CBD Explained

A father receives the diagnosis that his son has Tourette syndrome two weeks before he is meant to enter kindergarten. Afraid that his son won’t be able to have the normal experience every parent desires for their children, the father begins to give his son small doses of CBD, having heard about the hemp-based oil’s potential effects on neurological disorders. In two days, the son’s twitches have quelled and he is able to start school with his classmates.

Many people, like this local family, are turning to CBD with fervent hope that it may be the long-awaited solution for issues like suffering from chronic pain, anxiety, insomnia and a laundry list of conditions.

Some of the most ardent CBD skeptics are baffled by the countless testimonials — like the one mentioned above — about its healing benefits. Derived from the sister plant of marijuana, CBD oil often comes with a stigma, a lingering judgment based on the substance’s origin. But recent legislation has opened up this new industry to widespread growth, and now it’s time to approach CBD with an open mind.

CBD, or Cannabidiol, is a hemp-derived oil that contains less than 0.3 percent THC and does not get you high. CBD products are sold legally in Austin today as a result of the 2014 Farm Bill that enabled farmers in select states to cultivate CBD from industrial hemp. Most CBD sold in the United States today comes from Kentucky or Colorado, but that is likely to change as a result of the  2018 Farm Bill, which made it legal to grow industrial hemp and cultivate CBD anywhere in the United States, including Texas.

Several of Austin’s CBD pioneers are ready to lead the way in this already exploding market that’s soon to become exponentially bigger.

Tucked away off Rosewood Avenue in the back of a blue bungalow is the office of Rawsome CBD. The shop’s mom-and-pop feel is so strong that customers may question whether they’re walking into an establishment or a private backyard. Inside, Rawsome staff members greet customers and take ample time to educate them on CBD, discuss the products and offer recommendations based on each customer’s ailments. The Rawsome team prides themselves on this relationship with customers. “We want to remain the neighborhood place that provides education to people wanting to learn more about the potential benefits of CBD,” says product director Kevin Mabrey.

Their portfolio is simple. They carry four droppers of CBD-infused MCT oil at varying strengths: Essential, Performance, Extra Strength and Super Concentrate. Each formula caters to individual needs, from mild pain or anxiety to insomnia, MS, cystic fibrosis, intense chronic pain and even cancer.

In the shop there is a guest book where customers have returned to relay their relief in ink, sharing their experiences and the way their lives have changed after using Rawsome’s CBD. The book broadcasts waves of relief and euphoria. “I’ve slept through the night for the first time in 11 years.” “My anxiety was lessened immediately.” “I had unbearable chronic back pain, and I can now go for walks without pain.”

Cassidy Shea, a sales associate whose parents helped start the business, laughs as she confesses that it is hard not to call CBD a miracle cure. But she emphasizes how each body is completely unique, and therefore each person will respond differently.

We all have cannabinoid receptors in our bodies. Some people may naturally produce more cannabinoids than others and can take lower doses,” she says. “Some people’s receptors are hypersensitive, feeling the effects of relief almost immediately. Others may not feel anything.”

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Another local purveyor of CBD-infused goods is Bee Delightful, the creator of Canna Bees honey. Co-founder Seth Nyer is quick to ease concerns about any addictive or harmful qualities CBD may possess. “In 2017, the World Health Organization deemed that CBD does not appear to have abuse potential or cause harm, so at the very least it is harmless,” he says.

Bee Delightful aims to lead the path in representing CBD as a food and, pairing two missions of wellness and bee restoration, their Rescue Blend infuses pure CBD extract in raw honey sourced from their bee sanctuaries in Central Texas.

Preston Day is the head chef in charge of creating their CBD-infused nourishment. To celebrate reaching their goal of rescuing one million bees in their first year, the team held a lavish dinner party where Day prepared six courses of gourmet, CBD-infused dishes, piloting a program they call Cooking with Canna Bees.

Nyer explains that this is not just for show. “Our organs love raw honey, and there is an entourage effect when you pair the two together.” Honey, he claims, is as friendly as possible to our bodies, is easier for moms to give to kids and is more inconspicuous to take. “It’s as simple as a spoonful of honey.”

Those desiring even more CBD knowledge can turn to Peoples Rx, the beloved local pharmacy that has been on the frontier of introducing CBD in Austin. They have a dozen different CBD products on their shelves in a range of dosages and formats, from honey, lozenges and chocolates to oils, balms and salves.

The staff at Peoples Rx receive regular training on the products they sell, ensuring they can help each customer identify the right product.

Customers can also be assured that Peoples Rx is sourcing high-quality CBD. “We have undergone extensive testing and only accept companies that can provide a Certificate of Analysis detailing the amount of THC and the sourcing of their CBD,” explains Lindsey Wilder Flatt, a wellness specialist for Peoples Rx and an acupuncturist in training.

She relays that more and more customers are coming in with a basic understanding of CBD and a general excitement about it. “Conservatively, one out of five people that come in are asking about CBD. The products sell themselves through word of mouth, with customers telling friends and family of the ways CBD has improved their lives,” says Flatt.

Part of what makes CBD so appealing, beyond its low-risk factor, is the immediacy with which most consumers experience its benefits. All of these providers shared stories of clients trying samples and coming back within an hour to buy in bulk, reporting that their pain had immediately lessened.

But Flatt offers a caveat similar to Shea’s. “CBD does not work for everybody. There are people who it’s not ideal for,” she says. “But when it does work, it works well. Often customers have attempted multiple other solutions, and within a few weeks on CBD, they are noticing significant improvements.”

Because these products are so new, there is little regulation in commercial CBD products. Without expert assistance and research, it is easy to be duped by companies with low-quality products that may be cross-contaminated with heavy metals or may not contain CBD at all. This is why it is important to find a trusted provider that can show the product’s potency.

Clinical research on the benefits of CBD is still in its infancy, and providers hope the 2018 Farm Bill will open the stage for more. Right now restrictions for researchers are still very rigid, with scrutiny from both the Food and Drug Administration and individual state legislatures. But with so much consumer demand and reported healing, it is only a matter of time before research is more widespread and CBD is better understood. With the passage of the Farm Bill allowing us to grow hemp right here in Austin, a new world of healing is sure to open up.

Written by Melissa Claire