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Blog Posts (212)

  • Cannabinoid 101 – Learning the difference between CBD and THC

    When most people think about cannabis, the first thing that usually comes to mind is either smoking or eating something to produce some type of high. Yet, there is so much more to the cannabis plant. It is actually very complex, containing hundreds of chemical compounds that are still being discovered and described. The compounds produced by this plant are known as cannabinoids. Given the lack of accessible consumer information and educational materials around cannabis that are both correct and free, in this blog, we are going to break down two of the most common and abundant cannabinoids: cannabidiol (CBD) and Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Family ties- Where do these cannabinoids come from? CBD and THC are both classified as phytocannabinoids, which, put simply, means that they are chemicals made by plants in the genus Cannabis (Cannabaceae). This precision of language is important for cannabinoids, as it distinguishes phytocannabinoids made by plants from endocannabinoids, which are made endogenously by all mammals. While CBD and THC have similar chemical structures, the two differ in how they bind with target receptors in the body and in which receptors they are able to bind. This complexity in receptor activity, coupled with the distribution of receptors through the body, ultimately results in the differential effects elicited by using either THC or CBD. What is CBD? “I’m a THC isomer that won’t get you high. What molecule am I?” was the query posed by the American Chemical Society when CBD was their Molecule of the Week for February 6, 2017, which remains a very appropriate description of CBD. While a number of distinguished scientists conducted research on cannabinoids in the three decades prior, the structure of CBD was first described by cannabis pioneer and legend, Dr. Raphael Mechoulam, and his colleagues in Israel in 1963. To dive further into the history behind cannabis, it was first reported as an anti-seizure medication in 1843 by professor and physician W.B O’Shaughnessy. He noted its remarkable efficacy in the treatment of a toddler’s recurrent convulsive seizures. Unfortunately, the emphasis was placed on the intoxicating effect of cannabis rather than its treatment of seizures, so it wasn’t until the separation of CBD from THC that CBD’s potential was truly appreciated. Just in the last decade, a number of high-quality, controlled clinical studies were conducted that provided the evidence required for the FDA (US Food & Drug Administration) to approve a CBD formulation for severe pediatric seizure disorders in 2018. CBD was made famous in 2013 by the plight of Paige Figi and her daughter Charlotte, who suffered Dravet syndrome, a rare type of epilepsy that caused her to have more than 300 seizures a week by the age of five. The use of hemp-derived CBD dramatically reduced Charlotte’s seizure load down to just a few per month. Since then, thousands of children afflicted with intractable seizures have also found relief with ‘Charlotte’s Web’, the high CBD-producing cannabis cultivar (i.e., strain, genetics) named for the young girl whose life it first saved and whose story sparked an explosion of cannabinoid research. Charlotte’s story ignited a complete shift in paradigm and perspective of the clinical potential of cannabis. Anecdotal and clinical evidence suggests that CBD has the potential to treat or mitigate numerous diseases and disorders besides epilepsy, including chronic pain, anxiety, insomnia, inflammation, cancer, and even COVID-19. While it might be tempting to consider CBD a miracle cure for all that ails you, it's important to be cautious in using CBD for personal health regimens. Research on CBD is still limited but based on its interactions with other drugs, including common over-the-counter medications (e.g., acetaminophen), CBD shouldn’t be considered a simple dietary supplement, but rather as a proper, and potentially prescription, medication. What is THC? Just a year after Mechoulam’s discovery of CBD came the discovery of THC by the same research group. Unquestionably the world’s best-known cannabinoid, THC, also called dronabinol, is the main intoxicating component of cannabis. Currently, there are only two formulations of THC, both synthetic rather than plant-derived, that are FDA-approved: Marinol is a soft gel capsule Syndros is an oral solution Both dronabinol products are for HIV/AIDs-induced anorexia and chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting – Marinol was first approved for this in 1985. THC is not the only cannabinoid used for addressing medical ailments. Nabilone, marketed as Cesamet, has the same indications as dronabinol but is also used off-label for the management of chronic pain. While research on the effects of isolated THC continues, cannabis products with both THC and CBD together are used to treat spasticity and pain associated with multiple sclerosis. In fact, Sativex, an oral spray containing THC and CBD in almost equal proportions, has been approved in over 25 countries for multiple sclerosis (MS) for over a decade but is not yet approved in the US. In addition, cannabis with THC has been shown effective in relieving symptoms of both Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease, among others. Most recently, THC-containing cannabis has been suggested as a viable substitute for opioids for pain relief and mitigation of opioid withdrawal symptoms. Key Differences Both CBD and THC are, by definition, psychoactive and psychotropic, in that both can cause changes in brain function, psychological state, mood, and consciousness. The main experiential difference between CBD and THC is intoxication; CBD does not cause intoxication, while THC has long been widely recognized for its potent intoxicating effect or subjective feelings of being ‘euphoric’, ‘high’, or ‘stoned’. Societally, it seems the associations with using cannabis comes from either the negative associations people have of THC or the positive health halo around CBD. While these are overly generalized perceptions, there certainly is a difference between the two phytocannabinoids (the chemical compounds in cannabis). Whether the cannabis product is inhalable (e.g., vapes, dabs, etc.), edible (e.g., foods, beverages, oils, tinctures, etc.), topical (e.g., cream, salve, bath bomb, etc.), or something else, consumers need transparency and verification on product composition from brands and producers. Consumers benefit by educating themselves with a high-level understanding of key characteristics of both CBD and THC, as provided here, to maintain their personal wellbeing and make informed choices. If you are interested in learning more about how HCD Research can help you explore the wellness space, including cannabinoids, please contact Allison Gutkowski at Allison.Gutkowski@hcdi.net.

