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The safe, effective and legal CBD alternative — podcast

Audio-The safe, effective and legal CBD alternative — podcast

Developing new solutions to support performance and address inflammation can mean going beyond ‘popular’ ingredients into unique offerings.

While there is a great amount of consumer and market interest in cannabidiol (CBD), there remain market and regulatory constraints, as well as questions on its efficacy for addressing certain conditions. However, there are other ingredient options that may be better suited for addressing issues such as recovery, pain, sleep, and immune health. Palmitoylethanolamide (PEA) is one such ingredient that has scientifically supported efficacy in these areas, and may serve as an alternative to CBD. Gencor Pacific offers Levagen®+, a bioavailable PEA powered by LipiSperse® technology. In this podcast, sponsored by Gencor Pacific, you’ll hear more about:

  • The legal, safety and efficacy challenges of CBD
  • How the endocannabinoid system functions and its benefits
  • Functional impacts of PEA and its similarity to CBD
  • Benefits of Levagen®+ over standard PEA


Mariko hill podcast photo (1).png



Mariko Hill
Global Innovation Manager, Gencor Pacific

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Podcast transcript:

Vitafoods Insights 00:02
Hello and welcome. You've tuned in to Vitafoods Stories Podcast series, the podcast that explores the latest insights and innovations, helping the global health and nutrition industry connect, develop and progress.

Heather 00:18
Hello, I'm Heather Granato, and thank you for joining me for this Vitafoods Insights podcast sponsored by Gencor Pacific. Today's guest is Mariko Hill, global innovation manager with Gencor Pacific. As an international athlete with knowledge in the field of exercise and nutrition, Mariko has a particular interest in the impact of nutrition on performance and recovery. With further experience as a research fellow at the University of Oxford, she has the ability to conduct clinical trials and apply relevant findings in a practical manner. She is currently responsible for product development, sales and market strategy and business development at Gencor Pacific, as well as leading the company's sports and active nutrition portfolio for the international market. Mariko, thank you for joining me.

Mariko 01:04
Thank you for having me, Heather, and amazing introduction there.

Heather 01:07
You've got a lot of positive things that I can call out, so it's a pleasure to have you here.

Mariko 01:12
Thank you.

Heather 01:13
So, let's dive in. So, tell me what type of ingredients do you offer? And what is their unique position in the market?

Mariko 01:20
Yeah, so obviously, on the topic of CBD, we have one branded ingredient named Levagen®+ in the markets. We also have the trademark for not CBD. And currently, it's really a hot topic and trends, hence why we're doing a lot of investment into clinical research into this one particular brand. So Levagen®+ the ingredient name is actually Palmitoylethanolamide or PEA for short for those listeners listening today.

Heather 01:48
Excellent. So why do you believe that brands and manufacturers should be interested in CBD alternatives?

Mariko 01:55
Of course, CBD is very important, as I mentioned, trends, but consumers and brands should also be aware of the challenges that might come about with CBD. Of course, there are lots of anecdotes on pain, recovery, mood, sleep, etc. But when it comes to the efficacy on healthy human populations, that's where there's limited research or lack of research. Hence, why alternatives do have a place in the industry to demonstrate a foothold into maybe solutions or ingredients that are clinically proven, that are legal across all countries, not just the US but Europe, APAC, Australia, everywhere else, and also has evidence on its safety. And we'll probably delve in a bit more when it comes to the safety. But there are some challenges with CBD in that realm, too.

Heather 02:45
Okay. So, you mentioned the importance of compliance. So how do you support customers in bringing products to market that are both efficacious and compliant with government regulations?

Mariko 02:57
Of course, I think that's probably the most important thing when it comes to formulating products. So, we comply by manufacturing our Levagen®+ in a TGA approved facility. TGA being the gold standard when it comes to manufacturing excellence with good quality standards, and that's in our facility, and pharmaco biotechnology is Australia. But we also do manufacture other ingredients in India with cGMP certificates. But further to that with Levagen®+ specifically, we do also test with LGC, which if consumers or audiences listening to this podcast are not aware, LGC are pretty much the authorities when it comes to testing for banned substances. So that really does ensure consumer trust, and specifically athlete trust, because when you look at ingredients, you really have to trust the product that it doesn't have any banned substances that could potentially cause doping downstream. So, tell me about the scientific research that supports the efficacy of Levagen®+? Adding to that previous question, clinical evidence is also very, very important. So, we do conducts gold standard clinical studies, meaning they're the double blind randomised, placebo controlled. Again, gold standard and depth in the industry, ensuring that the studies have been thorough. But we have published five studies on our Levagen®+ brands, really signifying it's important it then benefits in the areas of pain management, joint health, exercise recovery and muscle damage, headaches, comparing it against ibuprofen, which is currently under peer review. And that's really, really a ground-breaking study. And lastly, and most recently published, one would be our study on sleep. So, you can see there's an array of different end benefits that Levagen®+ can provide, and that's thanks to the mechanism of action or the real scientific background of this really profound, pain-relieving anti-inflammatory compounds.

Heather 04:57
I'm curious, you talked about this new study that's sort of under review. So, when you have these studies, these go through review, they're published in, you know, appropriate scientific journals?

Mariko 05:08
Yeah, it can range from a year to four years. But once you do complete a study, you then submit it to a journal, which of course takes its thorough process of checking in months or years even, to get publicised, but once that's done, then you will see it on the public domain.

