Colorado’s CBD market is exploding, with no shortage of CBD-infused oils, tinctures, balms, salves, pills, food, beverages and more, for both people and their pets. But some potential consumers — human and animal alike — are put off by the products’ strong smell and earthy taste.
Trove is out to change that. A Colorado-based CBD company to offer products designed specifically for horses, as well as others for small animals and humans, Trove is committed to creating products that smell and taste delicious…at least to their target market. Made with CBD isolate extracted from hemp and other natural ingredients, Trove claims all of its products are 100 percent THC-free, GMO-free, gluten-free and vegan.
Trove was launched last fall by Deborah and Sam Carter, a mother-and-son team, who’d witnessed how CBD had helped one of their horses. “I had a little filly named Star that was adorable and doing great, and almost overnight developed a neuromuscular condition where she would shake uncontrollably all over her body,” recalls Deborah. “Vets couldn’t figure it out. We tried to diagnose it, we tried different kinds of drug therapies, we tried everything.”
Finally, after the animal had suffered for about ten months, “I came upon information and articles about CBD and how it’s been used to treat seizures and nerve pain,” Deborah continues. They searched for CBD products for Star but found nothing for horses. So they talked to a friend of Sam’s, a chemist who runs a cannabis extraction laboratory; he put them in touch with Mile High Labs, which recommended they start by giving Star 750 milligrams of CBD a day.
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“So we came up with a dosage that might work, and at this point it was barely possible to go into her stall,” Deborah remembers. “But I put this dose of CBD on her food, and the next day when I went to her stall, instead of cowering and tremoring, she had her head hanging out of her stall window, wanting to be petted! It didn’t even seem possible, in one day.”
And they were soon able to reduce her dosage without negative effects. Deborah recorded the results every day, in what she calls their initial “in-house trials.”
The filly’s recovery was so miraculous that they felt they needed to share the reason. “CBD really helped her turn a corner, and so that started our need to investigate how this worked, why this worked, and how else it could help other animals and people,” she says.
Star wasn’t the only reason they wanted to see what was available. Sam, a former collegiate ski racer, had suffered several injuries in ski accidents but staunchly refused narcotics for his pain; he’d found that frequent use of over-the-counter pain relievers like Advil caused stomach problems and other negative side effects. “I wanted — and I think a lot of people want — an alternative to traditional narcotic pain medications, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatories,” Sam explains. “We wanted something different, and CBD is naturally a very effective anti-inflammatory. It has a number of profound applications as an anti-inflammatory — in neurological conditions, nerve pain, seizures, anxiety. In addition to that, it’s really well-tolerated, there’s no toxicity risk or overdose risk, and it actually improves gut health rather than destroying it.”
Deborah also saw possibilities in the human as well as the horse market. “We’re such an active community here in Colorado,” she explains. “Everybody is hiking, climbing fourteeners, riding horses, playing tennis, whatever, and it just wears your muscles out. CBD is actually really good for muscle recovery, so if you overdo your workout or pull something, it’s good to use before and after exercise. It’s also great for the aging population. You get arthritis, your fingers are stiff, you get injuries, but you still want to stay active. It’s huge to feel that you don’t have to reach for the Advil every day.” And unlike narcotic pain medications, CBD does not affect cognition, balance or intellectual capacity, so it is safe to use while driving, operating heavy machinery or doing mentally challenging work.
But the mother-son team wasn’t impressed with many of the CBD products they found on the market.“When we started to investigate what was out there and acquired products to see what was available, there were some really sketchy products,” Deborah continues. “Some good ones, but one of the things we found was that they all tasted horrible. And smelled bad. Sometimes you would get a product for a dog or a human, and the dosage would be so different from company to company. There wasn’t a lot of consistency, plus you couldn’t even swallow the stuff.”
So the Carters developed their own formulations for Trove’s products, working with a legal team to ensure future compliance with the FDA. Fortunately, they didn’t have to go far to find that help: Mark Carter, Deborah’s husband and Sam’s father, is a chemist who developed and implemented quality-control standards for the EPA; he consulted on the product formulations and reviewed the product analytics.
The Carters say Trove formulations are 100 percent THC-free, which was was very important to the plan.
“We didn’t think that THC, based on our research and based on what little science there is on it, added enough benefits to what we were trying to achieve, which was something anti-inflammatory, for pain relief, anti-anxiety, gut health, protection of the bodily systems and overall wellness,” Deborah says. “The threshold amounts of THC didn’t justify the end, so we wanted a product that was pure CBD. That way, you could give it to your animals without worry, and if you’re in a profession where you are drug-tested or are a competitive athlete, you don’t have to worry.”
A canine customer and his CBD oil.
It was equally important that Trove’s offerings were all-natural. For this reason, Deborah and Sam experimented with different combinations of essential oils, rather than artificial flavorings and perfumes, to mask the unpleasant taste and smell of the CBD isolate. They did tests on friends and family to find out which smells and tastes were the most universally pleasing, settling with ingredients like lemon essential oil, peppermint oil, matcha green tea powder, lavender oil and bergamot; some products have healing properties beyond just those of CBD.
But even with products that taste good, the Carters realize that Trove needs to explain how CBD can be good for you. To that end, the company provides potential customers with guidelines, recommendations and links for additional research. “CBD is not necessarily a snake oil,” explains Sam. “It does have profound effects on a variety of things due to our physiology and how our endocannabinoid system works. But it isn’t a cure-all, and a big portion of what we do is consumer education, in that CBD may not be effective for some conditions. For people to take CBD seriously, there must be a good understanding of what it is and what it does.
“Quality control is a cornerstone of what we’re doing,” he adds. “Some people might shy away from being transparent about what’s in their products and the test results they get. We think it’s exciting, and it’s a model for the self-regulation that the CBD industry needs.”
Deborah points to the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill as a sign that the industry is headed in the right direction; among other things, that legislation allows for CBD from hemp plants to be used in scientific studies and for other research purposes. The Carters hope that will lead to regulated clinical trials of CBD in both humans and animals; they plan to use a portion of Trove’s profits to fund further research.
Trove products are available online (21+), and are also available in various retail locations in metro Denver, steadily adding new partners such as fitness centers, spas, chiropractors, physical therapists, pet boutiques, doggy daycares, and physical rehabilitation centers for both animals and humans. The Carters are currently looking to expand into more food and drink businesses as well. Trove’s newest partner is Just BE Kitchen, a paleo-friendly coffeehouse and restaurant whose commitment to healthy, all-natural food aligns with Trove’s mission; you can now add Trove’s “Natural” (unflavored) CBD oil to any of Just BE Kitchen’s specialty coffees.
The range of businesses that have partnered with Trove speaks to how vast the CBD market is getting. Trove’s customer base represents a wide variety of ages, professions and even species, with no end in sight. “There is no one market for CBD products,” says Sam. “Twenty-one-year-olds doing yoga and sixty-five-year-olds in a retirement home can both equally benefit from CBD.”
And don’t hold your horses.