A Q&A Interview with Hemp Industry Expert & Reliv Partner Steve Reid

 

By Director of Product Development and Fit3 Trainer Tina Van Horn

Since joining the family of Reliv products, the line of RLV Hemp Extracts has become a go-to source for wellness. With a line that has expanded to include RLV Hemp Balm for topical application and many tinctures, there’s an RLV Hemp Extract for everyone. We recently chatted with Steve Reid, CEO of SS Biotech, hemp industry expert, and Reliv partner to learn more about the benefits of these products and what sets them apart. 

Tina: There seem to be a lot of hemp-based products on the market these days, but it makes me wonder — are all hemp products created equal?

Steve: All hemp is definitely not created equal. Like any other plant crop, individual genetic strains determine the strength, potency, and hardiness of the plant. Accessing the optimal hemp strain is critical to the quality of the cannabinoids extracted from the industrial hemp plants.  Some of the better naturally evolving genetics strains we utilize carry a $4 cost per seed. At 1,500 to 1,800 plants per acre, a manufacturer can have $5 to $10 million invested just in seed stock for a single harvest season. Because of that sort of high entry cost, some manufacturers opt for a lesser valued seed variety and subsequently grow inferior crops, at least in our opinion. 

There are a few companies offering top-quality hemp products, but there are vastly more companies offering inferior hemp products. These cheaper strains have limited efficacy as a consumable, yet they can cost the same. This is why it’s so important to do business with a company you trust. SS Biotech, and therefore Reliv, utilize only superior strains of hemp so that the Reliv hemp products will deliver sound results with each use. Having a high purity and a clean product was the first demand by Ryan Montgomery when we first started developing this special line of RLV products.

We prefer making only the best products for the best companies that have customers and clients who understand that quality, efficacy, and value matter. Reliv is right at the top of that list for us. We love working with Reliv because we share the same vision and values.

Tina: Why is hemp so popular right now?

Steve: In short – because it works! There are currently 120+ naturally occurring compounds found in industrial hemp, and CBD (cannabidiol) is by far the one generating the most interest. People have known about CBD for decades, however, it wasn’t until recently that the health benefits offered by the use of CBD became more apparent and more widely accepted. Folks across North America and other parts of the world have been swept up in the CBD movement because they are realizing great health benefits without the potential side-effects that prescription drugs can inflict on the body.

Some of the other cannabinoid compounds in hemp are also enjoying a great amount of attention and study. CBG, CBN, CBC, and many of the other primary cannabinoids are being researched for their individual health benefits. For example, CBG is known for its ability to influence neural repairs via natural endocannabinoid system (ECS) stimulation. Using a parallel pathway to CBG, CBN is becoming more popular for its sleep applications. Delta-9-THC is the cannabinoid that can cause many responses within the body’s ECS including sleep, deep dreaming, and a calming effect. Of course, our formulas are created to be legally compliant to federal and state codes. With more than 100 cannabinoids now discovered and more being found, the future of hemp cannabinoids is extremely exciting.  

Tina: How do I know hemp products are safe?

Steve: That question needs to be answered by the hemp industry as a whole, in my opinion. Since the hemp industry is still in its infancy, many companies are taking full advantage of the disconnection between the US Food and Drug Administration, the US Department of Agriculture, and state health departments. Those companies are all about making fast money rather than focusing on providing lasting, high-impact products manufactured under strict guidelines. Some companies choose to skip basic lab tests necessary to verify and validate their products. Our rigorous testing protocols ensure that our products are of the highest quality every time. Even though we have some of the best in-house analytical research and development labs in the industry, we still spend millions of dollars each and every year just on third-party testing costs. We don’t release a single product lot until we know it has been checked, rechecked, and then checked and validated again by a third-party lab.

To assure product safety for the Reliv family, we have achieved important registrations and affiliations. All of Reliv’s hemp products are manufactured in a world-class FDA-registered and inspected food-grade facility. We are certified cGMP for our adherence to current good manufacturing practices. We are a Halal and Kosher-certified facility. We have other good standards achievements, but the most profound certification and membership we have is likely our NSF (National Sanitation Foundation) certification. Going through the NSF audit is an incredibly detailed, multi-day review process that most applicants do not pass. Formulating and manufacturing under the NSF banner is paramount in our dedication to providing safe and efficacious products to the great Reliv family.

Tina: Are any harmful chemicals used in the extraction process?

Steve: Not at all, at least not in our processes. In fact, we take extra care when extracting to make sure there are no chemical stripping agents involved at any stage in our extraction processes. While others use cheaper, faster-working but very harsh chemicals as a solvent to release the cannabinoids from the hemp plant biomass, we choose to use only pure sustainable sugar ethanol. We pay $39 per gallon in federal taxes to obtain and use pure sustainable sugar ethanol as our extraction solvent, and we even have a near 100% recovery rate when the extraction process is completed (a minuscule amount can evaporate).

We take this so seriously that the owner of our company has a policy that we will not make any product that we cannot put in or on his children. Period. No exceptions. That’s just how seriously we take our product safety.

Tina: What is new in the hemp industry?