  • Meet our new market research analyst - Brenda!

    Brenda graduated from the University of Texas at El Paso where she majored in Mathematics and minored in Psychology. During her time in college, she learned about how different data analysis techniques are used and how they can come together to help us understand complex topics. While in school, Brenda became interested in studying human behavior and decision-making. This led her to seek out a position in marketing analytics where she could apply her academic background, gain more research experience, and explore a broad range of exciting projects. At HCD Research, the ideal blend of analytics and psychology allows Brenda to develop her data analysis skills and learn more about neuroscience, marketing, and consumer behavior. She is excited to be part of a team of knowledgeable analysts that are passionate about delivering high quality research to every client. Fun facts about Brenda: Outside of work, Brenda’s favorite activities include hiking, playing boardgames, or simply spending time with friends and family!

  • Meet our new market research analyst-Sophia!

    Sophia is a recent graduate from the University of Rochester, where she received a Bachelor of Science in Brain and Cognitive Sciences and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. While studying at UR, she was involved in three different research labs. She studied the role attractiveness plays in romantic relationships, the impact of chronic pain on the waste clearance system of the brain, and how visuo-spatial memory can be enhanced through short naps and dream recall. Through her extensive academic research experience, Sophia gained knowledge about data collection, analysis, and reporting and found a passion in using data to tell a story. After taking a consumer behavior class, she learned about the field of neuromarketing and market research. This class helped Sophia gain an understanding of how she can apply her interests in data collection and reporting to study consumer behavior. These interests transferred seamlessly into her role at HCD Research as a Market Research Analyst. Fun facts from Sophia: She was captain of the varsity lacrosse team at University of Rochester and after graduating, took a break from lacrosse to explore hobbies like yoga and hiking. She recently moved to Boston and enjoys going to baseball games on the weekends. Go Sox!

