JACKSON — For Adam and Julia Weets of Jackson, opening a business centered on alternative medicine was a natural outcropping of their commitment to healthy living.
The couple created a family culture that prioritizes taking care of their bodies when their son Josiah, 5, was a baby. He had several chronic health problems that were greatly ameliorated by a change in diet.
Inspired by the witness that changing what you put in your body can help your body heal, the Weets family began to take better care of themselves. They also researched other ways they could use the earth to help their bodies feel better.
"I'm a firm believer in nature," Adam said. "God created all of this for us."
Gradually, they learned about the anecdotal benefits of CBD (cannabidiol) products and felt inspired to produce their own — Alpha's Alternatives, named for Adam's hometown of Alpha.
CBD is a chemical compound found in hemp. Different from THC (a component of marijuana), CBD does not have psychoactive properties and does not produce a "high" — rather, it works with receptors in the body to calm inflammation and help the body function, Adam and Julia explained.
Just like many other crops, hemp comes in various strains, all of which are cultivated for different purposes. Hemp grown for textiles is very different from hemp grown for CBD extraction. The Weets family uses genetic selection to ensure their crop is CBD-heavy.
Alpha's Alternatives offers full-spectrum CBD products, meaning that they contain a minimal amount of THC. Minnesota law requires full-spectrum CBD products to contain 0.3% or less of THC, and Adam and Julia maintain a level at just over half that: 0.16% THC in their products. The small amount of THC simply helps the CBD do its job, they said.
Alpha's Alternatives has products that can be administered topically and orally — namely, a roll-on stick meant for pain, and several tinctures that are placed under the tongue for quick absorption. Although CBD does not meet the legal definition of a dietary supplement, many users treat it similarly and have had success using it to treat a wide spectrum of ailments. The FDA has approved one CBD-derived medication, which is prescribed for certain epileptic disorders, but has not confirmed its efficacy for other purposes.
The Weetses do not claim to be medical professionals and cannot guarantee that CBD will be effective for any condition, but they share what they believe about it based on their own experiences and testimony from others that they've heard over the years.
"The main reason we went into the business is to help people be healthier," Julia said.
Adam added that another goal is education about CBD.
Their products are grown organically, starting in the couple's greenhouse, and moving seedlings into the field after a few weeks. Hemp is a finnicky plant, Adam explained, requiring precise amounts of water and fertilizer in order to produce the quality of hemp they'd like to offer.
After a 90-day growing season, the Weeteses pick their hemp wet, because it produces more oils that way. They then hand-trim the flowers and send them through a shucking machine. The next step is to dry the hemp, after which they send it off to an extractor, who uses liquid CO2 to extract CBD oil from the plant matter.
From there, the CBD oil goes to a formulator, who bottles the products using olive and avocado oils as carriers, and a few drops of essential oils for taste. The bottles come back to Adam and Julia, who then distribute their products.
Several area businesses offer Alpha's Alternatives products: Enspired gift shop in Windom, Royal Treatment salon in Jackson, Jackson Chiropractic and The Daily Apple in Worthington.
"It's been a blessing to hear successes," Julia said. "We thrive on those stories."
In the future, they are considering expanding Alpha's Alternatives to include a line of pet products and possibly other offerings, as well.