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Today we had the opportunity to interview Dr. Manisha Singal, the Chief Medical Officer and Co-Founder of Aethera Beauty.
When you have a tragic loss early in your life, it really defines you as a person. When I was 21, top medical experts misdiagnosed my father and he died in his early 40s. This gave me my life long mission to become a doctor, caring for the critically ill for the past 20 years in a hospital on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. I also serve as its Chief Medical Officer with a focus on patient-centric care. I liken myself as a medical detective asking what is the root cause or how does a person end up requiring our care.
In 2017, I had my own experience with pain and suffering after developing a total body skin reaction from chemicals in hair dye. My personal journey ensued for 6 months as I rushed from one specialist to another. I had to take strong prescription medications to cure my rash as it wreaked havoc on my body and psyche. At that time, I was already researching the science behind cannabidiol (CBD) as my husband received a measure of relief incorporating cannabis for his own inflammatory bowel disease. My eureka moment was that a rash is inflammation of the skin and CBD has powerful anti-inflammatory properties. So I began experimenting with topical CBD oils. CBD gave me the ultimate relief I needed to treat my tenacious rash. This led to my question, if the root cause for most acute and chronic conditions are founded on inflammation, how do we incorporate this query in our patient care assessments, preventative and treatment plans? Are there non-toxic tools in our medical bag which may keep patients out of my intensive care unit and hospital, or at the very least, ease their pain and suffering? As a result of my deep dive into the cannabis industry and it helping my skin inflammation, Aethera Beauty was born. The brand was created to offer self-care in a skincare range, and we have three core products that contain CBD.
Tell us about the initial vision for your company and how, if applicable, you have had to pivot as the world has changed.
The initial vision for my company Aethera Beauty, which is co-founded with a lab in Maryland, was to produce a non-toxic prestige skin care line with active botanicals sourced from the Caribbean. One of our missions is to give back to charitable organizations focused on helping with the devastation left behind during the many hurricanes that routinely punish that region. We incorporated a CBD line for its soothing and nourishing properties, which can help offset some of the skincare issues that can come with using certain active ingredients. Aethera Beauty is not a medical grade skin care company, but we offer beautiful skincare solutions.
My medical education and subsequent state licensure to prescribe medical marijuana was stimulated with the national push to fight against our opioid crisis. I approached my hospital Board, colleagues and interest groups to explore incorporating medical marijuana to treat our patients and nursing home residents here on Capitol Hill. Our task force is on standby until the full legalization of cannabis which will hopefully come soon.
Education has been a big part of silencing the stigma associated with marijuana. While we have a long way to go, have you seen any improvements in this regard? How can it be improved?
Education has been mixed with centuries old anecdotal stories and more recent scientific studies. We are still in the wild west, barely scratching the surface in the laboratory and yearning for double blind clinical trials. While there has been a surge of state sponsored programs exploring benefits of cannabis in key areas such as pain management, anxiety and specific childhood seizures, much research has still to be done. With the potential for so many benefits, the lid on federal restrictions for cannabis needs to be fully lifted. The recent passing of the Farm Bill in 2018 to legalize cannabinoids from hemp was a good start. However, the downside was the widespread flooding of the markets with products adulterated with chemicals and in many cases not having anywhere close to the CBD claimed on the label.
This is why I authored ‘The CBD Skincare Solution,’ a reference on what CBD is and is not through my own personal story and studies. I desired to add my voice to educate, demystify and guide one in their own exploration of cannabis. We each have our own unique genetic code and I have seen too many suffer with the often one-size fits all prescription practices. Cannabis is no different.
How important is offering multiple product/service options to cannabis users during this unique time in our country?
During this time of COVID, many users do not have access to their local dispensaries and may not have the funds to help treat various ailments that can be helped by Cannabis. It’s important to support delivery services that can bring cannabis in a safe and sterile manner to people’s homes. Furthermore, we should be thinking of ways to allow cannabis to be covered by insurance for certain medical conditions that are prescribed by a doctor that is also licensed to prescribe in states where this is legal. However, efforts for regulated and safe access during the current global Covid-19 pandemic has taken a back seat from our lawmakers in Capitol Hill.
One of the new, interesting medical terms is “Coronasomnia,” which is sleeplessness caused by the anxieties from Covid-19. This is rapidly becoming another public health pandemic. CBD and Cannabis can help reduce anxiety and assist in getting better quality of sleep. Aethera’s Sunset Botanical Rejuvenating Serum with CBD is a soothing CBD-infused night serum to help de-stress and gently exfoliate your skin while you sleep, so at least your skin is getting good rest even if your body still needs a little help!
Let’s talk marketing. Since traditional advertising in the industry isn’t available, will your brand be affected by this or do you have an advantage in some way?
Clearly marketing is difficult given that many on-line advertising platforms still ban anything to do with CBD and cannabis. Hopefully, that will change as people get more educated and the laws change across the country. While it does impact our brand, we have sought more grassroots means to build awareness such as influencer driven campaigns, sampling and greater emphasis on direct press outreach.
Please tell us something that concerns you in the overall cannabis industry and something that excites you.
What makes me most excited about CBD is its known anti-inflammatory properties and potential roles to mitigate diseases, including COVID-19. As a medical doctor and licensed cannabis prescriber, I would like to see further research into its role as a potential treatment option. For example, a recent study by Dr. Kovalchuk’s showed High-CBD extracts in the early stages of infection may help prevent moderate infections from turning into severe infections, by suppression of the receptors responsible for the coronavirus to enter the host cells, especially on the airways, lungs, and intestines.
Where can people learn more about your company?