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The wellness trend sweeping the nation has a nucleus in Vermont

Treating the side affects of a big day on the mountain—muscle aches and inflammation—has traditionally been tasked to western medicine and the pharmaceutical industry. But for some, the newest health miracle potion comes not from a pill, but from a plant.

CBD, a chemical compound extracted from hemp, a crop grown in the U.S. since the Revolutionary War, has exploded in popularity across the country—and Vermont is ground zero for both hemp farming and CBD consumer products. “Vermont has a culture of wellness, which may be why CBD production is so popular here,” says Rebecca DiGiuseppe, co-founder of Lily Hill CBD, who runs a hemp farm in Northern Vermont with her husband, John.

Hemp’s sustainability may also contribute to its ubiquity in the region. A relatively hardy plant that can withstand mild, short-term frost, it has historically had myriad uses, including textiles and insulation materials. It was a reliable crop for Vermonters until the 1930s, when federal law prohibited cannabis cultivation, including hemp, due to concerns about marijuana. But while hemp and marijuana are both part of the cannabis family, hemp is a strain defined as having less than 0.3 percent THC, the compound responsible for the mood-altering effects of marijuana. New legislation made hemp legal to grow in Vermont in 2009; additional national legislation declassified hemp and CBD as a controlled substance in 2018.

That declassification triggered in part the rise of CBD, which is often taken as a tincture (either on its own or mixed into a beverage), ingested in an edible form like gummies, or used topically as a lotion or oil. Some are skeptical of CBD’s health claims, and research is ongoing. Still, early studies suggest that CBD can help with health issues like anxiety, insomnia, pain relief, and more. For example, a Washington State University study linked CBD usage to a reduction in headache and migraine
severity. Another, published in the European Journal of Pain, demonstrated that it can alleviate discomfort and inflammation due to arthritis. And a CBD formulation recently received FDA approval to treat epilepsy.

CBD also shows promise as an agent to improve skin issues. A study in the Journal of Clinical Investigation found that it inhibits oil production and has anti-inflammatory
effects on sebum glands. Other research indicates that CBD can even out discoloration, soothe itchiness, and reduce excess skin cell growth associated with psoriasis.

That said, finding the right formulation for your needs can take time and guidance from a professional. “I always compare CBD products to wines,” says Jessica Swartley, director of the Spa at Spruce Peak. “Try a few to figure out which ones you like most.” Luckily, you’ll find plenty of opportunities to test-drive CBD here in Stowe—it’s in everything from smoothies and coffee to chocolate and lip balm. We can’t guarantee it will cure every ache and pain, but it might be worth a shot!

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