Jamey Powell is a writer and editor living in Brooklyn, NY. Previously the senior market editor at Healthline.com, she has years of experience scouring endless product reviews and testing out the latest and greatest products in the sleep, fitness, and nutrition markets.
Expert review by
mbg Vice President of Scientific Affairs
Ashley Jordan Ferira, Ph.D., RDN is Vice President of Scientific Affairs at mindbodygreen. She received her bachelor’s degree in Biological Basis of Behavior from the University of Pennsylvania and Ph.D. in Foods and Nutrition from the University of Georgia.
February 8, 2023
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Disclaimer: Our website includes general information and instruction relating to health and wellness topics. This content is not a substitute for medical advice from your health care provider. All treatment decisions should be determined in partnership with a health care practitioner. Hemp CBD products are derived from U.S. industrial hemp (less than 0.3% THC) and European hemp (less than 0.2% THC). While CBD products derived from the hemp plant (Cannabis sativa) are legal on a federal level in the U.S., some states have specific laws, so you’ll want to check your state’s laws to be sure.
The world of hemp-derived CBD is filled with unfamiliar terms, whether it’s cannabinoids or full-spectrum hemp — yet product labels tout these terms as if they’re common knowledge. As if that’s not enough, there is potency, sourcing, quality testing, and more to consider — making the world of hemp and cannabidiol (CBD) feel a bit daunting.
Luckily, it doesn’t have to be all that complicated. Your first lesson? Understanding the difference between hemp and CBD gummies. Read on to discover what makes each formula unique, as well as a few of our favorite picks.
Hemp vs. CBD
“CBD (cannabidiol) is an active ingredient, a phytonutrient with the ability to support our inflammatory response and with potential healing properties,”* says Gordon. “Hemp is a plant—a specific type of a cannabis plant from where CBD is derived.”
While hemp-derived CBD comes from the industrial hemp plant, not all hemp products contain cannabidiol (although they usually do). Hemp-derived CBD oil is made using the aerial parts of the cannabis plant (i.e., leaves, flowers, stems), whereas a generalized “hemp seed oil” comes only from the seeds (which don’t contain meaningful levels of CBD).
Sounds easy enough, but to truly differentiate the two, you’ll need to take a closer look at the ingredients of a particular product.
“The term ‘hemp gummies’ is very non-specific and may or may not contain the active ingredients that a consumer is looking for,” says Gordon. “CBD gummies are more likely to contain CBD and other ingredients that have the health support benefits people want, but without looking at the third-party testing of the actual ingredients, the labels mean nothing.”
While hemp oil extracts in general include beneficial fatty acids and compounds (even hemp seed oil is beneficial for skincare and cooking), there’s less research and limited evidence of benefits compared to CBD oil. Here’s what we do know about gummies containing hemp-derived CBD:
Key features of hemp-derived CBD gummies:
- Research and anecdotal evidence suggest CBD can promote feelings of calm1 and improved mood.*
- Full-spectrum hemp extracts feature a combination of compounds to create an entourage effect2, which researchers believe to be more beneficial than CBD alone (one cannabinoid)
- Full-spectrum hemp contains trace amounts of THC (less than 0.3% by dry weight in the U.S.), which can potentially cause a negative drug test
What you need to know before shopping for a hemp or CBD gummy:
How to choose
Not to sound like a broken record, but the only way to know whether a product is high-quality is the reassurance of quality testing, particularly via third-party testing. This is your window into what’s actually inside a product.
Most brands offer a certificate of analysis (COA), which allows you to carefully review what’s in the product. These tests confirm that the product matches the advertised potency and falls below limits for solvents, heavy metals, pesticides, and microbial.
Beyond an easily accessible COA, brands should also be transparent about where their hemp is farmed and how it’s processed. If organic ingredients are important to you (they should be!), focus on brands that use all or at least some organically farmed ingredients in their formulas.
While they’re relatively small in size, the added sugars in CBD gummies can add up over time. Consider your sugar intake and pick a formula accordingly that works with your lifestyle, health status, etc.
Some hemp-derived CBD gummies contain additional ingredients or bioactive compounds to encourage sleep or feelings of calm.* Some of these ingredients have some science (such as melatonin) while others need significantly more research (CBN, for example). Keep an inquisitive mind, especially when it comes to high-priced products that make aggressive claims about their effects.
When & how to take CBD gummies
Hemp-derived CBD affects every person differently, so it’s always best to start with a lower dosage and work your way up. As for when to take CBD gummies, Gordon has some advice.
“CBD and the majority of other active ingredients in cannabis products are best absorbed when taken with a fat-containing meal,” explains Gordon. “Typically, ingested CBD products are best taken 2 to 3 times per day to maintain steady levels, though some individuals use them once daily or as needed for specific purposes.”
Examples of “specific purposes” could be easing into sleep or preparing for a busy workday. The effects of CBD typically take between 15 to 30 minutes to kick in (although it varies person to person), so keep that in mind when planning your dosage. If you’re new to hemp-derived CBD, be sure to check out our dosage guide!
A few of our favorite CBD gummies:
If you’ve decided that CBD gummies are right for you, we have quite a few buying guides to help you find the right formula, including a round-up of the best CBD gummies, as well as specific guides for sleep and sex.*
Our full range of guides includes:
Otherwise, you’ll find a few of our favorite formulas, below.
