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Cannabis Topicals

A recent blog talked about cannabis or CBD as skin care products.  Another piece of that that I did not mention too much is topicals. These products could be a game changer to managing soreness, pain and other skin problems and irritations by completely bypassing the pharmacy counter and ingesting products that may cause harm to other parts of your body.

A CBD lotion or salve can be both an anti-inflammatory and a pain reliever.  We are finding that inflammation is the cause of many conditions including acne, signs of aging, and even heart conditions. Research has indicated that CBD can be a good treatment for dry skin, psoriasis and eczema and acne.  Other somewhat surprising uses for topicals are sprains, insect bites, burns and bruises. CBD rubs can also take the place of products such as Bengay for your pre or post work so that you no longer smell like your great uncle.  While Cannabis topicals can be a great pain reliever, it may not work on pains that are below surface level, but they appear to work quickly with reports indicating pain relief within 10 minutes or application.

Both THC and CBD have been shown to have antiseptic properties, which would make them a great alternative to use on open wounds and cuts.  Have you heard that the overuse and misuse of antibiotics have caused some ‘bugs’ to be resistant to antibiotics? Cannabinoids have been found to be effective in killing Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). MRSA is a superbug that is resistant to the use of antibiotics.

How do these products work?  The science itself is beyond my knowledge, but according to New York Dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, MD “CBD binds to a special set of receptors in the skin known as TRPV-1 receptors, where it can help feelings of heat, itch, and pain. This explains why it has a soothing effect on the skin. “

We know that cannabis is made up of different compounds including THC, CBD, and terpenes, and each may work differently, so which is the best use? CBD has been shown to penetrate the skin 10 times better than THC, so if you have more severe pain, itching or swelling a CBD prominent topical may be more beneficial, however, the potency of the product can make a difference as well. As there is not much information available on cannabis items, test different products to see what works best for you.

The third compound mentioned above is terpenes which are prominent in cannabis (more than 100  have been identified in cannabis) but also found in many other places such as pine needles, lemons, and lavender.  Terpenes are very common in essential oils, and by themselves have therapeutic benefits and smell wonderful. Pinene is found of course in pine needles, but also in rosemary, basil parsley and dill.  Potential medical benefits of pinene include use as a bronchodilator, pain management, and anxiety. Another common terpene is linalool or limonene which can also be found lavender, mint, cinnamon and birch trees. Limonene has also been shown to reduce anxiety, help manage stress, relax muscles and relieve pain, and has a cooling effect which can help with burns. 

Leafly has provided some tips for using topicals. 1.  Determine where to apply it. That sounded like a no brainer to me - where it hurts seems like the obvious answer, but think about where a tension headache may originate from.  It may be tension in your neck and shoulders, so ignoring these areas would and applying to your head may not help your headache. 2. Be sure to use enough, and multiple applications may be necessary.  Massage the product in and use pressure, but not so much so that it causes more pain. 3. Many of the topicals may also have citrus, pepper or mint in them so be sure to wash your hands after applying. 4.  Finally, manage your expectations when using a product like this. Expect more of a mild relief similar to a heating pad or Icy Hot.

I will soon be on my way to the drug store to check out what is available in my area and hope that one of these products can provide some relief for my tired and achy wrists from repeated keyboard use.

Connie Maxim-Sparrow