CBD oil cosmetics grow in popularity


Vegan cosmetics are growing in popularity, but manufacturers can’t use a common cosmetic ingredient, beeswax, in vegan products.

Instead, many are replacing it with CBD oil, a product found in marijuana.

Allergy-sufferer Autumn Williams has sensitive eyes and decided to try a new vegan mascara.

“It’s separating my eyelashes really well,” Williams said. “They already look twice as thick as they did before.”

She had no idea it was infused with CBD oil.

The use of CBD and hemp oils is spreading across the beauty industry in serums, moisturizers, make-up products, nail polishes and colognes.

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Abracadabra Coffee Releases CBD-Infused Cold Brew

Chill Brew - COURTESY OF ABRACADABRA COFFEE

In the past year, food and beverage producers have released everything from chocolate truffles to beer laced with cannabidiol, the cannabis compound said to relieve muscle pain, upset stomach, anxiety, autism symptoms and more. Chefs have even prepared special meals with a dose of the stuff in every course.

Now, Abracadabra Coffee, the Woodstock roastery known for sourcing single-farm, single-origin beans, is set to release its first batch of CBD cold brew, company cofounder Sarah Yetter told Seven Days.

The new beverage is dubbed Chill Brew and packaged in a can combining artwork by Abracadabra artist friend Dang Olsen and local designer Andrew Plotsky. The beans come from a small farm in Ethiopia; the CBD oil, from Luce Farm in Stockbridge.

The coffee makers connected with the hemp farm some time ago at the Vermont Farmers Market in Rutland, according to Yetter, and the chemistry felt right.

“Our companies aligned really well,” she said, “so we decided to do a collaboration with them. We really like what they do, and they really like what we do.”

And, Yetter added, customers seemed ready for coffee that does more than just caffeinate them. “[CBD] is something we really believe in, and it seems like a good first step in the natural progression of the market,” she said.

Each can contains 20 milligrams of full-spectrum CBD oil. According to Luce Farm, the oil contains all of hemp’s naturally occurring cannabinoids (not just cannibidiol), along with the plant’s aromatic compounds and traces of THC, all of which are thought to enhance the CBD’s effect.

As for the coffee’s tasting properties, Yetter said the herbaceous hemp flavor is apparent in every sip. “That was intentional on our part,” she said. “We chose [this specific] coffee because it’s a fruity, floral, juicy coffee, and the CBD has a really nice floral aroma.”

Sound like something you’d like to try?

Abracadabra will host a release party this Friday, July 13, at its Woodstock roasting facility. Customers can swing by for coffee, food trucks and record-spinning.

Chill Brew also will be at retail outlets including South Burlington’s Healthy Living Market & Café, South Royalton and Rutland co-ops, and Hops & Barley in Woodstock.

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Does CBD Only Come From Cannabis and Hemp?

Cannabidiol, or CBD, is exploding in popularity, but its uncertain legality has created barriers between consumers and providers. But what if cannabis and hemp were not the only sources of CBD?
Chemists have been able to synthesize CBD in the lab for years, but it’s wildly expensive (from one research supply source, it’s $159/10mg, and many require hundreds of milligrams to achieve therapeutic benefits) and you’re required to have a Schedule I DEA license to make the purchase. On top of that, it’s not intended for human consumption.

So instead of turning to the beaker, others are considering ways of manipulating the machinery of organisms to create CBD.

CBD From Hops

One recent notable example of alternative CBD sourcing comes from the hops plant. Isodiol International Inc. claims to have created the only source of CBD from a non-cannabis plant (including hemp).

Hops are well known for their distinctive flavor they impart in the brewing of beer. But can the hops plant, Humulus lupulus, be made to produce cannabinoids like THC or CBD? Isodiol International Inc. has not shared any data supporting their ability to create CBD from hops, nor did they respond to my request for comment. So, does their hops-derived CBD product, ImmuneAG, actually contain CBD? Maybe, and in theory, it can be done.

 

CBD From Yeast

Others are turning to yeast to do the hard labor of creating cannabinoids. Yeast do not naturally produce cannabinoids, but give them the right tools and it’s possible.

Librede, a California-based company has done just that. They hold a patent and have received federal funding to mass produce cannabinoids from yeast. By manipulating their DNA, yeast can produce CBD, THC, and other cannabinoids or terpenes that would naturally be found in the cannabis plant. And they do it for far cheaper than traditional cultivation methods.

It’s a one-step process: add sugar and let the bioengineered yeast do the rest. Liberte estimates that they’ll be able to create a gram of CBD for 20 cents, far less than cultivation and extraction of CBD from cannabis or hemp plants.

Plus, there’s the added benefit of a lower environmental impact. Cannabis and hemp plants require a substantial amount of water and energy (especially for indoor grow operations). Many growers also commonly use pesticides and fertilizers that can contaminate local water supplies, which has a significant environmental impact.

