CBDa extracts and products
In the hemp and cannabis industry, the most common method of preparing a plant extract involves the use of a solvent like butane, carbon dioxide, or ethanol.
Instead, Planetarie uses water. Cason calls it "a gentler, healthier, more natural alternative to the previous -- and more common -- methods of extraction." Furthermore, she says by using water, the extraction keeps cannabinoids like CBDa "in the same form in which God made it in the plant."
The company's proprietary, patent-pending technology does not use heat or pressure, which leads to a process called decarboxylation; when CBDa undergoes decarboxylation, it turns into CBD. "CBDa can convert to CBD, but not the other way around," says Cason. "CBDa is the way it [appears] in the plant. It can be called a mother cannabinoid or a precursor."
As CBD products hit store shelves at major retailers and enjoy increasing popularity, consumers are becoming more attuned to its reported benefits. But how is CBDa different from CBD -- and potentially beneficial? "Being in the acidic form, [CBDa] binds to our body more readily. It's more bioavailable, it's more potent [than CBD]," explains Cason. "It also reacts with additional receptors that CBD does not."
An example of one of those receptors is the Cox-2, which plays a major role in inflammation. Cason says, "If you've got a sprained ankle, and you took ibuprofen, the way that it works on your pain and inflammation is through Cox-2 inhibition." As a one-time athlete with bad knees, Cason thinks Planetarie's products -- a drink additive, an infusion, softgels, and a salve -- offer a healthier alternative to ibuprofen. "I can actually rub the salve on my knee and get the same benefits as if I had taken 600 milligrams of ibuprofen," she says. "[Discovering that] was impactful for me."
Another receptor that CBDa binds with, but CBD does not, is the 5-HT1A, which regulates nausea. "You have less stomach unrest and nausea by taking CBDa," says Cason.
Cason comes to the hemp industry after working previously as a nurse anesthetist, followed by a career transition into real estate development. She says learning about CBD and other plant medicines was a direct result of "seeing the opioid crisis, first hand. Seeing chronic pain. Seeing patients with opioid addiction. So, [a plant medicine like CBDa is] a healthier alternative to treat their pain without the harmful addicting opioid."
The company began making its products in April 2019. It sells them directly to consumers through its website, as well as providing white labeling and bulk wholesale to a handful of businesses.
"Our largest client creates a drink additive," she says, "so we do all of the manufacturing and they just put their label on it." The products are also sold at a few chiropractic offices and a Denver cannabis dispensary.
With two in-house chemists at work, Planetarie manufactures its products at its Evans, Colorado facility. (Cason says the facility is GMP-compliant, although not GMP-certified.) "We're installing a second production line that we designed and built ourselves, and it will 5X the current capacity," she says. "So, that's a really big scale-up as far as production capacity."
The company uses hemp from about four different farms, including a USDA-certified organic grower in Weld County. "We go from the plant to a full-spectrum powder," says Cason. In addition to CBDa, there are additional cannabinoids present in the company's salve, including CBGa and non-psychoactive THCa.
Cason admits there's still a learning curve for the public when it comes to understanding plant medicines like CBDa. She says, "I would love to see us get to a place where people embrace the plant as medicine and -- instead of looking for a [prescription] bottle with terrible side effects for their discomfort -- I wish they would look to our natural products. CBDa can help with their stomach pain, with their joint pain, with their headaches, with their inflammation, their anxiety, etc."
But hearing from her present customers does have an affect on Cason. "There have been feedback emails that literally made me cry, because you see the impact that we're having," she says.
"We're here for good health. We're here for innovation, helping people," adds Cason. "We're female-owned. We do things differently in a lot of ways."
Challenges: "It's been sales," says Cason. "It's been educating people, because it is a unique product and process."
Opportunities: The global market: "Our biggest opportunity is worldwide impact, helping people."
Needs: "The biggest need right now is revenue," says Cason.
The company closed on a financing round in 2019, and Planetarie's ready for more backing. Cason says, "I would accept new investors, absolutely."