Cannabis infused topicals are popping up everywhere. Although there's a plethora of real benefits to using marijuana cream on your achy muscles or small cuts, be sure to stay clear of those that are promising a new head of hair if you apply their "marijuana miracle grow cream" on your shiny bald head.
Absorbed through the skin
Marijuana topicals can be found in the form of balms, lotions, and oils and are absorbed through the skin. This allows for relief right where you need it. Topicals are a wonderful choice for those that want the therapeutic aid of marijuana without the high.
US National Library
Although there is limited research on the topic, a study published by the US National Library of Medicine showed that CB1 and CB2 receptors are located in several areas of human skin like the hair follicles, nerve fiber bundles, and sweat glands. This means that the chemical compounds found in marijuana could directly affect these receptors without it needing to go through your blood and brain barrier.
CB1 or CB2 receptors
When cannabinoids activate the CB1 or CB2 receptors, it changes bodily functions. CB1 receptors play a role in pain sensation, while CB2 has a role in inflammation. So, when these receptors come in contact with marijuana's cannabinoids then they have a positive reaction in your body, whether it's anti-inflammatory or easing pain.
Cannabinoids reduce inflammation
There was another study published in the journal Science that showed how cannabinoids reduce inflammation. Mice had a slower recovery from ear tags (used for identification) when researchers blocked their internal cannabinoids, said Dr. Meliha Karsak at the University of Bonn in Germany. Although it's still mostly a mystery, scientists believe that cannabinoids are involved in many functions of the body. Dr. Karsak added that mice also healed faster from skin allergies when topical THC was used.
In a previous post, I talked about how terpenes found in each individual strain of cannabis can aid in different ailments of the body. For instance, OG Kush and Limoncello strains contain the terpene Limonene which has powerful antimicrobial properties that kill pathogenic bacteria. So, if you were to apply a balm made from OK Kush or Limoncello strains to a wound then it would help fight against pathogenic bacteria.
Another terpene that works well in cannabis topicals is pinene. It acts as an anti-inflammatory and local antiseptic. Skunk strains are usually high in pinene. This could potentially aid with inflammation from disorders like arthritis, however more research needs to be done to confirm it.
Pharmaceutical benefits of cannabis
Making your own topicals can be easy, and there are many methods out there. However, there is some debate about the destruction of terpenes and other cannabinoids if you choose a method that includes heating, which may increase the pharmaceutical benefits of cannabis.
When cannabis is heated a process called decarboxylation occurs. Cannabinoids like CBD and THC are inactive in raw cannabis until it gets heated. That is why huffing a raw bud gets you nowhere. When decarboxylization takes place then THCA gets converted into the cannabinoid we all love so much THC. Also, CBDA gets converted to CBD.
Ultimately it's up for you to decide whether or not you believe it is better to make a topical with heated bud or with fresh. I will share with you one method to make a cannabis salve using heat.
This method includes two steps. First off, grind 1 ounce of marijuana in a blender or coffee grinder until it’s a fine powder. Spread the powdered herb on a ovenproof pan and put it in the oven for 5 minutes at 340 degrees Fahrenheit (171 degrees Celsius). Give it a stir a few times to get an even bake. When opening the oven door, enjoy a good inhale of the fine smelling aroma. You will know that it's been properly decarboxylated when the cannabis powder is darker and dry.
Fat of your choosing
Now take a cup of a fat of your choosing. Coconut oil works great. Add the cannabis powder to your fat and keep it on a low heat for several hours, but not longer than 24 hours. Strain the cannabis from the fat with a fine mesh or cheesecloth.
Boost medicinal properties
Take the fat after it's been strained and put it back into the pot to be heated again. Add 1 ounce of beeswax and stir until it's melted. At this point you can let it start cooling and add any essential oils to boost medicinal properties.
One handy fact
One handy fact you may find out soon enough once you start making it is this. Try not to, but if you burn yourself while making the cannabis salve, you may rest assured because in your burned hands you now hold a wonderfully soothing topical to remedy it!
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