Steve: The hemp industry is still exceedingly small when compared to its global potential. New and amazing discoveries come forward almost daily shining lights on a new cannabinoid or a new terpene that can interact in magical ways with the ECS of humans and animals. Our bodies were designed to be self-healing. Part of the aging process causes the ECS receptors to “turn off” and become dormant. Without the body maintaining efficient levels of communications throughout the ECS, we start to slow down, to become sluggish, to start replacing muscle mass with visceral fat storages, and then to become sickly. That is all part of the accepted path to our golden years, but it does not have to be. Hemp has been known and used in religious practices for many thousands of years. Fortunately, our generations are rediscovering ancient hemp plants and we are returning it to our daily lives with amazing results and benefits.

In our labs and in the industry as a whole, we are discovering and working with the lesser cannabinoids, such as CBG, CBC, and CBN. Working with Delta-8-THC is providing us with scientific data proving that Delta-8-THC can deliver all the great benefits associated with its more widely known cousin, Delta-9-THC, but without any of the psychoactive side effects that Delta-9-THC can deliver in medium to high doses. Very soon, we expect to be offering several next-generation consumables that will be in high demand.

The future of the hemp industry is guaranteed to be extremely promising and profitable for those who are forward-thinking visionaries, which is why I love working with Reliv. Having been in business for more than three decades, Reliv is considered an old-timer in the direct sales industry yet the corporate and field leadership teams are still youthful and hungry to continue making a positive mark in the world. Reliv is positioned to be in the stream of new development knowledge and concepts which makes Reliv a ready-made leader in the industry. 

Not only are new discoveries underway with the hemp plant, but also advanced next-generation delivery systems are emerging at a fast pace. New more highly functional delivery platforms are moving from concept to reality and will, no doubt, help those representing the products. This sort of presentation ‘wow’ factor can only make for easier, increased retail sales. Everything is coming together nicely for the young hemp industry. 

Imagine how many new friendships will be made because a Reliv Distributor cared enough about someone else to share with them the life-changing Reliv products. Imagine the lifestyle changes that can be realized by Reliv’s network of Distributors. It’s a great time to be with Reliv and to be in the hemp industry!

Learn more about RLV Hemp Extracts by accessing our product FAQ or viewing our certificate of analysis.  

Immunity and Wellness: Q & A with Dr. Alfredo Galvez

With the world focusing more than ever on wellness, many are wondering what we can do to support our immune systems and overall health. Director of Product Development Tina Van Horn recently spoke with Dr. Alfredo Galvez, Reliv’s Chief Scientific Officer and the discoverer of the lunasin peptide, to learn more about the science of immunity, what role nutrition plays and what you can do to take charge of your health. 

Tina: What are the effects of nutrition on immunity and what role does epigenetics play in the immune function?  

Dr. Galvez: Fortunately our bodies are very smart and have evolved over time to fight against infections through our innate and adaptive immunity. But, we also know there are specific foods and nutrients that have co-evolved with the human body to support a more efficient immune response to environmental threats like viruses. When you combine this knowledge with our current understanding of epigenetics, we can have an even greater impact on wellness as a whole, but the immune system is of particular interest in the field of nutritional epigenetics.

The role of epigenetics is the key science that has been proven to be one of the underlying causes of not only infections and inflammation, but also chronic disease formation. That is the reason why we need to have nutrients available for our bodies to use.

Research in the last decade has revealed the expression of genes associated with immunity response to epigenetic influences. A study that caught my attention ten to twelve years ago, from Purdue and Indiana Universities, demonstrated the ability of lunasin to turn on the genes associated with the immune response, both for innate immunity, our first line of defense against infection, as well as adaptive immunity, which is the ability for the body to produce antibodies that prevent future infections. This is important research in light of novel viruses and infections. Epigenetics provides new research opportunities to find and develop more effective treatments and vaccines, which is important to me from a research perspective. But, there is also a practical application for individuals because with the right nutrients, we can strengthen our immune systems to counter pathogens AND to respond efficiently when vaccines are introduced by teaching our bodies to produce antibodies that can attack novel viruses.

Tina: With the growing body of research surrounding epigenetics and lunasin, in particular, we have gained a solid understanding of the cellular health benefits of lunasin for our long-term health, but it is interesting to hear you talk about how lunasin benefits our short-term immunity in fighting off those viruses and pathogens that are environmentally attacking us in addition to the long-term health benefits. What about other dietary ingredients and nutrients? Do we need them along with lunasin to support immunity?

Dr. Galvez: Scientific evidence supports that metabolism and nutrient absorption are unique to each individual, so it is very important to have a combination of multiple nutrients at optimal levels to support all of our physiological processes, especially metabolism which is directly linked to immunity.

When I started working with Dr. Carl Hastings on adding lunasin to the core nutrition, one of the main objectives was to improve metabolic health. In fact, we did some experiments on the combination of lunasin and Reliv Now® with Soy. The results showed an improvement in metabolic biomarkers and risk factors associated with a number of health conditions. We understand now, more clearly than ever before, how metabolic health directly affects the immune system. So the nutritional composition of the core nutrition (macronutrients and micronutrients) in combination with lunasin, optimizes genetic expression for good health today and improves our long-term health.

