We spoke with Chelsea Gombes, founder of Sant’Ana Olive Oil, a newly launched organic line of Greek olive oil infused with whole flower CBD. Chelsea shares some of the physical, mental and emotional benefits of supplementing with whole flower CBD, why she sources her olive oil from Greece, as well as some of her favorite ways to enjoy it. She also educates us on the body’s endocannabinoid system and explains how CBD can activate cannabinoid receptors to fix imbalances within the body.
What inspired you to infuse olive oil with CBD?
I’ve always found taking the time to cook for myself and others a good way to disconnect from my phone and the world. After reversing a bout of eczema that came out of nowhere by using CBD, I knew it was something I should probably take on a daily basis in a preventative way. Like an investment for my future well-being. Infused olive oil seemed like a good way to marry those things and consistently get the benefits from CBD without taking another joyless capsule or tincture. Plus, olive oil is delicious. It’s versatile and just heightens the flavor of anything you put it on, so it seemed like a natural pairing.
What benefits do people usually notice after supplementing with your CBD olive oil?
The most common thing I hear from people is that it helps to calm their nervous system and slow some of that incessant inner dialogue. For people with digestive issues, they say it lowers their inflammation. When eaten with dinner, people say they sleep better at night. For others, it replaces a cup of coffee in the morning and helps with clarity and focus.
What is the most common feedback you receive?What can people expect to feel?
Everyone experiences CBD differently based on their own unique body chemistry, so it’s been interesting to hear the feedback. People like the ritual of incorporating CBD into their meals as something to look forward to vs. a “let’s-get-this-over-with” experience. Because it’s typically eaten with food it does take longer to feel the effects than more immediate forms of CBD (tinctures or vaping). The longer onset time is something new to people for sure. Probably the most common feedback is that they feel a subtle mood elevation throughout the day. Cannabinoids in CBD are fat soluble which makes them slower to digest. When CBD is eaten with food that has a high fat content it increases the amount of CBD in the body by four-times.
You use whole flower CBD in your olive oil. What are the benefits of whole flower CBD versus other forms? Whole flower contains everything from the plant, including all the terpenoids, flavonoids, and cannabinoids. It has a complexity in taste with subtle nuances in flavor that make things taste better. Medicinally, when nothing is removed the components work together to become highly effective. This is known as the ‘entourage effect,’ a positive physiological response in the body’s endocannabinoid system. People tend to experience better results with whole flower using much less than they would with an isolate or broad spectrum which takes compounds out of the plant using harsh extraction methods (butane and ethanol alcohol). The resulting products are pretty flavorless and lack therapeutic dimension.
Can you talk a bit about the endocannabinoid system and how cannabis interacts with it? We are all born with something called an endocannabinoid system (ECS). As part of our nervous system, the ECS has receptors on almost every organ in our body and is responsible for regulating most of our physiological functions - sleep, appetite, inflammation, memory, and mood. Our ECS naturally produces its own cannabinoids (known as endocannabinoids) which are molecules that bind to and activate cannabinoid receptors. CBD increases the availability of the body's own cannabinoids as well as binding to other receptors in the body. When we take CBD, it activates these receptors communicating to the rest of the body to fix imbalances. The nourishment of our ECS is an on-going practice. Daily dosing, over a lifetime, as opposed to taking a tincture when you feel anxious or can’t sleep, helps to supplement our natural reserves of CBD.
You source your olive oil from the Greek island of Crete. Why are you partial to Greek olive oil?
There are a ton of scams in the olive oil industry and fraud is pretty rampant. Many olive oils not labeled Extra Virgin, and even some that are, are processed with heat and/or chemicals and blended with other cheaper oils. I like olive oil from the island of Crete because it is made with koroneiki olives which are small and green with a robust flavor that is strong enough to stand up to the earthy notes in hemp plants. Crete is renowned for the highly aromatic flavor and health benefits of its olive oil, which is low in acidity with one of the highest concentrations of polyphenols in Greece. Researchers discovered the Mediterranean diet after observing that people on the island of Crete lived longer and had lower rates of chronic disease than the general population. The entire process from harvest to pressing, is carried out on one estate vs. multiple manufacturing points. It’s classified as extra virgin, which means it is extracted without heat or chemicals and contains less than 1 percent oleic acidity. It’s a really nice olive oil.
Does CBD olive oil have a strong flavor? What are some of your favorite ways to enjoy it?
We use a CBD strain with high amounts of the cannabinoid and terpene-Caryophyllene for its black peppercorn notes. When combined with koroneiki olive oil, the resulting blend has a good amount of spice, some bitter notes and hints of artichoke.
My favorite recipes are usually not recipes at all. Just simple combinations of things that make each ingredient complement the other. I like making salad dressings because there are many flavor possibilities depending on the herbs you use (parsley, dill, and basil). If I have more time, I’ll make a salsa verde to put over with grilled fish or a roasted chicken which is super easy but feels fancy. Recently, I’ve been into making a citrus olive oil cake that comes together in an hour but tastes like it took all afternoon. I was surprised the first time I tried it. I never thought adding CBD olive oil to desserts would work but it adds some depth and complexity without being overbearing.
What is an ideal dose for CBD olive oil? How liberally can it be used?
We each have our own unique biochemistry and people will feel different effects after varying amounts. I suggest starting with a small amount and tracking your experience. Listen to your body and use however much CBD you feel comfortable with. You'll find your preferred amount over time by experimenting. Try drizzling a teaspoon or two over eggs in the morning and see how you feel. If you want to try more at lunch, add a few teaspoons in a salad dressing. To wind down in the evening, you can add more at dinner, stopping when your instincts say to. The oils are formulated so that they can be layered with intention and added liberally to dishes like standard olive oil — from a drizzle to an indulgent pour. The idea is to nourish the endocannabinoid system with a range of phytocannabinoids consistently, over time. As with a lot of virtuous things in life, it’s about the long game.
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