By Leah Call  

It’s said to relieve anxiety, stress and pain. It’s also said to reduce inflammation and boost your immune system, memory and sleep. And it has been known to lessen the effects of autism and frequency of seizures.

What is this cure-all and where can I get it? It’s CBD. And you can get it almost anywhere these days. It’s even available at various Family Video stores across the country. 

CBD is a non-intoxicating cannabinoid found in industrial hemp, different from that found in marijuana. The 2018 Farm Bill easing regulations on industrial hemp as an agricultural crop has resulted in a flood of CBD-infused products on the market. But with so many options to choose from, how do you know which one could be right for you? And does it really work? 

Rachel Kessara started using CBD oil in 2017, seeking relief from migraines that lasted several hours with debilitating head-throbbing, nausea and sensitivity to light and sound. Kessara happily reports, “Normally my severe headaches would occur at least once a month, but since I have been taking CBD oil, I have only had one severe headache in 1.5 years!”

Kessara credits CBD for other unexpected benefits. “It has alleviated my motion sickness, cleared up my skin and created a sense of calm. I know several other people with a variety of different ailments that have also benefited from CBD.”

CBD in Downtown La Crosse

CannaBiz Depot, which opened in April in downtown La Crosse, is dedicated entirely to CBD and hemp products. And its owners are sold on the life-changing benefits of their products.

Cannabiz Depot

Cannabiz Depot owners (left to right) Scott Anderson, Matt Boshcka and Brady Blankenship

“CBD is definitely not snake oil,” says Matt Boshcka, who owns CannaBiz Depot along with Brady Blankenship and Scott Anderson. “There is empirical data out there that shows CBD, when used in conjunction with exercise and good diet, has great results for many, many people.” 

Boshcka himself uses CBD to ease muscle pain and as a sleep aid. “I take it about a half-hour before bed, and I’m getting a solid eight hours of sleep.”

The store carries a range of CBD products, including tinctures [oils] that can be added to food or beverages or dropped under the tongue. There are CBD capsules and edible gummies, as well as creams, oils and balms for anti-inflammatory and anti-aging use.

CannaBiz Depot also carries CBD shampoos, soaps and lotions, even pet products, coffee and more. In-store experts referred to as “cannabis consultants” are on hand to answer questions. Recommended products and dosages are also available on CannaBiz Depot’s website at 

CBD 101

Cannabidiol or CBD comes from the flower of the industrial hemp plant. The plant contains less than .3% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the hallucinogenic chemical in marijuana. Growing CBD hemp is very labor intensive, but quality CBD flower can sell as high as $50,000 per acre.

How does it work?

“There is something inside the body called an endocannabinoid system. All mammals have it—animals and humans,” explains Boshcka. “When there is a deficiency in the endocannabinoid system, people start to have stress, anxiety, pain. So they take the CBD, which is a supplement to increase the receptors in the endocannabinoid, so over time it brings the body back to homeostasis—it balances it out.”

That balance lessens stress, anxiety or pain, explains Boshcka. “There are people taken off pain meds, opioids because of CBD. They are finding that this natural plant supplement is far less expensive, and it is not addictive … which is making the pharmaceutical industry super nervous right now.” 

The FDA has approved Epidiolex, a drug containing CBD, used for the treatment of seizures. Regarding other CBD products, the FDA states on its website: 

“We are aware that some firms are marketing CBD products to treat diseases or for other therapeutic uses, and we have issued several warning letters to such firms. Under the FD&C Act, any product intended to have a therapeutic or medical use, and any product (other than a food) that is intended to affect the structure or function of the body of humans or animals, is a drug. Drugs must generally either receive premarket approval by FDA through the New Drug Application (NDA) process or conform to a “monograph” for a particular drug category, as established by FDA’s Over-the-Counter (OTC) Drug Review. CBD was not an ingredient considered under the OTC drug review.”

While Kessera did not consult a physician prior to taking CBD for her headaches, she has since informed him and was advised, “If it works, keep going with it.” Kessara notes, “Due to the variety of different CBD choices on the market, I did thoroughly research before starting and would suggest others do the same. I chose a CBD product with a clean CO2 extraction method, no fillers, certified organic, third-party tested and made right here in the U.S.”

Growing Opportunity

Luke Zigovits, owner of Higher Level Organics (HLO) in Viola and co-owner of HempScience, agrees that people should heed quality, potency and dosing, and know where the CBD originated. “CBD produced organically and domestically is going to be so much better than stuff produced in Turkey or China in a lab. For medical applications, you want it to be pure and clean.”

Luke ZigovitsHLO grows industrial hemp, one of 1,405 growers permitted by the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection agency this year. HLO sets itself apart as a grower of certified organic CBD and the first-ever fair-trade hemp farm in the world. It’s also the first supplier of organic CBD hemp flower to Zigovits’ other venture, HempScience. With plans to market its CBD products nationwide in 2020, HempScience is working with area farmers, primarily in Vernon County, to establish an organic supply chain. 

HempScience currently operates out of the Food Enterprise Center in Viroqua, with plans to expand to a larger facility later this year. “We are not just producing product that is CBD extract or oil, we are doing higher-level formulations for ailment-specific conditions,” explains Zigovits, who anticipates greater oversight and regulation from the FDA as more and more CBD products hit the market.

“I think that is actually really needed to keep some of the makeshift CBD producers out of the marketplace as a consumer protection issue,” he adds. “HempScience is really going to stand for premium quality, traceability and supporting family farms.” 

Disclaimer: This content is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified health care professional regarding your specific health needs, as well as safety, effectiveness,  side effects, interactions and other potential hazards of introducing any new product or activity into your regimen.