A Special Q&A w/ BLNCD Co-Founder Allison Vaillancourt
Last week we sat down with BLNCD co-founder, Allison Vaillancourt, to talk about the development and launch of the BLNCD sleep tincture. This exciting new product has had quite the journey!
What made you want to create a sleep tincture?
AV: In terms of product development in the CBD space, the possibilities are endless. We learned from our customer survey that the main issues our community were turning to CBD for were pain management, easing stress/anxiety and for support with a myriad of sleep issues. We already had some amazing products that were geared towards recovery & pain relief, and also many products designed to help with easing stress and anxious feelings, so we were excited to think specifically about sleep. Where did we see a gap in this category? What was the most effective way to formulate using cannabis to create a product that aligned with our ethos of quality, integrity, efficacy and holistic health.
Where does a project like this begin?
AV: When we start developing a formula, we always ask ourselves how we can make the most pure formula that works, and what is the most ideal delivery method for the benefit we are trying to achieve. Cannabis is an extremely healing plant with many diverse compounds and benefits, and the delivery methods are just as many. It is a results-driven approach, vs. a marketing approach. What do our customers need and what is the best way we can deliver that for them. It’s not necessarily a “simple” formula, but rather a “pure” formula.
What are some of the biggest ways that BLNCD’s sleep tincture differs from other sleep aids?
AV: We did not want to create a product that “forced” you to sleep, made you feel groggy or impaired, or that could provide irritability like many other sleep aids on the market. A gentle, yet effective formula that provided support for falling asleep and also improved the quality of sleep. The ingredient we chose to work with was the cannabinoid, cannabinol (CBN). We also chose to work with a whole plant (full-spectrum) hemp extract, so that the end formula benefited from the synergies of the entire cannabis plant. While CBN and CBD are both cannabinoids, they are two very different and distinct chemical compounds, with their own distinctive properties. CBD is produced directly by the cannabis plant where it is fairly abundant. CBN is much less abundant and is produced as THC oxidizes. CBN is the strongest cannabinoid identified for promoting sleep, which makes tinctures rich in CBN an ideal solution for inducing deep, tranquil rest. Combining CBN and CBD works wonders for relaxing and preparing for a restful night of sleep. CBN has also been shown to help regulate the immune system and works to relieve the discomfort and inflammation associated with achy joints which can make falling and staying asleep more difficult.
Research is obviously important to any new product development. How did you go about organizing the sleep study and what did you discover?
AV: We started our research by first testing a few different variations with our staff, friends and family to see which, if any, had the best response before testing with our broader BLNCD community. We experimented with different cannabinoid combinations, ratios, and also terpene infusions. The results were overwhelmingly in favor of our V2 formula, which was the purest, containing only full spectrum hemp extract and CBN. We found that when we started to add additional cannabinoids (like CBG and CBC) that the formulas were not as effective, and when we added additional terpenes that the formulas were too “strong” and made people feel groggy in the morning. We needed the formula to be effective, but also healing. It was not our goal to create something that would force our customers to sleep or have them wake up not feeling refreshed.
Once we had what we felt was a winning formulation, we selected 40 members from our community to participate in our sleep trial. As part of the trial the customers sampled took the tincture one hour before bed, every night for 30 days. Everyone started on the same day, and were required to complete two surveys – one at the 14 day mark and one at the end of the 30 days. We sampled a diverse group of people who had varying issues related to sleep. They also had differing experiences with CBD and THC, some of them not currently using any cannabis products while others were either recreationally or medicinally using products with high levels of THC. Some used other sleep aids and therapies, while others did not.
We were curious how effective our product was for all of these unique scenarios. We also were curious how quickly results were seen and if they were sustained consistently throughout the month. What we found was that this product helped almost everyone. No matter what they were struggling with, no matter what other alternatives they had tried, no matter their experience with cannabis – and it worked quickly.
When we are talking about something like sleep, it is a more tangible goal. We really can see the results and measure them. My mom for example (someone who never used anything with THC) has a device called the Oura Ring that tracks her sleep activity, and we could visibly see the data. On a good day before using our tincture, she would average 1.5 – 2 hours of deep sleep. During the first few days after taking our product she was averaging 3 hours of deep sleep per night, even on nights when she was only in bed for 5 hours.
Numerous customers, who had not found anything to work for them, found success with this product. The feedback and testimonials were inspiring. It was amazing to be able to see just how effective the product was, and we felt firm in our decision not to add anything additional to our product.
How do you hope that this sleep tincture can impact people’s lives? How has it impacted your own?
AV: I hope that this product truly is able to change their lives. For me, it absolutely has. As a mother and entrepreneur, I’m chronically tired. Though I don’t typically struggle with falling asleep, unless I have something really important the next day, staying asleep and the quality of sleep has always been a challenge for me. I also used to wake up in a state of panic. Lack of sleep is a major trigger for my anxiety and has led to debilitating panic attacks as I’ve gotten older.
With an irregular sleep schedule most days, I needed something that I could take no matter how much time I had to sleep. I also needed to feel capable of taking care of my little girls if they woke up in the middle of the night. It has never been an option for me to take strong sleeping medications or high potency THC products because they made me feel groggy/impaired and unable to take care of myself and my family.
With this sleep cbd oil I am able to be woken up in the middle of the night, and get back to sleep easily. I am waking up feeling well-rested and refreshed, and ready to take on my day. Some days are still hard and anxiety ridden but those days are fewer and farther between.
The makeup of this sleep tincture is unique, and obviously a benefit to the consumer, but is there also a possibility that BLNCD Sleep tincture could be a case study for healthier sleep products in the cannabis and medicinal community at large?
AV: Yes, I believe so. I think the idea of supporting our body’s natural sleep/wake cycle vs. disrupting it is important. A non-habit forming, all-natural solution for sleep. The idea that you don’t have to take something to make you ‘pass out’ at night, just to then take something else to wake you up so you aren’t “groggy” in the morning.
Why is this product timely and necessary?
AV: It does feel like a pivotal time to launch this product. It’s no secret that stress, anxiety and depression are at an all-time high and people are also realizing the connection between sleep deprivation and how it affects your physical, mental and spiritual health. The past few years have been hard. It seems that even those who have never struggled with mental health are now struggling. Many of us have started looking for natural solutions to help cope. Healthy sleep is an important component to having a healthy life – without it, it’s hard to be grounded in ourselves and present for our loved ones.