size suggested on a bottle of CBD oil (about 10mg for normal strength, up to 25mg or 50mg for higher strength). Most scientific studies on CBD’s effectiveness generally used doses that are much higher.
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Does CBD Water Get You High?
CBD is not psychoactive and does not cause a high. It is not addictive. The World Health Organization says: “In humans, CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential… To date, there is no evidence of public-health-related problems associated with the use of pure CBD.”
Is CBD Water Safe and Effective?
“This is a question that remains unanswered,” says Antonio DeRose, NASM CPT, a certified personal trainer and co-founder of Green House Healthy, which is involved in the cannabis and fitness fields.
“There are several published studies indicating the efficacy of CBD in treating many health conditions,” he says. “But there haven’t been any conclusive studies on the efficacy of CBD water, so until there is more scientific evidence, we don’t know for sure if CBD water will have the same positive health benefits as the concentrated oils, topicals, or even flower forms of consumption have shown through research.”
And one big caveat: A new study suggests that CBD might harm the liver. Scientists found that mice fed large amounts of CBD exhibited signs of liver damage within 24 hours. But the findings are controversial: Some say the doses fed to the mice were extreme; the researchers contend they were scaled to correlate to the maximum human dosage. And generally, the results of animal studies don’t necessarily replicate in humans.
Additionally, at least one study has found that exposure to light and air degrades CBD. Sitting on a store shelf in a clear bottle may reduce CBD water’s questionable potency even further.
So… Is CBD Water Likely to Provide Health Benefits?
“No,” says Dana Hunnes, Ph.D., senior dietitian at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. “The small amount of CBD in the water is likely insufficient to provide the sought-out or purported benefit of CBD. I still feel that CBD is an under-researched product and that there may be unintended consequences or detriments to its use. However, because it is in a low quantity, it may not ‘hurt’ either. But, why spend upwards of $5 for a 16-oz. bottle when you can drink tap water basically for free?”
So the bottom line is: hydrator, beware. “I think consumers should be wary of potential sales gimmicks companies are going to use by adding CBD into everything as the industry continues to expand,” says DeRose. “That being said, I personally drink CBD water on occasion. I believe we should each take responsibility for what we choose to consume. Just like reading and understanding the ingredients and their sources of any other food or drink, you should learn more about what CBD is, and where it’s coming from, before you chose to consume it in water, or any form.”