CBD oil is as hot as it gets. The product is sold as capsules, tinctures, sprays, and rubs, and more recently, it’s entered the food market. Edible CBD is available in gummies, teas, brownies, and a host of other baked goods. But is there any health benefit to all of this, or is using CBD oil in food just the latest hyped-up health remedy?
What Is CBD Oil?
Billed as an excellent way to manage anxiety, ease pain, treat epilepsy symptoms, and more, CBD oil is an extract taken largely from hemp plantsand seeds, although some does come from marijuana (both are members of the Cannabis sativa family).
CBD, short for cannabidiol, is one of the many active compounds found in cannabis plants called cannabinoids. Humans have internal cannabinoid receptors scattered all over the body that are involved in a variety of physical processes. This endocannabinoid system may be stimulated to varying degrees when CBD is consumed, which is why there is so much hype—and potential—for CBD.
CBD, particularly when it comes from hemp plants, is virtually free of THC—the chemical in marijuana that makes you high. Therefore, it has no psychoactive effects. The World Health Organization (WHO) also suggests it is safe for consumption and does not pose a threat for dependence.
Thus far, though, there is little scientific evidence to support just how well CBD works. A number of preliminary studies are showing much promise; however, none involve CBD foods.
Cooking with CBD Oil
As an oil, CBD can lend itself to cooking, albeit in certain specific situations. It has a strong “earthy” flavor that can be masked in certain situations, while the use of a carrier oil like coconut oil is generally recommended when cooking with CBD. Oils like olive oil, or other fats like ghee and butter, work well with CBD, too.
You can cook with CBD or use it to drizzle over salads or smoothies. It does, however, have a rather robust flavor that may not lend itself well to most of the things in your diet! It’s also rather sensitive to heat, and some chefs describe it as being “very hard to cook with” and having a “disgusting” taste. There is some information to suggest that heating CBD to temperatures as low as 300-350 F will cause it to lose potency and evaporate.
Because of its flavor, you’ll want to add it to flavorful dishes that can provide a bit of concealing. Some suggest it works well with Thai cuisine when blended with coconut oil, coriander, ginger, and lime. It can also lend itself to thick spreads like hummus.
CBD’s earthy taste probably goes best with chocolate and coffee, and can be added to brownies, coffee drinks, cakes, and nutty pancakes.
For the most part, using it to fry eggs or sauté vegetables is probably of little benefit and at high expense. When it comes to cooking, CBD is probably less than ideal for everyday use.
Taking CBD Oil with Food
If you’re taking CBD to help with pain, anxiety, or another condition, taking it with food—or as an edible—is likely the least efficient way to get the results you desire. This is because it has to make its way through your digestive system before it can be absorbed.
To increase the bioavailability (ease of absorption) of CBD, you can eat it along with other fat-containing foods. CBD binds to the fatty oils in food like nut butters, nuts, cooking oils, butter, etc. to enhance digestion and absorption. Therefore, when eating CBD, it’s best taken with food and not on an empty stomach.
Even if taken with fatty foods, eating CBD is still the least efficient option. Putting sublingual tinctures under your tongue is much better for delivering quick results.
Cooking with or eating CBD also poses some other potential challenges. The first is dosing. If you were to bake brownies, for example, it would be difficult to adequately dose each brownie to ensure you’d be getting enough to have any therapeutic effects.
According to the BBC, existing clinical trials have identified doses of 1,000 to 1,500 milligrams (mg) per day. A brownie or CBD coffee likely only has 5 to 10 mg. As great as eating 100 brownies might sound, you’re likely doing your body far more harm than good at that point!
Should You Use CBD Oil in Food?
Should you add CBD oil to your foods? Probably not. It’s unlikely to provide much value from a flavor perspective, and there’s no research to suggest it increases the healthfulness of meals. If you use CBD to help manage a health issue, tinctures (drops) are probably better for speed and consistency.
That said, adding it to meals shouldn’t cause any harm, so if you’re interested in experimenting with the oil, here are a couple of recipes to get you started:
2 Tasty CBD Recipes
CBD “Golden Milk”
- 2 cups plain almond milk
- 1 tsp organic coconut oil
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp raw organic honey
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ginger powder
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Pinch black pepper, freshly ground
- Pinch ground nutmeg
- Pinch ground clove
- CBD oil
- Heat milk, spices, and vanilla in a small pot over low heat, for 10 minutes.
- Remove pot from heat and pour into cups. Add CBD oil as desired, stirring well.
CBD Peppermint Chocolate Cups
- 3/4 cup dark chocolate chips
- 1/4 cup cacao butter
- 1/4 cup coconut butter
- 2 tbsp cashew butter
- 2 tbsp raw organic honey
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp peppermint extract
- 1/8 tsp sea salt
- 1 1/2 tsp CBD oil
- 1/4 tsp spinach powder
- Place chocolate chips in the top of a double boiler and melt until smooth.
- Add a spoonful of chocolate to the bottoms of six peanut butter cup molds, making sure to divide evenly between the cups. Place in the freezer to harden, about 10 minutes.
- Whisk together the remaining ingredients (except CBD oil and spinach powder) in a double boiler. Blend until smooth. Then add the CBD oil and powder and whisk until blended.
- Pour the “white chocolate” blend over the dark chocolate in the cups. Let set in the freezer until hardened, about 20 minutes.
Yields: Six large cups
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