Colorado is known for majestic mountains, craft breweries and, of course, its wonderful world of weed. However, not everyone knows to take advantage of the state’s most progressive medicinal plant-based resource: cannabidiol, or CBD.
A compound known to produce medical benefits in both humans and animals, CBD is available in many formats for consumption. Hemp-based CBD products derived from plants with less than 0.3 percent THC are currently legal to produce in Colorado without a license from the Marijuana Enforcement Division and to sell in all fifty states. But cannabis-based CBD products in marijuana dispensaries are extracted from plants with much higher THC contents, and are highly regulated at a state level. Both are becoming increasingly popular among patients and retail consumers alike – so what's all the fuss about?
Humans are all born with endocannabinoid systems, a network of cannabinoid receptors in our brains and bodies that receive CBD. Our bodies generate CBD by themselves, but can benefit from externally introduced CBD through ingestion or inhalation. So while you might think all of your pot-loving friends are only taking dabs and smoking bowls, they might also be downing droppers of CBD hemp oil for pain management in the morning and consuming CBD isolate powder as a sleep aid at night.
As lucky as we are to live in Colorado's cannabis haven, it's important to arm ourselves with knowledge about CBD and its healing effects – but that can create a lot of questions: What kind of CBD is best for me? Should I use THC at all? Where can I find what I need? Don't worry: We've done the legwork for you. Here are six instances in which CBD helps Mile High residents, from treating Multiple Sclerosis to enhancing love lives.
Patients often seek pain relief from big pharmaceutical companies, because it's what they've been conditioned to do. After a work-related accident left Noah Novello with four herniated disks in his back, he was no different. “I was barely able to move,” he says. Over the course of two years, he was on a cocktail of twenty different pills per day, including OxyContin, morphine and Dilaudid. On a friend’s recommendation, Novello tried hash oil with a 1:1 THC-to-CBD ratio.
“My tolerance continued to increase, my mood was unstable, I felt like a zombie, I couldn’t think straight, and I was still in pain," Novello says of his experiences with pills. “After the first dab I did, I felt my lower back pain instantly melt away.”
Other patients couldn't afford to lose time at work, like 29-year-old Kendra Cochran, a bartender at Squire Lounge who sought fast-acting relief related to nerve pain. “A glass bottle sliced open my hand, severing my right medial nerve. I have been using pain-relieving CBD salve, 100-milligram CBD oil cartridges and a CBD vape pen, which all help a lot with the pain,” she says. Cochran calls CBD “a godsend” throughout her healing process, due to the discomfort and nausea that prescription painkillers produce.
"In the past, I've taken Excedrin and Advil to help with the pain, but taking six Excedrin a day would often leave me jittery and still with a headache,” says Merali, whose friends suggested trying a high-CBD, low-THC strain of cannabis. She now smokes Rubicon from The Green Solution, a high-CBD, indica-dominant strain known for helping with pain, nausea and inflammation. “I don't feel stoned, but definitely relaxed," Merali reports. "My experience with it has been way more effective than over-the-counter pain relievers.”
With the pain spectrum so wide and diverse, though, how can new patients determine the right products for their medical issues? “For pain, an ingestable is ideal, because it creates a longer-lasting effect than inhalation,” says Bradley Orr, CEO of Stratos, an infused-products company that manufactures CBD tablets. “Tablet form is also great for pain relief, because it is reproducible, discreet, has a long shelf life, and it won't melt, mold or spoil like many other ingestible options.”
As for the recommended dose, Dr. Joseph Cohen at Holos Health, a medical marijuana evaluation clinic, suggests beginning with a 1:1 THC-to-CBD ratio, which is a low-psychoactive option. Orr notes that those who take blood thinners should consult with their physicians prior to ingesting CBD, because CBD competes for the enzyme that breaks these drugs down and can therefore impact the efficacy.
In addition to consumption via pill form, those looking to manage or diminish pain have the option of ingesting hemp oil. Prime My Body offers hemp extract that utilizes a liposomal delivery system, which makes the bioavailability (the rate at which your body absorbs the cannabinoids) of the oil more accessible. This non-THC CBD oil is produced in Boulder and is overseen by renowned scientist Dr. Christopher Shade, who founded Lafayette-based Quicksilver Scientific labs in 2005 to study superior liposomal delivery systems, mercury testing and blood metal testing.
Beyond everyday burns and bruises, salves infused with CBD work to remedy skin diseases. Steven Daniels (who asked that his real name not be used) was born with an incurable genetic skin disorder, Hailey-Hailey, which causes blisters, rashes and inflammation due to an enzyme mutation that causes weakened skin-cell development.
“It starts around puberty and gets worse. As the skin gets older, it gets weaker,” he says. “My skin lacks certain parts of the cell and the collagen that makes skin elastic, gives it strength and keeps it from cracking." In 2016, Daniels reached out to Spirit of the Herbs Apothecary's Holly Hill to try her CBD-only salve, which is infused with hemp, beeswax and a variety of beneficial oils and herbs.
