It is no secret that the CBD industry is booming. From dog treats to leave-in conditioners to facial serums, it seems like CBD is virtually accessible in just about anything. Celebrities, influencers, and top wellness gurus hail CBD as a magical cure-all for anxiety, stress, sleep issues, inflammation (just to name a few of the benefits). Yet, at the same rate, there are non-believers—and seemingly no middle ground between the major supporters and highly skeptical. This discrepancy alone made me question whether CBD is a marketed trend or if there is any real validity behind the wildly popular product.
Naturally curious, I sat down with Anna Brown, founder of local CBD company Tennecanna to break it down. There is so much information (and misinformation), I turned to this trusted expert who shared why CBD is here to stay. Despite the fact that I have read numerous articles on the art of figuring out the most effective dose (I swear solving a rubrics cube would be easier than trying to figure this out) – I didn’t fully understand it until Anna insightfully shared her best tips and tricks. Not only is she a wealth of knowledge on the subject, but she is also the epitome of cool as a female business owner operating a small batch hemp farm (and killing it) in a male-dominated industry. I can’t even keep a small house plant alive! No longer a skeptic, a little birdie close to the brand suggested adding Tennecanna’s CBD oil to hot oat milk with cinnamon every night before bedtime– and I am hooked. Oh, and the chocolate… if you take one thing from this interview (let’s hope more), the CBD chocolate is an absolute must-try.
MEET ANNA BROWN
TNE: Tell me about you. What is your background, why did you get into the CBD business?
AB: After growing up in the southeast, I graduated with a degree in Psychology and moved to Colorado, to live in a tiny cabin and see what life “out west” had to offer. I have worked all sorts of jobs (from a landscape nursery, to a giant hotel, to owning my own business in the Nashville wedding industry) and those jobs all helped lead me here in some way or another. My husband and I settled into a home on some land outside of Nashville and I became a mom in the spring of 2018. As my life was quickly overtaken by diapers and rocking my precious baby to sleep, I re-evaluated my career. I had anxiety that began in my early 20’s that really peaked during my pregnancy and upon becoming a new mother. I had a dream of farming flowers and had been taught to grow plants by my grandmother while growing up. My husband was increasingly interested in the cultivation of cannabis and we had just tried CBD oil for the first time. It was a game-changer for my anxiety and his pain. I noticed its ability to enhance my life and alter my anxiety almost immediately. I was completely smitten and decided I would combine two of my passions (my love of growing plants and my desire to help people) to create a brand that was founded on the principle of doing just that — helping people feel better. My husband and I began growing hemp plants that summer and we launched our first products in 2020.
TNE: Are you from Tennessee? Why did you choose to grow it here?
AB: I grew up in Florida and North Carolina, but have spent most of my life in Tennessee. My husband’s family is all from the area and after being away from our friends and family for a year in Colorado, we knew this is where we wanted to start our own family and businesses.
TNE: Where is the farm located?
AB: Our farm is located east of Nashville in Mount Juliet, Tennessee. We grow our hemp on 2 of the 5 acres of land that we live on.
TNE: Looking at the industry in its entirety…Are there a lot of female growers? Or, is it predominately a male-dominated space? Does this present a different set of challenges?
AB: Compared to male? No. And it is intimidating to show up in a male-dominated space and say, “I know what I’m talking about and I’m here to stay.” But, I am not alone! The hemp industry is filled with intelligent women who are working to change the game. The truth is in this very new industry, we are all still learning. To me, that makes it a more level playing field. While there were not books full of information on how to cultivate hemp when I began, I am about to start my third growing season. I choose to dig in the dirt (literally when growing and figuratively with my brand), and the learning comes through experiences. There is a particular challenge in this industry…helping the public change their biases against this natural plant and I think women in cannabis are doing an incredible job to create a safe environment for people to learn, grow, and be willing to give it a try.
TNE: Walk me through a typical day for you. What does that look like?
AB: I wake up to my two-year-old hopping in bed with me around 5 am. I make my coffee and his milk, get breakfast going and we both get ready for the day. He heads to my mother in law’s home and I make myself some lemon tea with our cbd honey. If it’s a Tuesday, I do virtual yoga. I start my day with two quick reads — Healing After Loss and Tiny Buddha’s 365 Love Challenges. I check e-mail/social and create a list of the most important things I need to accomplish for the day. I make sure our current orders are packaged and get out the door, and the rest of the day is usually filled with computer work. Except in the summer, when I spend a ton of time out in the field cultivating our plants. There is always something that keeps me busy! After work, I pick up my son and prepare dinner. My favorite time of the day comes after — when my husband, son and I are all together eating and moving into my son’s nightly routine of bath time, jammies, a book, songs, and bedtime. When he’s asleep, I catch up on housework, do some self-care (hot baths in the clawfoot tub with a glass of wine + iced water are my favorite), and plan for the next day. I will usually eat some CBD dark chocolate. Then my skincare / nightly ritual and getting in bed before 10 pm. I am out as soon as my head hits the pillow!
