Did you know… not only can marijuana bring you sunshine on a cloud day, it can also be processed into topical creams, lotions, and salves to provide effective, localized relief from pain and other uncomfortable conditions? Miracle plant, say what?
What in the H are Marijuana Topicals?
News outlets, bloggers, Instagrammers, your friends on Facebook… everybody’s talking about their right to smoke marijuana, but burning it is just one of the many ways to take advantage of the host of healing properties we’ve discovered come along with using this versatile plant. The magic of marijuana comes from cannabinoids like THC and CBD, chemicals that the endocannabinoid system to promote a more positive environment within the body (but you already know that).
Distilled down to their essence, marijuana-infused topicals provide a bridge for people who want to benefit from the healing powers of cannabis without the psychoactive side effects.
How Cannabis Topicals Do Their Thing
Not that we want to bore you, but we’ll put on our thinking caps for a minute for a short chemistry lesson.
Cannabinoids work in the body by interacting with CB1 and CB2 receptors located throughout the brain and body. When you smoke, vape, or consume cannabis orally (like eating a special brownie or taking a drop or two from a tincture), the compounds are absorbed into the bloodstream. When applied to the skin, cannabinoids do not pass through to the bloodstream, instead binding with CB2 receptors in the skin, which in turn activate the ECS.
Don’t worry, though, even topicals that contain THC, the legendary hallucinogenic, won’t get you high, because the cannabinoid can’t pass through the skin to get to the bloodstream where it is normally delivered to CB1 receptors located in the brain. This makes topicals a great introduction to marijuana for medical purposes, as well as for patients who want the therapeutic benefits of the plant without the euphoric side effects.
Muscle/Joint Pain Relief
Soreness in your knee? Back? Shoulder? Rubbing in a fast-acting cannabis-infused topical may be the solution. The THC/CBD present in the product binds with CB2 receptors to provide an almost immediate relief from pain.
Minor Skin Irritations
Cannabis is great for treating inflammation and can be used to help reduce swelling and pain, and in some cases act as an antibacterial to treat skin abrasions like bug bites and minor scratches.
Skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema are associated with inflammation. When applied topically, CBD helps to dampen the bodies natural reaction to cause inflammation in the skin, giving the area a chance to heal.
Speaking of pain and inflammation, cannabis topicals can be instrumental in treating pain and joint stiffness caused by arthritis. CBD/THC have also proven to offer benefits such as immune system modulation, and bone growth/strengthening properties.
Where anecdotal patients have noted that initially a topical doesn’t provide relief at first, with regular use there is a gradual but significant change in pain and mobility.
Did you know that hemp oil is considered a great moisturizer? If we can use it to treat eczema, why not dehydrated winter skin? Additionally, studies have determined there is a relationship between CBD and lipid production, potentially a solution for patients suffering from stubborn, painful acne breakouts.
DIY Marijuana-Infused Salve
If you’re one of those handy, crafty, DIY-people, you may be interested in whipping up a little of your own marijuana-infused salve using cannabis harvested from your own garden.
You’re result will be as strong as the strain you use, so choose something with higher levels of THC or CBD for “extra” results. We like a carrier like coconut oil because it’s chock full of nutrients that on their own are good for the skin.
7-10 grams of dried and cured cannabis, ground into powder
1 ½ cups coconut oil
1/3 cup beeswax
Saucepan (or double boiler if you’re fancy)
Glass container with lid
Your favorite essential oils (just a drop or two will do!)
Add coconut oil to a saucepan or double boiler over low heat, stirring continuously. Once liquid, stir in the ground cannabis and mix well, maintaining a low heat for 20 to 25 minutes.
Always keep the heat low so you don’t burn off cannabinoids, which can potentially decrease the potency of your salve.
Remove the mixture from the heat and strain through a cheesecloth into a glass jar. Set this aside.
In the same pan, heat your beeswax until it’s melted, and then slowly pour in the infused coconut oil. At this point you can add your favorite essential oils or herbs (like lavender, peppermint, tea tree, turmeric, etc.).
Once your concoction is thoroughly mixed, remove from heat, transfer to containers for storage and let harden. Depending on the region in which you live, you may want to store your new salve in the fridge so that it remains in a solid state.