CBD oil: Hempire or bandwagon?

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  • CBD products for sale at the Sussex County Co-op in Newton. (Photos by Laurie Gordon)

  • The Nutrition Store in Sparta's signage now notes "CBD oil sold here." (Photo by Laurie Gordon)

  • Products by the new, Lafayette-based company, ‘Be-Body.’

  • Be-Body products.

By Laurie Gordon

Purported to relive inflammation, relieve aches and pains and possibly help with insomnia and depression, the availability of Cannabidiol, or CBD, is on he rise. However, its regulatory status can seem a bit fuzzy on details. To date, FDA has not approved any CBD-based human foods or supplements, and some companies that make such supplements ignore or contravene this lack of clear approval. CBD products are available throughout Sussex County.

Whether derived from either marijuana or hemp, CBD does not contain high levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the chemical responsible for most of marijuana’s psychological and physiological effects. In a nut shell, CBD does not get one high, and because of its scant amount of THC, it is generally construed as legal. However, it remains a gray area.

Richard N. Siegfried, MD, is a pain management specialist and directs Comprehensive Pain Management, in Sparta.

“Unfortunately there is too little evidence to reach a firm conclusion regarding the utility of cannabidiol (CBD) for chronic pain," he said. "Clearly, more research must be conducted. However, one must remember that 'the absence of proof is not the proof of absence.'”

He added, “One also needs to bear in mind that we do have evidence against the use of chronic opioid therapy in terms of its lack of long term efficacy and potential for substantial harm. In view of that, many will choose to try alternative treatments including CBD. Of greatest concern is the total lack of regulation of the manufacturer and distribution of CBD. Accordingly, you cannot be certain of the contents of a bottle labeled “CBD oil”.

Despite the discrepancies, interest in CBD is snow-balling in the form of the oil as well as additives to water, food products and cosmetics. According to The Hemp Business Journal, the CBD market is estimated to grow to a $2.5 billion market in consumer sales by 2022.

Locally, the Sussex County Co-Op, in Newton, and Green Life Market, in Andover, carry CBD products.

The Nutrition Store, with locations around the county, states; “We sell CBD Oil” to the signage on its front door. They also now sell CBD smoothies.

Kathryn Jourav, of Lafayette, has been a cosmetic executive for high-end emerging brands for many years and has seen it all at the national level of cosmetic sales, education, operations, marketing and spa development. Discovering the promise in CBD oil, last week she launched BeBody. Her products are now available online and at pop up locations.

“I believe there is a lot of credibility to the use of CBD products for relaxation and stress relief,” she said.

The BeBody brand is three-step, pre, during and post shower routine that claims to “energize and firm the skin, inspires movement, and brightens your day.” It includes CBD oil in a cleanser, body scrub, firming lotion, oil and “Intense CBD Supercharged Oil.”

“BeBody products all contain a proprietary Smart CBD Blend,” Jourav said. “Our blend is grown in Marin County, California and has taken over 10 years to perfect. With 79.19% CBD, our blend with Mediterranean Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Sunflower Oil far exceeds the average of less than 50 percent in most CBD product blends.”

Grano Pain Relief & Wellness, with locations in Newton, Hamburg, Oak Ridge, sells CBD oils and topical creams and has now added CBD oil to the massage therapy they offer.

“CBD can be helpful by reducing inflammation in joints and muscles and relieving chronic pain such as back and neck pain,: said chiropractor, Dr. Andrew Grano, "More people are relying on CBD oils to help them deal with pain management. In addition to reducing inflammation, CBD can also increase blood flow throughout the area affected and soothes muscle tension. You can also take CBD oils orally for your chronic pain including conditions likes arthritis. We carry a variety of CBD products that we have researched extensively for validity such as oils and topical creams. They have shown to be highly effective for pain relief and relaxation from anxiety and various sleeping issues.”

He added, “Massages are a great way to reduce stress and adding CBD can help ease your mind even more.”

Sussex County Food Co-op Board President, Jim Fiola, said that according to their customers, "anxiety is the number one reason they use CBDs. Anxiety can present itself in many ways and customers say CBDs make them feel better. There are also folks who feel CBDs help them manage pain.”

The Newton-based co-op carries a number of CBD brands, all organically sourced from the USA.

“In the future a vast majority of folks will find benefit in using CBD oil which will be a better alternative to other OTC or prescription medications," Fiola said. "It is important to remember that more isn’t necessarily better and to start with a moderate strength and modest dosing. At the Co-op , we only bring in well researched products.”

Ameer Yassin, the manager for Green Life Market, in Andover, listed a host of CBD products carried by the store including beverages, honey sticks and sublingual CBD.

“Next month we will have a Green Life brand CBD oil that we source from an organically grown hemp farm in Colorado,” he said.

Though he is not allowed to make any medical claims about CBD, Yasin said, “Our customers have told us that CBD products have helped them with anxiety, pain, sleep, mood and many other health issues. If anyone has questions about the benefits of CBD they can visit any of our stores and ask for a wellness specialist, our staff is well educated on the benefits of CBD oil.”

Yasin noted that their CBD products have been selling very well and that they are finding CBD supplements to be one of the most repurchased products in the store.

Sparta Chiropractic & Wellness Center's Dr. Eric Loewrigkeit said he uses CBD for patients who are in extreme pain.

“Generally 8/10 or better on the Visual Analog and Numeric Rating Scales,” he said. “It's a natural alternative to opioids. The majority of patients do well with this supplement. We use Designs for Health, which is a professional grade vitamin distributor.”