 

The Recipe for Producing Cannabinoids

To create cannabinoids, you need two basic features: 1) the precursor molecules from which cannabinoids are made, and 2) the enzymes which convert the precursor molecules into particular cannabinoids.

In order for hops or yeast to create cannabinoids, they must first be able to produce hexanoic acid and geranyl diphosphate (GPP). Hexanoic acid is common in many plants and is eventually turned into olivetolic acid (often simply referred to as OA), where together with GPP, it is synthesized into cannabigerolic acid.

Creating cannabigerolic acid is a key milestone in the pathway to create cannabinoids. Once you’ve reached it, all you need is the right enzymes to convert it into THC, CBD, or other cannabinoids (note: technically, the enzymes convert cannabigerolic acid into the acid form of THC or CBD—heat then converts them into the familiar THC and CBD we know and love).

But this is a major holdup, as plants other than cannabis don’t possess the DNA that allows them to naturally produce these enzymes.

 

Adding the Ingredients

Bioengineers have developed the tools that enable yeast to produce the key ingredients in cannabinoid production. Yeast have been engineered to produce hexanoic acid (which you’ll recall is the precursor to OA) as well as the enzyme that converts cannabigerolic acid to THC acid (THCA). Librete claims that the entire process, from sugar to cannabinoid, takes less than a week. Once THCA is produced, now all you need is a flame to get high.

Is it possible to turn the hemp plant into a cannabinoid producer? Yes. The new gene-manipulating technique known as CRISPR can do just that. CRISPR is a method that allows scientists to cut out a certain region of DNA and replace it with DNA of their choosing. Using CRSIPR, scientists could insert the DNA for the enzymes that convert cannabigerolic acid into THC or CBD, thus converting the hemp plant into a cannabinoid producer. Is this what Isodiol has done? They won’t say.

The issue of the medicinal effectiveness remains. For instance, whole-plant extracts of CBD-rich cannabis are known to have stronger anti-inflammatory and pain-reducing qualities than CBD on its own. Yet, by bioengineering plants or yeast to create a spectrum of cannabinoids and terpenes, with time and research, the optimal combination of “ingredients” can be created for each condition.

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Mexico Could Make History By Treating CBD Like A Supplement, As It Should Be

As Mexico transitions to a federal medical marijuana program, lawmakers’ leeway toward cannabidiol (CBD) could help the so-called “miracle” compound become as common and low-drama as vitamins and minerals.

Last year, Mexico drew international attention when its government moved to legalize medicinal marijuana, perhaps using a more direct path than its neighbors to the north. On June 19, 2017 President Enrique Peña Nieto signed a bill into law that officially legalized the cultivation, production, and use of medical cannabis products with less than 1% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in Mexico.

Known for its psychoactive effects (and some related therapeutic uses), THC is one of at least 113 chemical compounds known as cannabinoids that are found in marijuana and hemp (both belonging to genus cannabis) and may stimulate the body’s endocannabinoid system in various ways.

Both THC and CBD are found in higher quantities in marijuana than in hemp, but unlike its chemical cousin, CBD has been shown to be non-intoxicating and to have fairly astounding applications — potential and otherwise — for preventing and treating numerous health conditions. And while THC (for all its strengths) can have negative effects for some users, science has deemed CBD almost unavoidably benign.

In the United States, unlike Mexico, CBD products have been marginally legal under federal law for decades, but only in low concentrations and if derived from (lots of) hemp, and not the more potent marijuana; until pretty recently, hemp has frequently gotten a hard time from lawmakers, too.

As a result, U.S. products claiming to contain CBD have been significantly under-regulated, inconsistently enforced, and effectively unavailable to most would-be patients and preventative users — despite the fact that studies increasingly suggest that many or most of us should consider it as an option for our personal health regimens.

According to Raul Elizalde, President of HempMeds Latin America, Mexico’s distinctive new law will give producers the freedom to start putting CBD in everyday health products; it could also give consumers unprecedented access to this seemingly healthful substance.

“A good point about this regulation in Mexico is that any product with a THC concentration higher than 1% can still be registered with the government, and sold as a prescription,” Elizalde commented by phone.

“But the best part is that [cannabinoids] with below 1% THC content can be in medicine, supplements, lotions, food, anything. This is very, very good for our country, and I think we’re one of the very first in the world to take that path.”

Even setting aside its compelling health uses, “The Mexican government understands that CBD is not a danger to public health, so regulating quantity just doesn’t make sense,” Elizalde said. “Usually people take around 60 mg per day for medicinal purposes, but studies showing no health risks have tested dosages of up to 250 mg per kilogram weight of the patient before researchers basically gave up. But you don’t see products like that.”

In other words, someone who weighs a little more than me could rest easy consuming 15,000 mg of CBD a day.

Spending anywhere from $800 to $1500 in the current market for that dose and (depending on the product) consuming that much volume could still be unsettling, though.

At this point in our understanding of CBD, Elizalde said, governments and the public need to be aware of the level of safety and medical value that science has established — and to learn to separate their ideas of medical and recreational marijuana products.

