Nine-year-old ‘Annie’ was in pain. She had had pins surgically inserted in her spine to straighten it, and the morphine didn’t help. Worst of all, it clouded her mind, to her parents’ distress. Until a newly developed product from Extract Labs solved everyone’s problem.
Annie’s parents, distressed by both their child’s pain and the mental effect of the morphine on their daughter, had cast around for a better solution. They settled on CBD tinctures and creams from Extract Labs, a company based in Boulder, Colorado, with an office in Kentucky.
“After using the creams and tinctures over a couple of weeks, they swear it changed their daughter’s life,” says Craig Henderson, CEO of Extract Labs. “They took her off of those meds and put her on ours. She seemed happy and outgoing and said the pain was reduced from a level of nine to a two.”
Henderson, who founded the company in 2016, is starting to hear regular accounts of success like this one involving ‘Annie’. A scan of Extract Labs’ product reviews and twitter account (@ExtractLabs) throws up one happy story after another.
In another case, Extract Labs donated tinctures and topical muscle cream to a family for their two-year old, who had undergone major surgery and was in terrible pain as well as having sustained extensive scarring. “We thought those would be the two best products to help her heal. The family sent us pictures of all the scars on her body after surgery over a two-month period and the improvement was night-and-day,” recounts Henderson.
However, there’s more to Extract Labs products’ growing renown than individual successes and anecdotes of relief. They have won ‘Best Extractor’ and ‘Best Isolate’ awards at Indo Expo 2018, the cannabis trade show. The company and its products have also been featured on Fox Business News, Good Morning America, and the Today Show.
Extract Labs started up in 2016, offering cannabis toll processing to growers, and quickly expanded to include the manufacture of cannabinoid products such as tinctures, softgels, vapes, and isolates. They came to be known to consumers who often were looking for a medicinal healing experience or for a way to enhance their THC experience.
For those looking for an enhanced experience, Extract Labs’ Shatter and Crumble isolates are among its top-selling products. They are both terpene infused flavorful products made from CO2-extracted hemp, but without enough THC to get “high.”
Many use these isolates in conjunction with THC products. “People can pack a bowl and mix some of their Crumble or Shatter into it to manipulate their high, or for the flavor,” explains Henderson, “it’s almost like making a cocktail.”
Shatter is a 99 percent pure CBD isolate, with 0 percent THC. It is infused with terpenes that offer the uplifting effects of a sativa strain or the mellowing and relaxing effects of indica.
Crumble, on the other hand is a broad spectrum infusion of CBD, CBG and CBN, with 0.3 percent THC, providing a strong entourage effect.
While mainstream consumers use it for flavor or to adjust a THC high, Extract Labs’ tinctures and its topical creams are among the most popular for those seeking medicinal care.
Salving the sore and swollen
“Our muscle cream is extremely popular among extreme athletes and anyone getting out of surgery when their body is swollen.” Cris Cyborg, one of the most famous Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) female fighters, exclusively uses Extract Labs’ product. “Extreme competitors or athletes are sore all the time – it’s a fan favorite and one of our top products.”
Like many of his clients, Henderson is no stranger to pain and difficulty. An Iraq veteran, he served seven years in the U.S. Military. “I was four years active duty and three years in Reserves,” says Henderson, “while I was on active duty I was in Iraq for 15 months. I was Airborne Infantry so it was going out every day and doing patrols.”
When Henderson was on active duty in 2005, it was the beginning of the worst part of the war. American casualties increased dramatically. “There were nine people in my squad. We received 12 purple hearts. Most of those people received numerous awards – a couple of people died.”
The memories of the war and the feelings of camaraderie live on for Henderson, whose company offers a discounts to war veterans. As the stigma around cannabis continues to lessen and awareness of PTSD and other combat-related difficulties are on the rise, companies like Extract Labs are being noticed.
Henderson has appeared on Fox Business News to discuss the common difficulties veterans face, and the link between healing and CBD products. He can remember a time when it wasn’t even in the public eye. “In 2014, the whole PTSD and cannabis link wasn’t well known,” says Henderson, “Many thought that cannabis only helped people with epilepsy and cancer, but now it’s shown to help those with anxiety and PTSD-related stresses.”
In fact, cannabinoids such as CBD are a great medicinal alternative for military service-persons as well as other professionals who are subject to drug testing in their places of work such as in the government, safety, and security-sensitive jobs. “CBD is good for [people in the] military, police and professions where there is drug testing and they want positive results,” remarks Henderson.
Henderson wants to promote the positive impacts of CBD by publishing third-party audits of CBD quantities, something that is not required under state laws. “Everyone is forced to show the lab results with THC products, but with CBD there are no requirements.
“We want our customers to know – if we say there’s 1000 mg in here, here’s a lab test. Whether it’s at 950 mg, or at 1200 mg, we show it every time so people know it’s safe,” explains Henderson.
“Our goal is to have two lab tests on every product – our own in-house and a third-party testing,” Henderson continues. “The more information we can show our customers – to say look, trust us, we’re treating you right, everything we’re saying is true, we’re just trying to be as transparent as possible – the better.”
Providing high quality, consistent products is also part of Extract Labs’ mandate. All ingredients, apart from the cannabis used in its products, are USDA Certified organic. “While we can’t claim that the CBD oil is certified organic, all the ingredients we use in every single one of our products, our tinctures, our creams, everything we buy, is certified organic.”
Henderson’s obsession with testing and building reliable products for consumers is rooted in his engineering background. Henderson received an MSc in mechanical engineering. Engineers are taught how to be methodical, logical and results-based. And they have strong science and math backgrounds.
Henderson takes a hands-on approach to his work. “I’m the CEO of the company, but I can step into any portion of the lab and know what I’m doing,” he says.
Prior to starting Extract Labs, Henderson worked in hemp tolling, extracting the oils for cannabis farmers for a fee. Extract Labs continues this work, including winterization, distillation, and THC removal, as well as offering product formulations.
A transparent approach
This early work gave Henderson a special connection to the process, one that he enjoys sharing with employees. “I trained every single person in the building on what to do and how to do it. I understand every single step of the process.” Henderson’s powerful focus on product development and adherence to a transparent approach to manufacturing comes directly from his desire to be at the forefront of a proven, scientific approach to the benefits of CBD products.
Henderson knows that current research on the benefits of cannabis is still very much in its infancy, and most success stories are anecdotal. He hopes to contribute to the research and development of cannabis products in order to get to the root of the science of CBD.
“We are doing cancer research on dogs through Colorado State University,” says Henderson. “We’re sending them our CBD for early stage clinical trials to try to prove that CBD kills cancer cells within animals. If we can prove that, then we’ll go into animal clinical trials. If that pans out then eventually one day we’ll have human clinical trials.”
Henderson believes that there is a lot more to be discovered through isolating cannabinoids, such as CBG, CBN and CBC. A hint of Henderson’s attitude to this is in the stories he retells such as “Annie’s.” Many of Extract Labs’ customers are having their greatest success with the Broad Spectrum products that include these other cannabinoids. “We’re trying to push people to full spectrum oils; we think it’s better for them.”
Henderson is working to keep Extract Labs at the forefront of cannabinoid development. “We’re trying to isolate other cannabinoids. We’re hoping that while everyone else is focused on CBD, maybe we’re onto something with CBG. CBN, CBC that’s really our focus right now. We’re not giving up on CBD, that’s our top product at the moment but our energy and research are going into other cannabinoids,” he says.
“Maybe we can have a tincture that is specific to Parkinson’s, or a tincture specific to sleep problems or to cancer. That’s the goal – to make different concoctions to help with different life challenges.”