Skyler Marie Semanchik, of Andover, is a licensed pharmacist in New Jersey and has been a CBD distributor for HempWorx (which is part of the company MyDaily Choice) in June of 2018.

“Sadly not all CBD is created equally and there are a bunch of sub-par products on the market,” she said. “Patients aren’t doing their research when it comes to CBD so some of them aren’t benefiting from it. Companies out there are loading their products with artificial, unnecessary ingredients thinking it will increase absorption. The best way to take CBD is sublingually (under the tongue) in an oil form. This is our main product with HempWorx.”

She said that the company also has a topical cream available for those who do not want to take it orally, and that the cream can be used safey in combination with oral CBD. HempWorx gets their CBD from hemp plants on its farm in Kentucky.

“The product is organic and non-GMO. We also have lab testing and COAs available for our products on our website,” Semanchik said. “We even have dog treats and pet oil available for our fur babies. CBD can be used to help ease the symptoms of insomnia, anxiety, pain, GI issues and even skin conditions.”

The CBD craze has extended to pets. Jan Hopper, owner of Living Pawsitively, in Lafayette, said, “We have been carrying it for a year now. The brand I carry is Pet Releaf. They are an organic company out of Colorado. It works very well for pets with anxiety and also for pets with seizures.”

Not all animal lovers are fans of CBD oil. Parker Space wears two important hats in the county: he's and assemblyman and the owner of Space Farms Zoo and museum, in Beamerville.

He said, “We don’t use any [CBD] at the zoo for our animals. I’m never one for more regulations, but we should know if it’s safe to take. Myself I would never use it.”

Even the beer market is getting in on the CBD action. Said Heide Hassing, co-owner of Angry Erik's Brewery in Branchville, “I will say that I know of several beers out there with CBD, and I have tried a couple, but the flavor is a little over the top skunky for me. I get that some people love that, but as for my personal preference, it is not a forerunner in flavor profiles.”

With the CBD hype comes more concern for caution.

“I am curious and learn more about cannabinoids on a daily basis, mostly from my patients,” said Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse, Deborah Drumm, APN, whose practice is based in Newton, “I think we need to be cautious because there are multilevel marketing companies starting up everywhere. All I recommend is that sources be organic and we should all avoid smoking it. I do know that approved dispensaries in the state offer the product but patients must become registered users with the state to shop at these sites.”

Pharmacist and athlete, Bogdan Bienko, said, “The CBD craze is the wild west of health food. Although anecdotally, many people have experienced benefits for pain, psoriasis, eczema, and autoimmune diseases, there are not many large scale studies to support their use.”

Bienko, who has been a pharmacist throughout the state for many years and hails from Tranquility, said he is concerned about safety issues regarding contaminants and pathogens.

“Many companies have sprung up, because its a lucrative field, and not all of them use best practices in their manufacturing,” he said. “In addition the ,FDA, which is assigned the responsibility for food safety, has not cleared most of the CBD products as food. It is up to the consumer to do due diligence when choosing a product and its manufacturer.”

Atlantic Health System responded to Straus News' request for a comment about CBD oil with, “Thank you for the opportunity, but at this time we are going to politely decline.”

Linda Mitchell, LPN, LMT, BCTMB, and CranioSacral Therapist, is the Founder, Partner and Director of The Tree of Health Center, in Newton. She uses a custom oil blend infused with a cannabis extract or a cream blend for deeper penetration when giving massages. Tree of Health's CBD source is from the company Verdantwaye, in Californiia.

She said, “What I found most amazing is how the tissue became soft while doing massage on my clients [with CBD oil] alleviating the tension, inflammation, muscular aches and pain. The skin is more vibrant as well.”

Mollie Twining is the Founding Partner and Director of Sales at CBD for Life, a company which is based in New Jersey and one of the pioneers in the industry. Located in Red Bank, CBD for Life now has product in approximately 500 stores throughout the country including Panther Valley Pharmacy and Gifts in Allamuchy.

What started with CBD rub for aches, pains, arthritis, fiber-myalgia, etc. has grown in leaps and bounds, and CBD for Life will be introducing 11 new SKUs to its lnine in the next three months

“Education is key to our success and CBD for Life continues to educate the public about the health benefits of CBD,” Twining said. “Once the stigma surrounding CBD, and more people are open to trying it, they will realize that having the endocannabinoid system in a synergistic state is the optimum state of wellness for the body and mind.”

Based in Montague, Solaria Farms makes handmade cosmetics in small batches. The Founder is WendyLynn Puopolo and Tanya Touw O'Shea, of Stillwater, is the Executive Director.

“We sell a full-spectrum oil blended with only CBD and hemp oil, and our founder and her husband work closely with the grower to provide a consistent product,” O'Shea said. “Many of the [CBD] products on the market aren't as well regulated.”

O'Shea said, “We always recommend our clients do their own research and consult their healthcare provider as CBD is a supplement.”

CBD oil generally comes in two types: one derived from from marijuana and the other from hemp. Both are sold in New Jersey, however those that come from marijuana are restricted to patients in the Medical Marijuana Program who have a MMJ card. To qualify for this program, one must have a recommendation from a doctor indicating a debilitating medical condition that warrants the use of medical marijuana. All residents of the Garden State are allowed to use CBD products that come from hemp. Hemp plants resemble marijuana but contain extremely low levels of THC, the chemical that produces a high for pot users.

Fiola predicts growth of CBD products in the Garden State.

“The CBD boom will continue and, for a period, the market will be flooded with all kinds of wonderful and less desirable choices,” Fiola said. “It is important to research the CBD oil and make sure it is a clean pure product from a company with integrity; i. e., how it is extracted, where it is made, what are the filler ingredients.”

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