inflammation

Love CBD? Try this!

Have you heard about CBD? No, that’s not a joke. There are still many people out there who are just now learning about the magic of cannabidiol, a compound extracted from the hemp plant that can work wonders on achy muscles and joints, acute and long-term stress, and inflammation. The power of CBD is due to our body’s endocannabinoid system, and it can be incredibly effective for many people. In the last three years, we’ve brought in more than 200 products that contain high quality, full-spectrum, hemp-derived CBD - everything from liquid tinctures, to capsules, to topical salves, to chocolates, to cold-brewed coffee, and the customer feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.

But before we knew all about CBD, there were many other supplements and herbs that were prized for their stress-relieving and inflammation-modulating effects. And, we at Cambridge Naturals still love them and use them frequently! Whether used on their own, or accompanied by a CBD product, these herbs and supplements can be powerful supports for getting through the day and feeling great.* Below are some of our favorites:

Kava Kava

Kava Kava (Latin name: Piper methysticum) is a root grown in the Pacific Island region. It has been used traditionally for hundreds of years (both medicinally and ceremonially) for its calming, relaxing, and mood uplifting benefits. We carry Kava Kava in capsule, tincture and bulk powder form. “The calm I feel after taking a dropper-full of Kava Kava could be compared to the calm I feel relaxing on a Sunday morning with a special someone. My brain, it could be said, is laying on its own pillow once the Kava Kava starts working on its magic,” says Vicki, CN’s Bulk Herbs Lead. Herbs can be wonderful allies, but all those with compromised liver conditions should not take Kava Kava. As always, make sure to follow the recommended dosage guidelines!

When you take your kava tincture, make sure to look fierce.

When you take your kava tincture, make sure to look fierce.

Magnesium

Magnesium is an essential mineral used by our bodies to support, among other things, strong and healthy bones, blood pressure, and muscle + nerve function. Supplemental magnesium comes in many effective forms including tablets, liquid, quick-dissolving powder, topical oils and gels, and even in the form of Epsom salts for baths! We use it both topically and internally for achy muscles, for its deeply calming effects, and even for sleep support. Bex, our Events Director, says, “On those days that I'm feeling extra-edgy, I turn to magnesium to support de-stressing, physically, emotionally, and mentally. I've found that it has been particularly helpful for moodiness, cramping, sleep issues, headaches and digestive distress during my monthly moon--and my experience has been corroborated by a slew of studies.”


B-Complex

You’ve probably heard your doctor talk about B12, or maybe folic acid, but what about the full range of B-Vitamins? Did you know that a B-Complex can be a gentle but effective stress support supplement? “I am that person you know at work whose brain is always on,” says Zach, CN’s Co-Director of Purchasing. “You know the one. They speak a mile-a-minute, think even faster, and they always have ten tabs open on their web browser. To support my mind and my body, I take B-Complex Vitamins. Shown to help support reduced cortisol levels (the 'stress hormone') and to support cognitive health in a myriad of ways, I find a good B-Vitamin soothes my nerves, focuses my mind, and energizes for my body. If swallowing pills not your thing, a B6-B12-Folate lozenge is a great way to get some of the most essential B-vitamins.”

The wonderful  Arnica Montana  via Wikimedia

The wonderful Arnica Montana via Wikimedia


Arnica

Arnica, an herb indigenous to Siberia and Europe, has been used in holistic medicine for hundreds of years for its anti-inflammatory benefits. You might be familiar with topical formulas (balms or salves) that contain Arnica - an effective remedies for bruises and muscle tension. Arnica can also be taken orally as a homeopathic. “Arnica is a wonderful floral addition to a routine that needs some relief. With anti-inflammatory properties, I look to a simple arnica flower infused oil for the occasional bump, bruise or discomfort,” says Caitlin, CN’s Body Care Lead. “Arnica is a go-to for me as it is typically low in price and fairly easy to find - we have several arnica-infused options for your skin including oil, stick, balm or spray.”


Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha, otherwise known as “Indian Ginseng”, is an adaptogenic herb - meaning it works with the body’s natural processes to balance healthy levels of stress and energy. Many people find Ashwaganda, when taken over the long term, to be extremely beneficial. “Ashwagandha has been a staple in my daily herbal lineup for over 2 years now,” says Alyssa, Supplements Buyer. “It's gentle and balancing nature helps me stay grounded and healthy despite changes in my internal and external environments. Unlike herbs like Kava kava, the effects of Ashwagandha are best felt with prolonged use... I look at it as an herbal investment for my endocrine and immune systems.”

Fields of lavender via Wikimedia Commons

Fields of lavender via Wikimedia Commons

Lavender Essential Oil

Lavender is one of the most well-known essential oils, and with good reason! Not only does it smell amazing, but it can be a very effective remedy for relaxation and sleep. Lavender EO should only be used externally, such as in a diffuser, or diluted with water in an atomizer bottle as a linen/pillow spray. You can also find many balms and salves that contain high-quality lavender EO. “I use Badger’s Sleep Balm with lavender every night,” says Caleb, Co-Owner. “I rub a little bit on my wrists, temples, and under my nose, and find that it helps calm my mind so that I’m able to drift off to sleep without all the racing thoughts of the day!”

Lemon Balm

Lemon Balm, or Melissa Oficinalis, is a widely-planted and widely-cultivated green herb grown and enjoyed everywhere from Europe to the US. It’s known for being a gentle herb for uplifting one’s mood, and has also been clinically studied (with hopeful results!) for use with hyper-activity disorders. “Like a lot of folks in this day and age, I often find myself with rather higher stress levels than I'd like,” says Sam, CN’s Body Care Buyer. I often use lemon balm to soothe my overactive stress-demons, in one of two ways: as a tincture for a concentrated dose, or as a cup (or several!) of soothing tea. This past weekend, on a day when everything seemed to be Too Much (the store was busy, I had So Many Things To Get Done, and I made the mistake of reading the news) I brewed a large pot of lemon balm and drank it over the course of a couple hours. By the time I finished the savory herbal brew, I felt the very definition of mellow.

Gaia Herbs’ traditional Golden Milk powder is tasty and effective!

Gaia Herbs’ traditional Golden Milk powder is tasty and effective!

Turmeric

Turmeric has been used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic medicine, and in traditional South Asian and Middle Eastern cooking. More recently curcumin, one of the active constituents in turmeric, has been recognized for its powerful anti-inflammatory benefits. “Turmeric, now there's an herb whose value is unquestionable!” says Michael Kanter, Cambridge Naturals’ Co-Founder and Chief Visionary Officer. “Especially when one is dealing with an aging body and joints. That's me! Maybe it's you, too? My body thanks me every day!” There are so many ways to take quality turmeric - including tablets, capsules, powders (for use in cooking and beverages), and even teas and tonics.

* None of these statements have been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Cannabidiwhaaat? CBD FAQ's!

By Miles, CN Supplements Buyer & Trainer

The legal hemp market is exploding with all sorts of products! Caught up in confusion? Heard your neighbors talk about CBD but can’t figure out the difference between hemp and marijuana products? This guide is for you!

 

So what the heck is CBD anyway!?

CBD or cannabidiol (can-nAh-bi-dEYE-ol) is regarded as the medicinal* component of cannabis. CBD is regarded as a well-studied and safe compound naturally present in agricultural hemp.

Green Mountain CBD hemp fields in VT

Green Mountain CBD hemp fields in VT

What do people use CBD for?

CBD may support healthy stress and pain response in the body. Numerous research into our endocannabinoid system indicates CBD may also have a role in supporting proper nerve signaling, healthy cell division and balance inflammation.

 

Endocannaba-whaaat?

Our body has a cannabinoid system. All throughout our body, our cells use different messengers to communicate with each other, including our own cannabinoids. Cannabinoid receptors are found in our brain as well as throughout our periphery. Compounds such as CBD activate CB2 receptors, promoting feelings of relaxation or relief of mild and occasional pain.

