This past winter, I seemed to be sick non-stop. As a result, my normal exercise regime wasn’t an option. So now that I’ve 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 marijuana topical balm help relieve my tired sore muscles? The answer is, as you may have guessed, yes.
Marijuana topicals can come in the form of a salve, cream or even oil. They're 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 for many patients is that it can provide pain relief without creating a sense of being high.
Cannabis-infused balms work by absorbing through the skin and binding to our CB2 receptors, which are found throughout the body. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), along with other cannabinoids, have an analgesic and anti-inflammatory effect on the body once they come into contact with these receptors. In general, topicals won’t get into the blood stream, which is one of the reasons you don’t get high when using them.
Transdermal patches are another way to administrater medical marijuana. And since transdermals actually do get into the blood stream, they’re somewhat different from topicals.
Cannabis salves are said to help with sore muscles, back pain, arthritis and many other aches and pains. I’ve 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’s little to no research on topicals, anecdotally I found that people who use cannabis topicals uniformly seem to like or love them.
As you may know, numerous marijuana balms are out on the market, and many that I’ve yet to try. That said, I'm going to tell you about four topicals that I use and like.
I’m going to start with this cannabis body butter from Sweet ReLeaf, because I absolutely love it. It has a creamy texture, doesn’t 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 1 oz jar is $20, which may seem pricey, but a little goes a long way. I’m now a huge fan and plan to buy this one in bulk.
A testimonial on the Sweet Releaf 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’ve used this balm for some time, and it works well. When my back hurts after a workout, I put some on and find that it definitely lessens the pain.
That said, the smell of this balm is very powerful—you wouldn’t want to go on a date after using it. It also has a greenish hue that makes me think of the Wicked 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 Medicine says, “Great for arthritis, bone and muscle pain, backaches, neck aches, gout, chest congestion, sore feet, dry skin, and much more. Apply to the affected area as often as needed. You won’t experience any THC side effects, only the soothing comfort of being free of pain.”
Again, this seems to be a popular cannabis balm that’s carried by many dispensaries. The packaging feels very generic, but I suppose it’s about what’s inside that matters.
That said, I’ve carried this in my purse for the past few months. When I’ve had a really sore muscle, it seems to help. It tends to be on the greasier side of topicals, so you need to rub this one in well.
The Xternal site says it helps combat many conditions and that, “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.”
I keep the HerbaBuena body balm on my bedside table. HerbaBuena pays particular attention to the quality of the cannabis it uses, and I appreciate this very much.
The balm has a very distinctive smell—it’s 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. The jar’s description states that it contains 1,000 mg of THC, so a little goes a long way.
On the HerbaBuna site, it says, “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.”
Hopefully this list gives you a good place to start if you want to explore how marijuana topicals can help your sore muscles. And if you’re a pro when it comes to balms, salves, lotions and oils, let us know what your go-to topical is in the comments section.