Marijuana Salves, Oils & Topicals for Healthier Skin
There are many ways to use cannabis topicals.
Herbs have been used to treat skin problems for thousands of years. Five thousand years ago, Ayurvedic practitioners used marijuana preparations. Cannabis-enriched lotions, salves, and other topically applied products are still used today. Marijuana’s active ingredients — cannabinoids and terpenoid essential oils — are absorbed through the skin for direct therapeutic effect.
People’s lives have been changed using marijuana topicals, including those who have been able to stop taking opiate narcotics for pain, grandparents with severe arthritis who have been able to hold their grandkids for the first time and musicians who are able to use their fingers again.
An increasing variety of topical ointments, salves and other marijuana-infused topical preparations are available in dispensaries. Select products that use the highest quality ingredients, as your skin will absorb the bad as readily as the good. Not all states require complete labeling on cannabis products, so do some research. Stay away from products that contain parabens (used as preservatives) or petroleum-based chemicals (some artificial fragrances), as these can cause a host of other health problems.
Making your own topical is a bit more involved than making canna-butter or a tasty batch of magic brownies, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s simple to make a poultice.
As with all things marijuana, the quality of your final product and its effects is largely determined by the quality of the materials you start with. Many people use nothing but trim and other material that would otherwise be discarded. To produce the finest grade, start with bud. The variety of marijuana used influences its topical effects, because of variation in the cannabinoid and terpene profiles.
Poultices are the simplest topicals to make. They have been used for thousands of years. There are three methods of preparation: with fresh marijuana leaves, with leaves soaked in alcohol or mixing dried powder with alcohol, glycerin, oil, or water.
India’s Ayurvedic medical tradition uses hemp poultices made by boiling the leaves. Sometimes roots are used as well. Boiled poultices are used to treat bacterial skin infections and inflammation, including hemorrhoids. In India, marijuana poultices made from bruised fresh leaves were a common household remedy for conjunctivitis, swollen joints, inflammation of the testes and other acute inflammatory conditions, sores and open wounds. Hemp root has also been used traditionally to make poultices.
The most basic poultice method is to crush freshly harvested fan leaves using a mortar and pestle or blender, turning them into a juicy pulp. Spread the crushed leaf paste on the area to be treated. You can roll fresh leaves between your hands to bruise them, which releases the juice and oils. Carboxylated cannabinoids (THCA, CBDA, etc.), still in their acid form in unheated, untreated marijuana leaves, may have different therapeutic properties than the heated, decarboxylated leaves and are superior for some uses. Use fresh leaf poultices immediately, as they have a very short shelf life unless refrigerated or frozen.
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