GREENLAND â€” Sandy O’Brien has always enjoyed massages but noticed she felt particularly relaxed the first time her session involved having CBD oil applied to her skin.
She said she felt noticeably calmer after the massage at Ka Lani Massage Specialists in Greenland and is now convinced the cannabis-based compound, the manufacturing of which was legalized last December, offers real health benefits. Proponents of CBD, or cannabidiol, say it offers pain and anxiety relief similar to marijuana without giving users a high.
“I don’t feel like I’m high or drunk,” O’Brien said after a CBD massage. “I just feel very chill.”
Ka Lani Massage is one of several businesses around the Seacoast that have begun to sell and use CBD products. Owners Brian and Kelly Lavallee said they had heard about its benefits a while ago but started using CBD when it became federally legal to produce hemp, from which CBD is extracted.
The compound is not yet regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, but CBD proponents swear by its potential, pointing to independent studies as well as personal experience.
Kelly Lavallee said her father’s wife’s arthritis was so painful in her fingers she had trouble sleeping until she gave her CBD cream to rub on her hands. She has since been applying it to her hands four times a day.
“And she can sleep,” said Lavallee. “Sleep through the night.”
Hemp is a variety of cannabis that contains little to no tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, unlike marijuana, and legal hemp can have no more than .03 percent THC. CBD was already legal in all 50 states before President Donald Trump signed the Farm Bill in December that legalized hemp manufacturing, previously only permitted federally in limited research pilot programs. CBD products have been available for months around the region at places like convenience stores and coffee shops, and industry members anticipate the number of CBD sellers will grow since the Farm Bill was signed.
Molly Branch, an herbalist who works at Herbal Path in Portsmouth, said she started seeing the CBD buzz last year, new customers curiously walking into the store after seeing its sandwich board sign advertising CBD products outside. Oils, tinctures, water solubles, edibles, coffee and pet treats are among the CBD-infused offerings on local shelves today.
Medical professionals say more study needs to be done on CBD, and retailers say its unregulated status prevents them outright claiming the products are medical cures. Kelly Lavallee said CBD should be viewed as a supplement to any medical treatment or medication, not a replacement.
Jim Potter, executive vice president at the New Hampshire Medical Society, said consumers need to be cautious of what CBD products they buy. He pointed to a recent study that showed nearly 70 percent of CBD extracts sold online were mislabeled.
“A lot more research needs to be done with cannabidiol,” said Potter, “Especially with all the hype.”
The Lavallees and other people selling and using CBD products are aware of that concern and say they use CBD products that are backed by lab reports that show what’s in them. Your CBD Store, which opened in Hampton earlier this year, gets its CBD products through a company in Colorado that has lab reports posted on its website for every item sold.
“You want to be able to know that you’re getting a quality product,” said Your CBD Store owner Chris McPherron. “Any company that doesn’t post their lab reports, I would (avoid) buying products from them.”
Branch of Herbal Path has experienced the benefits of CBD, saying it has reduced her migraines more effectively than the ibuprofen she had been taking before. Still, she said customers should not neglect to look at other alternative remedies that might be better for their ailment.
“I’ll recommend something that would fit them better. They still want to buy CBD ,” said Branch. “CBD is great, but I think people are forgetting about the other herbal remedies.”
Branch said it is common for a given form of alternative medicine to catch on as a trend like CBD. She recalled when garcinia became popular for weight loss and saw how that boom came and went.
For those finding real relief from CBD, she hopes the popularity grows. She said most CBD buyers are baby boomers or older looking for pain relief without the high.
“I’m the kind of person who is kind of skeptical of anything that is trendy,” said Branch. “But the amount of success we see people have with using it is really great.”