Could CBD oil be the next household painkiller? How about the next superfood? Why can't it be both?
Well the correct answer is, it can; as a nutraceutical.
The nutraceutical market is set to grow to $578.23 billion USD by 2025 according to a new report by Grand View Research, Inc.
But what exactly is a nutraceutical?
Occupying the grey area between food and pharmaceuticals, a nutraceutical product is a food or supplementary product that not only can be a part of one's diet, but can also assist in treating or preventing disease and illness.
The nutraceutical umbrella covers personal care, diet, fitness and medicine. The sector is on the rise thanks to a number of factors; increased awareness around health and wellbeing, the growing ageing population, and now, the surge in interest surrounding cannabidiol (CBD.)
What is CBD?
Come on, you seriously don't know what CBD is yet? We've been talking about it all month!
Fine, here's a really quick run-down.
Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a compound found within the cannabis family. CBD contains very low THC levels – the compound which gets users high. When consumed or orally applied, CBD responds to our endo-cannabinoid system (ECS) and yields certain desirable results.
Thanks to the passing of the Farm Bill of 2018, farmers became able to cultivate hemp, quickly leading to the flood of hemp-based CBD products we're seeing now in the nutraceutical market.
Forbes estimates that the market for CBD-infused products will reach $22 billion by 2022.
Said to cure everything from anxiety to epilepsy, there's almost no illness that CBD hasn't been rumored to help. Although some claims about the effects of CBD may be an over-exaggeration, many of these rumors are quickly becoming reality, as the pharmaceutical market continues to progress with its clinical trials.
Thanks to companies like GW Pharma and their now FDA-approved Epilepsy cure 'Epidiolex', CBD is gaining legitimacy regardless of which aisle you find it in. And as the evidence continues to roll in, the nutraceutical market can piggyback on these results to continue to promote their CBD-infused products.
Now, CBD is popping up in beverages, pills, foods, oils and waxes. However, the medicinal benefits of CBD have created further confusion around it's legality within the nutraceutical market. In many US states CBD is seen as a prescription drug and is illegal without a doctors prescription.
But, despite the compounds murky legality, a growing number of companies are emerging with CBD-infused coffees, cakes and even cocktails.
These two opposing messages about CBD have led to the confusion of both consumers and legislators. Is CBD a powerful medicine that can cure epilepsy? Or is it simply a condiment like sugar or honey?
In order to clear up any confusion, the FDA has scheduled a hearing later this month, to decide whether or not they will allow the compound to continue being used in food products.
Though it doesn't look like the food and drink industry plans to slow down their use of CBD anytime soon.
Much like coffee, there are many different types of CBD, as well as many ways to consume it. Though instead of deciding between an espresso and a cappuccino, you might be asking yourself, full-spectrum or isolate?
Before we dive into the nitty-gritty of CBD, we should first take a moment to understand how to extract CBD from a cannabis plant. Typically extracted through CO2 or a solvent, CBD is then either refined into CBD isolate or left as full-spectrum CBD.
Full-spectrum CBD is simply CBD alongside terpenes, flavonoids, and other cannabinoids. Commonly known as the "entourage effect," full-spectrum CBD contains a synergy of these different compounds and results in a unique set of effects.
Alternatively, people can seek out CBD isolate containing almost 100% pure CBD. Studies have shown that although full-spectrum CBD provides consumers with a greater range of relief when compared with CBD isolate, users run the risk of ingesting THC, which can cause issues.
CBD isolate is the purest form of CBD, with all other components and compounds removed. This leads to a lower risk of psychoactive effects, and also doesn't have the characteristic taste of full-spectrum CBD.
Using a CBD isolate can be an especially important choice for those who frequently take drug tests, specifically athletes – a growing demographic of CBD consumers.
Sounds Good – Where Can I Get Some?
In Australia CBD can only be accessed through a prescription, and can't be bought over-the-counter. While federally the laws surrounding CBD in the United States are similar, each state treats CBD differently.
You can find a map of each state where CBD is legal here.
Despite this murky legislation, many restaurants and nutritional shops across the US are fearlessly stocking up on CBD nutraceuticals.
Most notably, pharmacy giants CVS and Walgreens have recently bought into the CBD phenomenon, stocking close to a combined 3000 different creams, sprays, oils and other products infused with the cannabis-derived compound.
Though let's get specific.
Let's look at some of the main CBD products and their industries.
Step Aside, Vitamin Water
The electrolyte and vitamin water industry is estimated to be worth $8 billion in 2023, while the retail coffee market was valued at 12.8 billion in 2015. The beverage market is huge, and with people becoming more health conscious, many are starting to ask about whether CBD could become a big player in this industry.
Unsurprisingly, it already has. CBD has officially made it's way into the beverage market and sunk its teeth in. The market for CBD beverages is said to reach a value of $260 million in the United States alone by 2022.
Following on from the 2018 Farm Bill which saw hemp cultivation become legal, companies such as Alkaline Water began to come out with CBD-infused water ranges. Others, such as Youngevity have released HempFX, a CBD capsule which consumers can add to their water for either energizing or relaxing effects.
Though the research isn't as clear as the water itself, with some believing its nothing more than a craze.
Oil Have Some Of That, Thanks
Alongside beverages, CBD can be taken in the form of oils, tinctures and creams.
CBD oils can often contain different ranges of CBD percentages, so it's important to know how much CBD you're actually buying. Though it's hard not to, with some of the higher percentage CBD products being a tad pricey.
Though you're spoilt for choice if oil's what you're after, as the list of companies producing CBD oil grows longer every day. One of the leaders in this space is Charlotte's Web, who sells a range of CBD oils varying in strength.
Other notable names in the CBD oil space are Green Roads, Elixinol, and NuLeaf, who each produce lab-tested quality CBD oils.
Radvocates – Champions for CBD
When you hear about celebrities that have come out in support for CBD, it's not surprising the compound has caught on like wildfire. Aside from the obvious candidates like Seth Rogen and Snoop Dogg, more surprising stars have emerged to promote the compound.
Thinking more locally, the Australian Chef Pete Evans has been particularly vocal about his approval of CBD, specifically when used as a food.
Having such high-profile endorsements for CBD can only help catapult the compound into new heights of awareness and support. Hopefully this swell in public approval will factor in to the FDA's upcoming hearing on whether or not the compound will be federally allowed as a food source.
If CBD does indeed gain approval, this may further open the floodgates to many more players looking to break into the nutraceutical CBD space.
Though given the snowballing amount of public support, research, and popularity of CBD, it doesn't seem to be a stretch to wonder if the compound might quickly replace many household pharmaceuticals as the next go-to stress-reliever.
And perhaps in a few years here in Australia, we'll see nutritional giants such as Blackmores eventually go Green-more, and incorporate CBD into their wellness products.