“The CBD salve helps fight the bacteria,” Daniels explains. “When I have an issue with my skin and I apply the salve, it heals it up as an alternative to other prescription topical medication.” According to Daniels, steroids, which are commonly used to treat the inflammation of his skin disease, actually weaken his already-brittle skin. However, the CBD salve offers a remedy during steroid flare-ups.
Tinctures, which use a liquid extraction process to create fast-acting CBD drops, are another popular way to consume CBD, especially for patients who have seizures. Breckenridge resident Matty Ciao was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis ten years ago, and started having six to eight seizures a year in 2012 as a result of the chronic disease. “I tried over nine seizure medications, and none of them worked,” the 27-year-old says. “I decided to try using CBD while also staying on my seizure medication in March 2016. Since then, I have had only one seizure.”
Ciao’s CBD regimen starts with The Remedy-Elite CBD Tincture from Mary’s Medicinals. He consumes two to three 500-milligram drops of the CBD extract three times a day. He also ingests a 70-percent CBD liquid that he adds to his food two to three times a day. “My goal is to keep CBD in my system 24/7,” he adds.
CBD has aided in facilitating deep sleep without the psychoactive effects and "hangover" THC can leave. Jason Burruss, 35-year-old jeweler, musician and owner of Denver-based Purple Couch Events, consumes CBD isolate to control his physical state both daily and nightly. In the daylight hours, Burruss takes between 30 and 50 milligrams of CBD to increase productivity, control his moods and relieve muscular pains that distract him from work. He then takes 50 to 80 milligrams at night to help him sleep.
“Before I started taking CBD at night, I was waking up frequently and sleeping long hours due to lack of deep sleep,” he says. Burruss now averages seven hours of sound sleep per night. “It is completely different than waking up after ten hours of sleep feeling groggy and needing an hour or two to truly feel awake,” he explains. Burruss now creates his own CBD gummies, incorporating the isolate to increase the effectiveness of his medicine.
Colorado-based The CBDistillery makes hemp-derived CBD isolate available in two forms: slab and powder. While both are great for dabbing, the powder form can be added to foods, liquids, topicals and other do-it-yourself remedies. The CBDistillery recommends beginning with a small dose of about 2.5 milligrams of isolate, then adjusting the amount as needed. However, a physician consultation on dosage is highly encouraged by the company.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 40 million adults over the age of eighteen suffer from anxiety disorders, and approximately half of those adults also battle depression. Shannon Donnelly was one of them, suffering from suicidal depression and feeling anxious every time she left the house, even suffering panic attacks. In 2013, Donnelly began a regimen of CBD pills, and she says her panic attacks are gone.
“[I] feel like CBD has changed the way my brain works. I no longer catastrophize day-to-day," she says. "I now use CBD for confidence. It helps me feel better about all the situations I am in, whether at work, or personally. It is my plant ally.” Following her progress, Donnelly went on to found Healthy Honeys, a cannabis-education company for women.
For those looking to quiet their minds from daily stresses and anxiety, a CBD-infused bath ritual could be just the cure. Samantha Savoca of Meditative Medicinals developed CBD bath bombs with 99.9 percent CBD isolate to create a therapeutic soak, using Dead Sea salts for achy muscles and vibrant skin, cherry kernel oil for skin nourishment, organic essential oils for aromatherapy effects, and dried herbs and flowers – all so users can soak in organic materials.
“Who doesn’t love a nourishing bath?” Savoca says. “I know that CBD is making a difference, because when soaking in CBD, you are activating those cannabinoid receptors for sleep, calming the nervous system, boosting your immune system and alleviating joint pain and injuries on a much deeper level. You can truly feel it!” Savoca’s clientele consists of patients with scoliosis, chronic back pain, fibromyalgia, dark skin spots and even the flu.
Savoca and her fiancé, Noah Wells, are Colorado hemp farmers. Her bath bombs are currently available for free (along with shipping costs) through Medicinal Dreams, which Wells owns and oversees. “We do well enough on our farming that I decided I wanted to set up some sort of system that could be geared toward a nonprofit scenario,” Wells says.
Donnelly's Healthy Honeys currently hosts its own line of CBD-infused products. Through two signature parties — “Women, Weed and Wine” and “Women, Weed and Wellness” — the group introduces their female-friendly offerings. “We infuse age-old recipes with CBD and different herbs to enhance women’s daily lives, and to help them with the stress of being women in modern society,” Donnelly says. Some of these stress factors are related to romance, which Healthy Honeys aims to ease with CBD.
Donnelly and her team partnered with Colorado hemp producers to develop two specialty products, both containing 200 milligrams of CBD each: Healthy Honeys Massage Oil and Healthy Honeys Hold Me Now Personal Lubricant. Donnelly says both are for use all over the body, including private areas. Through use of both products, couples are able to target sexual discomfort and bodily aches and pains more intimately.
Lauren Maxwell finds that CBD-infused massage oils enhance the way that she and her partner express their love, bringing them closer together by relieving stress. “When my fiancé is in physical pain, which is often, due to his line of work, it can cause emotional stress on our relationship,” she explains. “A gentle and healing touch from me [with the oil] can make his aches, pains and anxiety melt away.”