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The skincare brand built on 25 years of Colombian cannabis alchemy



Dermactiva uses Colombian Alchemist’s Organic Cannabis Sativa Seed Oil as a base.  

Cannabis Health takes a deep dive into the history behind a new CBD skincare brand, built on 25 years of wisdom and heritage.

As the usage and research into medical cannabis and CBD grows, so do the number of brands on the market.

But in an emerging industry, it’s rare to find a brand with a backstory so intertwined in history. 

Dermactiva is a creator of CBD-infused warming muscle creams and cooling gels, aimed at easing sore muscles and improving skin.

Photo: Dermactiva

The UK-based brand, which prides itself on its natural ingredients, has created its unique formula working alongside a Colombian development and manufacturing partner. 

Before the partnership, Dermactiva’s founders Janice King and Claudia Avila-Batchelor, had spent three years testing CBD and cannabis brands from across the world to find the best ingredients.

That eventually came in the form of Herman Patiño’s proven base product, using certified organic cannabis sativa oil and boasting over 30 years of experience and heritage. 

Affectionately nicknamed the ‘Colombian Cannabis Alchemist’, Herman Patiño was born in Medellin, Colombia, a region famed for providing perfect conditions to grow premium quality products such as flowers, coffee, fruits and vegetables – and, most notably, cannabis. 

Herman was fascinated by botanicals from a very young age, and recalls his grandmother treating his family’s ailments using plant-based remedies. Later in life, he followed in her footsteps with a keen interest in natural products. 

In the 90’s, while working as an administrator for a leading laboratory for cosmetic procedures, Herman’s interest in these ingredients piqued. To feed this passion, he set up an evening study group where he taught law and administration to the company’s chemists, in exchange for them teaching him about plants and their formulations. 

After a decade of working for this company and learning the trade, the Colombian Alchemist set up his own laboratory, initially aimed at creating aesthetic lines such as anti-ageing and weight management creams and supplements. But, as plant-based cosmetics couldn’t be found in Colombia at this time, Herman turned his hand to creating bespoke products for alternative and aesthetic practitioners. 

Herman’s mother. Image courtesy of Herman Patiño/Dermactiva.

In 2003, Herman’s mother began to suffer from conditions including arthritis and circulatory problems which cause debilitating inflammation. Determined to combat these issues, the innovator made the decision to focus his work on improving his mother’s – and other sufferers’ – quality of life. He started to investigate which botanicals could ease symptoms and, inevitably, happened upon the Colombian cannabis plant. 

Herman’s journey wasn’t without challenges – criminals peddled black-market cannabis, reinforcing its prior negative reputation, and issues with permits slowed down the pace of his trail-blazing research and caused several delays. 

In 2005, however, his tenacity and passion won the battle as he was granted the permits needed and, a year later, created his first natural product. 

The first creation passed stringent inspections and lab testing, and Herman was given a license to manufacture his unique formula. 

Within a few weeks of using his formula, Herman’s mother was back to her best and he had received 20 orders from her friends, who had seen her transformation.

It wasn’t long before the product fell into the hands of the director of the Centre of Pharmaceutical Investigations’ mother, who had noticed significant reduction of pain with the product. Upon her recommendation, Herman was put forward for an award in innovation and development.

Again, the Alchemist faced challenges – it was difficult to even persuade the judging board that a cannabis-based product could be safe – but with sheer determination he beat off two academics to take home the prize and recognition for his research. 

Now, Herman’s mission was to create a product that would be accepted and celebrated in a country that had long held negative connotations with cannabis and CBD. 

His award prize money was put to good use by investing in further research and development, with the first cannabis-based product undergoing over two years of extensive testing, determined to cover all bases when it came to potency and effect. 

The hard work didn’t end there – it took Herman a further two years to be granted the necessary licenses to take the cannabis-based product to market and the best part of 15 years to find its rightful place in pharmacies. 

Image courtesy of Herman Patiño/Dermactiva.

Fast forward to 2017 and his first contact with Dermactiva. After spending years searching for a cannabis-based product that genuinely delivered good results – and eventually biting the bullet and setting up on their own brand – the founders hit the jackpot with Herman. 

After conducting the same thorough research as Herman had with his own formula, Dermactiva created its own unique blend using the heritage of the Colombian Alchemist’s Organic Cannabis Sativa Seed Oil as a base.  

“As most in this industry, our products were inspired by personal experiences,” said co-founder and creative director, Claudia, who was born in Colombia herself but grew up experiencing both UK and Native American cultures.

“Reading ingredient lists on skin care products that looked like chemistry exams was a key motivation, as was the confusion about cannabis based products, what exactly they contained and how legit they were.

“As a child I watched my grandmother expertly blend plant based potions that cemented my faith in the power of nature, and I currently control what could be debilitating autoimmune conditions through diet and lifestyle choices  –  which I can appreciate may not work for everyone. 

“These things have been significant influences in creating our brand, as one of our core values is the belief that what we put in and on our bodies will dictate our wellbeing.”

All the way from the mountains of Colombia, the formula has found itself on UK shelves, providing relief to those with similar symptoms to Herman’s mother, which drove him to create the remedy in the first place. 

Dermactiva’s products rest heavily on this heritage, promising to act with your skin and provide easy absorption to allow the effects of the CBD to get to work quickly on the areas that need it most. 

Co-founder and CEO, Janice, who has over two decades of experience developing brands in the health and beauty sector and has worked for companies including Walgreens Boots Alliance and Superdrug, said: “While the industry has embraced a move towards more natural topicals, it has sometimes been challenging to ascertain which ones actually deliver, much less what they contain.

“Having sensitive skin myself I am also aware how important it is to find the right product to protect our body’s natural barriers. We are also living longer, with more diverse pastimes and staying more active, so these consumer facing touch points have been at the forefront of our product development.”

Rich in history, experience and integrity, Dermactiva looks set to thrive as it continues to grow. 

Sarah Sinclair is a respected cannabis journalist writing on subjects related to science, medicine, research, health and wellness. She is managing editor of Cannabis Health, the UK’s leading title covering medical cannabis and CBD, and sister titles, Cannabis Wealth and Psychedelic Health. Sarah has an NCTJ journalism qualification and an MA in Journalism from the University of Sunderland. Sarah has over six years experience working on newspapers, magazines and digital-first titles, the last two of which have been in the cannabis sector. She has also completed training through the Medical Cannabis Clinicians Society securing a certificate in Medical Cannabis Explained. She is a member of PLEA’s (Patient-Led Engagement for Access) advisory board, has hosted several webinars on cannabis and women's health and has moderated at industry events such as Cannabis Europa. Sarah Sinclair is the editor of Cannabis Health. Got a story? Email / Follow us on Twitter: @CannabisHNews / Instagram: @cannabishealthmag


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