A Woman's Guide to Cannabis
Using Marijuana to Feel Better, Look Better, Sleep Better–and Get High Like a Lady
A woman’s handbook to demystifying the world of weed, whether it’s being used for pain relief, a moment of calm, or a fit of giggles.
Women of all ages are using cannabis to feel and look better. For rookies and experienced marijuana users alike, this lively, information-filled book is just the supportive guide you need to find the right dose to relieve anxiety, depression, and inflammation, and mitigate the onset of dementia and other signs of aging. Plus boost moods, ease aches, even lose weight, and get restful sleep. And a dose just for fun?
Topicals Reduce Pain and Increase Beauty
Cannabis improves our appearance by reducing pain, anxiety, and stress, not to mention improving beauty sleep, which makes us look relaxed and happy.
We also get amazing benefits when we apply cannabis directly to the skin. Cannabis-infused creams, lotions, and oils have powerful antiaging benefits in addition to relieving serious skin conditions like eczema, acne, and psoriasis. Healthy skin needs antioxidants; vitamins A, C, and E; and omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Cannabis is loaded with all of them. Marijuana is anti-inflammatory and antifungal, and clinical research has shown that antioxidants in marijuana support lipid production, which regulates the oil in skin and controls acne and dry patches. The skin, hair follicles, sweat glands, and sebaceous glands have receptors for cannabinoids and terpenes to lock into and work their magic. Creams and lotions won’t get us high (because the THC absorbed by the skin does not enter the bloodstream), but they will give us the best skin we’ve ever had.
Dispensaries now have small selections of cannabis-infused creams, but these creams are formulated for pain, not great skin. Someday soon, cannabis producers and beauty experts will get together and create fabulous moisturizers and eye creams for various skin types in pretty packaging that we just pick up at the dispensary, but until that day, we have to make our own.
The good news is that it is very easy to whip up luxurious beauty treatments at home, with just a couple of ingredients.
Guidelines for Great Topicals
• Pain relief topicals require more cannabis than beauty treatments do.
• Cannabis for skin doesn’t need to be decarboxylated. The anti-inflammatory properties of THCA and CBDA are just as beneficial in skin creams and oils as THC and CBD. In the dispensary, look for creams and lotions that have a full range of cannabinoids, including THC, CBD, THCA, and CBDA.
• The recipes in this book are for cannabis flower, but it is very easy to substitute cannabis concentrate in topicals. Here’s the trick. Melt the concentrate in the oven at 250 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes. During the last few minutes, melt the rest of your ingredients in the microwave. Then, stir the melted concentrate into the melted ingredients and continue the steps of the recipe. This is the only way I make topicals now. When the dispensary has a sale on wax, shatter, or live resin, I stock up. When I need to make a pain cream or replace an empty bottle of moisturizing oil, I grab one of the cheap grams of concentrate and melt it.
• DIY topicals do not require any special equipment beyond a collection of mason jars and pretty bottles and containers to store oils, serums, salves, and creams. Oils work well in 1- and 2-ounce bottles with dropper tops or sprayers for a fine-mist application. I pick up pretty, colorful glass bottles and jars at flea markets, garage sales, Goodwill, and big box stores. Look online for spray bottles and lip balm tubes.
• I love scented lotions, but my skin does not. If you have a collection of essential oils and scents, get them out and play with your topical oils, creams, and lotions. If you don’t, or you prefer fragrance-free skin products, skip the scents. The scent of cannabis usually does not come through in topicals—the butters and oils do a good job of covering it up.
• Sephora and Whole Foods have lots of hemp oil products. This is great because hemp seed oil is wonderfully moisturizing. But cannabinoids and terpenes are only in cannabis, not hemp. Skin treatments with cannabis can relieve pain, soothe aches and sore muscles, reduce inflammation, and heal severe skin conditions. Topicals made from marijuana can only be sold in dispensaries, not online, so they’re harder to get—but worth it.
• Emu oil helps cannabinoids sink into the skin and get to work. Emu oil is the darling of the marijuana topical world. The claim is that emu oil penetrates the layers of the skin more than other oils, which, in theory, would carry more cannabinoids through the skin and directly to the receptors of the endocannabinoid system. I don’t know if this is true, but when I make creams and oils with emu oil, my skin looks amazing, so I keep using it.
• Make sure to use fresh oils and add drops of vitamin E to every topical recipe. Vitamin E adds shelf life to topicals so they don’t go rancid.
• Beware of coconut oil, particularly on your face. I tried it, thinking it would make my skin look better. Within a week my nose was one giant clogged pore, and my cheeks were covered in flaming red, painful acne. Eventually, I tried a new concoction: high-CBD CO2 oil stirred into warmed argan oil. I rubbed a dropperful of infused oil into my palms and coated my face, neck, and hands with it. Immediately, I felt like Cleopatra. My skin felt perfectly balanced for the first time in my life. The next day, my face felt fixed. Clear pores, no redness, and all the acne dried up and disappeared in a week. Argan oil is my magic oil, so I use it in everything. I combine it with beeswax for lip balm and whip it with shea butter for creams. If you find your own magic oil, stick with it.