 

How is CBD legal?

CBD comes from agricultural hemp, rather than marijuana. Interestingly, marijuana that people use recreationally is the same species of plant (Cannabis sativa) as agricultural hemp. Marijuana, however, is high in the presence of the compound THC, which causes one to feel high. Agricultural hemp that is imported to or grown in the United States must contain less than 0.3% THC.

In contrast, agricultural hemp contains other non-psychoactive cannabinoid constituents such as CBDa and CBD (as well as essential fatty acids and vitamin E) which promote wellness in our bodies.

Even though marijuana has been legalized by the state of Massachusetts, stores cannot yet sell THC-containing products. The United States congress passed the Agricultural Act of 2014, sometimes called the “Farm Bill”, which allows for the use of low THC-containing hemp in industry and agriculture.

 

So wait, CBD will get me high?

As the hemp-derived CBD we carry contains negligible levels of THC, it does not get one high, stoned, lit, etc. CBD may cause drowsiness in a dose-dependent manner.

 

What brands of CBD do you carry? How can you take it?

cbd.png

We have numerous brands! Some of our favorites include:

CV Sciences – One of the leaders in the hemp industry, they import Dutch agricultural hemp for processing into capsules, liquids and salves. They have a variety of different doses, and are known for their purity, research-based ingredients and quality extraction methods.

Green Mountain CBD – One of my favorites, this locally operated brand grows their own organic hemp right in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. They extract their hemp with coconut oil into capsules, paste or liquid tincture. Many of their products are higher doses per serving, including their beloved 20mg capsules.

The Healing Rose – Based out of Andover, MA, The Healing Rose specializes in topical CBD products! They have a high potency salve, containing arnica, peppermint and ginger beyond just CBD, for those of us looking for a little bit of extra tension release. Their roll-ons with essential oil of rosemary or fir needle together with CBD are great for the neck and temples, too.

 

What dose do I take?

Dose is a very personalized thing!

I personally prefer around 5-10mg of CBD for daytime use, and maybe another 15mg before bedtime. That being said, I know some people who take 1mg a day, and I know some people who take 60mg a day.

High doses of CBD (think 200mg) seem to be well-tolerated, based on studies. CBD is a GRAS (generally recognized as safe) dietary ingredient. However, although it is safe for most people to take that much, you usually don’t usually need that much.

Your sensitivity depends on your genes. I invite you to be flexible with CBD use. Start with a low dose, and build up until you find your sweet spot. In my experience, one often feels CBD within an hour of use, and you can take it multiple times a day, if you wish.

 

Can I stop taking my other medications if I use CBD?

Talk to your doctor! We do not recommend changing your medications without consulting with your doctor.

 

Disclaimer: Nothing in this website is intended as, or should be construed as, medical advice. Consumers should consult with their own health care practitioners for individual, medical recommendations. The information in this website concerns dietary supplements, over-the-counter products that are not drugs. Our dietary supplement products are not indended for use as a means to cure, treat, prevent, diagnose or mitigate any disease or other medical or abnormal condition.

Monthly Muse: Cam + Al of Vital Fit

By Mary, The Naturalist Contributor & CN Body Care Buyer

When it comes to working out, I’m more of a yogi and occasional (rare) runner. I rely on busy days running around the shop and climbing up the mountainous Porter Square stairs to keep my body active and healthy. But with warmer temperatures arriving, a slightly more revealing wardrobe becomes more of a necessity than a statement and I find myself, like many, spending extra time squeezing in ab work and extra squats to the beat of a Beyonce song wherever I can. My muscles are feeling and responding to that extra attention in a way that isn’t exactly comfortable, or motivating.

Soreness and inflammation are to be expected from any workout, even seasoned athletes and runners training for a new marathon are bound to run into discomfort when pushing their bodies to the extreme. Some supplement with ibuprofen for pain relief which is problematic when used to excess, while others focus on post-workout recovery supplements like BCAAs that may not necessarily target the root cause of the discomfort. But local entrepreneurs Cam and Al of Vital Fit offer something much simpler, more effective, and more approachable than anything else I’ve encountered.

