In A Woman’s Guide to Cannabis, Nikki Furrer teaches us about “Using Marijuana to Feel Better, Look Better, Sleep Better, and Get High Like a Lady”. Instead of trying to be everything to everyone, Furrer speaks directly to mature women who are inexperienced with modern cannabis. The Guide covers the cannabis plant, its medicinal properties, dispensaries, consumption methods, dosing, and the importance of working with your doctors to incorporate cannabis into a treatment plan.
What stands out, compared to most other cannabis books, is a large selection of easy-to-follow recipes for DIY cannabis products. Furrer covers extraction, activation, and creating tinctures, oils, and cannabutter, as well as recipes in which to use them. Edible recipes include traditional favorites like brownies and gummies, plus unusual entries like “wake ‘n’ bacon” and cannabis dog treats. Topical recipes cover beauty products, body bars, and cannabis suppositories. While not everyone is looking to DIY their cannabis products, it’s an economical option that gives a user better control of quality and content of their product.
DIY Cannabis Cream for Pain
I broke my foot in December, in a tragic walking and texting accident! Thankfully, it is healing well, and I was finally cleared by my orthopedist to put some weight on it. While walking was not very painful, I knew that my foot would ache at the end of the day, and I wanted a cannabis topical cream to soothe the soreness. So I decided to put Furrer’s recipe for a DIY cannabis “foot reviving cream” to the test!
I loved her stove-top process for decarboxylating the cannabinoids in a jar. This recipe was simple, and buying all of the ingredients still cost less than a topical at the dispensary.
Plus, I wanted a full spectrum cream that includes all of the cannabinoids and terpenoids, not one that was made by combining isolates of THC and CBD.
My first impression was that the DIY cannabis cream smells dank, and not in a good way. I rubbed the leftover into my hands, before realizing that I couldn’t possibly stand the smell that close to my face. Throughout the evening, my foot sometimes tingled and sometimes hurt less, but it ached for most of the night. Topical THC is absorbed through the skin doesn’t reach the bloodstream, so there were no intoxicating effects. For me, it didn’t have the same analgesic properties as inhaling or ingesting, though others have reported pain relief from topicals. (Please note that topicals should not be confused with transdermals, which have added compounds to help the medicine penetrate the dermis and reach the bloodstream. Unlike applying a topical cannabis cream, transdermal cannabis patches can be intoxicating and will show on a drug test.)
I slept with socks on to protect my bedding from the dankness of my feet and figured this was a failed experiment. The next morning, I felt a significant improvement in mobility from reduced inflammation around the break. My toes wiggled freely for the first time since I kicked that curb! My foot has been slowly healing for six weeks, but this was a step change overnight! My only regret is that I didn’t turn to topical cannabis creams sooner. If I’m being honest, I was unclear on how they worked, or that cannabinoids could reach my CB1 and CB2 receptors – and their healing benefits – through topical application to the skin. I’m grateful to Furrer for inspiring me to try and research something new, and this cream will be a go-to in the future.
A Word of Caution
Furrer has extensive knowledge of cannabis uses and effects. But cannabis, especially as medicine, is a technical, scientific, and sometimes very complicated subject. In her attempt to simplify the complexity, Furrer made generalizations that were mostly correct – but the exceptions were an error of omission, in my opinion.
In other places, Furrer failed to make a critical distinction between what we can scientifically prove and what seems likely from anecdotal indications and animal research. Scientifically, cannabis is a proven pain reliever, sleep aide, mood enhancer, and stress reducer in humans. Anecdotally, cannabis has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, antidepressant, neuroprotective properties, and has improved some cancer outcomes. But even the most likely of these are based primarily on animal models. Studies on mice have shown that cannabis is a powerful anti-inflammatory, but studies on humans were mostly illegal in the US until recently, so scientific studies proving the same in humans are not yet available. Cannabis has proven to be a neuroprotective antioxidant in mice, but does it stave off dementia in humans? Maybe – we don’t know for sure. As of 2019, we can prove that “numerous cell culture and animal studies showed antitumor effects of cannabinoids in various cancer types.” No studies scientifically prove that it can combat cancer in a living person. While these claims may be proven true someday, and Furrer may be correct, she doesn’t differentiate between what we believe and what we can prove.
My margins are filled with skeptical notes that a less-informed consumer – like the intended audience – wouldn’t know to question. For recreational users, this is much less of a concern. For patients, they could be important distinctions. I’m comforted that Furrer coaches readers to make medical marijuana decisions in collaboration with a doctor.