• Topicals are made from natural butters and oils, and some are better for our skin than others. Comedogenic means pore clogging, while noncomedogenic means pore clearing. There is a comedogenic rating system for oils on a scale of zero to five. Zero means the oil won’t clog pores, even for oily skin. A rating of five means the oil will clog pores for every skin type. Oils with ratings of two, three, and four will clog pores for some skin types. I have sensitive, oily skin that breaks out at anything, so I stick to level zero or one oils. Most skin types are just fine with level two oils, and very dry skin can handle level four without breaking out. When I make topicals for friends, I use the comedogenic rating scale to choose the right butters and oils for their skin types and body parts. I use level three or four oils in foot creams and foot oils. My elbows turn into Brillo pads in winter, so I make a custom-blended coconut oil to soften them up. Go low on the scale for summer face moisturizers, acne, and oily skin.
Ways to Take Cannabis Medicine
Just a few short years ago, dispensaries offered marijuana flower and poorly made marijuana-infused candy. That was pretty much it. But now, we can buy transdermal patches, mouth sprays, and suppositories in dispensaries. Cannabis medicine makers are constantly developing new products, and they’re focused on making medicine that not only gets us high, but also makes us feel better.
Remember that a psychoactive high depends on the amount of THC in a single dose, but the high also depends on how we consume that THC. We can eat, smoke, vape, or rub into our skin 10 milligrams of THC, but the effects and the highs will be different for each. Smoking 10 milligrams of THC gets us really high. Eating 10 milligrams is a mild high, and 10 milligrams of hand cream won’t get us high at all.
Mode of administration is the unsexy term for how medicine enters the body. Inhaling marijuana is one mode of administration. Eating it is another. But we can also consume marijuana with a sublingual, rectal, transdermal, or topical application. Each one has its own benefits, onset, and duration of effect. Some are more effective than others, and some are more fun. But it’s important to know them so you know which mode of administration is best for you. A cannabis-infused cream isn’t going to touch anxiety, and a 50-milligram suppository is too much THC and will increase anxiety.
Inhaling is the most well-known way to consume cannabis, and one of the most popular. Smoking or vaping marijuana has the fastest onset of effects, which means we get high quickly—usually within about fifteen minutes—and it can last from two to four hours. It also means we can easily control how high we get.
When marijuana is inhaled, about 10 to 15 percent of the THC, CBD, and other medicinal compounds are absorbed and used by the body. Because inhalation avoids the digestive system, it is especially effective for anyone dealing with nausea or digestion issues. We inhale by either smoking or vaping, and we can smoke or vape cannabis flowers as well as cannabis concentrates.
Recommended for anyone who wants to feel the effects quickly and control the intensity of the high.
Edibles are a popular method of consuming cannabis, because while not everyone likes to smoke, just about everyone likes to eat. When cannabinoids pass through the digestive system, they are released into the bloodstream and lock into receptors in the endocannabinoid system; we feel high, but not right away. It can take an hour or two for the THC in a brownie to produce a euphoric effect, but that effect will last much longer than the effects of inhaling. On average, an edible dose lasts twice as long as an inhaled dose, so the high can last from four to eight hours. It’s not easy to adjust the dose of an edible because it takes so long for them to begin working, so it’s important to remember to start low and take it slow. If you have never tried a marijuana edible before, start with 5 to 10 milligrams of THC. Don’t take more until you know how 5 to 10 milligrams affects you.
Eating an edible has a bit more bioavailability than inhalation; around 20 percent of the medicine will be absorbed and used by the body. There is no difference between 10 milligrams of THC in a cookie and 10 milligrams of THC in a gummy. Eat the one that tastes good to you.
Recommended for anyone looking for a longer effect and who can wait an hour or two before effects are felt. Edibles include capsules, food, and drinks.
Sublinguals are marijuana in liquid form that are absorbed by placing a few drops under the tongue. When cannabis is absorbed in the mouth rather than swallowed, the body absorbs more of the milligrams because the digestive system doesn’t get involved. Cannabinoids that are absorbed in the mouth don’t pass through the liver as edibles do. The liver reduces the number of milligrams that get into the bloodstream and get us high. Almost 50 percent of the cannabinoids in a sublingual are absorbed by the body. A sublingual application will take ten to twenty minutes for effects to be felt, and effects continue to rise for about four hours until a peak is reached, which means pain relief lasts for hours. It’s also a great mode of administration for anyone who has trouble swallowing. When my brother is in the middle of a seizure, it’s a sublingual application that I reach for, either a tincture or a spray.
