Hemp oil, which contains cannabidiol (CBD), is the main product that Elixinol sells in Japan, along with chocolate bars containing CBD and oil essence.
The hemp oil products are recommended for improving concentration and relaxation, according to Elixinol’s website.
To find out the link between hemp and cognitive function, NutraIngredients-Asia spoke to Paul Benhaim, the founder and CEO of Australian headquartered firm Elixinol.
“It works on the CBD system which is throughout our bodies and in our brains. Since our brains have CBD receptors, this suggests that we used to consume hemp plant in the wild,” Benhaim said.
“(But) in the modern culture, we have forgotten about this, that’s why these products are coming back to play a role in brain health, including epilepsy, autism, and neuropathic brain disorders.
Currently, the firm is not making specific health claims, but is selling hemp oil for general health.
“We are not making any health claims now. But we are making scientifically-backed nutraceutical products and that sometimes require clinical studies and trials which may lead to health claims or the development of medicines in the future.”
“As a company, we have derived anecdotal evidence (of CBD’s effects on cognitive health) from our consumers. Some have told us that they use CBD for epilepsy and neuropathic pain disorders.”
In APAC, the firm has found the biggest success in Japan.
Asked why hemp was widely accepted, he explained that hemp seeds, together with sesame seeds, was part of a local spice consumed by the locals, and has enjoyed a long history in the country.
“In Asia, Japan is certainly the leading country today. It has been a long progress. We have been working with the Japanese people and government for nearly five years."
“The First Lady (Akie Abe) is also supportive and a lot of people are opening up. For example, Rakuten and Yahoo are selling these kind of products."
“The support is also coming when people recognise that the products we sell do not get people high and that they are not a drug.”
Progress in Japan
With further success in sight, the firm recently injected a AUD$3m investment to scale up its sales and marketing in Japan.
“There is an increased acceptance this year, and that’s why we are confident that year 2019 is a year of success in Japan,” Benhaim said.
Earlier in May, the Japanese authorities have approved outdoor advertisement for hemp-derived CBD for the first time – a mark of progress of Japan’s hemp industry.
As a result, Elixinol was able to advertise its hemp oil products – in Tokyo’s Omotesando train station.
Elixinol is exploring the interaction between CBD and other plant-based ingredients as part of its R&D efforts.
“A clear calendar” for new products has been set, Benhaim said.
As for his hemp food business, Benhaim said that Hemp Food Australia will be launching a new product in this month.