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“It was game-changing, I felt like everybody needed to know about it”



Claire Mcauley, founder of Naturally North CBD

A chance discovery of CBD oil allowed Claire Mcauley to come off opioids for her arthritis and inspired a change of career.

Having inherited osteoarthritis from her father, Claire Mcauley, 51, had knee surgery for the first time while still in her 30s.

At just 48, both of her knees semi-dislocated and her doctor informed her that she would need to start thinking about knee replacements. Claire, 17 years younger than the average knee replacement patient, was shocked by the news.

“I was basically told that my knees were shot and they needed to get me booked in for knee replacements,” Claire recalls.

“I said, ‘wait a minute, I’m 48 and we’re talking about knee replacements?’”

Claire was in excruciating pain, but she decided to hold off from having the procedure and was put on a range of different prescription pain killers, including opioids, to manage the pain.

Taking the likes of Tramadol and amitriptyline, her medication plan began to have an impact on her day-to-day life and work.

“I was a regional manager in the commercial world. I needed to drive and I needed to function. I needed to talk to a lot of people, but I couldn’t lift my head off the pillow,” Claire says.

“It was horrendous, opioid medications can be nasty things.”

In 2019 during a trip to Glasgow, Claire encountered CBD for the first time. She walked past a stall selling CBD products and she was offered to try an oil. The effects were instantaneous, she says.

“By the time I had walked 500 yards I had no pain. I was sure it wasn’t just in my head. I’m quite a level-headed person when it comes to things like this and I couldn’t understand how it had happened.”

She bought a bottle of the oil and began taking it regularly. Straight away she abandoned the opioid medication and managed her pain with CBD alone.

Previously Claire would regularly take the antidepressant pain medication, amitriptyline, especially during the night. now no longer uses the drug or any other prescription painkiller.

She explains: “I would wake in the night by just turning over. If my knee was going to pop, I could feel it and I would panic. My whole body would go rigid because I was thinking ‘it’s going to go again’. But CBD stopped all that.”

Dropping her prescription medicines wasn’t the only change Claire made to her life. Just two months after discovering CBD, she decided to launch her own company, which now sells a range of health and wellness products from its base in Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

“I was already in business with a couple guys who I’ve known for a while and I just felt like we needed to do this, it was game-changing.

“Everybody needed to know about it,” she says.

Claire opened Naturally North CBD shop in July 2019. At the time she says there was still stigma attached to cannabis and the business “took its time to get off”.

Now, almost two years on, the shop is a go-to place in the North East for both CBD aficionados and those new to the supplement.

Naturally North CBD customer Christina, 84, picking up her first supplements since lockdown

Like many small businesses, Naturally North has faced challenges over the past 12 months, but has been able to adapt and survive the pandemic by taking its service online.

“We were a new business and our website was new so we had to start from scratch, building up the website traffic,” Claire says.

“Like any business, you have to adapt so we started the click and collect service. It’s almost like a drive-thru CBD shop.”

Although the business faced financial and operational issues after the pandemic hit the UK in March, Naturally North experienced a “massive” surge in demand for its products when the store reopened after the first national lockdown.

The shop experienced a similar surge in the run-up to Christmas. However, the third and current lockdown has been more “frustrating” for the business as Claire says she is seeing the financial impact of the pandemic on her customers.

“We found ourselves having to put more offers and more sales out there to try and keep our customers,” she says.

“They struggle because they’ve got to put food ahead of anything else.”

To address the issues of cost, Naturally North is in discussion with one of its suppliers to help make CBD more financially accessible.

As the world slowly begins to emerge from the pandemic, Claire says the personal interaction with her customers is something she looks forward to having again.

“If you’re wanting to take CBD, you’ve got to look at it as the start of the journey, like you would with any kind of medical prescription,” she adds.

“It’s not one size fits all so you’ve got to be prepared to put the time in to get it right for you, it can be so individual.

“I get to build up a trust with people when I can speak to them and that’s when we get the best success with people taking CBD.”


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