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  • WhitePapers

    RESOURCES White Papers AR Survey Tool Augmented Reality (AR) Surveys: A market research methodology which allows the participant to respond to digital survey questions on the screen while viewing the product through their device’s camera. DOWNLOAD Behavioral Coding Behavioral coding is a simple, noninvasive, observational research method used to quantify a participant’s actions within an environment or with a particular stimulus. DOWNLOAD Brand Harmony The concept of ensuring all components within a brand portfolio have a consistent name, visual identity and positioning among several geographic or product/service markets. In other words, is your product experience meeting the promise and expectation delivered by its sensory cues. DOWNLOAD Brand Tracking Brand Tracking: a strategy to systematically evaluate the performance of a brand or company by focusing on key metrics. DOWNLOAD Conjoint analysis Conjoint analysis is a quantitative marketing research method that uses consumer preferences to determine the value of features through trade-offs. DOWNLOAD Cross-Modal Association The tendency of consumers to perceive certain features or dimensions of one sensory input as a different sensory input. DOWNLOAD Electroencephalogram (EEG) The input that can be gathered from EEG has a lot of potential to give a direct and valid measure of global activity in the brain. DOWNLOAD Eye (Tracking) of the tiger Eye tracking is well-known as a method to determine an objective measure of visual attention. Modern eye tracking is not constrained to a lab, making it easily utilized in school, hospital, home, and business research settings. DOWNLOAD Facial Coding Facial Coding is a process used in research to collect and categorize emotional reactions via facial expressions. DOWNLOAD Habit Loops A tripart cyclical pattern consisting of cues, routines and rewards which strongly influences decision-making by minimizing the expenditure of cognitive effort. DOWNLOAD Implicit Association & Response Associations are a common part of life. Grouping people or concepts is how we train our brains to comprehend ideas or react to situations faster. Experiences are a large part of what shape our associations. DOWNLOAD Implicit Sensory Associations Implicit Sensory Associations and Sensory Marketing: The integration of tools from applied consumer neuroscience and sensory science to better approach understanding of the product experience. DOWNLOAD LOAD MORE Infographics


    Co-Hosts HCD MindSet™ is a light and upbeat Vidcast and Podcast series about consumer neuroscience, human behavior, and new technologies and methodologies that lead to innovation strategies with a mass of untapped potential. Co-hosted by Michelle Niedziela, PhD, VP of Research & Innovation, and Kathryn Ambroze, Director of Behavioral Insights and User Experience at HCD, this dynamic duo brings a breath of fresh air to their discussions, whether it’s between themselves or with industry leaders or internal experts. Check out one of our recent episodes! Episode #61 🛍 Journal Club: Did Nudges Kill Behavioral Science? | MindSet Epsiode #61 Episode #60 🧠 Even Neuroscientists don't want to think - NeuroUX | MindSet Epsiode #60 Latest Episodes Podcasting Platforms Anchor Spotify Apple Google Breaker If you are interested in learning more about HCD MindSet™, visit our YouTube Page or Podcasting profiles above. If you would like to be on our podcast or discuss it further, please reach out to Kathryn at Kathryn.Ambroze@hcdi.net . Email Kathryn!


