Words by Hannah Tapping.
An all-natural blend of therapeutic botanicals hits new highs.
Cannabidoil, otherwise known as CBD, is one of more than 100 chemical compounds known as cannabinoids, extracted from the Cannabis sativa plant. In contrast to its illicit counterpart, Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), responsible for inducing the ‘high’ sensation, CBD isn’t psychoactive. Instead, CBD is associated with a wide array of potential health benefits, purported to alleviate anxiety, depression, pain, and even symptoms related to cancer. Discovering that a Cornish company has been leading the way in ethical pure CBD oils, luxury skincare and therapeutic topical products, I was curious to find out more about the science and ethos behind the brand. In conversation with Ruarri Spurgeon, Director of EthicaCBD, I am enlightened to its benefits.
Can you tell me how EthicaCBD was formed?
I’ve been living in beautiful Cornwall since 2007 with my son and partner. Sadly, my son experienced a difficult time at university and decided to take a year out. He came back to Cornwall to work with me for a time and while doing so was using CBD oil as a way to manage his anxiety. This piqued my interest, as I hadn’t really come across CBD before then. I was keen to find out more so we travelled to Amsterdam where a chance meeting with a former owner of a CBD company saw us make contacts with people from Canada, Colombia, France, and Greece who were all involved in this business in different ways. It was an opportune, and somewhat serendipitous, day. By coincidence, some mutual associates of mine, another father-and-son team who I’ve known in other businesses, were also looking into CBD at the same time as the son had ankylosing spondylitis. They were reluctant to go down the route of conventional treatment due to its side effects, and so he went on his own journey and along the way found out that CBD might be helpful. However, when looking into it, he couldn’t find a trustable source that he felt really comfortable with. We met at the end in January 2019 and said let’s create a company that makes the best, safest, most ethical CBD products on the market. So, that’s what we’ve set out to do.
So, how do you go about sourcing such a product?
I have a background in cosmetics, so I am familiar with supply chain, due diligence etc. It was very important to us that we have a clean, safe, natural product. A lot of companies making CBD topicals take a base product and just add some CBD, and we found huge variances in terms of homogenisation across products. After much research, we found a company in France who had a much deeper understanding of formulation than nearly everyone else we had met, and so all of EthicaCBD’s products undergo testing, as part of rigorous quality assurance for their purity to the highest UK/European standards, and include a full analysis for any contaminating cannabinoids, pesticides, heavy metals, fungicides, mycotoxins and solvents.
The mention of using a cannabis derivative can cause alarm for some people. Can you shed some light on this and explain how EthicaCBD products are safe to use?
The human body has what we call an endocannabinoid system, which was discovered in the early 90s, and has two types of receptors: CB1 receptors, known as the brain receptor and CB2 receptors known as the body receptor. To stimulate these receptors our bodies produce endocannabinoids; anandamide was the first of these to be discovered and its name comes from the Sanskrit word meaning bliss or joy. We naturally create anandamide ourselves, doing things that we enjoy.
So, all of us have tiny cannabis-like molecules floating around throughout our bodies. The cannabis plant, which humans have been using for about 5,000 years, essentially works by hijacking this ancient cellular machinery. THC and CBN are the plant-derived psychoactive cannabinoids, which actually activate the CB1 receptor. CBD and CBG don’t have this effect on CB1. What’s been discovered through extensive experimental studies in laboratories is that CBD and CBG, which are the cannabinoids that we work with at the moment, have actions on the CB2 receptors and other anti-inflammatory, analgesic antioxidant receptors and systems in the body. Essentially, there’s lots of molecules in the cannabis plant, a few of which can be intoxicating, but most aren’t and that’s the reason they’re legal. So, our products are 100% safe. There’s been a tremendous amount of safety analysis done on CBD products. In order to bring a regulatory regime into play, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) requested that those who wish to participate in the CBD market provide safety information and data, which we’ve done. From a topical product perspective, there’s been quite large safety studies done on skin irritation and dermatological effects which is why there are no safety concerns with permissible ingredients in topical cosmetic products.
