We’re going to talk about different administration methods for medicinal cannabis, specifically how to get topicals into your body to reduce ailments and help symptoms.
When we’re talking about the different administration methods of cannabis, we’re referring to the ways our body absorbs THC and CBD differently. In terms of topicals, the most traditional method is oils.
Oils are lipid-based, fatty molecules such as olive oil, coconut oil, and cannabinoids. Our body’s cells are also lipid-based. When you deliver a cannabinoid into an oil, it dissolves it. It can then more easily penetrate the tissues and regulate the tissue or nerve or immune system cell’s behavior in a positive way.
What does it mean to apply a topical? Oil cooked in cannabis that has activated THC is something that would get you high if you ingested it, but oils seep into the body slowly. If you applied this oil to a sore back or you rub it on a joint injury, you’re going to have the cannabinoids enter the tissue there. They will regulate the cells at the location and you don’t get high from it. Despite all the laws and the legality of cannabis, it’s always fascinating to me that we have this method that can really help people reduce pain, inflammation, and even anxiety by softening and nourishing the nerves– but without getting them high. I think topical oils are a great way of experimenting with using cannabis when you’re sick of pain pills and even sick of the high associated with cannabis. For some, that is an unwanted side effect.
Alcohol is another way to dissolve cannabis resins. Putting a few drops of cannabis-infused alcohol onto your skin will absorb faster than oil. If I’m making a batch of something with THC in it and not wearing rubber gloves, the alcohol will go into my skin and I can actually feel the psychoactive effects. You have to be cautious when using solvents like alcohol, but it will absorb into the skin if you have arthritis or an injury that you want to get rid of rapidly. It’s not a magic bullet for everyone, just another option.
Remember that it’s also potentially toning your pain nerves, so it’s helping reduce the pain but also keeping the nerves balanced so that they don’t act up all the time. It’s not established by the FDA, but plenty of scientific studies and client results have pointed to the benefits of cannabis as a non-toxic pain reliever.
You’ll also see pain patches now in a lot of states that have legal cannabis dispensaries. They make pain patches in the pharmaceutical industry, similar to an Icy Hot patch, that we put on our skin to help with chronic pain. You can get an opioid in a patch and then stick it to your skin. It slowly delivers the opioid into your blood stream. Now they make them for cannabis as well.
I recently talked to a scientist at a laboratory that makes these pain patches. We talked about his high-tech system of delivering the oils and what kind of method they use. Essentially, they use oleic acid, which is just olive oil. So again, we take something very sophisticated from the pharmaceutical industry, a patch, and we realize that they’re basically just using olive oil as well. So, we go back to this natural method of putting our THC or CBD into olive oil and applying that to the skin. It’s going to deliver it in the same way that a pain patch would. The added benefit is that you or a loved one is massaging it into the area. Warm oil massage has been associated with calm and stress relief in a study.
There’s going to be some variants about the time it takes to deliver, but that’s really trial and error. You put it on your skin in a moderate amount, you’re not going to get high from it, and you see what it does over time.
If I have a sore back, I’ll put it on. If I put it on every day for a week, the pain is noticeably reduced. If I forget for a few days and stop putting it on, the pain can come back. Sometimes injuries can benefit from what I call a course of cannabinoids, which is doing it every day for a week or even longer. Then, it really starts to tone and help with the pain in that area. It can take a while for oils to penetrate into tissues.
And remember, THC and CBD are slightly different – the former is psychoactive, and the latter isn’t. My CBD oils that I sell can be taken orally or applied topically.