CBD oil products - fad or the future of food?

David Gregory-Kumar
Science, Environment & Rural Affairs Correspondent

  • Published
Cans of the fizzy drink
Image caption,
A company says it is the first to make a fizzy drink containing CBD

CBD oil is derived from cannabis and hemp plants and it's suddenly everywhere.

From coffee to frozen yogurt to balms, drops and even cosmetics... and all on sale online or on your local high street.

Now a company in Birmingham is claiming to have created the first CBD fizzy drink and it's very excited.

But what exactly is CBD and why is it suddenly so popular?

CBD is shorthand for cannabidiol, a chemical that may come from cannabis.

Image caption,
Green Monkey sells capsules containing CBD oil

It won't get you high as it doesn't contain the active psychoactive ingredient THC.

However, there are plenty of people looking at other health effects it may have.

Some pretty solid medical science shows that stronger forms of CBD can help reduce the number of epileptic seizures in some patients, by more than 40%.

But the CBD products you will find on sale right now in the UK all contain CBD at much, much lower doses.

Green Monkey is a Birmingham company set up late last year to sell CBD products.

As well as oil filled capsules and topical balms, it's now produced what it says is the UK's first CBD fizzy drink.

Outselling water

Image caption,
The drink is on sale in this chain of chemists and the owner (who is also an investor in Green Monkey) says it is more popular than bottled water

Managing to mix an oil into a carbonated beverage is actually a pretty nifty trick, although the company wouldn't tell us how it had cracked it.

But the end result is proving popular.

The owner of a Midlands pharmacy chain (and investor in Green Monkey) claims the drink is outselling water in his stores by three cans to two.

As a food product or supplement, Green Monkey isn't making any claims about any health benefits (legally it can't anyway) simply encouraging people to do their own research.

And with the market for these products set to be worth £150m a year it's clear there are many customers who see something in drinks and products like this.

Much we don't know

However, there is still much we don't know about CBD even at the lower doses found in drinks and cosmetics.

How many cans of drink is too many? (Green Monkey recommends two a day).

What is the interaction between CBD oil and any other prescription medications? Could it reduce their effectiveness or even interact in a toxic way?

The flip side of that is whether or not it works at all at these doses.

Can it really help with muscle pain, anxiety or even acne as many of its devotees claim?

At the moment we just don't know. At least not scientifically.

But there's a growing market that clearly demonstrates many people believe the CBD hype.

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