To the uninitiated coffee and cannabis may seem like a strange or even contradictory, combination.
People use coffee to wake up or increase alertness, while cannabis is typically used to do the opposite. Yet the duo is well documented and touted by wake & bakers, productive Pot Heads and recreational users as a powerful, complimentary pairing.
Users compare the duo to cheese and wine, focusing on the flavours and classing it as a recreational, almost luxury experience. Others however – including myself – also use coffee and cannabis in our mental and physical pursuits, using the two to excel at our careers and in the gym.
“Both coffee and cannabis exude a unique bouquet of aromas depending on the variety of origin. This means the smells, flavours and effects are capable of complementing one another.”Leafly
Leafly, a leading cannabis website, even has a Cannabis and Coffee Pairing Guide – a tool me and my friends used to develop our range of strain inspired coffees. We brewed, tried and tested various beans and blends, identifying characteristics that reminded us of our favourite strains. I’m not going to lie, the process was a lot fun.
But what is it that takes this pairing beyond an enjoyable, recreational ritual? Below we will explore the health benefits of coffee and cannabis, backed by science.
As I am sure you know, coffee is one of the most widely consumed beverages around the world. It can found throughout both western and eastern history. The active component or drug in coffee is caffeine. This is the main reason it is so popular. When you drink a cup of coffee, the caffeine is absorbed into your bloodstream where it then travels to your brain. Once in your brain it blocks the neurotransmitter, adenosine. This causes other neurotransmitters such as norepinephrine and dopamine to increase, leading to an enhanced firing of neurons and a feeling of alertness.
Dopamine plays a role in how we feel pleasure. It’s a big part of our unique human ability to think and plan. It helps us strive, focus, and find things interesting.
The more specific benefits of drinking coffee, backed by science are:
- Coffee can help users feel less tired and increase energy levels (1).
- Coffee can make you happier (2, 3).
- Coffee can help you burn fat (4 – with references to multiple studies).
- Coffee can dramatically improve physical performance (5, 6).
- Contains essential nutrients (7).
- Source of antioxidants – making it particularly important to the average, Western diet (8).
- In fact coffee may even boost longevity (9).
- The average serving of black coffee, contains fewer than 5 calories. (14)
Put simply, coffee may be one of the healthiest beverages on the planet – particularly in comparison other on-the-go drinks. But can you have too much? The general consensus tends to suggest 1-2 cups a day and this makes sense. Anymore, and particularly any coffees beyond the afternoon, may start affecting your sleeping patterns.
So what about cannabis, what role does it play in your cup of CBD Coffee?
At this stage, it is important to separate CBD from cannabis. CBD is short for cannabidiol. It is one of the many chemical compounds, known as cannabinoids, which occur naturally in cannabis and hemp plants.
CBD is non-psychoactive and is one of two cannabinoids associated with the health and wellness benefits of cannabis consumption. The other is THC.
The potential benefits of CBD, backed by science, are:
- CBD may reduce anxiety and stress – a common side effect of too much caffeine (10).
These qualities are linked to CBD’s ability to act on the brain’s receptors for serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates mood and social behaviour.” – Healthline
- Anti-inflammatory and painkilling effects (11).
- Might have neuro-protective properties (12).
Researchers believe that CBD’s ability to act on the endocannabinoid system and other brain signalling systems may provide benefits for those with neurological disorders.
- Could benefit heart health – including the ability to lower high blood pressure (13).
Coffee + CBD =
Combine the two lists above and you have the potential for a truly powerful beverage with CBD complimenting coffee and potentially combating any negative effects of caffeine.
While the benefits of combining the two may be clear after reviewing the above, there are still not many studies that focus on the relationship between coffee and cannabis or CBD.
However, there is one, which found something interesting. 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.”The Journal of Internal Medicine
“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.”Dr Bonni Goldstein, MD of Canna-Centers
With more research, the effects may become clearer, but with both the coffee and cannabis plant being very complex, it may take some time to identify and clarify, how both effect the body and brain through systems such as the endocannabinoid system. Until then we can only research, experiment and share our experiences in a safe and responsible manner.