TNE: How do you take CBD?
AB: I love adding about a teaspoon of our 400mg CBD honey to my cup of hot tea in the morning or afternoon. It is a very relaxing way to begin my day. I also like to break a rectangle off of our CBD dark chocolate after dinner — it feels like a total indulgence. But if I am in a hurry or on the go, I will grab my 15mL bottle of Original Strength CBD oil in the bottom of my purse and put half a dropper under my tongue.
TNE: What other products do you incorporate into your wellness routine?
AB: Organic Peaceful Mama Tea, My Favorite Mug, Tiny Buddha’s 365 Tiny Love Challenges
Balance Ball, Omorovicza Perfecting Lip Balm, Josie Maran Argan Matchmaker Serum Foundation, Tata Harper’s Retinoic Nutrient Face Oil
TNE: What are your favorite local sources?
AB: Hair Gal – Leah Solowey at Studio 47, Design – Lauren Ledbetter, Non-Profit – Living For Everything / Lisa Wolfe, Meditation+ Yoga Studio – Flourish Meditation, Brunch – Cafe Roze, Casual Date Night – Bella Napoli.
TNE: What does the future look like? What is next?
AB: In 2021, I am intentionally focusing more on the present. With Tennecanna, I have taken time to write out plans and financial goals for the near future and I have big dreams for the not so near future, but if I took anything away from the last two years of my life, it’s that the present moment is all we are promised.
TNE: Were there any obstacles, difficulties, or challenges when you got started? What was something important to you to incorporate into your business?
AB: Oh, yes! The biggest obstacle at first was finding information on how to grow it. Growing hemp plants that are specifically high in CBD is very new. You aren’t going to find many books about it, and online articles are sparse. I was lucky to happen upon Canvast Supply Co. (previously Tennessee Grown) in our first season. They were selling good quality seeds locally (sourcing quality seeds was also a major obstacle in the beginning) and are some of the most experienced growers in Tennessee.
I read as much information as I could on starting from seed and we just got to work. It was similar to growing flowers. Each plant needs individual care so it takes a lot of walks through the field, careful inspection, and TLC to bring them safely to harvest. As I just mentioned, one of the biggest challenges has been simply the amplifying of the word “cannabis”. A lot of people hold a specific bias against it, including banks and social media platforms.
TNE: What distinguishes your brand of CBD from others?
AB: On the day I opened Tennecanna as a business, I knew I wanted our CBD to help people. What I have learned in the time since has proven even more valuable in the mindset and philosophy of our company: in order to find balance, we must look at the full picture. What we are selling at Tennecanna is not just a CBD product — it is a lifestyle that incorporates the daily ritual of CBD along with the encouragement of other practices like meditation and therapy to help you truly feel better for good. While CBD is often seen as a quick fix to a plethora of life’s obstacles, I believe that it works best when used as a ritual. One that may involve adding the practice of yoga or meditation on a regular basis. One that, for example, means waking up without your phone by your ear, going to your kitchen, and making a cup of hot lemon tea with some added CBD honey. Or digging your hands into the dirt. One that involves creating rituals that give your life meaning to help ease your life back into balance. I believe scientifically that CBD works to ease anxiety and many other ailments your body may face. I have seen and heard many stories and first-hand experiences of it doing just that. It is truly amazing.
TNE: Purity of CBD… Are there any chemicals, fillers, or other ingredients used in your products?
AB: Our CBD facial serum contains only full-spectrum hemp extract, organic rosehip oil, and ethically sourced mica. Our CBD honey contains only full-spectrum hemp extract and local honey. Our CBD oil contains only full-spectrum hemp extract and MCT (coconut) oil. Our ingredients are simple and pure — with no added fillers, preservatives, or flavors.
TNE: Does the small farm/small batch aspect play a part in the quality? Why does it matter so much to know how it is grown?
AB: We grow our own hemp, and hand harvest it all. It is a labor of love, but we think it is necessary to prove the high quality of our products. Seeing each individual flower as it is harvested does make a difference for us. For example, caterpillars love hemp flowers. Late in the growing season, they can become a real problem. As a small batch farm, we have the ability to hand cull through each individual flower.
