Hemp-based foods are not always gluten-free enough for people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. Here's what you need to know to stay safe. Is CBD Gluten-Free? If you’re living gluten-free, you may be wondering, “Is there gluten in CBD products?” The answer isn’t a simple yes or no. CBD products are growing in popularity and are
Is Hemp Safe to Eat When You’re Gluten-Free?
Jane Anderson is a medical journalist and an expert in celiac disease, gluten sensitivity, and the gluten-free diet.
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Mia Syn, MS, RDN is a registered dietitian nutritionist with a master of science in human nutrition. She is also the host of Good Food Friday on ABC News 4.
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Elaine Hinzey is a registered dietitian, writer, and fact-checker with nearly two decades of experience in educating clients and other healthcare professionals.
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Hemp—a very close but non-psychoactive relative to the cannabis plant known as marijuana that has gained a reputation as a superfood in recent years —is technically gluten-free. It’s not at all related to the gluten grains wheat, barley, and rye.
However, that’s not the end of the story for hemp, which is a valuable source of fiber, magnesium, and essential fatty acids. With all this versatility and nutrition contained in hemp, how can those of us on a gluten-free diet reap its benefits?
The catch with hemp, as with many other grain products, is that hemp is often grown in rotation with other crops including gluten grains like wheat. And farmers may use the same equipment to harvest, store, and transport hemp as they do with gluten grains. That’s how hemp can become contaminated.
It’s not guaranteed that hemp will be cross-contaminated with gluten, of course, though there’s a chance that some hemp could be above the U.S. legal limit of less than 20 parts per million of gluten.
So What Can You Do to Enjoy Hemp?
In order to avoid gluten cross contamination, you should look for hemp product manufacturers that ensure their sources of hemp are as pure as possible. To be extra cautious, avoid any hemp-based products that don’t reference gluten on the packaging (or manufacturers who openly admit they can’t guarantee they meet gluten-free standards, such as Pacific Foods ). Instead, look for products that are labeled “gluten-free,” which means they fall below 20 ppm.
Products that are labeled gluten-free must meet the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s legal standards of less than 20 parts per million of gluten. Manufacturers of products that are certified gluten-free are required to take extra steps to ensure the raw materials they source are free of gluten cross-contamination. If you’re particularly sensitive, your safest bet is a “Certified Gluten-Free” label from the Gluten Free Certification Organization (GFCO), which ensures that that products fall below 10 ppm.
You can find many certified gluten-free hemp products on the GFCO’s website, and here are a few hemp products that are certified gluten-free to help get you started:
- Purely Elizabeth Blueberry Hemp Ancient Grain Granola. Purely Elizabeth granolas are packed with nutrients and come in a variety of flavors including blueberry hemp, which is made with other superfoods like amaranth, quinoa, and chia, and is lightly sweetened with coconut sugar and baked with coconut oil. All of Purely Elizabeth’s products are certified gluten-free by the GFCO, certified vegan, and non-GMO verified, are made with organic ingredients and contain no artificial additives or soy.
- Elmhurst Barista Edition Hemp Milk. Made for steaming, foaming, and pouring, this barista-style hemp milk is certified gluten-free by the GFCO and is vegan, dairy-free, carrageenan-free, kosher, and non-GMO verified. It contains only three primary ingredients: Filtered water, almonds, and rice and is shelf-stable until opened. You can also use it as a creamer for your favorite cup of coffee or tea.
- Suncore Foods Hulled Hemp Seeds. These hulled hemp seeds make for a quick energy-boosting snack or can add a satisfying crunch and nutty flavor to yogurt, smoothies, and salads. Suncore Foods’ hemp seeds are labeled gluten-free and included in the GFCO’s product directory, and are also organic and non-GMO verified.
As hemp foods become increasingly popular, more hemp-based products are available that are specially sourced and certified safe to eat for those with celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity. As always, read labels carefully and don’t hesitate to contact the company or manufacturer should you need to know more.
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
Vandolah HJ, Bauer BA, Mauck KF. Clinicians’ guide to cannabidiol and hemp oils. Mayo Clin Proc. 2019;94(9):1840-1851. doi:10.1016/j.mayocp.2019.01.003
Rodriguez-leyva D, Pierce GN. The cardiac and haemostatic effects of dietary hempseed. Nutr Metab (Lond). 2010;7:32. doi:10.1186/1743-7075-7-32
Is CBD Gluten-Free?
