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CBD Going Mainstream

CBD, one of the main compounds found in cannabis plants, is becoming one of the hottest alternative medicines used for pain and other conditions

By Margaret McCormick

Like many older Americans, Maureen Doyle accepts that life comes with its aches and pains. But she doesn’t let them slow her down or get her down. For some time now, Doyle has lived with sciatica (pain that radiates along the path of the sciatic nerve) and peripheral neuropathy, a chronic condition that can cause recurring pins-and-needles sensations in the feet and hands.

Doyle, who lives in the town of Elbridge, sees doctors regularly and has taken some prescription medications over the years. Recently, she has joined the legions of people who are adding CBD oil to their regimen for overall wellbeing and for what ails them.

CBD, short for cannabidiol, is one of the main compounds, along with THC, found in cannabis plants, including marijuana and hemp. But CBD, unlike THC, does not have psychoactive effects on those who use it.

Doyle takes a dropperful of the brownish, herbaceous tincture each morning, holding it under her tongue for a minute or two before swallowing it. She credits CBD with giving her relief from the pain of sciatica and the sometimes “horrific attacks’’ that can come with peripheral neuropathy.

“Who is pain-free at 69 years old?,’’ Doyle says. “I feel that the CBD is instrumental. I take the oil every day and carry the salve with me all the time. It does the trick for me.’’

CBD, which is legal in all 50 states, is derived from the hemp plant and is considered to be a natural alternative to traditional medicine. In the last several years, hemp products have gained popularity and have exploded in the health and wellness marketplace.

CBD is available in edible products, lotions, creams, salves, vape cartridges and gummies. At some bakeries, you can purchase CBD cupcakes and at some coffee shops you can add a dose of CBD oil to your coffee.

Central New York apple grower (and hard cider and spirits producer) Beak and Skiff, based in LaFayette, recently introduced CBD-infused cold brew coffee to the retail marketplace.

Doyle is the co-owner of Hey Rose, a local business with a focus on dried herbs, spices, rubs, blends and other culinary products, as well as homemade treats for dogs and cats. She and her partner, Barbara Janice, set up shop each Saturday in the E Shed at the Central New York Regional Market in Syracuse. At the market, Doyle was introduced to Head + Heal, a company formed by Cortland-based organic vegetable grower Main Street Farms. The company offers several CBD oils, including one for pets, as well as lotions and salves. Doyle did some research and called on Head + Heal at the market. She says it’s important to her to know where the CBD she is taking is grown and processed -—and to be able to ask questions at the market.

Scientific studies are ongoing, but CBD has been shown to be effective in relieving pain and inflammation, improving heart health and sleep quality, reducing anxiety, depression and stress, alleviating symptoms related to cancer and possibly slowing the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. For those reasons, CBD holds appeal for people over 55.

Despite some misconceptions about it — including the stigma that it gets people high — CBD has gone mainstream.

Many Wegmans stores have added hemp/CBD product sections and CBD has a presence in shopping centers and malls. Our Remedies, a store carrying a variety of tinctures, salves and other CBD products made from U.S.-sourced hemp, opened at Destiny USA in Syracuse in June. The store is owned and operated by Sam Viscome. It’s on the second floor of the Canyon area, near Dick’s Sporting Goods and Michaels.

Our Remedies sales associate Joseph Cali says many of the store’s visitors are seniors, who come in to inquire about CBD products — and if CBD can help, specifically, with nerve and foot pain, leg cramps, anxiety, sleep issues and “the general aches and pains that come with aging.’’ He’s happy to explain the various CBD “delivery methods’’ — including tinctures, salves, gummies and vape cartridges — and share his own knowledge of and experience with CBD.

Frequent questions include: “Is this going to make me tired?’’ And: “Is this going to get me high?’’

“It’s natural and super safe,’’ Cali says of CBD. “The important things are to know the source and to give it time to work. It’s not like, ‘take two and call me in the morning.’ “

Maureen Doyle agrees. She says she researched CBD and its potential benefits and made a list of questions before having a conversation with the Head + Heal reps at the Regional Market. She started out with the lower dose tincture (600 mg) and the unscented topical, both of which she continues to use daily.

Her advice to anyone considering giving CBD a try: “Do your research. It’s not an overnight fix. I don’t think anyone ever said it would be.’’

Photo: Going mainstream: Shelving at Wegmans in DeWitt featuring hemp/CBD products.