For one thing, he said, medical patients are still being hurt due to stigma and hesitation (variously warranted or not) around recreational marijuana, as both a product and an industry. “Medical and recreational are totally different,” he said. “Nobody buys CBD to get high, nobody buys it to try to abuse it, and the only thing that will happen if it’s scheduled [as a controlled substance] is that it will become a black-market drug.”

“But it’s not a drug,” he added. “It’s a supplement.”

Elizalde explained that he himself didn’t know much about marijuana’s medical value until his family had a need for CBD, but no way to get it in Mexico. “I was not involved in the cannabis industry or movement, I came from a very conservative family, but my daughter suffers from Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, a very hard kind of epilepsy,” he said.

While his young daughter Graciela suffered nearly 400 seizures per day, he and his wife were “desperately trying to find a treatment that worked,” Elizalde said. That included all the anti-epilepsy drugs on the market, including new ones in development, and even brain surgery, but nothing helped. And then they came across CBD, which has shown significant ability to reduce epileptic seizures, and fought a court battle to allow them to import it from the U.S. to Mexico.

In 2016, the family won their case, and started importing CBD to supplement Graciela’s other medications, at it’s often used. Graciela is doing “much better” with the added CBD, and the reduction in seizures was quickly “very good,” Elizalde said: rather than 400 seizures a day, Graciela now experiences closer to 20.

“When we started treatment, she could not even go out to dinner with us; every 30 minutes, she was having a crisis,” Elizalde said. “Now she’s showing improvement in her physical therapies, in her swimming lessons, in her interactions with her sisters — she can now look her parents in the eyes.”

“It’s something I never believed was going to happen, and less so with a supplement. It changed her life, but also mine and my whole family’s.”

Regarding CBD’s role as a medicinal treatment or supplement, Elizalde also pointed out that “medicinal” and “pharmaceutical” don’t mean the same thing, nor should they under the law.

“In the future, we will have medicines that use CBD, but it will not be limited to medicines. That’s the way it should be,” he said. “Just like Vitamin C: you can find it in medicines, but also supplements and oranges.”

“If you [consume] Omegas, this will help with your brain. If you take Vitamin C, it will help with your immunity. CBD is something that has been studied for reducing inflammation, anxiety, seizure, pain, and if you only allow its use as a drug, you will limit its benefits to only a few persons.”

Elizalde said that regulating CBD as a medicine would limit the number of products out there, and likely result in only one or two pharmaceutical companies getting to sell it as a medicine by prescription.

“I know some pharmaceutical companies try to register CBD, but you could always sell hemp oil, which has CBD, so it’ll be a matter of legality and how you sell and market your product.” He continued, “You can’t own something that’s botanical, and having a patent on a botanical system or molecule is almost impossible.”

At present, access to CBD and other marijuana products in Mexico still remains limited despite last year’s legal change.

Voice of San Diego reported in March, “Currently, Poway-based Medical Marijuana, Inc. is the only company from which Mexicans can get legal permits to import cannabidiol or CBD products with a doctor’s prescription. In 2016, it started a Mexican subsidiary, HempMeds Mexico, to lobby for broader medical marijuana regulations in the country.”

Since California legalized adult recreational on January 1, 2018, many Mexicans living near the border have also been taking advantage of the state’s easier access to different marijuana products, the site reported.

Going forward, however, Elizalde and others are hopeful that Mexico will be able to cultivate a thriving medicinal and recreational marijuana marketplace, as well as start to repair the decades of damage caused by the cross-border drug war.

“In a country where we have suffered so much from drug violence, we know that drug policy is wrong. Last year, our president said that drug policy has failed,” Elizalde commented. “I think we need to do something different, and maybe that difference is to make marijuana recreational, make it legal, so that states could regulate it, and promote regulation over prohibition.”

Following Mexico’s recent presidential election, and some supportive deliberations about CBD by the World Health Organization, Elizalde and others have the chance to get their wish, though the work’s not done yet.

Last week, president-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who’ll have the job of overseeing rule-making and regulations around Mexico’s new marijuana law, unveiled a plan to change the country’s drug strategy in several big ways.

Olga Sanchez, the proposed interior minister for López Obrador, said that an integral part of the government’s security strategy will be “transitional justice,” which “typically involves leniency for those who admit guilt, truth commissions to investigate atrocities and the granting of reparations for some victims,” Reuters summarized.

Sanchez also told Reuters, “Not only will it be amnesty, it will be a law to reduce jail time … We will propose decriminalization, create truth commissions, we will attack the causes of poverty, we will give scholarships to the youth and we will work in the field to get them out of the drug situation.”

In the mean time, businesses, patients, and recreational users on both sides of the border will likely be watching Mexico’s progress closely. And perhaps waiting to see which way the wind blows before they distribute seeds, or light up.

Given the present out-of-pocket cost for a few weeks’ worth of modest CBD doses, which a family member of mine takes to supplement her pharmaceutical (and insurance-paid) seizure drug, I’ll definitely be among them.

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