The 2018 Hemp Farming Act legalized the cultivation of industrial hemp in the United States. Now, Cannabis sativa L. plants containing a maximum of 0.3% THC are classified as ‘hemp’ and are legal to grow with the requisite license. Meanwhile, marijuana remains federally illegal.
Although the legislation didn’t legalize CBD sales or use in America, it represented a tremendous boost for the industry. The vast majority of hemp plants grown in the U.S. are for the cannabidiol market.
Now that all 50 states have agreed to allow their farmers to grow hemp, the industry is set to skyrocket. This fact is already apparent in the influx of new products. While CBD oil and capsules remain industry-standard offerings, there are plenty of interesting additions such as edibles and topicals. One of the most intriguing is CBD chewing gum because of its convenience and discretion.
Jumping on the Bandwagon
A quick search for CBD chewing gum reveals close to 600,000 results on Google, with brands such as Endoca dominating the search results. According to Endoca, its CBD chewing gum is ideal for first-time users because it is possible to ‘microdose.’ The brand maintains that the process of microdosing aids the endocannabinoid system (ECS) by activating the receptors that keep the body in equilibrium.
Certainly, CBD chewing gum is a discreet and easy way to consume the cannabinoid. Endoca says its gum quickly releases CBD through the bloodstream via the mucous membranes in the mouth and throat.
How Does CBD Chewing Gum Work?
Endoca is correct in its assertion that CBD gum works by releasing the cannabinoid through the sublingual pathway. However, a lot depends on the gum’s composition and whether the cannabidiol is multi-layered because additional layers result in a more prolonged release.
The gum provides the same bioavailability as edibles or other oral administration forms if you swallow your saliva. Keeping the saliva in the mouth means you should benefit from sublingual bioavailability, which is better than its oral counterpart. Therefore, you will get the most benefit from CBD chewing gum if you abstain from swallowing saliva for as long as possible.
If you consume CBD via capsules or oil, it has to pass through the liver before reaching the bloodstream. Most of the cannabidiol is metabolized there, which means you immediately lose the vast majority of it. In theory, CBD chewing gum should enable the cannabinoid to reach the bloodstream without passing through the liver.
Is CBD Chewing Gum Effective?
Manufacturers face a variety of issues when trying to create an effective CBD gum. According to Dr. George E. Anastassov, the lead scientist behind the development of CanChew+, a popular CBD chewing gum, it is tough to release any cannabinoids from a chewing gum base. He said that the compounds are hard to work with due to a lack of water solubility. CBD binds to the gum base, which makes it difficult to release it.
Anastassov admitted that the company’s first attempt at CBD gum, CanChew, released in 2014, was not as effective as he had hoped, despite 14 years of research and development. The problems in releasing CBD from a gum base meant that 50% of the cannabinoid remained in CanChew gum after hours of chewing. CanChew+ is a significant improvement because it offers absorption of 80% of the compound within half an hour of chewing.
Initially, there were problems releasing cannabinoids from a gum base, which can spell problems for bioavailability.
This is major news because, at present, the absorption rate of orally and sublingually consumed CBD remains low. A review of studies published in Pharmaceuticals in 2020 looked at the problems with cannabidiol bioavailability. The study authors wrote that the oral bioavailability of CBD is estimated at 6%, though they admit data in the area is severely lacking. Meanwhile, the bioavailability of smoked CBD ranges from 11% to 45%.
Having a CBD product with an absorption rate of up to 80% is a huge jump. It certainly justifies an elevated price tag. However, CBD chewing gum is not as expensive as one might think. CBD Infusionz, for example, sells 60 x 20mg CBD pieces for $89. In CBD per dollar terms, this is already close to what one pays for oil.
Scientists at the Bristol Dental School in the UK completed a study that could have major implications for CBD chewing gum. The researchers compared the amount of xylitol remaining in chewing gum after being chewed by a robot and human volunteers. The robot is designed to replicate the human chewing motion closely.
In the study, the team found that the robot had a similar xylitol release rate compared to the humans. The first five minutes of chewing produced the greatest release of xylitol. After 20 minutes, little of the natural substance remained regardless of the chewing method. The researchers believe the study has helped improve the likelihood of creating functional chewing gums that provide consistent dosages of medication.
CanaFarma, a Canadian hemp products company, has tested the bioavailability of CBD in gum through an ongoing pilot study in the Netherlands. It aims to see if chewing gum can produce a high rate of bioavailability because of CBD’s quick absorption into the buccal cavity. Preliminary results show that 76-84% of the 10mg CBD used in the study got released in the buccal cavity within half an hour.
Researchers believe this rate will increase if the participants chew the gum more intensively. CanaFarma released three new CBD gum products, bringing its overall range to six. The new products are designed to let the body absorb the hemp oils in 2-10 minutes. There is 250mg of full-spectrum hemp oil and 50mg of naturally occurring CBD in each pack.
CBD Gum: Health Benefits
There is relatively little research into this particular product, so ascertaining CBD gum effects and benefits is difficult.
However, most websites looking into the benefits of CBD gum merely focus on the benefits of traditional chewing gum, which include:
- Producing more saliva to carry away the acid and bacteria that build up on teeth
- Balancing acids in the esophagus
- Improving memory
- Reducing nausea
A study published in Cannabis Cannabinoid Research in 2021 looked into the effects of CBD chewing gum on the perceived pain and wellbeing of IBS patients. Thirty-two female IBS patients chewed gum containing 50mg of CBD. The researchers found no statistically significant difference between CBD gum users and those who consumed a placebo.
CBD Gum: Side Effects
The lack of research into CBD chewing gum extends to side effects. There are no issues specifically attributed to this product. Regular chewing gum side effects include jaw & dental problems, bloating, and gas. CBD’s list of side effects include:
Humans can tolerate extremely high doses of CBD without suffering major adverse effects. Most of the minor issues associated with the cannabinoid come after consuming a large amount. Given that CBD chewing gum is designed for microdosing, it is unlikely to cause many problems.
Which CBD Gum Brand Should You Choose?
Endoca remains the #1 seller of CBD chewing gum. The brand keeps things simple by offering one product consisting of ten sticks of gum containing 10mg of CBD apiece. It is 100% biodegradable, so once disposed of, it will break down and dissolve. Ingredients include xylitol, wild peppermint, and mint essential oils.
There are several other excellent brands, however, including:
- Pin Gum
- CBD Infusionz
Final Thoughts on CBD Chewing Gum
Proponents of CBD gum say that it is more effective than oils or edibles. This is due to the higher bioavailability, which means a greater level of cannabidiol makes it to the bloodstream. Anecdotal reports also suggest that the gum provides a faster effect than other forms of consumption.
However, no research is available to show that CBD chewing gum specifically has greater benefits than other cannabidiol products. At least, the price of this niche product is decreasing to the point where it is almost the same price as CBD oil or other edibles. Ultimately, for someone who uses CBD and regularly chews gum, it is worth trying this product to see if it offers something different.