    HCD Research Privacy Policy Health Care Direct, Inc., doing business as HCD Research, is a marketing research and consumer sciences company with its corporate headquarters in Flemington, New Jersey, USA. HCD Research provides research services that support the creation of better products, packaging and communications for consumers. ​ This policy defines the commitment of HCD Research to protect the privacy of personal information that is collected or used during the course of conducting HCD Research marketing research activities. HCD Research will, and will cause its affiliates to, establish and maintain business procedures that are consistent with this policy. ​ We respect the privacy rights of individuals. ​ HCD Research will respect the legal requirements that exist regarding the privacy of personal information and is committed to complying with all applicable laws. HCD Research will, from time to time, review its personal information collection, use, and disclosure practices in order to assure compliance with laws and regulations. HCD Research is subject to the investigatory and enforcement powers of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). ​ We get explicit consent for sensitive information/children. HCD Research will maintain procedures to assure that information about children or other categories of sensitive information is only collected with explicit consent and is protected against improper use, consistent with applicable law. Prior to conducting a research project with children or young people, HCD Research will identify and comply with any applicable laws including the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) which requires verifiable parental or legal guardian’s consent for interviewing children below the age of 13 years. ​ HCD Research complies with the EU-US Privacy Shield Framework and Swiss-U.S. Privacy Shield Frameworks (Privacy Shield) as set forth by the U.S. Department of Commerce regarding the collection, use, and retention of personal information transferred from the European Union, the United Kingdom and Switzerland to the United States in reliance on Privacy Shield. HCD Research is under the enforcement authority of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). ​ HCD Research has certified to the Department of Commerce that it adheres to the Privacy Shield Principles of Notice, Choice, Accountability for Onward Transfer, Security, Data Integrity and Purpose Limitation, Access, and Recourse, Enforcement, and Liability with respect to such information. If there is any conflict between the terms in this privacy policy and the Privacy Shield Principles, the Privacy Shield Principles shall govern. To learn more about the Privacy Shield program, and to view our certification, please visit https://www.privacyshield.gov/ . ​ Notice ​ In the course of conducting our marketing research activities, HCD Research collects data from individuals who have agreed to participate in research after being informed about the nature and general objectives of the research. The purpose of our research is to provide answers and guidance to our clients as they relate to marketing and consumer science related questions. Data is often collected using marketing research surveys and interviews involving consumers, medical professionals and business professionals. In most cases, prior to being shared with a research client, the survey data is combined into aggregate form without any personally identifiable information. Similarly, in most cases, information from research interviews or focus groups is combined and summarized without any personally identifiable information being provided to our clients. In the event that personally identifiable information is to be shared with a research client or its affiliates, the participant will be notified prior and provided an opportunity to opt-out of participation or discontinue with the research, and no personally identifiable information will be shared. ​ HCD Research may disclose personal information, including personally identifiable information, collected during research activities to data controllers or data processors contracted by HCD Research to perform or assist in the performance of marketing research surveys or other marketing research activities as specified by HCD Research (research suppliers). Any research supplier engaged by HCD Research is contractually obligated to comply with the principles set forth in this policy. ​ Personal information is used for research purposes only and will not be used to market any products or services unless that possibility has been clearly disclosed in advance to research participants and explicit, opt-in consent has been given by the research participant. ​ The data types collected and purpose for collection: Contact information: Some or all of the following – name, postal address, email address, and telephone number. Such actively submitted, personally identifiable information is used to reply to any information request or comment; to respond to survey technical support needs, or other communication that you, the survey participant, may direct to HCD Research, Inc. (HCD) via the hcdi.net, hcdhealth.com, or hcdsurveys.com websites; and to process survey incentive payment. Self-reported survey research responses: Such information, usually collected via online surveys is reported in aggregate and reported without contact information for the purpose of providing marketing research guidance to our research clients. Audio and video recordings: This data is most often collected in the qualitative research context during interviews or focus groups and used by research moderators and interviewers as a reference for research report writing and is not shared with research clients without explicit consent of research participant. In some types of marketing research, we use recordings for behavioral coding. The purpose of the behavioral coding information is to quantify and operationalize the activities that participants do when interacting with a product or environment. Online survey application passive electronic information: Our online survey application uses “transient cookies” also known as session cookies for the purposes of holding a session key that will enable an online survey participant to log back into a survey if for any reason the participant must stop, or their internet connection is interrupted. Once the browser is closed, the cookie is removed. IP addresses are stored for the duration of a