If you’re living gluten-free, you may be wondering, “Is there gluten in CBD products?” The answer isn’t a simple yes or no.
CBD products are growing in popularity and are available in national retail outlets, including Target and Whole Foods (may not be available in all states) and even pet stores such as Petco. Unfortunately, because the CBD industry is not currently regulated, it is hard to know what is in the products or whether they are – or are not – gluten-free.
What is CBD?
CBD is short for Cannabidiol, a chemical compound, known as a cannabinoid , that is found in the Cannabis sativa plant. The cannabis plant contains over 100 identified cannabinoids including Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the molecule that creates an intoxicated or “high” feeling in humans.
CBD can come in a number of forms:
- Topicals – creams, lotions, ointments, balms, and salves, applied to the surface of the skin
- Oil or Tincture – extracts in a carrier substance, taken internally
- Capsule or Tablet – processed extracts, taken internally
- Smokeables – minimally processed dried plant material that is combusted or warmed and inhaled
- Edibles and Drinkables – food or drink infused with CBD extract
Many companies producing CBD products may be misinterpreting the 2018 Farm Bill and assuming all uses of CBD are legal. Anyone interested in the legalities surrounding CBD should refer to the FDA website .
In terms of CBD topicals, to comply with federal rulings, the CBD must be extracted solely from hemp plants. Hemp plants are a variation of the Cannabis sativa plant – some call it a “sister plant” – a low resin plant specially cultivated to contain negligible amounts of THC. In order to be sold legally in the United States outside of a cannabis dispensary, a product must contain less than 0.3% of THC. The product should not make any claims that it can “ affect the structure or function of the body, or to diagnose, cure, mitigate, treat or prevent disease”, or it may be classified as a drug that falls under FDA oversight.
Something to note as you’re shopping for CBD: You may have seen products on the market that say they contain hemp seed oil or hemp seed extract. While they may be marketed as “cannabis” or suggest they contain CBD, they do not. Any product using hemp seeds or hemp seed derivatives do not contain any CBD or THC.
Is CBD naturally gluten-free?
As a plant, hemp is naturally gluten-free. Because it is an agricultural crop, hemp could come into contact with gluten at any point from growing to harvesting, shipping, storing or processing, like any other agricultural product.
The hemp plant is a phytoextractor and phyto-accumulator, meaning that it pulls heavy metals from the earth and can hold onto them in its parts. Extractions from hemp plants need to be processed in a way that removes heavy metals and other contaminants, but this is not always the case.
While CBD product manufacturers are not required to get their products tested, savvy companies pay the extra money to invest in third-party lab testing to verify the purity of their products (free from pesticides, mold, fungus, heavy metals and other contaminants) and the accuracy of the concentration of CBD printed on the product label. Current lab testing for CBD products does not include testing for gluten.
If a CBD company is claiming that their product is gluten-free, deciding to buy and use that product becomes a matter of whether you trust the source and the seller.
CBD can be processed in several different ways with different compositions after processing. The three main compositions of CBD extracts are:
Full spectrum – whole plant extractions that include all cannabinoids including CBD and small or trace amounts of THC
Broad spectrum – whole plant extractions where the THC has been removed but CBD and other cannabinoids remain
Isolate – a more thorough extraction and distillation process that isolates the CBD from the rest of the plant matter
The risk of gluten being present in a CBD product can depend on how the hemp was processed and handled and what other ingredients were added during manufacturing.
What is in a CBD topical?
CBD topicals could potentially contain gluten. If a CBD product is labeled gluten-free, there are currently no regulations or checks to ensure the claim is accurate. Note that CBD topical products are not covered by the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004 (FALCPA) and are not obligated to follow gluten-free labeling regulations. As of Summer 2021, there is no governmental agency overseeing the quality or compliance of CBD product manufacturing.
Most CBD topicals contain ingredients other than CBD, such as a carrier substance like an oil. Companies also add other plant extracts, such as lavender, peppermint, turmeric, and arnica, to enhance effectiveness. They may also contain emulsifiers, binders, preservatives, or even active ingredients to increase absorption. Check ingredients listed on CBD product labels to make sure you don’t have a known allergy or sensitivity to any of the added ingredients.