Cornbread Hemp Full-Spectrum CBD Gummies
- USDA certified organic
- Available in two strength options
- Suitable for vegans
- Incredibly clean formula
- Trace levels of THC (if that’s not your thing)
Potency: Moderate, 20mg of CBD per serving; Strong, 50mg of CBD per serving
Cost per mg of CBD: $0.13
Total Sugar: 4g per gummy
These naturally berry-flavored gummies from Cornbread Hemp are a hit with customers—but they’re also a favorite of our vice president of scientific affairs, Ashley Jordan Ferira, PhD, RDN. The super clean formula is vegan and gluten-free, and it’s made without high-fructose corn syrup or artificial colorings.
The entire formula is USDA certified organic, which means Cornbread Hemp uses organic full-spectrum hemp and organic other ingredients, too. The gummies come in two potencies: 20mg (moderate) or 50mg (strong) of CBD per serving. One consideration is that these gummies do contain a small amount (1mg) of THC per serving. While there’s a lot to love about the entourage effect, this might not be for everyone.
Sustainability & Packaging: Kentucky-based Cornbread Hemp sources organic hemp from local farms. Once you’ve finished your gummies, you can recycle the glass bottle and plastic cap.
Transparency: We appreciate that the COA for these gummies was easy to find using Cornbread Hemp’s third-party lab results database. Plus, if you’re looking to learn more about how the brand works with farmers or extracts its CBD, Cornbread Hemp is happy to educate.
Joy Organics CBD Gummies
- USDA certified organic
- Two flavor & potency options
- Made from hemp grown in the USA
- Environmentally conscious brand
- Only one flavor for 25mg option
- Bitter hemp flavor more prominent in higher dose gummies
Potency: 25mg per serving (Moderate)
Cost per mg of CBD: $0.13
Total Sugar: 2g per gummy
Another great pick, these gummies from Joy Organics are also USDA certified organic. Available with either 10mg of CBD (gentle) or 25mg of CBD (moderate), these gummies include broad-spectrum hemp, which means they’re free of THC. You can also choose between two different flavor options, green apple or strawberry lemonade, for the 10mg option.
Although the gummies are sweetened with cane sugar, each gummy has just 2g of sugar—a win for anyone watching their sugar intake. They also come with a 90-day satisfaction guarantee.
Sustainability & Packaging: Joy Organics farms hemp on organic farms in the U.S. and manufactures products in an FDA-registered factory in Fort Collins, CO. Packaging is recyclable, and the brand offsets its carbon emissions from shipping by partnering with Carbon Fund.
Transparency: You don’t need to dig to reach Joy Organics’ COA database—it’s linked directly below the description on the product pages. We also love how proud Joy Organics is about sharing its process and story.
Also featured in: The strongest CBD gummies
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Charlotte’s Web Daily Wellness CBD Gummies
- Certified B corporation
- Unique flavor variety
- Doesn’t use organic hemp
Potency: 25mg per serving (Moderate)
Cost per mg of CBD: $0.09
Total Sugar: 2g per gummy
Charlotte’s Web has a wide variety of gummies, but this raspberry lime-flavored formula is one of its best-sellers. Each jar has 60 gummies, but you’ll have to take two to hit the full dose of 25mg of CBD per serving. This gives you the flexibility to only take one gummy for a slightly gentler effect.
Charlotte’s Web doesn’t use organic hemp, but it does use other organic ingredients in this formula, like organic cane sugar and organic MCT oil. One happy reviewer says, “This gummy tastes amazing and allows me to get through the day feeling less stressed.”
Sustainability & packaging: Charlotte’s Web is a Certified B Corporation, which is a certification for businesses meeting a high standard for ethical, legal, and social performance. It uses an eco-friendly supercritical CO2 extraction process and, while not all of Charlotte’s Web’s products are organic, the brand says it’s a goal they’re working toward. The packaging should be curbside recyclable, too, although there aren’t specific instructions on how to recycle on the website.
Transparency: The batch reports for third-party testing of Charlotte’s Web products is a little tricky to find. Still, once you’ve found it, you can search your specific lot number and see the results. Plus, the brand includes a helpful guide for understanding how to read COAs.
Which is better for sleep: hemp or CBD gummies?
It depends on the person and the ingredients in the product. There isn’t significant research around hemp for sleep, but there is slightly more for CBD. “Individuals whose sleep is disrupted by joint discomfort or stress often see benefits with CBD-containing hemp products, especially at medium to high amounts,” says Gordon.
Do hemp gummies help with anxiousness?
Unfortunately, the term “hemp gummies” is too broad to make a general statement around stress and feelings of anxiousness. “This is unanswerable without knowing the ingredients,” says Gordon. Still, he adds, “Many individuals report that ingested products, like gummies, which contain CBD and other cannabis constituents are helpful for reducing stress.”
Are there any side effects to hemp or CBD gummies?
Again it depends on the ingredients of the product. Hemp and CBD from hemp can contribute to sleepiness. Some people consider that a benefit, others a side effect. “CBD is extremely well tolerated but can be associated with side effects such as nausea or indigestion,” adds Gordon. “CBD can also interact with some medications and thus anyone taking medications should consult with a medical professional prior to adding CBD to their regimen. Also, the sugar, food coloring, and other additives often in gummies can negatively impact health.”
Whether you’re hoping to improve your sleep, ease aches, or promote calm, there’s no shortage of hemp-based products to consider.* When it comes to hemp versus CBD gummies, it’s important to remember that the only way to ensure you’re getting a quality product is to read the product’s ingredient list and cross-reference the certificate of analysis. It’s hard to cut through the noise, but when you do, there are plenty of good hemp-derived products—and if you’re interested in learning more about CBD, we’ve got much more to share.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or taking medications, consult with your doctor before starting a supplement routine. It is always optimal to consult with a health care provider when considering what supplements are right for you.