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A Doctor On Why Gummies Aren't The Best Way To Take CBD

A Doctor On Why Gummies Aren't The Best Way To Take CBD
Image by Carmen Palma / Stocksy
November 5, 2020

Of all the ways to consume CBD, popping a gummy or two is probably the most fun—and delicious. But while undoubtedly tasty, CBD gummies do come with some health concerns, as functional medicine doctor Robert Rountree, M.D., pointed out in an episode of the mindbodygreen podcast that aired earlier this year.

Here's why the sugary treats give the Colorado-based physician pause and what he recommends chilling out with instead.

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Why you need to be careful with CBD gummies.

Since the CBD market is largely unregulated, one concern with gummies is mislabeling. "When you're buying a gummy, you just don't know what's in it," Rountree said on the podcast.

To recap, CBD products should contain a standardized, consistent amount of the cannabinoid CBD (or, if it's a full-spectrum blend, multiple cannabinoids including CBD) and less than 0.3% of the psychoactive cannabinoid THC. This ensures that it's high in calming plant material—but not the kind that will get you high.

But according to one study on edible cannabis products1 purchased from 47 brands, only 17% were accurately labeled. Twenty-three percent were underlabeled, and 60% were overlabeled, with respect to THC content. "Edible cannabis products from three major metropolitan areas, though unregulated, failed to meet basic label accuracy standards for pharmaceuticals," the study reads. "Greater than 50% of products evaluated had significantly less cannabinoid content than labeled."

Now, this research was done on cannabis products—which are naturally higher in THC than hemp products—so there's not a direct correlation. However, another review suggests that similar issues can also affect non-psychoactive hemp edibles2, due to the inherent difficulty of regulating food substances. "Myriad techniques are used to extract cannabinoids from the cannabis plant in a form that can be integrated into the countless forms that edibles can take," it reads, "resulting in considerable variation in the amount and homogeneity of cannabinoids that make it into the final products."

This isn't to say all gummies are mislabeled, but if you're going to buy the sweet treat, it's important to go with a brand that takes this stuff seriously. Look for one that has done third-party testing to verify cannabinoid count and overall quality. It should be certified free of pesticides, heavy metals, and mold.

Another thing to keep in mind? Gummies, Rountree reminded us, are often high sugar. And when we take CBD as a food or capsule supplement (as opposed to taking it under the tongue in an oil or tincture), it tends to lose some of its potency. This means you might need to take a higher dose of it to feel its full effects. When you start taking multiple gummies, it can lead to a sugar rush that just fuels feelings of stress and anxiety instead of tames them.

In the end, Rountree said, there are better ways to reap the relaxing, mood-steadying benefits of CBD—and they won't end in a sugar crash.

What to look for instead.

If you're going to take a CBD product, Rountree recommends going with a capsule since each one should have a consistent dose of cannabinoid material. (Though again, looking for a third-party verified product is still key.)

"If I'm going to use a product, I want my patients to take exactly the same amount every single day," he says of why he prefers capsules. That way, it's easier to track the dose and move up or down if needed.

That's why mbg opted to deliver its stress-reducing supplement, hemp multi+, in capsule form. Each capsule contains certified organic hemp extract, along with other mood supporters like black cumin seed, rosemary, and hops—and no artificial coloring or sweeteners.*

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The bottom line.

In a world with so many ways to take CBD, the simpler the better. While gummies taste great, they can come with mislabeling concerns and a sugar rush, causing some experts to say that capsules are better for daily use.

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Emma Loewe
Emma Loewe
mbg Sustainability + Health Director

Emma Loewe is the Sustainability and Health Director at mindbodygreen and the author of Return to Nature: The New Science of How Natural Landscapes Restore Us. She is also the co-author of The Spirit Almanac: A Modern Guide To Ancient Self Care, which she wrote alongside Lindsay Kellner.

Emma received her B.A. in Environmental Science & Policy with a specialty in environmental communications from Duke University. In addition to penning over 1,000 mbg articles on topics from the water crisis in California to the rise of urban beekeeping, her work has appeared on Grist, Bloomberg News, Bustle, and Forbes. She's spoken about the intersection of self-care and sustainability on podcasts and live events alongside environmental thought leaders like Marci Zaroff, Gay Browne, and Summer Rayne Oakes.