For the uninitiated, cannabidiol or CBD as it is most commonly known, invokes images of individuals chilling out and getting 'high'. However, as Chanelle McCoy highlights, although CBD is derived from the cannabis plant, it does not produce a psychoactive effect, is not addictive, and does not cause a 'high'. The compound which is responsible for these side effects is called Tetrahydrocannabinol or THC.
McCoy explains; "CBD is a component of the cannabis plant; part of the cannabis plant which has very good healing properties. It does not cause a 'high', it's not addictive, and has no psychoactive effect. One of the other main components [of the plant] is called THC and this is where the confusion occurs for the general public; they mistake CBD with THC. THC is the part that is addictive, does cause you a high, and is psychoactive.
"[Unfortunately] CBD has kind of morphed into same category as THC but it is totally different in terms of its properties. We are trying to bring awareness that CBD is the rising star of the cannabis plant."
'We can clinically say we are zero per cent THC'
The company spent four and half years carrying out early clinical testing before launching, earning approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA ) as the first clinically proven CBD food supplement to be safe. McCoy says the safety first approach was adopted by Pureis due to the prevalence of certain CBD food supplements on the market containing illegal THC levels.
"It is important to point out, when people go out to buy CBD as a food supplement, there are some products on the market that are not fully safe to take. There were two papers written in the last year by a number of revered professors in the UK where they looked at 30 CBD food supplements products that are on the market in the UK and Ireland.
"These professors individually tested these products and they found 55 per cent of the CBD food supplements on the market have illegal levels of THC and 34 per cent of these products have lower levels of CBD than is on the label, so it is false and misleading. Because there are products out there on the market, this then can potentially give CBD a bad name because people are not getting the right experience with these food supplements.
"[At Pureis] We recognised this a number of years ago and with Caroline being from a prescription pharmaceutical background, we wanted to approach this from a safety and quality point of view like we would if we were bringing out a prescription medicine. The most important thing regardless if you are a food supplement or prescription medicine is safety for the consumer. We invested a number of millions and we are four and half years in our journey where we conducted numerous trials, Phase One studies, and that has proven our product is fully safe.
"It has no effect on organs, glands, cells, or on the bloods. Our product, Pureis food supplement, is 10mg or 20mg a day. We are now the first clinically proven CBD food supplement to come on the market. We are hoping Pureis will help people feel comfortable, confident, and trust CBD. We want to be the grown-ups in the CBD food supplement space and that's why we went the extra step to also get our raw material FDA registered. We can clinically say we are zero per cent THC and we are ultra pure as well."
It is reported by users of CBD that they find the properties of the component helpful for coping with anxiety, enjoying calmness, dealing with joint pain, and even sleeping. McCoy takes CBD herself and says her husband, legendary 20 time Champion Jockey, AP McCoy, finds the supplement beneficial for joint stiffness. She reveals Pureis will begin testing the effects of CBD on recovery in athletes in conjunction with John Moores University in Liverpool.
"I am on it since early January. I take it in the morning, the oil in capsules. There was a stat that AP broke his bones some 700 times in his career and he would be in mild pain everyday, a lot of joint stiffness. He is on it since early February and he would be a tough nut to crack and convince [but] he is on 20mg a day and he really notices better mobility in his joints and no longer has the mild pain.
"We will do studies on recovery in sport. From research carried out, 55 per cent of food supplements contain illegal THC, that is very concerning for sports people and they need to be very careful what they are buying because THC is a banned substance. We are in discussions with Liverpool's John Moore's University. We have agreed do to clinical trials alongside them and research athletes with them.
"We are going to look at boxers initially because boxers probably go through the most gruelling training sessions of all sports, so for them to recover the next day without muscle soreness is [important]. We will look at rugby and hurlers and we will look at bowlers in cricket as they have problems with their rotator cuffs.
"The reason we can do this is because we have done all our Phase One studies which puts us on a really good platform."
CBD versus Covid-19
Due to emerging evidence about CBD being effective in patients with Covid-19, Pureis is currently commissioning trials to research the anti-inflammatory qualities of the component against the virus.
Glynn says; "Covid-19 triggers a severe inflammation response and unfortunately, that inflammation causes the devastating injuries and in some cases death. When inflammation occurs it is known as the Cytokine storm, and CBD is known to downregulate certain Cytokines in the body. That is one way of potentially halting the spread of the virus through the body.
"CBD is also very powerful anti-oxidant which means if a cell is acting abnormally, an antioxidant comes in and [destroys] that cell. The really interesting area is when a patient contracts Covid-19; the way the virus enters the body is through an enzyme known ACE2. CBD is known basically to switch off that enzyme and if you can do that successfully, it will help halt the spread of the virus so the body has an opportunity to recognise this foreign pathogen and then create the antibodies to fight it off.
"To do any clinical trial you have to establish safety first, so we have that bit done. We have fully characterised the raw material and the next step is to engage with a clinical trial in Australia. We are looking at a healthy volunteer situation, taking blood out of the body and spiking it, to see is it helping against the inflammation markers.
"Ultimately, we will be doing Covid-19 trials in the UK because we have to go where the disease is prevalent. We feel from engaging with our scientific research team, there is enough scientific evidence already that the MHRA [Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency], the UK authority, will accept this proposal."
With the global market of CBD food supplement products expected to rise from $1 billion to $16 billion, McCoy believes the product is here to stay and and there are plans to go on to develop a medical prescription standard product in the future.
"The reason why we put the science behind Pureis, the food supplement, is the first phase of our journey. We ultimately want to get up into the prescription world and that would be our CBD at a much higher dose a day so we would look to bring it up to 100mg, 200mg, 300mg a day because that is what people need when they are in severe pain or on morphine and even trying to get off opioids.
"We are engaged with NUI Galway to bring this up to a prescriptive drug. They have a very sophisticated, experienced research team on cannabinoids led by Professor David Finn who is the president of the International Cannabinoid Research Society.
"In 2019, eight million people bought CBD as a food supplement in the UK and the market in UK is worth £300 million. That totally eclipses Vitamin C and D combined which are £115 million and £110 million respectively. The UK market is forecasted to grow from £300 million to £1 billion in four years.
"This is here to stay and is going grow exponentially and every big pharmaceutical global company has it in their pipeline."
Pureis' range of products made from ultra pure cannabis derivative is available on PuriesCBD.com, SuperValu in Loughrea, Murphy's Medical Hall in Ballinasloe, and in a number of Loughrea pharmacies.