Manufacturers tout products made with cannabis, but how long will the high last?
Why would bedding manufacturers want to introduce mattresses and other products infused with CBD, the cannabis plant derivative that many people still associate with marijuana?
From their perspective, a better question might be, why wouldn’t they want to? As a consumer product, CBD has been spreading more like kudzu than cannabis.
“CBD is going to grow almost to a $25 billion industry within the next five years, according to the research,” says Shane Mutter, national director of sales and marketing for Seed2System, a hemp supplier based in Longmont, Colorado.
“From what I’m seeing, people are using CBD products way more than what the general public probably perceives, and it crosses most age groups,” Mutter says. “It’s even in pet products. It’s being used on a massive scale with cosmetics companies. It started out as a product you put in a bottle and take under your tongue. Now it’s in lotions, sunscreens, lip balms, bath bombs. There’s even CBD gum. There are lots and lots of products out there.”
Given the surge in CBD usage — not to mention its reported calming and relaxing properties — it seemed inevitable that the product would find its way into bedding sooner or later. Sooner arrived in January, when several CBD-infused products — from mattresses and mattress covers to pillows — were introduced at the Winter Las Vegas Market.
How were they received? Let’s just say that many manufacturers are, if you’ll pardon the pun, extremely high on CBD’s future in the bedding industry.
“I think the energy and excitement around this is very strong, and I think people are hungry for something new and exciting,” says Mary Helen Rogers, vice president of marketing and communications for the International Sleep Products Association.
“I think we’ll see CBD products for several markets to come,” Rogers adds. “Consumers like to see new, innovative offerings, and from an industry perspective, it helps companies distinguish themselves from their competitors and allows them to introduce products that haven’t been offered before.”
“b-calm” and carry on
In January, Therapedic International unveiled its b-calm collection of CBD-infused mattresses. “The prelaunch in Las Vegas was our best-received product launch in 10 years,” says Gerry Borreggine, president and chief executive officer of the licensing group, which has headquarters in Princeton, New Jersey. Therapedic’s three b-calm bed models have suggested retail prices in queen size from $999 to $1,499, and are available in all-foam or hybrid constructions.
“We started to research this CBD and found it was used as a calming agent for many, and was also being used by the medical community to treat insomnia,” Borreggine says. “With that, we figured it might be good to put in a mattress.”
Therapedic is not alone in that thinking. Paramount Sleep, Mlily USA and startup ZBD Bed also have rolled out CBD-infused mattresses, and Malouf and NCFI have introduced CBD-infused pillows. More products are out there, and even more are on the way.
The idea behind these beds and related products is simple. CBD has been shown in studies to instill feelings of calmness and relaxation. Anecdotally, insomniacs report that CBD also has been an effective tool for helping them sleep better at night.
Calmness? Relaxation? Insomnia-fighting properties? It sounds like the ideal product to incorporate into a bedtime routine for a more restorative night’s sleep, doesn’t it?
“The bedding industry has gravitated to CBD because of the studies and research done on the effects of CBD relating to sleep and anxiety,” Mutter says. “Sleep is one of the most important components of life, and the bedding industry thinks CBD could help people get a better night’s sleep.”
Indeed, helping people to get a better night’s sleep has been mattress manufacturers’ credo for generations. Now, some are putting their money where their mantra is, believing that CBD may be worth the investment.
“CBD has become more and more popular,” says Stephen Chen, president of Knoxville, Tennessee-based Mlily USA, manufacturer of the new CBD-infused Mprove mattress. “Studies have shown that CBD has the great health benefits of reducing stress and anxiety. It makes for a deeper night’s sleep, and that’s what we’re all about.”
Joe Iuliano says he has experienced CBD’s health benefits firsthand. Iuliano is CEO of ZBD Bed, which manufactures a CBD-infused mattress it touts as the first CBD bed — the ZBD Bed — as well as CBD-infused toppers and pillows. The Denver-based company’s foam bed, with CBD oil in the fabric, is available in a 12-inch firm or plush version and a 10-inch version.
“I’m a former Division I football player (Morehead State University) and when my career ended, my body was in shambles,” he says. “I became an avid CBD user. I never thought it could be infused into any type of fabric, but when I got some samples of the fabric, I made them into a finished mattress so I could test it out. It’s been a tremendous life changer for me, and I’m saying that as a user, not as a seller. I started sleeping on it about 2 ½ years ago and I still use it to this day.”
It’s important to note that the use of CBD in a wide variety of products, including mattresses and pillows, currently does not have the blessing of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which says questions remain unanswered about the safety and effectiveness of CBD. In addition, the legality of CBD products varies from state to state, so manufacturers must proceed with caution and work with legal counsel to understand what kinds of claims they can make about products that contain CBD, and understand clearly where they can make and sell these products.
The ABCs of CBD
Manufacturers say a key task for them is to educate both retailers and consumers about CBD — what it is and what it isn’t; what it does and does not do.
“That was one of our major concerns in launching this, especially with some of our more conservative accounts,” says Scott Carr, marketing director for Malouf, a sleep products manufacturer in Logan, Utah, that introduced a line of CBD-infused foam pillows at the Winter Las Vegas Market. “Are we going to be alienating a segment of our client base? Thankfully, there wasn’t much of a backlash, which means that the education is out there and people are learning, but it still is probably our biggest barrier. For some clients, this just doesn’t mesh with what they’re looking for.”
So, for the uninitiated, here’s a brief primer for you — the ABCs of CBD, if you will.
