Today, CBD can be found in nearly anything, from the flavor of your favorite tea to eye creams to lotions. This naturally occurring compound found in cannabis helps to promote overall well-being and induce relaxation, and there’s evidence that CBD can reduce inflammation and act as a source of antioxidants. Preliminary clinical studies have indicated CBD’s efficacy around pain relief, mood disorders, sleep, skin care and more.
While CBD is not new, it’s having its moment thanks to the popularization of its myriad health benefits. And with the recent legalization of hemp and medical marijuana, more brands are exploring the possible use cases of CBD to enhance people’s lives.
One such brand is Plant People, a CBD company on a mission to heal and connect people to the planet through the power of plants. I sat down with one of the company’s co-founders and well-known chef Gabe Kennedy for a CBD lesson to talk about CBD can play a role in our everyday wellness, creating ritual with plants and the industry’s misconceptions.
Geneveive Kim: Why do you think CBD is having a moment right now?
Gabe Kennedy: It’s hard to pinpoint one specific reason.
Cannabis has always been something taboo—somewhat sexy, somewhat illegal. Now all of a sudden we have this thing that looks like weed, smells like weed and kind of tastes like weed, but doesn't get you high and is legal.
We've found a way to engage with cannabis without the psychoactive attributes that alter your state. Today we have the opportunity to engage with a plant that has a rich history and a lot of energy around it and that's a little less threatening. Now people are utilizing CBD in their own ways and processes to feel better.
To some extent, a lot of the systems that were status quo are sort of crumbling—government, healthcare, the environment-- and there’s something very earnest in a plant. A plant doesn't necessarily have ill will or an agenda. It just simply exists. And that pushes against systems that are failing us.
What inspired you to build a CBD brand?
I feel really excited and invested [in CBD] because it’s a culmination of my personal and professional experiences.
Personally, I found the benefit of herbs, including cannabis, from a very young age. I grew up in a household where using plants medicinally was normal. My mom is an acupuncturist and herbalist. My father is a chiropractor and acupuncturist. I'm following my bloodline.
My career has always been around food, hospitality and plant-based wellness. With Plant People, I’m able to weave nutrition and agriculture with social and environmental impact to take care of people and planet. That’s what fuels me.
What is one of the most common misconceptions about CBD?
I think CBD itself is highly misunderstood. CBD occurs in all plant life, but is found in higher concentrations in cannabis. People are confused, sometimes scared, and say “It’s all marijuana or something” which is incorrect.
Also, many are unaware of the fundamental attributes of cannabis. Cannabis is the plant, however, the government has created two different verticals—hemp and marijuana. Classification is based on THC levels. At harvest point, 0.3% or less is hemp and anything above that is marijuana.
What’s the difference between “full spectrum” and “broad spectrum” labels?
From a consumer perspective, products fall into one of three main categories: full spectrum, broad spectrum and isolate products.
If CBD were an orchestra, full spectrum would be the equivalent of a symphony, broad spectrum the woodwinds, and isolate spectrum the clarinet playing solo.
Full spectrum products are this symphony of all the plant materials. It has CBD, minor cannabinoids including CBN, CBG, CBLs and the list goes on and on. There's fat, waxes, terpenes.
Broad spectrum products go through another process of refinement to remove THC. In this process you’ll lose some fats, waxes, and some minor cannabinoids; you end up with higher CBD content but lower content of the other things and no THC.
You can put broad spectrum products through another process to isolate the CBD compound, which is called an isolate. It’s flavorless and odorless. It’s 99.9% pure powder, fat soluble, and the easiest thing for people to utilize.
Which do you prefer?
I personally fall into the full spectrum camp because I'd rather listen to a symphony. I'd rather experience the whole plant medicine than just one compound. We know based on a variety of other vitamins and nutrients, our body does better with whole plant materials than isolated compounds.
Can you explain how CBD works with our body?
We have this network of receptors throughout our body that sort of serves as a regulatory function and helps us achieve homeostasis. This is our endocannabinoid system. The compounds that we consume through hemp or cannabis in general are reinforcing that system. For instance, it supports us in accessing anandamide, also known as the bliss molecule. It degrades very easily, but by reinforcing it [with cannabinoids], we can prevent the breakdown and have more access to it.
What “symphony” are you listening to now?
Currently, I'm really committed to our Be Calm because it has both herbs and CBD. The herbs include albizia bark and flower, which is known as the tree of happiness within Traditional Chinese medicine, avena sativa which is wild oatstraw and has uplifting characteristics. It also has ashwagandha, schisandra berry, holy basil Leaf and L-theanine.
Be Calm is pretty much my go-to because it’s a celebration of all plants. The energy around it is very like uplifting while grounding. Like a plant, as it grows up, it roots down.
Can you share some of your daily rituals for overall well-being?
There are five things that I ensure I do every day. The first is to take care of my mind. I always make sure I can get some form of meditation, whether that is focusing on my breath, swimming in the pool or actually sitting and meditating. That's imperative to me. When I don't find that quiet, I notice.
The second is to move my body. I have to work out, swim, bike or do something that really connects me to like my physical form.
The third is listen to some really good music. Music is so uplifting for me, so I really make an intention to listen to some music that brings me joy.
The fourth is to get some sunshine.
I like to go outside everyday and run through my senses. What I'm tasting, smelling, and what I'm hearing, what I'm feeling on my skin. And usually that exists with me looking into the sun with my eyes closed.
Lastly, I have a great meal. Food is apart of my daily experience that I love. Whether it is cooking for myself and going through that process and practice or being super grateful that someone made it for me. Getting some nourishment is really important.
How do plants play a part of wellness?
Plants are extraordinary tools to help us connect with ourselves and the natural world. Aside from sex, what we consume from the earth is the most intimate interaction we have with nature.
How can CBD help others build a wellness ritual if they don't already have one?
Ritual is such a powerful thing. The real profound shift happens when you commit to a practice and you do it everyday. Triggers no longer become triggers, and the anxiety that used to exist somehow falls away.
The profound effects of CBD, like meditation, is realized over time.
So I would say find a time or a moment where you can incorporate a CBD product, whether that's when you have your coffee or before going to bed. Just find that time and create a consistent regimen and routine with it because it’s really powerful.