The New Craze: CBD oil use grows in Northern New York

CBD products used on patients sit on a display inside a massage room at New Attitude Spa and Salon located on Coffeen Street in Watertown.

BY: Norah Machia
As the popularity of CBD products grows nationwide, many north country residents are seeking them out to help with a variety of physical and mental health issues, including chronic pain, inflammation and anxiety.

     CBD is a type of cannabinoid, a chemical that occurs naturally in hemp plants. Although hemp and marijuana are both from the cannabis family of plants, they have a different chemical makeup. The CBD extracts from agricultural hemp contain little to none of the THC, the psychoactive component of marijuana.

     This means people will not experience a feeling of “high” from CBD products. In order to meet federal guidelines, the hemp must be sourced from a sanctioned farm and the CBD extract must contain less than 0.3 percent THC (some CBD products are even completely THC-free).

     CBD products are targeted at supporting the endocannabinoid system, which has been identified by past research as a self-regulating system in the human body that supports a healthy balance of the immune and nervous systems. Many people who use CBD products believe their endocannabinoid systems need some extra support and have tried the products for their anti-inflammatory or anti-anxiety properties. 

     The Arthritis Foundation recently stated on its website that there is potential for CBD to help some patients with painful arthritis symptoms, although more studies are needed to determine how it might help with both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

“You might be surprised to learn that your body makes its own cannabinoids (called endocannabinoids) and has cannabinoid receptors, some related to inflammation and pain,” the organization explained on its website. Researchers once thought the CBD in products attached to these receptors, but now they suspect CBD helps the body use its own endocannabinoids more effectively.

    Additional studies are being done on a nationwide level to determine the potential effectiveness of CBD in treating other conditions as well. It was announced last year that National Institutes of Health funding would be directed to researchers at New York University to begin clinical trials to determine if CBD could help people with post-traumatic stress disorders who are also dealing with an alcohol use disorder.

       Meanwhile, there are an increasing number of options for CBD products, including oils, capsules, ointments and salves. Some food and drinks are even being infused with CBD, such as gummy bear candies and Kombucha drinks. There are even CBD products for pets.

   But with so many new products being introduced into the marketplace, particularly on the internet, it’s important for consumers to carefully research these items to ensure they are high quality and produced by a reputable company. Because CBD products are regulated as supplements, and not medicine, it’s possible for the strength and purity to vary.

    Nearly three years ago, state-licensed acupuncturist Adam French started introducing CBD topical ointments and salves into his practice as a supplemental option for his patients.

     “It’s really helped some people who have been dealing with pain issues,” said Mr. French, whose practice is located at 24304 NYS Route 37 in Watertown. “These products can be a wonderful adjunct to other forms of health care treatments.”

     Mr. French carries a line of topical CBD items manufactured by Good Life Botanicals, which are produced in Colorado. They are also infused with Chinese herbs, adding even more benefits for patients dealing with issues such as nerve pain, fibromyalgia and anxiety, he said.

     He chose this line after meeting the company’s founders at a conference, where he had the opportunity to learn more about their specific extraction and production methods, Mr. French said. They contain less than 0.1 percent THC, and are available for sale to his patients, and anyone interested in trying them out, he said. 

      “I did a lot of research, because I didn’t want anything that contained synthetics or contaminants,” he said. “This company sells to health care professionals and is very stringent about quality control.”    

    Michelle Peckham, a state-licensed massage therapist, decided to start carrying a CBD product line after receiving inquiries from customers, and reading more about the items in professional magazines which promoted their potential benefits in conjunction with massage therapy.

      She was particularly interested in the potential of CBD products to offer pain relief and reduce inflammation. “Most of my clients are looking for help with pain relief, although some are also looking for relief from the stress and anxiety that can result from chronic pain,” she added.

     Mrs. Peckham, who practices at A New Attitude Salon Spa, 565 Coffeen St., Watertown, also works with companies that sell directly to health care professionals. One of those lines is CBD Clinic Revolutionary Pain Relief topical ointments of varying strengths. She also carries a line of Charlotte’s Web CBD oil (also known as cannabidiol) produced in Colorado, and a CBD isolate with no levels of THC. The products are also available for sale to the public.

        “I have found that people really like these CBD products because they’re made from natural ingredients and they have not experienced side effects,” she said.

     Some of her clients who regularly use the CBD products for topical pain relief have tried other products with no success, she said. Many people consider the CBD product as a supplement to their current health care treatments, including massage therapy. 

     “For some people, it’s really helped them figure out how to relieve their pain, and get through the day,” she said. “For others, they are trying CBD to help with their anxiety and sleep better at night.”

    Many people are interested in trying the CBD products because they are plant-based and contain other natural ingredients, she said.

     The Mustard Seed Natural Health Market and Café, 969 Arsenal St., started offering a range of CBD products last year, said co-owner Scott Skinner. They also carry a product with no traces of THC that is produced from the extract of orange peels, he added.

    Popular brands of CBD oils sold at the store include Smart Organics, Source Pure, and Barlean’s. The Mustard Seed also carries CBD gummies, Kombucha, and even CBD oil for pets. All products are carefully reviewed, including their manufacturing sources, before being made available to customers, Mr. Skinner said.

    Although the staff does not give medical advice, “we’ve done extensive research so we can be up to speed on these products to help our customers learn more about the potential benefits,” he said. “We are passionate about being a good resource of information for the community.”  

       “We’ve had a lot of feedback from customers, and people are getting good results from the CBD products,” Mr. Skinner said, including some who have been battling chronic pain issues, such as arthritis and joint pain.

      While regular store customers have focused for years on building up healthy immune systems, “they’re becoming more familiar with the need to also have a healthy endocannabinoid system, because it affects so many parts of the body,” he added.

      Both Darren Vlad, 22, and Barbara Kolbe, 64, are Mustard Seed staff members who have also benefited themselves from the use of CBD products.

      Ms. Vlad, a college student, started taking CBD in the form of gummy bears to help with anxiety. She was looking for a natural alternative.

     “When I first started taking them, I didn’t totally believe they would help,” she said. But after a few days, she began to feel less anxious in her daily life.

    “They have really worked for my body, but I had to give them time to take effect,” she said. “It was a good choice for me, because I didn’t want to take anything unnatural.”

     Mrs. Kolbe maintains a healthy lifestyle, has a regular sleep schedule, and works out at the gym. But she needed something to help her relax, because “I’m a Type-A personality, and I never stop moving,” she said.

     She started adding a few drops of CBD to her morning drink, and it’s helped her, particularly in stressful situations, she said.

    “For others, their anxiety levels may be higher, and they may need to try a different amount of a particular product,” Mrs. Kolbe said. “It’s dependent on so many different factors.”

     It’s ultimately the customer who will be able to determine what works best for his or her particular health concern, based on how they feel after using a CBD product, she said.