People world-wide have been relieving pain with the cannabis plant for millennia. A common preparation to extract the medicinal elements was to soak the flowers in oil or similar. These extracts were then applied to the skin (topical application) where the medicinal cannabinoids would enter the skin and body tissues, travelling directly to the area of the body that was in need of relief from injury, tension, inflammation or muscle strain. Across the United States new methods of cannabis consumption are changing the notion that 'marijuana' belongs solely in a bong or joint – or that it has to get you 'high', for that matter.
Cannabis-infused topicals are an example of how different modes of consumption are revolutionising perceptions of cannabis as their accessibility, safety and efficacy invite even the most unlikely patrons into the world of medical cannabis. The different modes include: vaporising; 'medibles' (cannabis-infused edibles); ingestible oils; tinctures (infused liquids); and, dabbing (flash vaporisation of cannabis concentrates).
While medical patients have been using topicals for quite some time, many of these products have remained a mystery to the general population. Americans who have been prescribed opioid pharmaceuticals for pain along with other prescription medications for varying conditions that cause a dizzying array of side effects are looking to cannabis therapy as a simpler, less toxic solution. Mary's Medicinals CEO, Nicole Smith, said: "There are so many patients who want an alternative pain medication that doesn't alter their mental capacity or ability to function. Seventy percent of the products we make are non-psychotropic and that is by design. They are faster acting and longer lasting, but also not as hard hitting."
Topicals include cannabis-infused balms, creams, gels, liniments, lotions, oils, salves and sprays that are absorbed through the skin for localised relief of pain, soreness and inflammation. A variety of products with different ratios of cannabinoids, essential oils and other natural ingredients, lets patients and their caregivers find just the right harmony. Cannabinol (CBN) is a muscle relaxant while Cannabidiol (CBD) is an anti-inflammatory and for someone with Multiple Sclerosis, for example, CBN together with CBD might work best. Due to being non-psychoactive, topicals are often chosen by patients who want the therapeutic benefits of cannabis without the cerebral euphoria associated with some delivery methods. Strain-specific topicals attempt to harness certain terpenes and cannabinoids in a chemical profile similar to that of whatever strain/s the processor wishes to imitate.
Along with Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD, Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA) and other cannabinoids, topicals may also include essential oils and other natural ingredients for additional relief, like cayenne, wintergreen (Methyl salicylate) and clove. Many contain hemp seed oil which is jam-packed with both Omega-3 and Omega-6, polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs, or essential fatty acids). Approximately 20% dry weight of the human brain is made up of PUFAs and a third of fatty acids in the central nervous system are PUFAs; both Omega-3 and Omega-6 groups. The Omega-6 group of PUFAs are important in the pro-inflammatory response which is the body’s reaction to infection, stress or injury. Omega-3 fatty acids are important in damping down the inflammatory response and making sure it doesn’t get out of control.
The Transdermal Patch was born out of a commitment to accurate dosing and the application of pharmaceutical grade delivery methods within the cannabis industry and is the safest, most effective way to consume cannabis. Cannabinoids currently available via transdermal patches in the US include: THCa, THC Indica, THC Sativa, THC Hybrid, CBD and CBN. Transdermal Patches are generally placed on the wrist or dorsal part of the ankle for systemic absorption and are effective within 10 minutes and can last up to 10 hours. Designed as an accompaniment to patches, transdermal gel pens are the perfect resource for managing breakthrough pain, or for creating your own blended cannabinoid ratios. Placed directly on the skin and gently rubbed in, transdermal gel has the same bio-availability as a patch, but is faster acting and shorter lasting. US gel pens are accurately dosed with 2 mg doses of active cannabinoids. There is also a transdermal cream available that can be rubbed into the wrist which acts similarly to a transdermal patch and is usually 2 mg per dose.
Sore or Tight Muscles
Skin Conditions, Psoriasis, Pruritis
Repetitive Strain Injuries
Fungal and Bacterial Infections
Back Pain, Neck Pain, Shoulder Pain
Pain in Arms, Legs, Feet and Hands