We’ve got tinctures, oils, fresh CBD flower, edibles, infused pastries and lattes, and of course: water.
With so much hype around CBD, maybe it’s not too surprising that I'm here writing about CBD-infused water, one of the newer trends to take off in recent months.
Don’t get me wrong, I use and appreciate CBD. But I will not be sipping that water.
CBD Water - Just Like It Sounds
CBD water is quite simply water with CBD in it. Just kidding, it’s not THAT simple. Most companies selling CBD water are claiming the use of nanotechnology, a process of breaking down the molecules into smaller, more water-soluble solutions. So yes, your water is just water infused with CBD, but it went through some work to get there.
Nanoemulsions basically work by adding tiny amounts of oil into another immiscible substance, alongside a surfactant, reducing surface tension and allowing the oils to homogenize. Nanotechnology is actually a popular choice for creating water-soluble CBD, where the goal is to make the CBD more bioavailable so you can reap the benefits more fully.
When you look at it this way, the concept of CBD water has merit. Especially when looking at confirmation, like this study which found delivering CBD through nanoparticles allowed for better absorption. However, there is still plenty of reason to be skeptical.
The Downsides of CBD Water
People are leery to believe CBD products’ claims for good reason. Without FDA regulation, there is no product standard or testing required. Without regulation, it's no mystery why bogus CBD has become a problem.
Doses Are Too Low
Without standards, most of the CBD water products on the market are not going to make the cut. For example, this CBD company advertises their product as having 10 million nanograms of CBD per bottle, which only translates to 0.01 grams per bottle. Studies done on the effects of CBD on mice found that "CBD was without effect at doses of up to 30 mg/kg." So if you’re sipping from a big bottle of CBD water throughout the day, chances are you may not consuming enough CBD to experience any effects. While nanotechnology makes CBD more bioavailable, consuming CBD orally means it has to travel through the digestive system, where more of it will inevitably be broken down.
CBD Breaks Down From Light And Oxidation
Even if you step up your game and drink multiple bottles of CBD water per day, there’s still another obstacle to face: the light. Most of the CBD waters I’ve come across look like your typical clear water bottle, which means companies are ignoring basic storage guidelines for CBD: keep it away from light and heat.
In a study on CBD stability, researchers found exposure to light was the biggest cause of breaking down the substance, rendering it useless. Air oxidation was also a contributing factor to losing CBD, and you’re exposing CBD to oxygen each time you open the water bottle.
If you’re buying CBD water on store shelves, chances are it’s been sitting there, taking in the light and degrading over time. If companies were to use a dark-tinted bottle, they’d be getting closer to the right idea, until the consumer opens the bottle for a drink, exposing it to oxygen and beginning the process of making it useless.
No Bang For Your Buck
If the fact that there’s not enough actual CBD in the water and what is in the water probably will break down before you’ve finished isn’t enough to convince you it’s a gimmick, maybe the hole CBD water burns in your wallet will.
If you choose any other method of consuming CBD and you’ll probably get more for your money than drinking infused water. The brands I looked at seemed to fall around the $5 mark, which is sometimes a hard number to drop on a latte, let alone a water bottle.
Because of the tremendous speed in which the market for such a benign product has developed, CBD markets have been allowed to power forward without complete federal or state regulation. The cannabis industry has been suffering from misinformation that stems from disagreement among scientists. Many issues, especially those concerning the health of vulnerable populations, divide scientists. Without a uniting intellectual or regulating authority, the cannabis industry is limited by dysfunctional operation. In May of 2019, Police in Somerville, Alabama, conducted testing for THC on a new, popular product: CBD Water. Police found that the store-bought sample of CBD Cure bottled water contained elevated levels of THC, in breach of federal and state law. Soon after, however, police retracted their claims, saying that their accusation was “premature” and that the test had produced a false-positive: there wasn’t any THC, after all. Jennifer Boozer is the Co-Owner of Cannabama, a multi-store CBD outlet down the street from Somerville. Boozer told Wikileaf that she was familiar with the incident and reported her own experiences with Fox News crews and local police entering the premises and performing impromptu tests on CBD Water. Cannabama no longer carries CBD Water because “people thinking its gimmicky and we can’t be associated with questionable products,” says Boozer. CBD is a real functional product — it’s not marketing fluff — unless the seller has created a bogus product which, unfortunately, is a real risk. This is where dishonest profiteering has become a major problem — especially for CBD. White Labelling is widespread. It refers to a practice wherein processing facilities are selling batches of CBD tincture and/or topical products, en-masse, to local retail outlets with cheaply-made packaging bearing the store’s name or logo. These products are marketed to customers as “home-brands” at a discounted price. Not only are these CBD products subject to no testing but also have no brand name to stand behind. Fake CBD products are undermining the industry and taking advantage of naive customers who will spend $50+ on a product that doesn’t work.
Are There Any Upsides?
While I’ve been pretty harsh about CBD water, it’s only because CBD has lots of potential and it’s never fun to see gimmicks pop up and potentially ruin its credibility.
After spending time perusing the web for real user stories, it appears most people are getting benefits from CBD using different delivery methods. For the few I found praising CBD water, I couldn’t help but wonder if those users were just getting the hydration they’ve been needing all along.
Some companies claim that despite their low CBD content, absorption is increased and less can really be more. I’ve yet to see anything back this up.
The Bottom Line
While we still need more research into CBD in general, it’s now widely-used among health aficionados seeking relief from numerous conditions. This opens the door for several business opportunities, and they’re not all about delivering the best quality to users.
The worst thing CBD water will do is cost consumers extra money while providing minimal effects. On the plus side, maybe people will consume more water and reap the health benefits of staying hydrated.
Still, if you’re looking to use CBD, it’s probably best to opt for a different delivery method. Taking it sublingually under the tongue is probably your best bet, though inhaling or consuming it orally can work well too. If you’re going to use CBD-infused food products, you’ll definitely want a higher dose than CBD water provides, considering you’ll lose some of it during digestion.
* P. Gotti also contributed to this article