Influencer: James Bagley of OTO CBD

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We talk pain relief, tackling anxiety, weed miscommunication, and the game-changing potential of CBD with OTO co-founder James Bagley.

Firstly, can you explain the difference between your CBD, which is currently legal in Hong Kong and many other countries, and the CBD products that aren’t legal, as well as the difference between CBD and the ‘dreaded’ THC

CBD stands for Cannabidiol and is a completely natural compound derived from the hemp plant that has been declared safe by the World Health Organisation. It will not get you high and in fact, our bodies already produce very similar substances to CBD – known as endogenous cannabinoids – on their own.

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CBD is incredibly powerful, and we are only just beginning to scratch the surface of its potential in terms of health benefits. However, with it being a relatively new ingredient, there is still a lot of confusion over how and why to take it, whether it will ‘get you high’, and what’s legal. Sadly, there is also a lot of misinformation out there too, which is why it’s so important to use only reputable brands from reputable retailers.

We talk pain relief, tackling anxiety, weed miscommunication, and the potential of CBD with OTO CBD founder James Bagley.

While CBD is legal in around 100 countries globally, other cannabinoids, like THC, are not. OTO only uses pure CBD isolate to ensure that it is legal. All the products are third-party ISO accredited lab tested so you can be assured that not only the quantities of CBD will be effective, but also that there are no other cannabinoids in the product which may be illegal, especially THC. The hemp and cannabis plants have over 120 cannabinoids in them. The two main players are CBD and THC. It’s the THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) which is the major active ingredient in marijuana and creates the ‘high’. CBD is the non-psychoactive portion of the plant, so what that means is you won’t have any effects like euphoria.

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What also makes OTO unique is that OTO works. Our team of world-leading scientists has combined the best global research with extensive testing by our entire team, creating a standard you can trust. Everything we create comes with our OTO Strength guarantee, so you can be assured that you are receiving the optimum amount of CBD per day.

To understand why CBD works can become quite scientific. In short, we all have cannabinoid receptors within our body that react differently to THC versus CBD. THC is an ‘activator’ of those receptors, creating a range of effects, some that are psychoactive. CBD is a ‘modifier’ of those receptors, promoting homeostasis as described above. You won’t feel altered or sedated in any way from using CBD. The takeaway? CBD is a safe thing to try. And it works for most people.

We talk pain relief, tackling anxiety, weed miscommunication, and the potential of CBD with OTO CBD founder James Bagley.

CBD has been attributed to a huge number of healing properties but how many of these have been actually proven and which are the most important for someone looking to add CBD to their lifestyles?

To understand the potential benefits of CBD requires some understanding of our bodies and the Human Cannabinoid System. All cannabinoids, whether produced by the body or extracted from the hemp plant, react with a complex network of cannabinoid receptors found in the body, known as the Human Endocannabinoid System (HES). The HES is responsible for creating homeostasis – or balance – within the body, as well as regulating physiological functions such as aiding pain management and reducing inflammation; encouraging healthy sleeping patterns; positively influencing mood, and reducing stress and anxiety, to name just a few. 

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These cannabinoids are produced by our body on demand and are not stored or constant. Often levels can deplete and as such our sleep may suffer or we may feel higher levels of anxiety or pain. By supplementing our natural cannabinoids with plant-based CBD, it can help restore hormonal balance (homeostasis) within the body. There are proven results around sleep, anxiety, and inflammation.

James with wife and OTO co-founder Gemma Colao

Also, with regards to skincare, there are very powerful clinical results that show CBD is highly sebostatic and reacts with receptors to help balance and control oil production on the skin, which leads to fewer impurities like pimples, spots, and blackheads. It’s also an antioxidant, and so helps protect, prevent, and limit free radical damage; hydrates the skin and helps to smooth fine lines; and, studies have found, has anti-inflammatory benefits when applied to the skin and is able to increase the rate at which skin cells heal.

You’ve worked in the communications scene, the wine industry, and developed a male cosmetics brand; what drew you to CBD?

Having discovered the power of CBD in California, I was disappointed upon my return to the UK by the products on offer. Not only did most contain really low levels of CBD that would be ineffective, but I also found dropping the oil tinctures under my tongue to be an unpleasant experience. On top of that, a lot of products were confusing and difficult to navigate. 

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From my own experience, CBD helped me deal with the stresses and insomnia that often accompanies high-powered or stressful senior management roles. It changed my life by helping me keep my stress in check.

Something this powerful should not be turned into a fad. A lack of thoughtful and effective products that are safe, legal, and enjoyable to use became the backbone of my mission – of OTO’s mission.

We talk pain relief, tackling anxiety, weed miscommunication, and the potential of CBD with OTO CBD co-founder James Bagley.

Where is your CBD sourced from?

We source our pure CBD from a partner out of Colorado who extracts the highest quality, natural, and pure CBD from industrial hemp. All the raw ingredient we receive comes with its own test and lab results.

What are the most common complaints or lifestyle issues you hear from consumers looking to try CBD?

It used to be to relieve pain, but now – especially after 2020 and this post-pandemic world – the leading reason people are turning to CBD is for help with stress, anxiety, and insomnia. Recently a study from AT Kearney also showed that 45% of people looking to try CBD would prefer to use it in cosmetics. I think the future of CBD for skin care is very bright.

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What was the motivation behind CBD cocktail bitters?

Almost 50% of people looking to try CBD want to in a drink (30% non-alcoholic, and 17% alcoholic). But there was no sophisticated adult alternative, especially something that could work when drinking out with friends. That’s where our ‘first of a kind’ non-alcoholic cocktail bitters come in. It uses the power of CBD to enhance social experiences as a functional and flavourful alternative to alcohol.

A single measure of the bitters delivers an effective daily serving of cannabidiol (CBD). CBD is a complex ingredient to use in a drink. In creating a bitters with strength and complexity of flavour that sits well and disperses easily into cocktails or other beverages, OTO has developed a number of unique and world-leading techniques. This has meant that what started life as an innovation in the non/low alcohol category, has now become an innovation in CBD, and a new way for customers to consume this wonder molecule; in their alcoholic and non-alcoholic cocktails, but also in their coffee or green juice. This is not only the world’s first CBD cocktail bitters, but the world’s highest quantity CBD beverage.

We talk pain relief, tackling anxiety, weed miscommunication, and the potential of CBD with OTO CBD co-founder James Bagley.

You spent time marketing in the wine industry; is CBD the next wine movement?

I thoroughly enjoyed my time in wine (mmm), but I’m more motivated by the cause that CBD presents. It’s a different proposition to wine but in short – absolutely – it’s certainly the next big thing. But importantly, CBD is not a fad; when you consider its far-reaching benefits, it is the most extraordinary thing to enter the world of ‘wellness’ in a generation.

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What other cannabinoids is OTO experimenting with at present?

Our scientists and product team stay up to date with cannabinoid research, and we have been looking at CBN and CBG. However, for OTO it’s not about ‘what’s next’ for cannabinoids because there is still so far to go with CBD, it really is only the beginning. This whole space is in its infancy. I might also add that there are many other complementary ingredients and ayurvedic botanicals and terpenes that we experiment with to create the most extraordinary experiences.

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About Author

Nick Walton is a Hong Kong-based photojournalist and Group Managing Editor for Artemis Communications, producers of Alpha Men Asia, JETSETTER Magazine, Explorer Magazine, The Art of Business Travel, Mirandus, IKHLAS, The Journal and The Edition.

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