research study to avoid responder duplication and for data security purposes. Web browser user agent data is collected to indicate web browser client and version so that we can deliver the optimal survey experience to the user and debug any technical survey issues. Psychophysiological and sensorimotor data: For certain research projects, we collect physiological data (e.g. electrodermal activity, heart rate, electromyography, electroencephalography and eye movement and gaze information) in response to stimuli. This information is used in aggregate form to provide additional insights to marketing research. Choice HCD Research ensures that participation is voluntary, and the nature and purpose of the research is disclosed to research participants in advance of research. HCD Research will respect the right of anyone to refuse requests to participate in research and the right of those already engaged in research to terminate their participation. Personal information is used for research purposes only. If personal information is to be disclosed to a third party other than agents performing research tasks on behalf of HCD Research or to be used for a purpose that is materially different from that originally disclosed to or authorized by individuals, research participants will be provided with clear and explicit, choices regarding the use of their information. Sensitive information such as health or medical information, race, ethnicity, political opinions, religious beliefs, trade union membership, sex life of an individual, or criminal history, will require affirmative, express, opt-in consent from individuals if that information is to be disclosed to a third party other than agents performing research tasks on behalf of HCD Research or used for a purpose other than that for which it was originally collected or authorized for use by individuals via an opt-in choice. ​ Accountability For Onward Transfers Any personal data transferred to a third party acting as an agent or controller may only be used for limited and specific purposes required by the market research. ​ Personal information transferred to a third party acting as a data controller must provide the same level of protection as the Privacy Shield Principles require. Personal information transferred to a third party acting as an agent are required to provide at least the same level of privacy protection as the Privacy Shield Principles require. ​ Third party agents working for HCD Research or in partnership with HCD Research are required by contract to comply with HCD Research data privacy policies and the code of standards and ethics for marketing research and data analytics of either the Insights Association or ESOMAR. ​ HCD Research understands that it may be liable for violations which occur during the onward transfer of data to third parties. HCD Research also understands that the individual may invoke binding arbitration, under certain conditions. Please be advised that HCD Research may be required to disclose personal information in response to a lawful request by public authorities, including meeting national security or law enforcement requirements or when required by court order. ​ Security HCD Research will maintain the security of personal information, and protect the integrity of such information, with a commercially reasonable and appropriate degree of care. Data Integrity ​ HCD Research limits the personal information that it processes to that which is relevant for the purposes of the particular data processing. Personal information is not processed in a way that is incompatible with the purposes for which it has been collected or subsequently authorized by the individual. To the extent necessary for these purposes, reasonable steps are taken to ensure that personal information is reliable for its intended use, accurate, complete and current. HCD Research retains personally identifiable information only for as long as it serves a purpose for processing that is compatible with the purposes for which the information was collected or subsequently authorized by the individual. Access Individuals have the right to access their personal information provided as a part of our marketing research and be able to correct, amend or delete that information where it is inaccurate or processed in violation of the Privacy Shield Principles except where the burden or expense of providing access would be disproportionate to the risks to the individual’s privacy or where the rights of persons other than the individual would be violated. Upon request, HCD Research will permit individuals to access their personal information as indicated in this paragraph, however, for security purposes, adequate identification and verification will be required. ​ Recourse, Enforcement and Liability HCD Research has mechanisms in place to ensure compliance with the Privacy Shield Principles. HCD Research conducts an annual self-assessment of its data privacy practices in order to verify that the attestations and assertions HCD Research makes about its Privacy Shield practices are true and that privacy practices have been implemented as represented and are consistent with the Privacy Shield Principles. ​ In compliance with the EU-US and Swiss-US Privacy Shield Principles, HCD Research commits to resolve complaints about your privacy and our collection or use of your personal information. European Union and Swiss individuals with inquiries or complaints regarding this privacy policy should first contact our Privacy Officer at: privacy@hcdi.net with the subject line, “privacy” or in writing to: HCD Research Attention: Privacy Officer 260 U.S. Highway 202/31 North Liberty Court Suite 1000 Flemington, New Jersey 08822 (908) 788-9393 ​ HCD Research has further committed to refer unresolved privacy complaints under the EU-US and Swiss-US Privacy Shield Principles to the INSIGHTS ASSOCIATION PRIVACY SHIELD PROGRAM, a non-profit alternative dispute resolution provider located in the United States and operated by the Insights Association. If you do not receive timely acknowledgment of your complaint, or if your complaint is not satisfactorily addressed, please visit: https://www.insightsassociation.org/Resources/Privacy-Shield/Information-for-EU-Swiss-Citizens-to-file-a-complaint for more information and to file a complaint. These dispute resolution services are provided to you at no cost to you. ​ Privacy Policy: Last Update: June 1, 2020. ​ ​

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