BY GABE HERMAN | CBD oil has been growing in popularity nationwide, which can be seen locally in the number of stores offering the cannabis-based product.
In Downtown Manhattan, the oil can be found in shops like Dramatics NYC, at Fifth Ave. and E. 16th St., which offers back massages with CBD oil; CBD Oil Bros NYC, an herb shop at 1 Irving Place; and CBD oil New York, a vitamin and supplement store at 99 Battery Place.
There are also over-the-counter products made by a new company called CBDMedic available at many CVS stores, as well as at Sage Fitness, at 139 Fulton St. near City Hall.
CBD stands for “cannabidiol.” It is a chemical compound that naturally occurs in the cannabis plant but won’t get you high.
But people have started to use the oil for many other purposes, with some of the top ones being relaxation, stress relief, improved sleep and relief of joint and muscle pain.
A recent poll found that about 85 percent of Americans have heard of CBD, and about one in five have tried it.
There is little scientific data to show whether or not CBD oil is effective for various types of treatments. Clinical studies are just starting to be done after many decades of having been prohibited. Studies can take years to get proper results, but that isn’t stopping people from using CBD in edibles, for massage oils and as droplets to put under the tongue. And, yes, people are even giving CBD to their dogs.
CBDMedic, a company that launched this year, just released 10 new over-the-counter products with CBD oil for uses such as pain relief and treating eczema. This adds to the company’s previously released products, including one called Active Sport and another for arthritis.
The company is the first to offer topical medications that combine pharmaceutical ingredients with CBD oil. Their products include other natural ingredients like oils and moisturizers. They use CBD oil from hemp that contains no THC or other psychoactive ingredients.
CBDMedic was developed and is distributed by Abacus Health Products, which worked on formulas and tested the products for five years before the company’s launch, according to Alex Joseph, their events and partnerships manager.
“The cool thing is there’s a lot of technology behind our products,” said Joseph outside a recent promotional event near Madison Square Park.
Joseph said there are natural ingredients in the products that help one absorb the CBD oil. These include cottonseed oil and jojoba seed oil.
In the Active Sport product, there is also menthol and camphor, which are approved pharmaceutical ingredients for topical pain relief. They also create cooling and warming effects on the skin, which could be felt at the free massages offered at the Madison Square Park event on April 22 and 23 at a “Relaxation Studio” set up in a “Meditation Bus” being used to spread the word about the products. The event featured free chair massages with CBDMedic products.
Joseph said at the pop-up event that the feedback from people was very positive, and he wasn’t trying to sell as much as trying to educate people.
“We want people to try the product,” he said. Joseph added about the massages in the bus, which created an atmosphere with cool air and filled with blue LED lights, “we’re also creating an immersive experience. All your senses are completely enveloped.”
Joseph said that CBDMedic has been doing some of its own research into their products’ benefits. The company found that nine out of 10 healthcare practitioners say the CBDMedic products are more effective for patients’ pain relief than other products, and prefer them to other topical pain-relief products by the same margin of nine to one.
“As more Americans become familiar with the benefits of CBD, we anticipate that it will become mainstream,” said Perry Antelman, C.E.O. of Abacus Health Products. “That said, we know that CBD is not a cure-all for everything. We know, through science, how CBD plays a vital role in the treatment of pain and skincare issues like eczema and acne, and we look forward to the public learning more about this.”
In June 2018, the Food and Drug Administration approved for the first time a drug using CBD oil. It was Epidiolex, an oral solution that treats seizures from two types of epilepsy. And Joseph noted that CBDMedic’s products are registered with the F.D.A. and are made in an F.D.A.-compliant facility. He said the company has strict quality controls that include testing products after they are made in the lab.
In early April, F.D.A. Commissioner Scott Gottlieb laid out steps for further evaluating CBD health effects and curbing false claims from some companies. These steps included an upcoming public hearing on May 31, a working group to explore how CBD products can be responsibly marketed, and issuing warning letters to companies making reckless claims. Such claims about CBD have included treatments for cancer, Alzheimer’s, tumors and substance abuse.
“Ultimately, we remain committed to exploring an appropriate, efficient and predictable regulatory framework to allow product developers that meet the requirements under our authorities to lawfully market these types of products,” Gottlieb said in the announcement.
Joseph of CBDMedic said that educating the public with proper information is a big need for the CBD business.
“I think an issue with the industry is there’s a lot of false claims out there, a lot of companies claim it can do a lot of things,” he said.
But with CBDMedic confident in the science and technology behind its products, Joseph said the key is to teach people about the benefits, and then see their positive reactions after trying the products for themselves. He said people were leaving the bus with smiles.
“It’s the ‘wow face,’ ” he said.
“It is a great ingredient,” Joseph said of CBD. “I think overall education is key.”