Today we’re proud to increase our commitment to nourishing the body and mind from the inside out by sharing the results of a first-of-its-kind study on CBD’s potential to support women’s wellness. Our research was led by renowned experts Pelin Thorogood, Radicle Science Co-founder/Executive Chair and Wholistic Research & Education Foundation Cofounder/President and Dr. Jeff Chen MD/MBA, Radicle Science Co-founder/CEO and Founder/former Director of the UCLA Cannabis Research Initiative. Get to know both with our interview below!
You’re both passionate about championing equity and diversity in health research and are challenging the status quo to create a movement that supports the democratization of wellness. As self-proclaimed “rebels with a cause,” your mission is inspiring and has the potential to support the wellbeing of future generations. Tell us more about your approach, and why it’s needed?
Pelin Thorogood: I’ve been a big data and analytics executive for nearly 20 years and have personally experienced how a data-driven approach can transform entire industries. I was introduced to CBD and cannabis nearly six years ago due to a family health crisis and was shocked by the lack of human studies on CBD / cannabis safety and efficacy. That’s what initially led me to co-found Wholistic Research and Education Foundation to bring private money and resources to fund this much-needed research. While we’ve powered groundbreaking work at some of the top academic research institutes, federal regulations have thus far prevented us from studying non-prescription CBD products. To be honest, I have a very hard time with this given these CBD products are being used by literally tens of millions of Americans! Always the data girl – the other issue for me is the small size of traditional trials. I realize this is a cost issue, as when adding one participant in a trial costs several tens of thousands, research institutions have to limit their size and have to be very picky about who to allow in. The unfortunate consequence is that we don’t get enough data points from such small trials to power personalized recommendations, limiting their relevance for real-world heterogeneous populations. As a serial entrepreneur, I just knew there had to be a better way … which is why I joined forces with Jeff to accelerate our original missions when we established the UCLA Cannabis Research Initiative and the Wholistic Research and Education Foundation. We co-founded Radicle Science to drive down the cost and time of research by at least 10x, while still generating rigorous health data. That’s what we call democratizing natural medicine research. We also see our approach as a unique opportunity to bring much needed equity and diversity into clinical trials. The unprecedented scale and reach of our studies finally enables inclusion of diverse ethnicities, genders, age groups, behavioral habits, and pre-existing health conditions to move us closer to personalized medicine for the population at large.
Dr. Jeff Chen: In my medical career, I was always obsessed with finding ways to help my patients arrive at the right treatment for their unique body and condition. I was flabbergasted as to why something like Netflix uses thousands of data points about you to recommend entertainment while doctors may only use one data point about you (i.e. age) when deciding to give you anesthesia and perform an invasive procedure like a colonoscopy! Due to the enormous cost and time of traditional clinical trials, modern healthcare largely doesn’t have the data to unlock personalized, precision medicine. Which means less effective treatments, more suffering, more side effects, more money, and more time due to the trial-and-error process of finding the right solution for your unique body and condition. If we achieve our Radicle mission, not only can we unlock accessible, affordable, natural medicines, but we may also arrive at personalized precision usage of these products before modern healthcare arrives there. Because of our virtual, direct-to-consumer, crowdsourced approach, our studies are so cost and time efficient we can research tremendous numbers of diverse individuals across a variety of products and generate data applicable to the universe of folks who will ultimately be using the products. And botanical medicines are inherently difficult to patent or monopolize due to their naturally occurring nature. This is precisely why they dont garner much attention or research funding from the pharmaceutical industry. By dramatically lowering the barrier to clinical trials for these products, we enable validation of botanical products, ushering in a new era of democratized medicines for all future generations.
Rae partnered with you to publish a first-of-its-kind study on cannabidiol’s potential to support women’s wellness. What’s most exciting to you about this research?
Pelin Thorogood: Most research on the neurological effects of CBD have been conducted among men. Indeed, women have historically been—and continue to be—underrepresented as subjects in medical research. Thus, it is unclear how various supplements, including CBD, may impact women’s health and if gender-related factors may influence their effects. This large-scale, groundbreaking study on CBD & Women’s Health conducted in collaboration with Rae Wellness is a major step in filling this evidence gap. We are deeply grateful for Rae’s support of research, especially with respect to addressing diversity and inclusion issues in health outcome data.
Given my interest in precision medicine, I am also quite excited about our Phase 2 analysis which will evaluate the impact of CBD consumption on additional domains of physical and mental health as well as assess specific factors that may impact or be predictive of the effects of CBD on various health domains. It will be super interesting to explore how demographic variations, such as ethnicity, as well as behavioral factors, such as variations in time of day the products were consumed, may impact CBD efficacy.
Dr. Jeff Chen: While there are thousands of CBD brands being used by tens of millions of Americans, there is virtually no data on which formulations, used in what manner, for which types of individuals, may offer the most benefit. We are grateful to Rae Wellness for allowing us to analyze their data and publish insights, which to our knowledge represents the largest controlled study of non-prescription CBD formulations to date. We’re hopeful these findings can help consumers better understand which products and usage patterns might work best for their individual needs. And we see this study serving as a promising starting point for the entire industry to begin generating robust scientific data on over-the-counter CBD products.
Your work is having a profound impact on the future of wellness—as busy professionals, how do you support your well-being throughout the day?
Pelin Thorogood: Working around the clock as a tech CEO nearly cost me my health a few years ago! That’s when I realized I wouldn’t be much use to my company or my family unless I was taking care of both my physical and mental well-being. So, I changed up a few things for the better. These days I make sure to meditate daily, eat well, take good supplements, and exercise regularly, either with a long hike or an intense cardio workout. I also really do my best to be present at all times. Whether I am having a business discussion or hanging out with my kids, being present is the biggest gift I can give myself as well as the people around me. My increased intentionality in the various aspects of my life also led to improved sleep quality—a total bonus given the magical powers of a good night’s sleep!
Dr. Jeff Chen: As entrepreneurs and executives, you can easily work from the moment you jump out of bed, to the moment your head crashes into the pillow, 7 days a week. And my prior training as a physician isn’t helping these “workaholic” tendencies. So I protect my mornings to focus on my well-being. On a typical weekday, I wake up around 6:00am, meditate for an hour, exercise until I get my heartrate up and sweat, and cool down with a good stretch of my whole body. Then I sit on my shiatsu massage cushion (best $150 I’ve ever spent) and eat a nutritious breakfast while reading about philosophy or spirituality to ensure perspective, finishing any journaling I didn’t complete last night, and planning my upcoming day. Then I check my phone for the first time since waking up. That way I’ve checked most of my important wellness boxes and have the right mindset going into a long workday!
Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know?
At Radicle Science, our current focus is studying CBD given it is arguably the most widely used yet least studied product in the country. However we are interested in all things complementary, alternative, and natural medicine. Next year we expand into THC/cannabis, and eventually will expand to everything from probiotics and herbs, to nootropics and aromatherapy. If you want to stay up to date on our latest findings or learn about our studies where you get free product, a free health journey, a free Personalized Health Report, and contribute to science, join our listserve at radiclescience.com.