In experimental studies that have been done, it’s been discovered that CBD and CBG interact with multiple systems and receptors in the body. There’s one called the GPR55 which is a G-protein coupled receptor, which is not dissimilar to CB1 and CB2. It’s present throughout the central nervous system and immune system (macrophages) and a key element of the descending pain control system. Activation of GPR55 enhances pro-inflammatory responses in macrophage-derived cells. CBD is an inhibitor of GPR55 providing a mechanism suggesting its involvement in reducing inflammatory responses. Multiple studies have shown that CBD can increase the production of anti-inflammatory cytokines and reduce the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines. There are also neurological interactions with voltage-gated sodium and calcium channels, so it’s been observed that these molecules interact with the body in a really complex and varied way which provides some context as to why different people experience different types of benefits.
Can you tell me more about your ‘move more’ campaign with your brand ambassador Ian Botham?
From our side of things, we identified the fact that many of our customers were 50-plus, and a common denominator in the discussions we had with these people was that they wanted to move more; to spend more time in the garden, take the dog for longer walks or to play more golf. We were delighted when we heard that Ian Botham wished to help us promote one of our products because he is particularly well known within an older demographic and is trusted because of the stance he has taken over the years on various different things. Ian had had a lot of injuries and operations and a really bad case of swelling on the knee, and because of his discomfort he’d become much less active.
We had sent Ian’s son, Liam Botham, some samples of our EthicaCBD Sports Gel and he called me a few weeks later with feedback from his mum that Ian just couldn’t believe how good the product was. Where he had been really struggling to walk, he was now more mobile. He’d just walked around the golf course for the first time in two years. We weren’t expecting such an incredible testimonial and now Ian is heading up our campaign. In line with his ambassadorship for EthicaCBD, Sir Ian Botham has been sharing his physical recovery processes, hoping to inspire his followers to keep striving for better living, no matter what it takes. For those of us with added challenges, Ian’s advice for staying active against the odds is rather succinct: “Get out there and have a crack. It’s the only way to keep yourself mentally and physically strong.”
Have you worked with any other ambassadors in Cornwall?
We have also worked with Kris Hallenga, writer and founder of breast cancer awareness charity Coppafeel. We are proud to support @howtoglitteraturd and the amazing work she does to help promote breast cancer awareness. Her comments blew us away: “There are so many CBD products out there in the marketplace that you have to be careful about which you choose because it’s not always clear what is put in them. I love what EthicaCBD stands for because it is a local Cornish brand that focuses on being as natural, ethical and sustainable as possible. The products are pure and have no heavy metals or ‘nasties’ and the brand is transparent in everything it does which offers peace of mind.
Similarly, Cornish author and adventurer Gail Muller had this to say: “This EthicaCBD Sports Gel has been an absolute game-changer. I’ve tried so many things in the past, but I have truly never used anything on my skin topically that makes such a difference as this does. Amazing.” Our brand ambassadors share in our passion for ethically produced CBD products. We work together to achieve great things, placing CBD at the centre of our journey. Whether conquering physical challenges or overcoming mental adversity, our ambassadors have a few things in common: grit, determination, and ambition. Qualities we value greatly at EthicaCBD.
How do you recommend people use the EthicaCBD Sports Gel?
We recommend daily use and it’s important that you completely rub it in until it’s gone. I always say it’s good to put it on after a hot shower, so your pores are open. I personally use it myself twice a week. I do quite an intense training regime early in the morning and I normally wake up with a couple of niggles. I just apply it maybe 45 minutes before I go to the gym, and by the time I’m training, the niggles are gone! Some people apply it every day, so I guess it’s more a personal choice about how it helps you to move. The product can also be really helpful with migraines by rubbing it on to the back of your neck, and I’m due to speak to a lady later today that has rheumatoid arthritis and AS, and she’s reporting that she has come off all the other drugs just using our sport gel. Similarly, one of the clinical studies that we shared was in regard to chronic neuropathic pain, which is often untreatable within current medications, and cannabinoids have been shown to really help with this. I should say that CBD doesn’t work for everyone, but the more we research and develop our products, the more of these success stories are happening.
EthicaCBD scours the world to source the finest organic hemp and establishes precise methods for extraction to be able to deliver a previously unachieved level of natural purity across their whole range of CBD products.