Tina: You already stated that what makes Reliv products so unique is that we don’t focus on single ingredients for a specific health benefit. Yet so many people when we talk about immunity they instantly think of taking mega doses of vitamin C or zinc.  But those mega doses are not nearly as effective as putting these ingredients together in synergistic formulas. How can we combat that misunderstanding?

Dr. Galvez: The body of research on nutrition and epigenetics is expanding exponentially. At Reliv, we are not only looking at lunasin, but also we are also looking at lunasin in combination with the other ingredients we have in core nutrition and even some of the targeted solutions like FibRestore®, CardioSentials® and GlucAffect®. These formulas contain ingredients also known to have an effect on the epigenome. As I see now with so much new research on bioactive agents and dietary nutrients, we are gaining a greater understanding of how the nutrients work together metabolically not only to support physiological functions, but also epigenetically to have a real impact on health. For example, when dietary fibers are digested in the gut, chemicals are released that send signals to the epigenome.

I am hopeful that the next generation of scientists, researchers, and medical professionals will expand on what we know so far and apply this understanding to develop nutritional solutions that can have a real impact on many of the chronic health conditions that are so prevalent today. So many of our current therapies only treat the symptoms, but with epigenetics, we can more effectively target the underlying causes of these conditions. I believe the best way we can find effective treatments is to understand the epigenome and the effect of natural bioactive agents working together to turn off the bad genes that promote disease and turn on the genes that support wellness. 

There are many things that still need to be understood. There is also a learning curve for the medical establishment and consumers as far as epigenetics is concerned. With the foundational work that I have done on nutritional epigenetics, along with other researchers in the space, we are certainly moving in that direction. I anticipate that as the trend continues for patients and consumers to be more proactive with their health, the demand for effective nutritional solutions will keep driving researchers to find effective solutions.

Tina: You have a very unique perspective as a researcher on the current situation. What are some of the challenges that researches are facing that are inhibiting their efforts to finding effective therapies or developing a vaccine for COVID-19?

Dr. Galvez: That is a very good question. Actually, that was a question posed to me when I was taking my Ph.D. oral examination because it was during the height of the HIV infection. Like HIV, this new coronavirus is an RNA virus and it is more difficult to find a cure or even a vaccine because RNA viruses only have a single strand of genetic material (versus DNA viruses which have two strands). This means that it can mutate more easily than other types of viruses. In fact, that is one of the reasons why we have to reduce the infection rates, so we can reduce the chance of mutations.

It is going to be very difficult to develop vaccines. There are a lot of stages of testing that must be done. It will take anywhere from a year or a year and a half. Of course, you also have to take into consideration the mutation rate of this virus. It’s a serious problem, but it’s not something that we haven’t seen before.

I think individually we can each do things to help control this, so all the suggestions that the CDC and epidemiologists have been giving us we should accept it and practice it. This is the only way we can fight against this virus. In the meantime, it becomes vitally important to do what you can personally to keep supporting your immune system with nutrition and lifestyle choices.

Tina: What are a few recommendations that you have for our readers and what are you personally doing to protect yourself and your family?

Dr. Galvez: My family is certainly taking Reliv nutrition and focusing on the basic principles of health and wellness – plenty of vegetables and fruits along with quality protein, emphasizing plant-based protein sources. We exercise at least 30 minutes each day. There are a lot of studies done on exercise and epigenetic changes. In fact, exercising can reduce the epigenetic age to optimize your epigenome and support immunity. Getting at least 7-8 hours of sleep at night can also have an effect on delaying epigenetic aging. There is not a short-term fix that is going to protect everyone. You have to be vigilant and proactive so when you get challenged by these environmental stresses and viral infections your immune system and your body is strong enough to fight it.

 

My Story: Faithe Michaels

Conference Inspires New Distributor’s Success

Key Director Faithe Michaels became a Distributor in February 2010 after seeing how her family benefited from better nutrition. “We started on the products for wellness and prevention. We all started feeling really good and had more energy, and I noticed we weren’t getting sick as often as we had the previous year,” she says. Continue reading “My Story: Faithe Michaels”

Simple Solution for Optimum Health!

Although she appeared healthy on paper, Rosemary Biehn of Burlington, Ontario, Canada, knew her body was not functioning the way it should.

“I had chronic problems with my digestive system — everything I ate went right through me,” Rosemary explains. “My doctor ordered a battery of tests, including a check of my liver, but he couldn’t find anything wrong.”

While Rosemary learned to live with her digestive problems, the migraine headaches that would strike every month left her completely unable to function.

“The pain, nausea, and diarrhea were so severe that all I could do for an entire day was lie in a dark room,” she recalls.

“I tried all kinds of nutritional supplements but couldn’t find the right balance,” Rosemary continues. “So, when I found out about Reliv — and I saw that I could get everything I need by simply taking two shakes a day — I decided to give the products a try.

“Within three days of starting on Reliv, I felt much better,” she says. “And, in the eight years since I started on Reliv, I have had improved results with my digestion and migraine headaches!”

Rosemary adds, “In Reliv, I’ve found the simple solution for optimum health!”