CBD is short for cannabidiol, a natural derivative of cannabis, the plant that also gives us marijuana, a long-outlawed, mind-altering drug that some states have begun legalizing in recent years. Because marijuana causes users to get high — and sometimes triggers paranoia, clouds judgment, hampers motor skills and lowers inhibitions — the drug has a shadowy stigma that can hang over CBD, too.
The distinction is this: The cannabis plant has two major components — CBD and a chemical called tetrahydrocannabinol, better known as THC. It’s the THC that is psychoactive — that’s what gets you high. CBD, meanwhile, is nonpsychoactive. By law, CBD products may not contain more than 0.3% THC — far less than the amount required to give you a buzz — and some products contain CBD isolate, a pure form of CBD that has no THC at all.
It can get a little confusing, which is why Mutter emphasizes the importance of education. His supplier company Seed2System, for example, has an education director who works directly with manufacturers.
“Education is key in this industry,” Mutter says. “There’s still a lot of information that we need to get out there. Transparency is very important, too. Our mindset is that we want to not only make quality products, but help with education and make sure we’re communicating an accurate message. We don’t want CBD to be taboo or viewed as illegal or associated with marijuana. It’s not the same as marijuana.”
Mattress and pillow lines deliver CBD to customers in one of two ways — through the air, or inhalation, and through the skin, or transdermally.
Malouf, for example, has incorporated the ingredient into its aromatherapy line of pillows, adding CBD to go along with such aromas as lavender and peppermint. The CBD is infused into the pillow itself, and people who sleep on the pillow breathe in those molecules to benefit from their relaxing properties, Carr says. Malouf’s CBD pillows include the Zoned ActiveDough, Shoulder Zoned Dough, and Zoned Dough, all with CBD oil and a sage scent (all $199 queen). In addition, each pillow comes with a 5-milliliter spritzer containing CBD isolate.
“We recommend they use it nightly and spray it on the outside of the pillowcase,” Carr says. “When they do that, they’re getting the CBD transdermally because those tiny droplets are touching their skin.”
Some bedding manufacturers that infuse CBD into mattresses also offer spritzers to replenish the CBD in the products so customers can get the maximum benefits it is purported to offer.
A budding category
Manufacturers clearly have figured out how to incorporate CBD into their products, but how well will they be able to infuse CBD into their futures?
For one thing, evidence of CBD’s effectiveness is not conclusive. Anecdotally, stories abound of people who have benefited greatly from CBD, but scientific studies, to this point, are not as convincing. Does it really promote calmness and relaxation or help insomniacs get a better night’s sleep? Is it safe? The FDA has concerns and continues to investigate CBD.
And what about legal issues? Although CBD is growing in acceptance across the country, it’s still not legal in all 50 states. How significantly will that impact bedding manufacturers’ sales of CBD-infused products?
There also are consumer and product durability questions to answer. For example, some employers have zero-tolerance policies and random drug testing procedures in place for their workers. In a May 2019 article, Consumer Reports notes that some people have reported failing drug tests after ingesting CBD-based products, likely because the products contained higher levels of THC than the package indicated or perhaps because “the small amounts of THC allowed in CBD products could build up in the body to detectable levels.” Do CBD-infused mattresses and bedding pose similar risks? And, just as it is a concern with other functional ingredients added to sleep products, how long will the purported benefits of CBD components last?
For what it is worth, though, manufacturers’ budding interest in CBD products sees no sign of waning. They report keen interest, strong sales and positive feedback from their retailers and consumers. Equally important, they’re continuing to expand their lines and develop new products, a clear indicator of where they think the future of CBD is headed.
“We don’t think this is a trend,” Carr says. “As CBD continues to grow in popularity and more education comes out, it’s just going to get bigger and bigger.”
Citing Lack of Data, FDA Is Cautious About CBD Products
An irony concerning CBD is that while the popular cannabis plant derivative has a reputation for imparting feelings of calmness, one federal agency finds CBD anything but relaxing.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which is responsible for protecting public health through the regulation of foods, dietary supplements, over-the-counter pharmaceuticals and other products, has expressed reservations about the safety of CBD, particularly in the wake of its rapidly growing acceptance among consumers.
“We are concerned that some people wrongly think that the myriad of CBD products on the market have been evaluated by the FDA and determined to be safe, or that using CBD ‘can’t hurt,’ ” Food and Drugs Commissioner Dr. Stephen M. Hahn says in an FDA statement issued in March. “Aside from one prescription drug approved to treat two rare, severe pediatric epilepsy disorders, no other CBD products have been evaluated or approved by the FDA.”
According to Hahn, the FDA has concerns about potential harm from CBD products, including liver injury, adverse interactions with other drugs, male reproductive toxicity, and dangerous side effects such as drowsiness. Hahn also cited the agency’s lack of knowledge about the effects of sustained or long-term use of CBD, and the potential risk to vulnerable populations, such as fetuses, children, pregnant women and the elderly.
“This does not mean that we know CBD is unsafe to these populations or under these circumstances,” he says, “but given the gaps in our current knowledge, and the known risks that have been identified, we also are not at a point where we can conclude that unapproved CBD products are safe for use. We encourage Americans to consult with their health care providers before using CBD products.”
In the meantime, the FDA continues to investigate the purported claims of CBD — from improved sleep patterns to pain relief — and its safety when used by the American public.
“The marketplace for CBD-containing products is quickly evolving,” Hahn says, “and it is critical that we work together with stakeholders and industry to develop high-quality data to close the knowledge gaps about the science, safety and quality of many of these products.”
For more information about the FDA’s stance on CBD, visit the FDA website: FDA Regulation of Cannabis and Cannabis-Derived Products, Including Cannabidiol (CBD).