MarketplaceSugary CBD products may not be as beneficial as...

Sugary CBD products may not be as beneficial as you think


Imagine the last time you visited a dispensary. In the store’s edibles selection, they might have had a few gummies, perhaps a few drinks, and maybe some other candies. Although many of these cannabis-derived snacks look as tasty as ever, they may not be the healthiest choice, even if they do contain CBD. 

Scientists have long been concerned about the safety of edible cannabis products. For one, many are not subject to stringent regulations, especially if they’re sold as “supplements,” leading to possibly harmful ingredients in the product. Additionally, edibles often contain high levels of added sugar and other additives that may be hazardous to your health. We’re investigating: are overly sugary CBD products doing more harm than good?

A lack of labeling enforcement may expose users to high sugar 

CBD is known for its broad range of advantages for human health. Yet, products containing this cannabinoid might also be full of bad ingredients that can backfire on its quality as a helpful supplement. 

Jennifer Dill of the University of Kansas (KU) Medical Center and Austin Kurkowski of the KU Health System  write, “[I]t must be considered that non-FDA approved CBD products may likely contain unlabeled ingredients and impurities that may lead to unknown risks.” 

Another team of researchers stated, “The safety, efficacy and purity of commercial CBD products is highly questionable…” 

This group, led by Dirk W. Lachenmeier of Chemisches and Veterinäruntersuchungsamt (CVUA), investigated a broad collection of samples from the European Union (EU) and unveiled devastating realities of the current state of this facet of the cannabis industry. 

The researchers learned that all of the 67 samples’ labels were non-compliant with regulations concerning transparency of food information for consumers. Mainly, this was because the products weren’t required to have an ingredients list. 

Without any real, consistent enforcement on CBD products’ labeling, consumers can’t know what ingredients their supplements contain or how much of those ingredients are present. This is particularly damaging for hemp-derived products containing high sugar. 

Unlabeled high sugar levels may compromise CBD supplements’ benefits 

Scientists have repeatedly shown CBD to be beneficial to diabetic consumers. It can lower fasting insulin levels (meaning the body’s insulin levels a certain amount of time after consuming glucose), support your body’s natural glucose sensitivity, and ultimately reduce blood sugar levels. 

This is all great on its own, but consuming added sugars, such as those present in many sugary CBD products, may counteract these benefits. 

Added sugars can harm your health significantly. Scientists report that this ingredient, mainly in the form of fructose, is much more harmful to patients with diabetes. Fructose can contribute to a fatty liver, leading to insulin resistance, among other health problems. 

When your body struggles with insulin resistance, it cannot efficiently distribute sugar to the parts of the body that need it most. This increases the likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes. 

This means that if you’re taking CBD supplements to help, in part, with regulating your blood sugar levels, choosing a sugary or poorly labeled product can be particularly dangerous to your health. Despite CBD’s advantages for your condition, the excessively high added sugar levels can counteract them, depending on the dosage and ingredient concentrations, and may even overpower the advantages entirely. 

The trouble with regulating hemp-derived CBD supplements 

Medical professionals have raised the alarm about the modern, footloose cannabis industry repeatedly. Osvaldo Marinotti, Ph.D., and Miles Sarill, M.Sc. of CV Sciences write, “the popularity of hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD) dietary supplements by consumers has greatly exceeded the scientific understanding of purported benefits, safety and composition of these botanical extracts.” 

For years, scientists have desperately raced to keep up with public consumption and marketing claims about CBD’s health advantages. Unfortunately, the industry is progressing much more quickly than the research. Marinotti and Sarill note that, although CBD is a federally approved drug in the form of Epidiolex, hemp-derived CBD that you can buy in a dispensary does not have the same level of purification

Often, these products have a dramatically different chemical profile that can weaken its effectiveness as a medical aid. Yet, retailers mostly opt to sell their products as supplements, allowing them to evade the strict regulations used to ensure the quality and safety of medicinal products. 

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) defines dietary supplements as an orally consumable product containing “vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and herbs or botanicals,” among other things that can supplement your diet. Herbs or botanicals may be any of the following: 

  • Plant materials 
  • Algae 
  • Macroscopic fungi 
  • A combination of all of the above 

As you can see, this product category – both in terms of supplements overall and concerning herbal products specifically – is quite broad. Yet, because none of these products are intended to diagnose, cure, alleviate, or prevent diseases, manufacturers don’t have to comply with strict safety laws. 

Regarding these supplement regulations, the FDA states, “Federal law does not require dietary supplements to be proven safe to FDA’s satisfaction before they are marketed…. For most claims made in the labeling of dietary supplements, the law does not require the manufacturer or seller to prove to FDA’s satisfaction that the claim is accurate or truthful before it appears on the product.” 

In more direct terms, the FDA hardly has anything to do with the development and sale of supplements until enough people report “serious adverse events.” Still, it’s illegal to market a CBD product as a treatment or cure for any specific condition or as a substance that alleviates a disease’s symptoms. 

This limited oversight of hemp-derived supplements makes it difficult to monitor what products have excessive sugar levels and how they might harm your health. For this reason, it’s best to carefully read the label of any CBD supplement you buy, no matter what your reason for purchase might be. 

Sugary CBD products: Avoid high sugar

CBD has exploded in popularity as an apparent “cure-all” for a broad range of health conditions ranging from sleep disturbances to diabetes. As scientists desperately try to keep up with the hype, many have raised the alarm about the risks associated with unregulated CBD supplements. 

With many retailers failing to label their products correctly or with transparency, consumers are at risk of purchasing products with excessively high added sugar levels. These may counteract some of the benefits of CBD for self-medicating diabetic consumers, potentially even worsening their health overall. 

Jazmin Murphy
Jazmin Murphy is a trained science writer & reporter who has covered a breadth of topics. She is also a strong supporter and advocate of cannabis for recreational, wellness, and medical purposes.


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