The Alternative Use of Topicals

By Tyner Bouteiller

The legalization of cannabis has had a ripple effect and I have directly seen its impacts. People now discuss the consumption of cannabis openly and cannabis accessories are cropping up every which way I turn. More and more people have started to explore weed culture and are often surprised, if not mocking, of those who do not partake in this recently normalized indulgence.

Although many people have chosen not to use cannabis products for moral or personal disinterest — there are some of us who do not use cannabis for other reasons. I suspect many of us want to participate in this newly legal and sensory-stimulating culture but a few of us are finding that cannabis is not all it’s cracked up to be. Speaking from a place of experience, cannabis, regardless of the strain, can cause an increase in anxiety.  

In my experience, I have noticed that the consumption of cannabis can lead to other unwanted effects, including hallucinatory-like visions that can be long-lasting (even in small doses), unpleasant physical sensations, and hangover-like symptoms occurring the following day. Not everyone appears to experience these side-effects, and it has made me wonder if some people may be intolerant to tetrahydrocannabinol, also known as THC. Some people can even experience stuffy, runny noses and rashes, suggesting a full-blown allergy. So how can people with these issues benefit from cannabis?

Thankfully, for those who are intolerant or do not enjoy the effects of THC, there is an alternative. Several companies have been offering CBD oil with low or negligible levels of THC. CBD (cannabidiol, which is an active compound of cannabis) has most of the medical benefits of cannabis without causing people to get high or hallucinate. Although some people enjoy taking the oil as oral droplets, others like to use it as a topical. Topicals, often in the form of creams, are applied to the skin and body rather than inhaled or orally consumed. Companies have produced lotions, body butters, and even bath bombs and lubricants with CBD oil.

So, if CBD doesn’t get you high, what are the benefits? Well, there have been reports of CBD being used to reduce pain and inflammation, which is likely of interest to many of us, whether we have experienced arthritis, earaches, back pain, or even just sore muscles. The benefit of having a bioactive ingredient that focuses on both pain and inflammation is that it helps reduce the symptoms and the potential problem.

Unfortunately, since research has been limited on CBD’s ability to reduce inflammation, I would suggest combining the oil with a variety of other well-known anti-inflammatory natural ingredients, such as turmeric, ginger, and honey. If you are interested in creating your own pain-lowering and anti-inflammation lotion, it is easy to do. I have even made my own “honey, lemon, and ginger” topical cream, named after the soothing drink my grandmother makes me when I’m sick. It involves using one’s preferred body oil (I like coconut oil), CBD oil, aloe vera gel, which one could harvest from their own plant, minced or powdered ginger, powdered turmeric, a bit of honey, and lemon essential oil. Blended together in one’s preferred quantities, I have found it useful for reducing sore muscles and feet, and even some of my headaches when applied to the back of the neck. CBD oil is an exciting new natural cannabis product that many anti-THC users may enjoy and benefit from.

Tyner Bouteiller is a recent Bachelor of Arts graduate from the University of Guelph. She majored in psychology and minored in nutrition and nutraceuticals, which is where she discovered her interest in bioactive ingredients and topicals. Her holistic perspective will eventually be used to help those with mental health disorders.

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