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These days, CBD is everywhere—in lattes at local coffee shops, cookies at neighborhood bakeries and beauty products from serums to oils. But what’s the deal with this newfangled ingredient? And how do you know you’re choosing products infused with the most beneficial type?

We sat down with Dr. Gabrielle Francis, the Herban Alechmist, to get a bit of info on what to look for in our CBD:

Live The Process: Were there early influences in your life that sparked your eventual interest in naturopathy? 

Dr. Gabrielle Francis: Healing is the only job I’ve ever had. I went to massage school at 17 and worked my way through pre-med and chiropractic school doing massage. Then, I worked my way through naturopathic school as a chiropractor. Each phase built on the knowledge and skills compiled from the one before.

I was influenced by my father, who I describe as a “Lebanese snake oil salesman.”   He was obsessed with multi-level marketing supplement businesses. He changed companies every few months, which was unnerving to the relatives who were investing with him. But, for me, it offered exposure to the health and wellness industry at a very young age. 

By age 5, I already knew that I was going to be a doctor. My first chiropractic adjustment at the age of 13 sealed the deal. I walked out of the chiropractor’s office proclaiming that I wanted to make other people feel this good. It was in massage school that I was introduced to the concept of naturopathy. 

I’m lucky that I knew what I wanted to do from such a young age. That allowed me the time and energy to pursue my dreams, studying massage, chiropractics, acupuncture and naturopathic medicine. It took 17 years of medical school to acquire all of that knowledge! But the real learning started with my practice and my years of traveling and studying medicine with healers around the world. 

LTP: Where and in what capacity do you practice?

GF: My practice is called, The Herban Alchemist, and is located in Soho in New York City. I combine the practices of massage, chiropractic, acupuncture and naturopathic medicine. 

I also have a touring company, Backstage Alternative, through which I work with artists and musicians backstage and on tour. It’s like a natural medicine road show that supports the artists behind the scenes.

LTP: How did you begin to integrate CBD oil?

GF: CBD oil has been trending for the last couple of years. I decided to research it for about six months before offering it at my office. I wanted to demystify it and learn about the quality that was being offered on the market. 

LTP: We’ve all, of course, heard lots of buzz about CBD, but why is it so great?

GF: CBD hemp oils that are from full-spectrum hemp products have the following benefits for the skin:

  • anti-inflammatory
  • anti-aging
  • antioxidant
  • nutritive and cellular regeneration
  • toning and lifting
  • hormone balancing
  • antimicrobial

LTP: How do you know what type of CBD is best to use? 

GF: Most industrial hemp is cultivated in Northern Europe and Spain. In recent years, there has been a boom in hemp cultivation in the United States. Good-quality hemp may come from Kentucky, Oregon, Colorado or California. New York State has started a research initiative on industrial hemp.

It is important to buy CBD from hemp that is organically grown and not of GMO seeds. Also, I prefer to buy CBD from hemp in the full-spectrum form and avoid it in isolate form: When CBD is in the full-spectrum form, you get the full benefits of the hemp plant, which includes vitamins, minerals, terpenes, many types of CBD and other phytonutrients. It has what is called the “Entourage Effect” in which the nutrients potentiate each other. Also, it’s processed as food as medicine in the body, giving nutrition to the endocannabinoid system. In the isolate form, it has more of a drug-like effect and can potentially interfere with medications.

LTP: How do you know that you’re using a safe CBD product?

GF: It is essential to use only CBD hemp supplements derived from organic, non-GMO hemp. CBD is an oil, and the oils of plants are storage centers for toxins and chemicals. Whenever supplementing with any oils, it is essential to only use products from plants grown with organic and non-GMO methods.

However, I have not heard of it being truly dangerous. I have also never heard of any bad side-effects from CBD, except making people drowsy or tired. — Dr. Gabrielle Francis

Dr. Gabrielle Francis has been practicing natural medicine for more than thirty years. She is a naturopathic doctor, chiropractor, acupuncturist and licensed massage therapist. Dr. Francis currently practices in New York City as The Herban Alchemist. She also operates Backstage Alternative, which is her natural medicine roadshow that provides chiropractic, massage, acupuncture, nutrition and herbal remedies to performing artists on tour.

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