Green Valley Nutrition: the mark of cannabis on one JMU alumnus’ life | News

When Ethan Pompeo (’16) contracted a sore throat at the age of 13, little did he know it would affect the rest of his life.

The case of strep throat receded, but what it left behind were “compulsive behaviors and thoughts accompanied by debilitating tics” that were eventually diagnosed as pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorders associated with streptococcal infections (PANDAS).

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, streptococci survive in the human body by building molecules that camouflage them to look like the molecules found on the heart, joints, skin, and brain tissue. When the body recognizes that streptococci are foreign, antibodies are produced to get rid of them. However, because the streptococcal molecules mimic other molecules, the immune system attacks both the streptococcal bacteria and the mimicked molecules. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), tics, and other symptoms of PANDAS are caused by reactive antibodies targeting the brain.

Although the typical age range for PANDAS to appear is between 2 and 12 years old, it can also show up at later ages.

There are many other symptoms associated with PANDAS including anxiety, ADHD symptoms, mood swings, trouble sleeping and joint pain. Pompeo said he has struggled with motor tics and severe anxiety since he first contracted a sore throat at age 13.

“It was a big fight for me,” Pompeo said. “I was afraid to distract others.”

For 10 years, the solutions Pompeo received came in the form of medicines. While Pompeo was in high school, he turned to smoking marijuana to find relief from his symptoms.

I used cannabis to deal with the stress,” Pompeo said, “[but] Being high all the time wasn’t a good solution for me.”

Pompeo noted that smoking marijuana also had side effects like lethargy and loss of appetite.

After graduating from JMU, Pompeo said he was looking for a new farming-centric lifestyle and found himself on a farm in Colorado. Down the road was a 300-acre hemp farm that Pompeo said was his first exposure to cannabis for medicinal purposes.

“Seeking the benefits of marijuana without the high, Pompeo found his answer in CBD oil.

CBD is an active ingredient in marijuana derived from the hemp plant that does not cause a high but still provides health benefits such as: B. reducing anxiety and chronic pain and treating insomnia and addiction.

Pompeo said his introduction to CBD was a great boon, calling it “nature’s most powerful anti-inflammatory.”

After a hailstorm in Colorado destroyed the farm Pompeo worked on, he returned to Virginia in 2017 and encountered a devastating problem.

“I couldn’t find any quality CBD in Virginia,” Pompeo said.

Instead, Pompeo started making his own CBD oil from home.

For six months, Pompeo imported hemp plants from Colorado to make his own CBD oil. Eventually, he started sending samples to friends and family, even breaking the news on Snapchat.

“A lot of people liked it, and that’s when I thought I could make a business out of it,” Pompeo said.

Thus Green Valley Nutrition (GVN) was born with the goal of providing natural alternatives to conventional medical treatments.

What started out as CBD oil has now expanded to include a catalog of CBD products including pain creams, capsules, edibles, and CBD for pets, among others.

“We’re trying to change the public’s view of cannabis,” Pompeo said. “It can be used safely and medicinally. It can help improve your quality of life.”

James Tsikerdanos, GVN’s sales trainer, said he used CBD products to treat various pains he experienced as a military veteran.

“I realized that you really need to be careful with the CBD you consume and that it’s a great alternative to very expensive medication,” Tsikerdanos said. “It’s worth a try before going down the route of traditional medications like opioids for pain management.”

The changing attitude toward cannabis use is something Pompeo has witnessed firsthand, and since cannabis was legalized in Virginia, he said, it’s been even more pronounced.

“It’s really dramatic,” Pompeo said. “It’s so funny, it’s been stigmatized my entire life. I remember a lot of people looking down on me and judging me for helping to manage my symptoms… boom! The moment it was legalized, it was like everyone agreed with it.”

One of Pompeo’s goals is to help further destigmatize what he called a “misunderstood plant.”

“There is a shadow side and a light side [to all things]and using a plant can lead to unhealthy side effects, but there’s always a light side,” said Lexi Hutchins (’10), GVN’s graphic designer and brand developer.

Hutchins said that while she doesn’t use CBD products personally, she believes in the good they can do and sends them to her mom.

“It helps them relieve pain but without the side effects of drugs, so it’s a lot safer,” Hutchins said.

Following the passage of the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, hemp was removed from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) list of controlled substances. This allowed Pompeo to “work and collaborate with local farmers” to bring every step of his manufacturing process to Virginia.

Based in Charlottesville, GVN sells CBD products that house every step of the manufacturing process in Virginia. Pompeo said the idea of ​​being local from seed to sale is one aspect that differentiates GVN from competitors.

“We can trace all our products back to the field [where] it had grown,” Pompeo said.

Pompeo said he intends to add a section of the website to showcase the company’s local growers, as it’s important to GVN that customers see the “real people behind them”.

Another factor that sets GVN apart from the competition, according to Pompeo, is the extraction process.

“[We have] our own unique extraction process so we have a very pure and clean product,” Pompeo said. “By using the isolate, we know it will be consistent from batch to batch.”

CBD isolate is a pure extract containing no other cannabinoids.

“[GVN] is the only company in [Virginia] that’s what a CBD isolate product does,” Pompeo said. “There are other products out there, but they’re mostly manufactured and shipped.”

GVN currently ships to every US state and a few other countries. Pompeo said it currently has seven employees, but he needs to double that number to sustain growth.

As an alumnus, Pompeo initially approaches JMU and is seeking full-time interns to fill a variety of positions including marketing, sales, chemistry, and manufacturing engineering. Pompeo said the demographics he’s looking for can be found among JMU students — “people who care about and are committed to the community.”

Hutchins said she believes the opportunity to intern at GVN would be a great experience for aspiring entrepreneurs.

“[You’ll] When you learn the essentials, you learn from the ground up what each and every entrepreneur is doing,” Hutchins said.

She also encourages those who wish to apply to focus on the skills they can gain from their experience with GVN.

“I really believe in the direction Ethan is going in and I think it would be a fun learning experience for someone,” Hutchins said.

Tsikerdanos said an internship at GVN could offer prospects some of the best training in the class.

“Whether it’s operational marketing or sales, we provide industry experts to help them where they need to go,” said Tsikerdanos. “I think this is such an amazing brand for the region and I’m excited to see the impact we will have.”

As GVN and the cannabis industry in Virginia continue to grow, Pompeo is focused on providing CBD products that can help people heal the way they helped them while being the “locally sourced product you trust.” be able”.

Contact McKinley Mihailoff at [email protected] For more coverage of JMU and Harrisonburg news, follow the News Desk on Twitter @BreezeNewsJMU.