Tart cherries are packed to the brim with anthocyanins, giving them their strong antioxidant content and anti-inflammatory effect, in a bioavailable form (meaning our bodies can recognize and use it instantly). The tart cherry formula that Vital Fit offers in capsule form means you get all these benefits without the calories and inconvenience of drinking a bunch of juice.

You’ve probably seen Cam & Al demonstrating their product in store every week, and below they share their story. Learn more about how tart cherry works and why Vital Fit could help you while training for that marathon or pushing through to that next Soul Cycle class.

Do either of you have personal experience in the fitness realm looking for good workout recovery supplementation that led you to this tart cherry formula?

I first started getting into fitness my freshman year of college.  At the time, I was just going with my friends.  We’d go to the gym every day but rarely took the time to truly understand what we were doing—how our bodies responded to each workout.  Of course, that also meant we didn’t really pay much attention to recovery either.

For a long time, recovery meant drinking a protein shake and branch chain amino acids (BCAAs). Granted, I didn’t start really taking recovery serious until a few years later, I always wondered why protein and BCAAs never truly helped me feel less sore.  There were also plenty of days where I didn’t feel like drinking heavy shake or taking a handful supplements right after my workout to help me recover.

Fast forward to July 2016, Alfred and I were playing a game of 3 on 3 at the basketball court around the corner from our house.  At one point I went for the ball and immediately felt a shooting pain in my back down through my leg—at the ripe age of 24, I’d herniated a disc.  All of a sudden, I couldn’t lift weights anymore, I couldn’t run on the treadmill, I could hardly stand up without wincing.  Protein shakes and BCAAs certainly weren’t going to help me recover—neither were the handfuls of ibuprofen I was taking every day.

Tart cherry became my go to for recovery. I was not only recovering faster; I was moving better during each workout.

I asked my parents, who run a preventive health medicine practice in New York, if they had any ideas of what I could take to help me with the pain, besides ibuprofen, while I recovered.  That was the first time I heard of tart cherries and their benefits.  I started drinking 8 oz of juice in the morning and couldn’t believe how well it was working—of course, I still experienced discomfort, but my ability to get up and move around improved ten-fold.  There was a while where I thought I might not be able to get back into my routine again, but the tart cherry gave me some reassurance that that wouldn’t be the case.

The only downside to the juice was its sugar and calorie content, which we found was an issue for the fitness community we initially tested the juice with too.  Of course, we solved that issue a few months later with an extract made from dehydrated tart cherry skins, a sugar, and calorie-free alternative.

When I was finally able to start working out again, I completely changed my approach to make sure I wouldn’t hurt myself again.  Rather than lifting weights and running on a treadmill, I started using my own body weight and circuit training—staples of a functional fitness routine.  While I felt stronger and more balanced than ever, I was also much more sore on a day to day basis.  Tart cherry became my go to for recovery.  I was not only recovering faster; I was moving better during each workout.

The tart cherry content in Vital Fit is a potent anti-inflammatory, how does it differ from other inflammation support supplements?

We’ve been trying to perfect our answer to this question for months now.  We were recently demoing our product, here at Cambridge Naturals, when I think we finally nailed it.  In short, tart cherries have a super high anti-inflammatory profile that’s easier for our bodies to process than something like turmeric and has way fewer side effects than something like ibuprofen—well actually no side effects.

What’s especially great about our tart cherry extract is that it’s made from dehydrated tart cherry skins, not the whole cherry.  Like most other fruits, the skin is the most nutrient dense part of each cherry.  This means each capsule delivers a lot more antioxidants and a much greater anti-inflammatory effect per serving, than other products on the market.  In fact, a single capsule (480 mg), one serving, is the equivalent of 17oz of tart cherry juice.  However, because we’re only using the dehydrated skins, each serving is calorie and sugar free.  To put that in perspective, the average 8oz serving of tart cherry juice has roughly 134 calories and 24 grams of sugar. Compared to other tart cherry supplements on the market, a lot come in tablet form, which typically means they’re made with fillers and for those that are also in powder form, they generally use the whole cherry so you’re taking more and getting less.

