An Old Remedy Coming to Life Again

Damian Fagon, hemp farmer and co-owner of Gullybean Farms

I saw the bubbles floating in the water where I was soaking my feet. Kitty Harmen, my pedicurist, explained that those bubbles were the CBD oil. When it was time to scrub my feet and legs she used a CBD foot scrub. She then massaged them with CBD lotion. It felt good, but nothing unusual. However, about an hour or so later when I got home, I was so relaxed I felt like Gumby. I had to lie down. I slept a solid seven hours that night.

CBD, short for cannabidiol, a chemical compound found primarily in the flowers and leaves of the hemp plant, is popping up in all sorts of products from gummies and chocolate bars to vapes, honey sticks, teas and bath bombs. In part because of its anti-inflammatory characteristics, salons are using it in their manicures, pedicures, body scrubs and facials.

Hemp is a product that the U.S. produced decades ago which is now experiencing a resurgence among farmers. Damian Fagon, hemp farmer and co-owner of Gullybean Farms, harvests 10 acres of hemp in Hudson Valley, New York. He said, “It’s the most interesting plant you can be growing in the U.S. today. It’s very new and very exciting.” Along with that newness comes no regulation. “It’s like the Wild, Wild West out there,” he said. “The quality (of the products) varies greatly. Fifty percent of the products are made from hemp grown in China, which has been growing it for hundreds of years and has no farming regulations,” he explained.

That’s why when Michael Maybroda, owner of Stephan & Co. salon and spa in Rehoboth Beach, DE wanted to try CBD, he sought out products from a reputable source that farms organically. “I suffer from back pain and anxiety. In 2018 I was on seven pain killers plus Xanax for anxiety. I did research on my own about CBD.” He traveled to Denver and Las Vegas to learn about the product. He brought staff members with him and introduced it to clientele who have found the products beneficial. “CBD removed Xanax from my life. I no longer need it regularly.”

What is CBD?
It’s one of many powerful cannabinoids found in hemp. CBD does NOT produce a euphoric ‘high’ or psychoactive effect. CBD does not have the same receptors as THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). CBD is the second most prevalent of the active ingredients of cannabis (marijuana). While CBD is an essential component of medical marijuana, it is derived from the hemp plant, which is a cousin of the marijuana plant.

What is CBD good for?
CBD can be a non-pharmaceutical way to lessen anxiety and stress. It can also help manage pain and help you to relax and focus better.  It’s been found to be effective for controlling acne, lowering blood pressure and easing drug withdrawal. I give it to my 15-year-old dog and notice a difference in his spryness and playfulness.

Criteria for Choosing the Best CBD for You
Look at what it’s cut with. Most reputable sellers use coconut or olive oil. Avoid any chemical additives. “If it’s being sold at a gas station, chances are it’s not what it seems,” said Harmen. “Question the people selling it. Do they know where it’s sourced from?” If you are buying on-line, see if the site has a link to the farm from which it’s sourced.

Different uses of CBD have different additives. Melatonin may be added for sleep or eucalyptus, arnica or menthol may be added for pain. However, Maybroda said adding flavoring to CBD may dilute its potency.

How many milligrams you need to use is dependent on how susceptible you are to its effects. Maybroda suggests starting with a low dosage and seeing how you feel. To sleep through the night, I use 750m of CBD oil with no flavoring. (Despite complaints of its awful taste, the flavor didn’t bother me at all.) I take it about an hour before I plan to go to sleep. Every night I’ve taken it, I’ve slept through for seven to eight hours.

Hemp in the U.S.
Several of our founding fathers grew hemp. George Washington began growing hemp at Mt. Vernon in 1765. Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and Benjamin Franklin were also cannabis farmers.

In the 1830s an Irishman traveled to India where he learned of medical applications of cannabis. He published his findings in the Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal which expanded the use of hemp from rope to medicinal products.

Cannabis extracts and other preparations were widely available at the turn of the 20th century. Much like today’s medical marijuana and therapeutic hemp products, cannabis extracts were used for everything from epilepsy to mood disorders. But the invention of aspirin in the 1860s led to the diminished popularity of hemp.

In the late 1930s anti-cannabis sentiment grew and led to the anti-cannabis propaganda film Reefer Madness. The federal government also placed heavy taxes on the sale of cannabis. In the meantime, in 1940 a University of Illinois team of scientists isolated CBD from the cannabis plant. They thought at the time it was an inactive substance.

During WWII the government lifted the tax on hemp to allow for hemp fiber production to create ropes for the US Navy. However, nylon and other synthetic fibers lessened the demand for hemp in the 1950s and the last large commercial hemp crop in the US was harvested in 1958.

In 1970 cannabis was placed under federal control through the Controlled Substances Act. All forms of cannabis including hemp were banned. However, by the 1990s interest in commercial hemp cultivation was on the upswing and in 1996 California legalized medical marijuana. Individual states followed although the federal government actively challenged the law.

Present Day Resurgence
In 2014 federal restrictions on industrial hemp were removed. Any states that legalize it can set up research programs to study the benefits. In that same year, Colorado became the first state to legalize the recreational use of marijuana for adult use. Four years later the FDA approved Epidolex, a CBD product for the use of hard-to-treat forms of epilepsy. In 2018 the US passed a law that transformed the regulatory status of hemp to include hemp-derived products like CBD. It also clarified that the term ‘marijuana’ does not include hemp. The bill encourages the building of hemp businesses.

If you’d like to try CBD, don’t worry about side effects. CBD has not been documented causing any harm nor producing any negative side effects (unlike prescription pharmaceuticals). Chances are if you take too much, you’ll just get very sleepy. In other words, it can’t hurt to try it.

Check with Yes or MOM’s grocery stores for CBD products. Stores like The Glass Stache DC at 1111 H St., NE (glassstachedc.com, (202-920-5040), sells CBD products. Capitol Organics, 900 Brentwood Rd. NE, (202-321-5334) devotes the entire store to CBD products. If you go online do your research. If you’re already on meds check with your pharmacist or physician.

Pattie Cinelli is a health and fitness professional who has been writing her column for more than 20 years. She focuses on non-traditional ways to stay healthy and get well. Please email her with questions or column suggestions at: fitmiss44@aol.com.