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All about CBD: The national craze over the healing oil reaches Central NY

Your CBD Store opened in Liverpool in 2019.

In the span of an hour one recent morning, three men walked through the door of Your CBD Store in Liverpool.

“I could really use some help with that,” one customer said when asked about his back pain.

“I have pretty bad anxiety,” said another.

“My right toe is killing me,” said a third.

All three were looking for cannabidiol, or CBD, a naturally-occurring compound, extracted from the flowers and buds of marijuana and hemp plants. They’d walked into the store in Liverpool Plaza, which opened in January.

The store’s website clarifies that CBD is not medicine, not regulated by the FDA — more research needs to be conducted. But that’s not stopping a number of locals flocking to the new establishment on Old Liverpool Road and other similar stores across Central New York.

Robert Uhle, the store’s manager, said customers can explore edible gummies, capsules, lotions and oils, among other products, to take in CBD. He emphasizes how CBD intake can reduce a variety of symptoms, from physical pain to headaches to depression and anxiety.

“A lot of people say this helps them sleep,” Uhle said. “People have told me it helps with their skin, headaches, you name it. What we offer is one of a kind, and we’re looking to take over the market in Onondaga County.”

Customers can sample CBD products at the store. Vape form has been popular, Uhle said, and so have the pet treats. The store is uncluttered and simple, with the products lined on shelves along the right wall.

Products are available both at the store and online. They include water solubles, edibles, skin care, tinctures and pet products. Prices range widely. The cream is $45, vape juice $40, dog treats $30 and lip balm $10.

Uhle himself takes CBD, even though he feels no pains or aches. His mom and wife take CBD to alleviate pain, too, and he thinks the market is soaring.

For years, John Hotchkiss of Cicero has felt pain in his right foot. He said he’d been taking ibuprofen every day for two years. His stomach began to hurt.

He saw a CBD advertisement on Facebook about six months ago, and he’s since been hooked.

“This to me is amazing,” Hotchkiss said. “Plenty of people I know got stuck on opiods, so I didn’t want to do that. But this doesn’t make me loopy or nauseous. I can take this and I’m not high, and I don’t feel the pain. This is great. I love coming here.”

Rapid growth despite little regulation

Cannabidiol, known as CBD, has gained traction in recent years for what users characterize as an easy, quick solution to some of their most nagging problems: anxiety, headaches, lack of sleep, back pain.

Several users of CBD in Central New York said last month that CBD has made them more alert, alleviate pain and mitigated depression. It has been used as an ingredient in cupcakes in local bakeries and in lattes at local coffee shops.

But experts raise questions about CBD, and they caution users to limit their usage.

Dr. Jennifer Gilbert-Jenkins is an assistant professor of agricultural science at SUNY Morrisville. She cautions the use of CBD, especially among people on blood pressure medication. She cautions mixing CBD with other medications. And while she noted CBD is an increasingly large component of the hemp economy in New York state, she said people need to recognize it’s a drug. Although CBD oil has become widely seen as a “cure-all,” Jenkins said treatment of epilepsy is the only major use with significant scientific evidence.

“We haven’t done many studies on CBD, so we need to be careful about claims,” Jenkins said. “Some rigorous studies have shown it’s good for epilepsy, but few other things. We know it’s anti-inflammatory. CBD could help diabetes, cancer and chronic conditions, but there’s no data to support that.”

Jenkins said it’s possible CBD could contribute to lessen muscle soreness. But it could interfere with other medications, so she boils her advice to users with a simple message: “Don’t take it willy-nilly.”

Sales and promotions of CBD products have exploded, with some industry analysts predicting the market in the U.S. will reach $1 billion a year by 2020. Studies, however, have yet to determine what the optimal does of CBD is for varying users. CBD may not deliver what it promises on the label, and marketing efforts persuading users to purchase CBD may not be accurate.

“It may work great for some people, but how do we know that it’s not a placebo effect?” Jenkins said. “Throughout medical history, we’ve seen the power of the placebo effect. We can’t say right now that CBD leads to no pain. I’m weary of CBD. There isn’t enough scientific research.”

According to Webmd, pain relief, anxiety, arthritis, depression, diabetes and obesity could be CBD’s biggest claim to fame. Helping users deal with those issues could make it mainstream, trusted and relied upon.

Jenkins said there could be beneficial effects to CBD. There could be side effects. But she said much more research needs to be conducted. Too much, she says, is unclear about CBD and what it could do. The actual effects should be treated with skepticism. So far, anecdotal results shouldn’t provide a sufficient basis on which to reach a conclusion.

“It has only recently become easier to do studies,” Jenkins said. “In a couple of years, we’ll know more. Maybe it’ll turn out CBD does all of this wonderful stuff. But it’s worthwhile to be cautious right now.”

For years, various claims have been made that cannabidiiol oil (CBD) can help with relaxation, improve immune function, or cure cancer. The oil, extracted from the hemp plant, has no psychoactive properties, it is devoid of THC. There have not been much in the way of scientific study, especially on humans. Because it is a suplliment and not regulated by the FDA, strength and purity can vary. The gummies are sold as sleep aids, containing CBD, melatonin and alcohol. (Lynn Ischay/The Plain Dealer)

A primer on CBD

WHAT IS IT: Cannabidiol is a naturally-occurring compound, extracted from the flowers and buds of marijuana and hemp plants. Advocates say it is a safe, non-addictive substance that offers a “body high” without affecting cognition. It has no THC, and when broken down it can be manufactured into an array of products. It’s related to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which causes the high cannabis is known for. CBD has therapeutic benefits, but it doesn’t make one feel intoxicated. A remedy for anxiety, pain, acne, inflammation and insomnia, its popularity has soared.

WHY IT’S IMPORTANT: Above all else, CBD is known for one major benefit: it can reduce seizures in adults and children. Advocates say it helps manage chronic pain, reduce inflammation in the brain and makes users more alert. It also is credited with improving sleep and helping anxiety and depression.

WHAT TO BE WARY OF: If you’re on blood pressure medication, be careful using CBD. Experts also caution users to limit mixing CBD with medications. Experts generally say it’s safe, in moderation, but more research needs to be done in coming years.

All about CBD: The national craze over the healing oil reaches Central NY Your CBD Store opened in Liverpool in 2019. In the span of an hour one recent morning, three men walked through the