From a recovery point of view, the extract in our capsules is the only tart cherry extract on the market clinically studied.  Researchers at Texas A&M studied the extract’s effect on inflammation and muscle soreness with endurance trained athletes.  The athletes took one capsule a day for ten days before completing a ½ marathon endurance challenge.  Results revealed the athlete’s inflammatory markers were down by 47%, their perceived muscle soreness was down by 34%, and their run times improved by 13% because of the cherry’s ability to combat inflammation and oxidative stress so efficiently.

Who knew these little fruits packed such a punch?!

Who knew these little fruits packed such a punch?!

The last cool feature we want to mention about our tart cherry product is its versatility.  For those who don’t like swallowing pills, you can open up the capsule and mix it into water, tea, or recovery drink.  We’ve been experimenting with the powder ourselves, a few weeks ago we handed out tart cherry spritzers made from seltzer, our tart cherry extract, and a dash of cranberry juice—based on the response, we’d say they came out pretty good.

We could see business owners and members of the fitness community who were initially very skeptical put their guards down and open up to us. It was incredibly rewarding to earn their trust and eventually the chance to earn their business.

What are some of the highlights of being young entrepreneurs in this field? Did you imagine a grad school project taking off the way this has so far?

One of the most rewarding things for us has been seeing people’s response to us and our product over time.  In the beginning, everyone had their guard up.  We were just starting out, two kids’ fresh out of grad school with a lot of ideas and no track record to back them up.  While some people were willing to listen to us, there were many more who weren’t—at least not yet.  We understood why, we’d be skeptical too if we were business owners and two guys they’d never seen before said: “Hi, we’re starting a supplement company, want to do business with us?”  That realization forced to us to leave our comfort zone, start meeting people, and begin building relationships with people all throughout Boston’s health, wellness, and fitness scene—from the ground up.  As our network grew, we could show people our intent and explain our vision.  Over the course of a few months, we could see business owners and members of the fitness community who were initially very skeptical put their guards down and open up to us.  It was incredibly rewarding to earn their trust and eventually the chance to earn their business.

We had no idea that this grad school project would turn into a full-time job.  The initial idea was very different and admittedly not so good.  However, after a few months of tweaking and fine tuning the concept it got to a point where we thought the idea “had some legs.”  About halfway through our last semester we looked at each other and said, “Let’s run with it, we can make it work.”

What can we look forward to in Vital Fit’s future? Are you crafting any other products you can tell us about?

We're working on products two and three right now.  We’re almost finished fine-tuning our protein product.  It’s a plant-based protein made from organic cold-pressed pumpkin seeds.  It tastes better than any plant-protein we’ve ever had and is super easy on the stomach.  We’ve also added ten essential vitamins and minerals that are typically missing from a modern diet and a full serving of BCAA’s.  It’s a balanced meal replacement and a functional recovery drink.  It’s 134 calories and gluten, grain, sugar, wheat, soy, and dairy free—we’re very excited to release it.  The second product we’re working on is a beetroot based nitric oxide booster to help combat oxidative stress and increase blood flow.  It’s the perfect way to prepare for your next run, class, or workout.

Lastly, what are your top 3 Cambridge Naturals products you can’t leave the store without?

An arm full of Runa Teas, a hand full of Elemental Superfood Seed bars and Zen’s Zen Calm.

Thanks so much for sharing your story with us, Cam and Al! To keep updated on new products and demos, follow them on instagram @vitalfitnutrition


This blog post is for general health information only. This web site is not to be used as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment of any health condition or problem. Users of this Web site should not rely on information provided on this Web site for their own health problems. Any questions regarding your own health should be addressed to your own physician or other healthcare provider.