(as published in PULSE Magazine, 2019)
Safety First! Sourcing Topical CBD Products
With the advent of a booming CBD industry, everybody—from consumers to suppliers to vendors—seems to want in on the magic. There is good reason to be excited—with drug prices soaring and limited (or unsafe) alternatives to pharmaceutical medications, CBD, or cannabidiol, is a welcome addition to the wellness industry. Sourced correctly, CBD is safe, non-addictive, non-psychoactive and non-toxic. CBD should be celebrated as a natural alternative to treat pain and inflammation, and research on its applications should be ongoing.
Spa directors, therapists and clients all have something powerful to gain from using CBD, but it’s increasingly important that you are educated and thorough when choosing the right line of CBD products for your spa. In the absence of a mature regulatory body to manage the hemp industry, it is up to you to source clean and effective CBD products for your customers.
Here are some things to consider when choosing a topical CBD product for your spa.
Know The Benefits
To start, it’s important to know how a topically applied CBD works so you can choose a product with maximum effectiveness. In effect, CBD is nature’s version of Advil, with anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties that reduce pain. The overly simplified explanation goes like this: CBD inhibits the production of pro-inflammatory molecules that are present in chronic and acute inflammatory processes in the body. CBD can benefit conditions such as arthritis, muscle and joint pain, skin irritation, and neuropathic pain. While much of the published research has been done on rats rather than humans, there is mounting anecdotal evidence from the many people benefiting from its use. [might want me to mention its suggested anti-anxiety effects? I leave this out because my expertise in on topicals] In short, CBD works.
Choose Products That Label CBD In Milligrams
Researchers have yet to determine the exact milligram dosage that the average person needs to trigger the anti-inflammatory benefits of CBD. Most likely, it’s different for each individual. However, studies suggest that there is a dosage threshold that must be met to stimulate the endocannabinoid system and reduce inflammation. Look for companies that label the number of milligrams of CBD in their products so that you can experiment with the dosage that works for you and your clients.
One thing to remember is that 1000mg of pure hemp oil is not the same thing as 1000mg of CBD. There can be a mere fraction of CBD in the hemp oil—unless the CBD dosage is specified on the label, you cannot project the efficacy of the product.
Choose A Product That Uses a Full-Spectrum CBD Oil
All products currently on the market use either a CBD isolate or a CBD oil in their blends.
CBD isolate is a singular, extracted molecule —pure cannabidiol. It comes in a powder form which makes it easy to blend into a carrier oil or cream. Full-spectrum oil is a whole plant extract and includes more than 400 trace compounds. If sourced from a supplier with a sophisticated distillation process, a full-spectrum CBD oil should contain many beneficial cannabinoids, including CBC, CBN, CBG and CBD, essential vitamins, minerals, omega fatty acids, flavonoids, and terpenes. These compounds interact synergistically to create what scientists refer to as the “entourage effect”, increasing the therapeutic benefit of the oil.
Know Your Supplier
Not all CBD oil is created equal. The hemp used to make CBD is grown in many states across the nation, each of which maintains differing standards. Oregon—one of the top hemp producers in the country—has some of the most stringent pesticide testing in the nation. Conversely, Kentucky, another large-scale hemp producer, has a history of heavy pesticide use and less regulation. This is significant when you consider that hemp is known to naturally detoxify contaminated soil in a process known as bioremediation. To protect customers, retailers should know the details of how the plant is grown and processed. Ask where the farm is located, whether it has a history of pesticide use in the soil, and if the growers practice organic farming methods. As of today, there is no organic certifying agency for the hemp industry—you must research this on your own.
Ask For Lab Tests
Every batch of CBD, whether it is an oil or an isolate, should arrive with a Certificate of Analysis, or COA. This test measures the levels of pesticides, toxins, molds, heavy metals and cannabinoids present in the finished product. The best hemp farms not only use organic farming practices, but all products undergo strict third-party testing regimes to ensure you receive the highest quality CBD oil, free of contaminants.
Some companies might resist offering you the COA on the oil they use. If that is the case, you should ask for the COA on the vendor’s finished product, whether it is a body oil or cream. A responsible company will have every batch of their product tested to be sure that it is free of toxins and infused with the advertised amount of CBD in each unit.
A COA will also give you the assurance that there is zero, or non-detectable levels of THC—the psychoactive cannabinoid present in the marijuana plant—in your products. This is especially important to certain customers that work for the Federal Government or entities with stringent drug-testing regimens.
On average, the price of CBD is less than $.01 per mg. This varies depending upon where the product is sourced, whether it is an isolate or oil, and how much is purchased at any given time. The average CBD topical has between 50 –500mg of CBD per ounce. While CBD can be the most expensive ingredient in a formulation, there is no reason that a natural and effective CBD product can’t be affordable for the public.
Furthermore, with the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill, we expect to see a consistent increase in both supply and demand for CBD products. Now that it is not federally illegal to grow hemp and more states are developing their hemp program, we hope to see increased supply and a trend toward lower prices.
What This Means For You
Transparency is the key to building any healthy relationship, so don’t be afraid to ask your vendors detailed questions. Whether you are a spa director, practitioner, or client, you have something novel and meaningful to gain from offering CBD at your spa or in your practice.
Now that you know the legitimate benefits of CBD these are the important things to remember when sourcing products for your business:
- How much CBD is in the product and what type of CBD is it (full spectrum or isolate?)
- Where is the hemp farm located and what are their farming practices?
- Do you have a copy of their COA?
The most exciting part about this booming industry is the fact that CBD offers each of us in the spa industry a chance to better serve our customers and staff with safe and effective natural medicine while generating the revenue we need to thrive.