This past winter, I seemed to be sick non-stop. As a result, my normal exercise regime was not an option. So now that I have started back up with early morning boot camp and daily hikes, my muscles have been screaming. After my first few days back at it, I can barely walk, feel hobbled and the aching muscles leave me seriously cranky. Could a cannabis topical balm help relieve my tired sore muscles? The answer is, as you may have guessed, ‘Yes’.
What are Cannabis Balms
Marijuana topicals can come as a salve, a cream or even an oil. They are meant to be applied to the skin and provide localized relief for pain. Pain may be from nerves, arthritis, inflammation, and general soreness, among other conditions. The benefit of a topical, to many patients, is that a topical can provide pain relief without creating a sense of being high or stoned.
Cannabis infused balms work by being absorbed through the skin and binding to our CB2 receptors, which are found throughout the body. THC and CBD along with other cannabinoids will have an analgesic and anti-inflammatory effect on the body once they come into contact with these receptors. In general, topicals will not get into the blood stream, which is one of the reasons you do not get high. Transdermal patches are another way of medicinal administration and transdermals actually do get into the blood stream, so they are somewhat different to topicals.
My Top 4 Cannabis Topicals
Cannabis salves are said to help with sore muscles, back pain, arthritis and many other aches and pains. I have used different balms to help me with acute lower back pain, sore muscles, tendonitis and bursitis in my hips. Many marijuana topicals on the market today carry some of the same ingredients found within drugstore muscle creams, including eucalyptus, camphor, menthol and others. There are a couple of downsides to using topicals; many smell like cannabis and they can often feel greasy due to their carrier oils. Although there is little to no research done on topicals, anecdotally I have found that people who use cannabis topicals seem to uniformly like or love them.
As you may know, there are numerous marijuana balms out on the market, and many that I have yet to try. Here I’m going to tell you about four topicals that I use and like. Each of the balms mentioned below are available for purchase within the state of California.
I’m going to start with this cannabis salve because I absolutely love it. It has a creamy texture, does not smell like cannabis and provides fast relief from sore muscles. I was barely able to walk after my workout, my quads were so sore, and a colleague at work mentioned this wonder-cream. I happened to have a sample size at home, so I popped it open and with the smallest amount it went straight to work. Within half an hour my pain had decreased significantly. A 1oz jar is $20,which may seem pricey, but a little goes a long way. I am now a huge fan and plan to buy this one in bulk. A testimonial on their site states , “Sweet Releaf is the most effective pain relieving cream I have ever used. The smell is pleasant and enchanting and it has a nice body feel. When I have sore muscles I rub it in and the pain and discomfort melts away.” I have to say, I back this statement up with my own experience.
The Kind Rub is a very popular brand I’ve seen in many dispensaries. I have used this balm for some time and it does work well. When my back hurts after a workout, I put some on and it definitely lessens the pain. That said, the smell of this balm is very powerful, in such a way that you would not want to go on a date after using it. It also has a greenish hue that makes me think of Witch of the West. This salve has a fantastic ingredient list, which includes eucalyptus, rosemary, sage, lavender and chamomile, among other natural herbs. On the product page for this product, Kind says “Great for arthritis, bone and muscle pain, backaches, neck aches, gout, chest congestion, sore feet, dry skin, and much more. Apply to affected the area as often as needed. No THC side effects will be experienced, only the soothing comfort of being free of pain.”
Again, this seems to be a popular balm that is carried by many dispensaries. The packaging feels very generic, but I suppose it is about what is inside that matters. That said, I have carried this in my purse for the past few months because I do like to use it. When I have had a really sore muscle it seems to help me. It tends to be on the greasier side of topicals so you need to rub this one in. Their site says it helps combat many conditions and “Xternal Balm is a non-petroleum-jelly topical rub with our proprietary active ingredients. This formula was originally designed for MMA fighters who found it greatly improved recovery time.”
The folks at Herbabuena offer this balm and I keep it in my bedside table. Herbabuena pays particular attention to the quality of the cannabis they use, and I appreciate this very much. Their balm has a very distinctive smell, it is sort of planty-medicinal which I happen to like. It has a yellowish hue and feels a bit grainy, so you also need to really rub it in before you can put clothes on over it. It says on the jar that it contains 1000mg of THC and a little goes a long way here too. On their site they say, “Our proprietary blend of oils eases all types of muscle and joint pain, and has been reported to be particularly effective as a sports rub and for assisting with arthritis. Starring critically extracted cannabis as well as oils of coconut, jojoba and avocado, cacao butter and beeswax.”