Did you know that you can apply cannabis to your skin?
Known as topical cannabis consumption, applying cannabis to the skin has been studied for its effectiveness in helping to potentially relieve dermatological conditions, headaches, menstrual pain, muscle soreness, and inflammation [*].
Available in many different forms, such as lotions and different kinds of skincare products, this form of cannabis may have healing effects due to the potentially therapeutic properties of the plant’s cannabinoids, such as CBD and THC [*]. Since topical cannabis enters through the skin rather than the bloodstream, there is little intoxicating effects from the THC, making this form of consumption more mild than smoking, vaporizing, and ingesting [*]. This may be beneficial for those who are interested in cannabis’ healing potential but don’t want the ‘high’ [*].
When cannabis is consumed, the cannabinoids activate receptors in the endocannabinoid system, a system in the body that helps to regulate its main physiological functions, such as appetite, memory, mood, and digestion [*].
Cannabis topicals are simple to make, and can be personalized to your specific needs depending on which additional herbs and ingredients you choose to add.
The first step is to create your basic cannabis topical, from which you can add extra ingredients depending on your intention for use. Once you purchase affordable cannabis, here’s how to start the process:
- 7-10 grams of ground, dried cannabis
- 1 ½ cups of coconut oil
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- ⅓ cup beeswax
- 1 baking sheet
- 1 saucepan
- 1 jar
- 1 cheesecloth
- A few drops of essential oils of your choice (see options below)
- Extra herbs of your choice (see options below)
- Choose a strain of dried flower. Not sure what to look for? If you’re new to cannabis, it may be beneficial to choose a strain with a balanced CBD and THC ratio.
- Now, it’s time to decarboxylate your dried flower. This process requires baking your cannabis flower to turn THCA into THC, and CBDA into CBD. Preheat the oven to 250° F (or 220° F to decarb for a longer and slower amount of time). Break up the cannabis flower into small chunks - by hand or by grinder. Spread the cannabis evenly over a sheet of parchment paper on a cookie sheet. Bake the cannabis at 250° F for 25 - 30 minutes, or 220° F for 30 - 45 minutes. Make sure that you don’t open the oven too often. After 25 - 30 minutes, check on the cannabis. It should have changed from green to light/medium brown, and it will feel very dry. If it isn’t dry and if the colour hasn’t changed, put it back in for another five minutes. Make sure it doesn’t burn. Beware that when decarboxylating your herb, it often causes a strong smell. Make sure you turn your ventilation on during this process, or consider some odour-control products.
- While your cannabis is in the oven, add your coconut and olive oils into the saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring continuously.
- Remove your decarboxylated cannabis from the oven and add it into the oil mix in your saucepan. Maintain low heat and keep stirring the cannabis and oil mixture. Ensure you keep the heat as low as possible so that you don’t burn off the herb’s THC, which can reduce your salve’s potency.
- Add optional herbs or spices (see list below) into your mixture, stirring constantly. If you’re wanting to add in essential oils, wait a few more steps.
- After 25 minutes, remove the saucepan from heat and pour the mixture through a cheesecloth into a separate bowl. Once the mixture cools to a warm temperature, add optional essential oils. Set aside.
- In the same saucepan, add the beeswax and heat until it is fully melted. As the beeswax melts, slowly add the other mixture. Stir together.
- Place the final product into a jar (keep the lid off) and let cool completely by either placing in the fridge for 90 minutes or the freezer for 40 minutes.
- Let mixture warm to room temperature for approximately an hour before putting the lid on. Store in a cool, dark place.
Here are some herbs that you can add to your salve in either concentrated essential oil form or in the raw herb or spice form for the following uses:
- Lavender: Studied for its ability to help manage and treat acute headaches [*], add lavender to your salve as a raw herb or as a concentrated essential oil.
- Peppermint: This herb is recommended among healthcare professionals for its ability to help target tension headaches [*]. Add peppermint into your salve as a raw herb or as a concentrated essential oil.
For menstrual pain:
- Chamomile: This herb helps to support healthy menstruation since it has anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic, and anti-anxiety properties [*]. Add chamomile into your salve as a raw herb or as a concentrated essential oil.
- Rosemary: This herb may help to reduce the production of prostaglandins [*], which are hormones that, when released in excess, can cause menstrual cramping [*]. Add rosemary into your salve as a raw herb or as a concentrated essential oil.
- Rose: this flower’s antioxidant properties help to counter oxidative stress and reduce inflammation [*]. Add rose petals into your salve or as a concentrated essential oil.
- Cinnamon: containing multiple flavonoids rich in antioxidants, this ancient spice helps to lessen inflammation and potentially restore balance [*]. Add cinnamon into your salve as a ground spice or as a concentrated essential oil.
This list of oil and herbs is not all inclusive, and if you do your research, there are many other options that may be helpful. Make sure to keep topicals away from eyes, and ensure you don’t ingest your product.