This column appears in the May-June issue of Marijuana Business Magazine.
Since the onset of COVID-19, considerable attention has been directed toward bolstering the immune system. Many consumers are turning to wellness and self-care products that incorporate adaptogenic botanicals to alleviate stress and nootropics to improve brain function.
CBD is among the botanical products drawing interest, and major brands in the CBD industry have jumped at the opportunity to offer products that claim to support immune system health or cognitive function.
Lack of Scientific Data
Currently, brands are launching CBD products that contain other popular dietary supplements such as turmeric, melatonin, elderberry and others. Mixing such compounds is a common trend in the dietary supplement industry, and many supplement manufacturers produce products with similar hybrids.
Although there is nothing inherently wrong with offering CBD products paired with popular supplements, scientific data is lacking on such products’ safety and the efficacy of their proposed effects.
For example, existing studies show the potential effectiveness of turmeric as an anti-inflammatory. There are also studies that explore the effectiveness of CBD as an anti-inflammatory. However, there is a gap in the research when it comes to how turmeric and CBD function together as an anti-inflammatory, and manufacturers are disregarding this gap, assuming that adding them together will provide added effectiveness. We all know what happens when we assume things: Consumers lose trust.
In terms of safety, it is also important to think about how different supplement combinations could interact with each other in negative ways. Consider this: Fish oil and ginkgo biloba are both used to reduce cognitive impairment, but when combined they can cause blood thinning. Haphazardly combining supplements—even natural ones—without testing is ill advised and possibly even dangerous.
As a consumer, it is extremely difficult to decide among products that contain supplements in addition to CBD. Is the brand that adds the greatest number of different supplements going to come out on top? Is the brand that adds the most popular supplements to their CBD going to find success?
Another question regarding this new class of products has to do with the dosage of each compound. Although natural compounds such as reishi mushrooms or echinacea may be beneficial, there seems to be a glaring lack of evidence to support whether these compounds are effective at the dosage levels being delivered per serving.
Combining supplements because it is assumed that their effectiveness will be additive is simply not going to cut it for consumers who are serious about wellness and looking for solutions to their health concerns. For brands, it is important to begin providing proof that these products are effective. Consumers are going to begin losing trust in CBD and other hemp-derived cannabinoids if there is not sufficient evidence to support their efficacy.
The solution to this issue lies in research and clinical testing. If brands can present actual scientific data on the increased efficacy of combination supplement products, consumers will have a much more compelling reason to trust that these products will actually work for them.
It Should Be About Self-Care
Consumers are more educated about wellness and self-care products than ever before. If brands are not providing evidence for these emerging self-care CBD categories, consumers will spend their money elsewhere.
It is time to invest heavily in the research and science behind these products, and brands that have the ability to provide this data are going to be ahead of the game. As an industry, if we want consumers to trust CBD products, then we need to give them a reason to do so.
Dr. Priyanka Sharma is the co-CEO and co-founder of Kazmira, a science-based cannabinoid manufacturer in Colorado that is focused on engineering large-scale solutions to develop high quality natural derivatives from industrial hemp. With a Ph.D. in chemical engineering focused on molecular modeling, Dr. Sharma leads a team of scientists and engineers dedicated to improving life through self-care and cannabinoid-based supplement products.