TNE: Is there anything about your growing process that makes you distinctly different and separates you from other growers?
AB: During harvest, we examine each flower cluster individually, disposing of all but the highest quality plant matter. We then tumble trim to remove any leaves and are left with only cannabinoid-rich flowers to be dried and cured in a temperature and humidity controlled environment before being extracted. Being extremely selective with our starting material allows us to ensure that our final products are of the highest quality.
TNE: Your rosehip facial oil is gorgeous but more importantly, why would someone want to incorporate a CBD skincare item into their skincare routine? What are the benefits?
AB: CBD is a powerful antioxidant and has nutrient boosting properties — which make it a great pair with rosehip oil. Our rosehip facial oil is composed of three completely natural ingredients — organic rosehip oil, full-spectrum hemp extract, and ethically sourced mica. You can feel good about what you are putting on your skin, knowing that it is completely natural. I have personally used rosehip oil on my skin for the past four years. I used to get breakouts pretty often and after incorporating it into my skincare routine, those flare-ups were gone. Rosehip oil stimulates collagen to reduce fine lines and wrinkles. It contains Vitamin A, E, C, and omega fatty acids 3, 6, and 9 which help promote skin cell turnover, skin elasticity, and improve the look of hyperpigmentation. Mica adds a beautiful shimmery glow.
TNE: Where do you sell your product?
AB: We sell our products online and in a few local shops.
JUST THE FACTS
TNE: Break it down for us. What exactly is CBD and how does it work?
AB: CBD stands for cannabidiol — one of the 100+ cannabinoids found inside the cannabis plant. Your body has an endocannabinoid system, a signaling system in the body that regulates biological processes such as appetite, sleep, mood, and memory. The endocannabinoid system has 3 parts — 1) receptors 2) enzymes 3) endocannabinoids — that are functioning in the human body, whether you have used CBD or not. The two types of receptors in this system are called CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptors are responsible for coordination, movement, pain, appetite, mood, memory, and other functions. CB2 receptors influence pain and inflammation. When you take CBD, the enzymes in the endocannabinoid system break down the cannabinoids, which then look to bind to receptors. You receive the health benefits of CBD when these receptors are activated.
TNE: Full- spectrum vs broad-spectrum vs isolate- what is the difference or the best one? Which category do your products fall into?
AB: CBD products that contain all the naturally occurring compounds found in the hemp plant (including .3% or less THC) are called Full Spectrum. CBD products that contain a range of naturally occurring compounds found in cannabis, but contain 0% THC, are called Broad Spectrum. CBD products that contain specifically only CBD are called Isolate.
As a brand, we choose to sell only full-spectrum CBD products. Combining all the natural compounds in the hemp plant allows them to work together to help the body better absorb and use CBD. There are hundreds of naturally occurring cannabinoids and terpenes found in the hemp plant. You may feel the effects of our full-spectrum products with a smaller dose than that of a broad spectrum or isolate product.
TNE: What do people typically use CBD for?
AB: CBD is commonly taken for anxiety, depression, inflammation, skin disease, chronic pain, insomnia, epilepsy, acne, muscle spasms, and many other conditions. In 2020, we learned most of our customers were buying due to increased anxiety.
TNE: I know it is available in various forms (tinctures, vape, edibles, smokables, topical)…so what is the difference? Is one better than another and how do you figure out what is best for you?
AB: This is where CBD gets scientific, but it’s pretty simple! This is usually spoken about in terms of bioavailability (the ability for a substance to be absorbed into the bloodstream). CBD’s bioavailability is highest when it is smoked, which means it will start working pretty quickly. After that, the most effective way to take CBD is to put oil under your tongue for 30-60 seconds and then swallow it. To figure out what method is best for you, I always say, “examine what you are using it for.” The method in which you take it does not determine whether it will be effective, it is more about how quickly your body needs it.
TNE: Do people get the same intensity of benefits when CBD is mixed into food or coffee/tea?
AB: Tennecanna CBD oil is in a format that has been decarboxylated, which means the pure CBD is bioavailable and can be mixed into pretty much anything! So, yes. You can mix your oil into coffee and tea and receive the same benefits.
TNE: Some people hail CBD as a miracle worker/daily necessity while others think it doesn’t make any difference and is a trend- why is there this discrepancy?
