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Article: FEATURED: Taking Healing Into Your Own Hands

FEATURED: Taking Healing Into Your Own Hands

FEATURED: Taking Healing Into Your Own Hands

The origin story of Element Apothec is like many other entrepreneurial endeavors, a product was developed and created because items available on the market didn’t meet the need.

Element Apothec

The origin story of Element Apothec is like many other entrepreneurial endeavors, a product was developed and the company created because the items that were available on the market didn’t meet the need. 

In the case of Element Apothec, CEO and co-founder, Davina Kaohoni, shares how her great aunt was fighting multiple medical conditions and auto-immune diseases, had allergies to several of the medications meant to treat the conditions, became bedridden, and the mounting stress and sleepless nights led her to take her health into her own hands.

Kaohoni said 10-12 years ago, living in a small town, there were not a lot of alternatives, but her great aunt started researching different options. She looked into Western and Eastern Medicine, and Ayurveda, and then began creating her own products. “She created balms, lotions for the body and face, topical rollers, and basically replaced what she had with better-for-you products that were all natural, plant-based, and had no preservatives or toxins – all clean ingredients,” Kaohoni stated. ”She also started eating better, feeling better, and was able to get out more.” People in the community took notice and asked Kaohoni’s great aunt to create products for them. “She even created products to help provide support for me and my son. I had severe eczema and my son had anxiety,” Kaohoni commented.

[Read more: Finding gaps in the market can lead to further growth]

element apothic

Kaohoni’s great aunt learned about the benefits of cannabidiol (CBD), and despite the stigmas surrounding it, developed products using it as an ingredient. “It’s a great ingredient, but it’s just one of the ingredients and that’s how we approach it at Element Apothec as well,” Kaohoni explained.

“I was at a transition in my career and was figuring out my next move when my great aunt asked me about taking the products she had created from her kitchen to the world,” Kaohoni said. “She said ‘Imagine all the people we could help.’ I went home and thought about it and realized I had already brought them to family and friends. I know that these products are good, but I’m not a medical expert.” Kaonohi understood that they would need to lead with science-backed research for product formulations and prioritize education. That’s when Kaohani found and partnered with Dr. Swathi Varanasi and another co-founder to start Element Apothec.

[Read more: Catering to men’s needs in skin care]

A medical advisory board was assembled and the company set about creating products formulated with clean, functional, plant-based ingredients, free of toxins and preservatives. The company is Leaping Bunny certified, is in the process of becoming a B Corp, and all the products have COAs (Certificate of Analysis). The certifications and transparency are important to the company.

Tinctures and a few staple body care and skin care products were their first to market, chosen because the company wanted to start with products that could fit easily into people’s lives and that would also be accessible.

The tinctures include Calm Cool Collected, Rest Relax Recover, and Be Well. Skin care items include the Nourish body lotion and Belle Visage face serum. They also recently launched a transdermal formulation, the Relief Wellness Patch. Kaohani says they are looking to expand their skin care line to offer a complete regimen and offer their wellness products in forms other than tinctures such as capsules and tablets.

Currently, the products are primarily sold direct to consumer (DTC). In 2023, Element Apothec is focused on moving into retail, especially pharmacies, as well as expanding partnering with doctors and other practitioners. They already have a pharmacy student internship program as part of their education offerings.

The company understands education is extremely important when it comes to CBD and have a dedicated section on their website to help consumers learn about it and their products. There is a CBD product quiz, evidence-based blog, explanation of CBD, FAQs, and the opportunity to pose a question directly to Dr. Swathi, who is also chief scientific officer at Element Apothec. The first Element Apothec webinar was held at the end of January 2023 and they just launched a certificate course for consumers: CBD for Health and Wellness.

“Our story is important because it really is the ethos of the brand,” Kaohani said. “We focus on sustainability, giving back, and it’s our mission to be the best company we can be – in everything – from product formulation to how we internally operate to how we impact the planet.”


Dr. Swathi Varanasi, chief scientific officer and co-founder at Element Apothec, stated, “When educating about CBD, I always like to start with explaining that there is a difference between the single compound of CBD versus the cannabis plant. The cannabis plant has other compounds such as tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, and CBN, or cannabinol. There are upwards of 200 cannabinoids that are known to exist naturally.” Dr. Swathi continued, “We all have an endocannabinoid system, or ECS for short. The purpose of ECS is to promote homeostasis or balance in the body. The endocannabinoid system is structured so that there are different receptors within the system that are found in almost every single organ in the body, so it’s a very decentralized system. Therefore, it has the potential, whether directly or indirectly, to influence functionality of these organs as well as other neurotransmitter systems.”

The overarching benefits of CBD, Dr. Swathi says, are its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Working with their medical advisory team, Element Apothec determines the formulations for their products, which infuse modern science, ancient healing modalities, as well as clinical validation. “We make products for wellness, but are really insistent on ensuring that they have clinical efficacy,” Dr. Swathi stated. “As we formulate our skin care products we look beyond cannabinoids to other potential botanicals that have been researched, to address enhancing hydration and decreasing hyperpigmentation.”

Most importantly Dr. Swathi emphasizes that anyone using a product containing cannabinoids consult with an integrative healthcare professional. “CBD is not the right fit for everyone,” Dr. Swathi explains. “Cannabinoids can have interactions with certain drugs and could make it so the medications don’t work properly or don’t have the same benefit or efficacy. It also works the other way where certain medications make it so cannabinoids don’t work in the body. There should be a personalized approach, and I can help guide patients with the appropriate dose, which cannabinoid product to try, and how to optimize the benefits while decreasing the amount of risk.”


Attribution copy: Megan Moyer is HRGs corporate marketing manager. HRG is in the details of retail, working with product manufacturers, distributors, retailers, technology partners, and other industry organizations to provide data & analysis, shopper experience, brand development, fixture coordination, and retail communications solutions. HRG reviews new health, beauty, and wellness (HBW) items every month and assesses their potential for longevity in the monthly Products to Watchfeature in Drug Store News as well as the annual Future 50 list.

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