Heather 05:24
I just think that's important and interesting to call out, because there are a lot of studies done on ingredients, but maybe they're just done internally or, you know, private studies, and you don't actually release the results for others to look at.

Mariko 05:37
Absolutely. And typically, we can't really generalise one ingredient to every single study in the world. Of course, ingredients can vary from one company to the other. And that's why we always do the same or say the saying not all supplements are created equal. Hence why we really do this vigorous background or the back end of things in investing in clinical research, so we can really prove that it is our brand Levagen®+ that provides all these lovely benefits.

Heather 06:05
So how has the market for hemp source CBD ingredients and these types of CBD alternatives evolved over time? And how has Gencor Pacific really responded to these changes?

Mariko 06:17
Yes, so certainly CBD has been growing strength and strength or year on year. Maybe COVID has impacted it slightly when it comes to the popularity of CBD. But that said, the popularity of the need state so immunity or pain or stress and anxiety has boomed so there is still a foothold on ingredients that can influence all these benefits. And how Gencor has come about with the Levagen®+ brand was that in side to side with the CBD boom, PEA research and literature has also emerged, showing that there's a similarity in mechanism when it comes to influencing the so called endocannabinoid system. So again, for those listeners listening, the endocannabinoid system has an influence on various pain perception mechanisms to the sleep wake cycle, and the circadian rhythms. So, it's got so many different receptors inside that can influence these array or umbrella of benefits. And that's why when people talk about CBD, they say it's pain, immunity, sleep, mood, so many, so many, and that's exactly what PEA can do and provide as well.

Heather 07:31
I think that's interesting when we talk about the endocannabinoid system, and our understanding is really evolving there. But to look at all the different ways that PEA could impact that system.

Mariko 07:41
Exactly. And I know you guys recently published a webinar, I suppose, or a panel discussion on this topic, and it's incredible, it really does delve deep into the endocannabinoid system. And it's just bizarre how it's only just come about in the 1990s, I believe, and we're only just tapping into it. And really, it's a Pandora's box when it comes to all the benefits that it can provide. We now know there's a lot of benefits involved in it. There's many years to come to really delve into a lot more.

Heather 08:10
So, let's take that and some of the health benefits that you mentioned are the area of impact speaks to me about okay, this seems pretty good time then. So why is now the right time for product developers and marketers to bring these unique new formulations with CBD alternatives like PEA to market?

Mariko 08:29
Yes, good question. I think the CBD market is quite saturated now. Everyone's sort of jumped on it, yet don't really know whether they can launch it because of these regulatory hurdles or challenges when it comes to safety and efficacy. So, by providing or formulating with CBD alternatives, brands can quickly come to market. That's one of the benefits. But a second benefit is something that I call differentiating from the sea of sameness. It's a bit like when you look at the sleep market, it's really saturated with Valerian and melatonin. So, by providing unique alternatives that are clinically proven in these particular and benefits or need states, there is a foothold in CBD alternatives in this entire CBD market that's worth billions of dollars. So again, you can create one or the other product, or combined products or something completely different.

Heather 09:22
Well, certainly a lot of opportunity out there as consumers are continuing to struggle with a lot of these issues, anything from healthy inflammation and a healthy inflammatory response, good sleep that bolsters your immune system, and hopefully we're, you know, recovery. So, you're getting out and getting active and then can get active again.

Mariko 09:40
Exactly. You know, a benefit of CBD is a fact that a lot of consumers understand the word and they may associate it not necessarily meaning that they understand the benefits, but they associate CBD with marijuana, which we know is a narcotic or a drug. But they associate marijuana and the high that you get with feeling relaxed and feeling less anxious and supporting sleep. So, one of the challenges of any ingredients specifically in the European market anyway is the fact that you can't make claims on your package, which is a huge challenge. It's one of the biggest topics that we talk about when it comes to regulations in Europe. But by seeing something like not CBD or CBD alternative, or CBD in general, consumers can put two and two together and really understand that right? This is for pain, mood, sleep, and unisee. And you can really just target your consumer according to your brand and products.

Heather 10:37
Anything else you'd like to share for our listening audience around Levagen®+ and the market opportunity?

Mariko 10:42
I mean, we really did delve into the benefits, but one other aspect is understanding the application. So, when it comes to perhaps CBD, we might really think about soft gels and tinctures. But because it's a lipophilic ingredient, it can't really be incorporated into a variety of formats. So, you see a lot of fun formats nowadays like effervescence and gels and so forth. And one unique selling point of Levagen®+ is the fact that it's powered by LipiSperse® delivery technology. And it's ultimately a delivery technology developed in Pharmako Biotechnologies in Australia, and it helps enhance the bioavailability of any lipophilic substance. So, in the case of PEA, Pharmako applied LipiSperse® technology and we even published a pharmacokinetic study demonstrating it to be 175 times more bioavailable, more highly absorbed, meaning of course, the benefit for formulators is that you can have a lower dose for a more higher efficacy. And with that, you can incorporate it into cold water dispersible powders, effervescence, gummies, and you name it. It can be in any formats, and we know the trend is also very Instagram worthy nowadays. So, anything that can capture consumers eyes, it can be incorporated into.

Heather 12:04
Lots of interesting takeaways for our listening audience. And always just lovely to chat with you, Mariko.

Mariko 12:09
Yeah, likewise, thank you so much for having me again.

Heather 12:12
And thank you to our listening audience for joining me for this Vitafoods Insights podcast sponsored by Gencor Pacific.