AB: Great question! A few possibilities for this discrepancy….1.)They may not have used a strong enough dose, did not have an adequate understanding of the amount of CBD in their dose, or did not purchase from a reputable source with proper labeling. 2.) They may want to try a full spectrum product. A CBD isolate product contains specifically only CBD. Tennecanna products are full-spectrum, meaning they contain all the naturally occurring compounds found in the hemp plant which work together to help your body better absorb and use CBD. 3.) They may not have used it consistently. CBD can be even more effective if taken on a daily basis because it compounds in your body over time. 4.) I hesitate to consider CBD a quick fix or cure-all. I believe in order to find balance, we need to look at the full picture. That is why we suggest mindfully creating a ritual with CBD.
TNE: Would you share a fact or study you’re privy to that might convince a skeptic or trend-averse person that CBD is not only here to stay, but going to grow and evolve?
AB: This Ted talk is incredibly encouraging in speaking towards the future of CBD.
TNE: How in the world do you figure out what your optimal dosage is? I cannot for the life of me figure this out so can you break this down in the simplest terms to understand? What exactly does it mean to start and work up to your dosage?
AB: It takes time to figure out your personal dose. If you are just starting out, my recommendation is to purchase our Original Strength 800mg 15mL bottle of CBD oil and grab a journal. On the first day, fill up your dropper halfway (this will be approximately 26mg of hemp extract). Record it in your journal and go about your day. If you don’t notice anything right away, that does not necessarily mean you did not take enough. Do the same dose for a few weeks. If you still do not notice it working, this probably means you need a higher dose. You can try a full dropper (approx. 53mg) or ¾ of a dropper (approx. 40mg). During these trial weeks, you can try more or less on any given day to see if that makes you feel any different. You can also take it twice in one day. If you are consistent, you are very likely to figure out your personal dose and it’s worth it when you do.
TNE: I want to relax but not be tired. Is there something that I can take during the day that achieves relaxation and reduces inflammation- without causing sleepiness?
AB: I suggest testing it out. If you find yourself feeling drowsy after a dose of CBD, you could try taking your daily dose each night before bed. This could help you get a restful night’s sleep and (if taken daily) compound in your system to give you the benefits you are seeking. You could also try taking a lower dose to see if too high of a dose is what is causing your fatigue. In this research study, researchers concluded the side effect of fatigue may be related to dosing.
TNE: On the other end of the spectrum, how does CBD support healthy sleep? What is your best recommendation for someone who wants to sleep better?
AB: CBD is processed in your endocannabinoid system, which helps regulate biological processes like sleep. My personal recommendation for sleep is our Tennecanna X Poppy and Peep CBD Dark Chocolate Bar. Not only does it contain full-spectrum hemp extract, but dark chocolate can contribute because it contains tryptophan and serotonin, which can make you feel relaxed and sleepy. I also love tea — so I recommend adding our CBD honey to a cup of hot chamomile tea before bedtime to enhance your restful sleep!
TNE: Is there anything harmful about CBD?
AB: According to the World Health Organization, “It (CBD) is generally well-tolerated, with a good safety profile…To date, there is no evidence of public health-related problems associated with the use of pure CBD.” The Federal Farm Bill of 2018 legalized CBD derived from hemp plants that contain less than .3% THC. The previous federal regulations made it challenging to perform research studies on CBD, so most research is cutting edge. As an industry, we are at the will of the current and future research studies being released to learn more.
TNE: Will CBD get you “high”? How it should it make you feel?
AB: If you take too high of a dose, full-spectrum CBD has the potential to make you feel that way. I experienced this during a high-stress day when I took more than double the amount I usually would. Yes, it contains less than .3% THC (a very small amount), but that does not make you immune to the effects of THC if you take too much. I can only speak to the way that CBD makes me feel — and that is at ease. It’s like the opposite of a coffee shaking high. It just helps me to relax. I have experienced anxiety and depression and I used to take CBD as needed when my anxiety would be higher or my depression lower. It definitely helped me in those tough spots with my anxiety, but it would sometimes chill me out too much when I was feeling low. So I decided to start taking a dose every single day. After this, I noticed my entire weeks would be more even-keeled. That’s not to say I will never have a high or low moment or day. I have been grieving for a while now and my feelings show up. This is why I like to make a ritual out of using CBD. If I read my grief devotional or free-write while I am drinking my morning herbal tea with CBD honey, I am likely to feel better because I spent time processing my feelings while enjoying my daily dose of relaxation. This answer may be different for people taking CBD for pain and inflammation (like my husband). He has his rituals but truly, the CBD helps ease his pain and makes him feel better.