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Springfield, MO

Battling the Stigma: CBD products promise myriad health benefits

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Emily Christianson had been prepared for the startup to go bust. Stigma can be a real pain when selling a product routinely confused with cannabis.

She’d begun using cannabidiol – or CBD – for chronic neck and shoulder troubles, after her daughter Natalie garnered significant relief from severe depression and anxiety via the hemp oil derivative – quitting several traditional medications.

“She was on it for a couple months, and I started taking it, just for my pain,” Christianson said. “I’m free of my ibuprofen, my Tylenol – all of that kind of stuff. And then, we just started researching.”

Ultimately won over by the product, Christianson decided to bring CBD to the Springfield market with her husband Chad and daughter. On Dec. 29, 2017, the Christiansons opened the city- and state-licensed My CBD Clinic LLC, which goes by CBD of Springfield on signage, at 3203 S. Campbell Ave.

Sales were sluggish at first. But Christianson said they now clock $1,000 in daily sales from a steady stream of often-curious shoppers pondering the product, which ranges in price from $25 to $110.

“I was ready for this to just go down,” she said of the CBD business. “The stigma has been hard, but we’re overcoming that.”

Healing touch
Rather than an intoxicant – such as tetrahydrocannabinoil, the active psychotropic ingredient of marijuana, which also contains cannabidiols – CBD-specific products work as an anti-inflammatory.

Moreover, it’s the protein phosphatase – the “good guy” protein for sufferers of chronic pain, said Paul Durham, director of cell biology and the Center for Biomedical and Life Sciences at Missouri State University.

“What we’ve shown in our research is that CBD is very anti-inflammatory,” Durham said. “Some people who smoke medical marijuana, it’s actually good for a lot of arthritic patients. It’s good for migraine patients and stuff like that. But, what we’re finding is that we don’t need the THC as a component. You just need the CBD.”

He said cannabidiol follows natural pathways of the body, in a similar way to that of endorphins, for instance, after strenuous exercise or from supplemental medication.

“We produce a small amount of CBD-like molecules, but then, if you actually ingest more of them, then it’s just more protective,” Durham said. “But it is working through our natural system.”

Pain is tricky but useful in identifying injury, he said – such as acute pain from a sprained ankle, where injury prompts one not to use the hurt foot.

“The problem is when you get into chronic pain, like arthritic conditions,” Durham said. “That’s what we call maladaptive. There’s no real benefit from that.”

Enter CBD. It essentially works to negate chronic inflammation and pain, when the body itself is unable to correct the hurt.

“When you really get down to it, it’s working in a very similar manner to how steroid drugs work,” Durham said, noting research suggests CBD doesn’t produce the related ill effects of steroids.

“At low doses, it doesn’t look like CBD would be harmful,” he said of a supplemental regiment measured in the order of milligrams or perhaps even micrograms. “It looks like it would just be protective. And the cool thing about it is – what we have evidence of – is that, actually, if you stay on these lower doses for a longer period of time, you can actually reverse chronic pain.”

Medical literature also suggested generally safe treatment options and benefits from the use of CBD at greater doses to treat schizophrenia and dementia, as well as diabetes and nausea, according a review published June 2017 in the journal Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research.

In addition to anti-inflammatory properties, CBD also produced antioxidative effects, being more effective than vitamin C and E, according to the journal review.

Side effects were minimal – including tiredness, diarrhea and changes in appetite and weight – offering reason to believe that patients might better comply and adhere to treatment plans, according to the review.

Meanwhile, according to the review, certain toxicological concerns have yet to be addressed, such as the effect of CBD on hormones. The review noted extensive clinical trials remain as lacking in regard to studying greater pools of participants and extended, chronic CBD administration.

Varied product
Starting with a variety of brands, the Christiansons now exclusively sell Missouri-based CBD American Shaman LLC cannabidiol, refined from hemp oil imported from Norway.

They’ve been working with CBD American Shaman’s Sharon Wilkinson, sales coordinator, who said the Kansas City company started a few years ago after three years of product research and development.

Legal in all 50 states, Wilkinson said, CBD comes in a variety of shapes and forms – from a water-soluble oil and an oral tincture, to bath balms, lip ointments, skin lotions, under-eye serums, candies and a vaporizable inhalant.

Wilkinson said CBD appears to help treat ailments such as chronic pain, arthritis, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, anxiety, depression and even as a supplement for cancer patients.

“I mean, it’s pretty shocking,” she said, also stressing the product is not for recreational use as an intoxicant. “We are not about recreation. If you were to drink the entire store, you wouldn’t get high.”

For this reason, CBD seems to also appeal to the older generation at CBD of Springfield, as well SunRay Vapors in downtown Springfield, where products also ranged from edibles and tinctures to topicals. The store additionally sells vapor electronic cigarette hardware and e-liquid.

“Our oldest customer is actually 95 years old,” SunRay owner Robert Sands said, adding the shop carries four or five brands of CBD, none of which seem to attract a younger following, though the products delivers roughly a quarter of all business. “We’ve had quite a few doctors buy it, just to see how it works.”

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