Recommended for nonsmokers, anyone with digestive issues, or anyone who can’t wait for an edible to work. Sublingual products are oils, tinctures, hard candy, mints, lozenges, and breath sprays. Anything that goes in the mouth but isn’t swallowed.
Rectal applications are cannabis-infused suppositories. They are the most efficient way to consume marijuana. As the suppository melts—it is most often made of cocoa butter—the cannabinoids are absorbed by veins in the rectum and quickly enter the bloodstream, which means the effects are felt much faster than with an edible. And because the marijuana doesn’t pass through the stomach and liver, cannabinoids are not wasted on the first-pass digestion, which means more marijuana is available for the body.
Fifty to seventy percent of the cannabinoids in a suppository are absorbed and used by the body, and the effects of a marijuana suppository are felt for four to eight hours. The best thing about a marijuana-infused suppository is that the high is much milder than with any other method of consuming marijuana. Eating 50 milligrams of THC might send you into a 12-hour power nap, but a 50-milligram suppository is simply relaxing.
Recommended for anyone with digestive issues or a lot of pain. For now, suppositories are only available in a few states. But you can easily make them yourself, in whatever dose you prefer (see page 190 for the recipe).
Transdermal application means that cannabis enters the bloodstream through the skin. Transdermal patches, similar to nicotine or opioid patches, allow cannabinoids to sink through the skin and into the bloodstream and we get high. Very high, as I discovered when I applied my first patch to my arm. It sent me on a dog walk that lasted for hours because I couldn’t find my way home. After that, I began recommending for patients to cut the patches in half. The next time I tried a patch, I had a throbbing broken toe, and it almost immediately eliminated the pain and kept it at bay all day. Transdermal patches are calorie-free, the effects kick in quickly—faster than with edibles but not as fast as with smoking/vaping—and last for six to eight hours.
Recommended for anyone who needs a strong dose that lasts a long time. We can’t make transdermal patches at home; we have to buy them in a medical or recreational dispensary. They are available in THC, CBD, THC/CBD, and other options, so you can find the cannabinoids that work for you.
Topicals are applied to the skin but do not enter the bloodstream, so we don’t get high. Instead, cannabinoids and terpenes lock into the endocannabinoid system receptors that are located in the skin. Considering how effective cannabis is at healing the rest of our bodies, we shouldn’t be surprised at the miraculous things it does for our complexion. Creams, lotions, and oils infused with cannabis relieve pain and inflammation without a psychoactive high. Pain relief can be felt within an hour of applying a topical and can last for several hours. Arthritis responds wonderfully to marijuana topicals, since the cannabinoids and terpenes reduce both inflammation and pain. Sore muscles and nerve pain are also reduced with cannabis creams. Topicals work for more than just acne, psoriasis, dermatitis, and eczema. Rubbing marijuana oil on your temples can help relieve a headache. We aren’t as concerned about the number of milligrams per dose in topicals, because there is no high.
Recommended for localized muscle pain, arthritis, and other inflammation issues. Topical products include skin creams, lotions, salves, and balms. Topicals usually either improve the condition of the skin itself or relieve pain. THCA and CBDA are just as effective, if not more so, at reducing inflammation and relieving pain, so look for topicals that contain a whole range of cannabinoids, not just THC. Patients report anywhere from one to four hours of pain relief from topical applications.
About the book:
A woman’s handbook to demystifying the world of weed, whether it’s being used for pain relief, a moment of calm, or a fit of giggles.
Women of all ages are using cannabis to feel and look better. For rookies and experienced marijuana users alike, this lively, information-filled book is just the supportive guide you need to find the right dose to relieve anxiety, depression, and inflammation, and mitigate the onset of dementia and other signs of aging. Plus boost moods, ease aches, even lose weight, and get restful sleep. And a dose just for fun? Well, that works, too!
Here’s how to navigate the typical dispensary, with its overwhelming options of concentrates, edibles, vape pens, and tinctures. Understand the amazing health-giving compounds found in cannabis—THC, CBD, terpenes, and more—and how to use topicals to reduce pain and give your skin a healthy glow. There’s even advice on how not to get high but still reap all the amazing health benefits.
Plus over twenty recipes, from edibles like Classic Pot Brownies and Netflix and Chill Caramels to self-care products like Radiant Glow Serum and Happy Body Bar.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Nikki Furrer runs one of the 12 cannabis cultivation centers in Illinois, where she develops strains and products for women, and the medicine that is most effective for women’s conditions. She has worked as a bud tender and grower in Denver, standing behind the counter with every product on the Colorado medical market, helping patients find the best medicine for them. Her oils, edibles and topicals are the most popular cannabis products in Illinois, and stocked in more dispensaries than any other cultivator. She compares her experience of wholesaling cannabis (from packaging design, to sending free and review samples, to offering tips for hand-selling, to pushing the backlist) to the role of publishers and sales reps who worked with her when she was a founder and manager of Puddin’Head books in St. Louis. She currently lives in both Chicago, IL and St. Louis, MO.