We sat down with Nick Hoge, the founder of Aurelian, to pick his brain on everything from the current state of CBD in the U.S. to what motivated him to launch his own line of products. Nick’s brand is one of the few male-oriented ones and one of our favorites, and we wanted to talk to Nick more about that. Plus Nick’s journey to CBD is a fascinatingly helpful one to anyone who deals with anxiety and/or has panic attacks. So, sit back, and read on to get the inside scoop.
WLM: First off, why don’t you tell us a little bit about Aurelian and your inspiration to start the brand? We noticed you started taking CBD when you had panic attacks. How’d you find it?
Nick: Yeah, I suffered from panic attacks - the first one happened about ten years ago. I was going through a transitional time, and just after one random night, woke up a bit hung over, drank two coffees and suddenly boom, it hit me in the shower. I had never had an anxiety attack before so I had no idea what was happening and it was pretty terrifying. I eventually went to the doctor a few days later to find out what was going on. Fast forward nine years to 2017, after mixed results with antidepressants and anxiety meds, when I first tried CBD. It helped almost immediately and brought a feeling of ease. I had used cannabis a bit in high school and college, but I was never an avid user. I began to learn more about what made certain CBD products better than others, and I also experienced the differences first-hand. That finally brought me down the path to discovering organically sourced, full spectrum CBD formulas that came from clean soil and were completely sun-grown. The difference I felt was palpable. I thought back to that moment when I was 26, having a panic attack and feeling scared and humiliated, and I saw an opportunity to create a brand that I wish had existed back then - a brand that was built for everyone that felt accessible to men.
WLM: When it comes to the CBD space, it seems like there aren’t a lot of male-oriented brands, but with Aurelian (from packaging to on-site copy) you get more of a unisex feel. Why do you think this gap in the market exists? Was it your initial goal to fill it or did that happen naturally?
Nick: What inspired me so much when conceiving Aurelian was seeing many of the amazing female-focused cannabis brands and female entrepreneurs that were elevating the face of the industry with such well-curated, thoughtful and inspiring messaging. In the wellness space, I think women are earlier adopters and we men follow behind. I also think men are often less open to talking about their anxiety, pain management, depression, stress, etc. and less inclined to look for a solution, too. We can attribute that to a lot of things, but certainly part of it is the narrow way masculinity is often portrayed in our culture (that’s a bigger conversation). A lot of times we just try to ignore it or “tough it out.” So part of the backbone of Aurelian is a brand that brings a lot of empathy and trust – no judgments.
WLM: Can you tell us a little bit about your process in making Aurelian products? What makes them different than some other brands out there?
Nick: One of our most popular products is our Palo Santo Calming Scented Oil. It combines 167 mg of full spectrum CBD with an essential oil blend that we created. What you get is a topical oil with a really elegant, woodsy aroma that can be used on areas experiencing pain and inflammation, but also as a calming unisex fragrance. I think it’s unique in the space because it works like a topical but doesn’t smell like a topical – it smells like an amazing fragrance that you would use for the scent alone.
The tinctures we offer are all organically sourced, full-spectrum, in an MCT carrier oil. Our partner farm uses an extra step in the distillation process that has been critical in differentiating our product - it removes the excess chlorophyll and waxes. The result is a very clean, almost clear, nearly tasteless, full spectrum CBD oil. We’ve gotten a lot of feedback from our customers that have had trouble with the more herbal, sharp tasting profile of many full spectrum oils, and they say they absolutely love the taste and lightness of ours.
WLM: What would you tell someone who is experiencing panic attacks and is in a place where they’ve lost hope in conventional treatments? How would you guide them to take a chance with CBD when some still see a stigma around the product?
Nick: Well they should know that a panic attack can’t kill you, regardless of how scary it feels - it just can’t. I also think it’s helpful to understand how it’s working in your body; understanding what your body is doing during that fight or flight response – that really helped me put the feeling into context and made it less scary.
With regards to CBD, I think it’s important to get people to understand how it works in our bodies. That’s a way for them to feel more comfortable giving it a try and to also understand that there’s a real legitimacy to how CBD works. The short and sweet version, for those who are unsure, is that it works with something called our ECS (endocannabinoid system) which is a series of receptors that run through our body and that regulate many of our most basic functions - mood, appetite, sleep etc. When you take CBD, which is a phytocannabinoid, you’re essentially helping bring balance to your ECS. This is why many people who supplement with quality CBD often report various benefits. “That pain in my elbow is gone, and I’ve actually been sleeping better, and you know I’ve actually felt pretty calm and good this week.” It can be attributed to the balancing of the ECS. I also make sure to encourage people to do their research when shopping for products – look for third party lab tests, know the difference between full spectrum / broad spectrum / isolate, understand the different carrier oil options and dosage strengths. Don’t just accept that CBD is CBD is CBD, because it’s not.
WLM: Tell us how you see CBD growing in the future.
Nick: I see it growing in the same way much of the marijuana industry has - designer strains for specific purposes. You now have marijuana that is marketed by specific benefit / effect – “charge”, “create”, “sleep”, etc. I think the same thing will be true for CBD. You’ll have CBD products with different cannabinoid and terpene profiles that can have extra anti-inflammatory benefits perfect for post work out, or those with more CBN in them for sleep - all sorts of options. You could eventually have different CBD products to suit all parts of your day. It makes perfect sense, because it goes hand in hand with how versatile and complex the cannabis plant is. That’s part of the excitement of reducing the stigma, to have people understand that it’s not just putting all marijuana and all hemp under one umbrella, there are so many subcategories and you can get really specific and specialized based on your needs and what you’re looking for. I think it’s so exciting.
WLM: You offer a 500mg tincture and 1000mg tincture. Would you be able to tell us the major differences between the two? As in, the use case for anyone shopping that may not get what the difference is.
Nick: We usually recommend the 500 mg to people who are new to CBD or have never used cannabis. It’s a great starting point. And if they find they need something stronger they can always take a full dropper of the 500mg which is the equivalent strength of a half dropper of the 1000mg. The interesting thing with CBD is that there’s no standard dose - it isn’t necessarily based on factors like size, gender, height, etc. - it’s based on each person’s ECS. I always recommend starting low and working up until you find the optimal dose. Once you find the sweet spot, stick there, as studies have shown that taking more does not improve effects. Our 1000mg is our most popular strength and very versatile. Whether you’re new or experienced, it’s a great strength to provide many types of relief. You also get double the strength, but not for double the price, so you save some money with the 1000mg. Also, because our tinctures are just hemp extract and MCT oil, you can also use them topically. We’ve received incredible feedback from customers who have gotten rid of eczema, acne, and improved the feel and look of their skin by using our tinctures topically.
WLM: Okay, last one! Tell us your favorite way to use CBD.
Nick: I really love our Palo Santo Calming Scented Oil. I use it almost every day around my neck and it smells really great and loosens me up. It’s also so easy to carry around in a pocket or bag so it travels everywhere. I use our tincture in my morning coffee because I like the addition of the coconut oil and the CBD balances and focuses me for the day. Also, lately, whenever I shave, I’ll use the tinctures topically on my neck to avoid irritation and reduce redness. It’s really amazing all the ways it comes in handy.