Once 2018 was declared the year of CBD, it seemed like you couldn’t stop hearing about the product. The cannabis compound, which doesn’t cause a high, has been shown to reduce anxiety, help you sleep, reduce inflammation, and more positive health effects. Whether you prefer chocolates, candies, ice cream, or lattes, CBD product developers never seem to cease expanding upon their creative offerings. But, what are the effects of mixing CBD with caffeine? Doesn’t combining stimulating caffeine with supposedly soothing CBD seem kind of… counterintuitive?
While the potential health-boosting effects of CBD have been documented, research about what happens when you mix CBD with caffeine is a little hit or miss. Part of the reason for this is that, until recently, CBD, which is derived from the hemp plant (not the marijuana plant), was lumped in with marijuana in terms of legality, which made acquiring federal funding for research far more difficult. Thanks to the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, however, it’s suggested that the market for cannabis products (and research into how they work) will boom even further in 2019.
Despite this push towards legitimizing CBD research, New York City’s health department recently told restaurants that CBD could not be served in edibles (like lattes) because it was “not safe as a food additive,” according to Eater. CBD is still legal to sell on its own in other forms (and you’re certainly free to spike your own latte), but the decision has cast doubt over the safety and efficacy of the ever-popular CBD lattes.
That said, there are some studies that have looked at what happens when you mix the two. A study published in The Journal of Internal Medicine found that coffee and cannabis activate some of the same pathways in the brain. “The neurotransmitters related to the endocannabinoid system — the same ones affected by cannabis —decreased after drinking four to eight cups of coffee in a day. That’s the opposite of what occurs after someone uses cannabis,” a press release about the study emailed to Bustle said.
As to the exact effects of mixing the stuff with caffeine, a lot more research needs to happen — but there’s a lot of anecdotal evidence out there. While you might think that the jolt of your morning brew might cancel out your CBD-induced chill, anecdotally, this isn’t always the case. Dr. Bonni Goldstein, MD, the medical director of Canna-Centers, told Cady Drell writing for Marie Claire that figuring out how someone with react to CBD is a case-by-case thing — and the effects of mixing it with coffee aren’t fully understood.
“It’s unclear at this point in time the exact interaction between CBD and caffeine,” she said. “At low doses, CBD is a stimulant and in higher doses it can cause sedation. Someone’s reaction to a combination of these compounds would not be easily predictable because various doses of each would affect the response.”
Erin Magner writing for Well+Good said that some people report that mixing CBD with coffee amplifies alertness while taking the edge off of the sometimes harsh effects of caffeine. If downing an espresso leaves you feeling a little wired, a dash of CBD might mellow out that impact. “What I hear from people is that they’re able to experience that nice, alert, focused energy of coffee without any of the jitters,” Jewel Zimmer, founder of cannabis and CBD oil brand Juna, told Well+Good.
Like with most applications of CBD, the research into its effects when mixed with caffeine isn’t as strong as it could be, but that’s changing. In the meantime, being informed about your use of CBD — like taking small doses at a time, and being certain of the quality of the product you’re using — can help you make informed choices about what works for you.