Wellness practices have always included tried-and-true staples like yoga, meditation, aerobic exercise, even plant-only eating. Now add CBD, the ultimate plant-based medicinal, to the list.

Suffice to say that the CBD market is on a high, thanks in large part to the pandemic. Sales of CBD products are skyrocketing, and new CBD companies and products are springing up every day. The reason? Consumers are demanding these products, and companies are listening. “People are in pain,” says Carlie Bell-Biggins, N.D., natural medicine physician in Pearland, Texas, and member of Leafreport’s medical review team. “They’re suffering from anxiety, traumatic experiences that are leading to potential post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and insomnia.” Not to mention, of course, that poor eating habits, chronic illness (often due to poor eating habits), sitting all day, poor gut health, and alcohol consumption are causing inflammation in the body, leading people to seek help.

That’s where CBD comes into play. “These issues people are struggling with, whether for the first time or because they’ve been heightened, are things that CBD is well-known to help support,” says Greg Willsey, founder of Arrive Market, an online CBD marketplace.

Turns out, there’s science to support taking CBD. And while there are numerous forms of CBD, gummies may be the way to go if you’re new to the CBD world. Here’s what you should know before you jump into the trend.

The benefits of CBD

Numerous reasons prompt people to take CBD. Along with the ones cited above, they include neurological disorders such as epilepsy and multiple sclerosis, arthritis, fibromyalgia, even increased focus and calm. While more research is certainly needed to validate CBD use for specific issues, “there are many promising studies available with good evidence that CBD has far-reaching health benefits,” Bell-Biggins says.

Start with insomnia, which affects anywhere from 10 to 60 percent of the population, according to the Sleep Foundation. “CBD may have therapeutic potential for the treatment of insomniac patients,” Bell-Biggins says, pointing to a study in the journal Current Psychiatry Reports. Researchers also discovered that CBD could be promising for those with REM sleep behavior disorder and excessive daytime sleepiness.

In terms of pain, one study examined cannabinoids in the management of difficult-to-treat pain and concluded that cannabinoid analgesics, or pain relievers, including CBD, have been well-tolerated in clinical trials, according to a study in Therapeutics and Clinical Risk Management. “Researchers suggested that adding cannabinoids as a pharmacological treatment for pains shows great promise,” Bell-Biggins says.

CBD for anxiety

What about anxiety? Per this study from Neurotherapeutics, “current evidence indicates CBD has significant potential as a treatment for many anxiety disorders with need for further study,” Bell-Biggins says.

Other studies are looking into CBD for inflammatory diseases such as Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, arthritis, says Zora Degrandpre, M.S., N.D., naturopathic medicine doctor in rural Washington and member of Leafreport’s medical review team. Because CBD shows some anti-cancer properties, it’s being investigated as an anti-cancer agent. And for those worried about Alzheimer’s, CBD is being investigated for the prevention and treatment of Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases. “CBD (and other cannabinoids) has been found to protect cells of the brain and nervous system from damage,” she says.

Why gummies are a great way to take CBD

So why CBD gummies?  “CBD gummies are an approachable format for new users and a tasty delivery method, making a great entry point for people new to CBD,” Willsey says. The effects of CBD edibles have also been shown to last much longer than other CBD delivery methods.

Plus, gummies, which are available in numerous flavors, provide a sensory experience of eating. “That alone has a calming effect for me,” says DeGrandpre, adding that she prefers sugar-free gummies.

There is, though, one downside to CBD gummies: The effects don’t usually kick in until 20 to 30 minutes after you’ve eaten a gummy. That’s because any substance taken by mouth must first pass through the liver, which means that CBD will take longer to be effective, DeGrandpre says.

What to look for in CBD products

When looking for any CBD product, gummies included, make sure it has a Certificate of Analysis (COA). This document describes the number of cannabinoids, terpenes, and various contaminants inside a product. “It’s the best way to verify the ingredients of a product and compare them to how the product is advertised,” Willsey says. The tests also show you how much heavy metals or pesticides have made their way into the product.

Just know that with any CBD product you take, you should start low and go slow. “Start with the lowest dose you can manage and stay with that low dose for at least five to seven days before increasing,” DeGrandpre says, adding that if you’re taking prescription medication, you should consult with your healthcare provider, even your pharmacist, before taking CBD. Know, too, that although CBD is generally well tolerated, side effects can include nausea, fatigue, irritability, blood thinning, and lowered blood sugar.

Want to give CBD vegan gummies a shot? Here are seven brands to put on your radar:

1. Medterra CBD Gummies

There are four different types of gummies in Medterra’s vegan line. Each one has a different goal – calm, sleep, alertness and immunity – and comes in a different flavor, including tropical punch, strawberry, citrus punch and elderberry.

2. CBDfx

There are currently six vegan gummies in CBDfx's line, including those specific to men and women. You’ll also find others designed for sleep (it has melatonin) and general health.

3. Wana Wellness

These sugar-coated gummies feature organic ingredients and come in four flavors, including mixed berry, tropical, mango, and strawberry.

4. Elixinol

Good Mood gummies from this company are available in three flavors: Mixed berry, passion fruit, and pineapple. You can also buy an assorted version.

5. Extract Labs

You’ll get three flavors – strawberry, lemon and watermelon – in these Extract Labs gummies, which have a sugary coating on the outside.

6. CBDistillery

Whether you want to improve your sleep or relax more during the day, CBDistillery offers a gummy to fit each need. The sleep product contains melatonin.

7. Shade

This company recently released its new line of Full Spectrum CBD Gummies in strawberry, orange, and lemon flavors. The colors come from plants, and the company identifies the sources on its website (for instance, blue is from blueberry).

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