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Topical cannabis may be exactly what you need after a workout

There’s a wealth of information out there about cannabis and its healing properties that many of us aren’t privy to — yet. Depending on where you live, you may not be able to purchase cannabis oil legally. But if you just so happen to reside in one of 23 of the legal medical marijuana states and you workout and experience frequent muscle aches and pains, take note. Instead of popping a pain reliever such as aspirin, you may want to look into a more natural topical solution: cannabis oil.

When you apply cannabis topically, it interacts with the CB1 and CB2 receptors found all over the body and can provide pain relief without producing psychoactive effects. In other words, you’ll experience many of its medical benefits without the risk of feeling overtired, hungry or spacey.

More: Is cannabis oil the miracle drug you can’t use?

“Cannabis is a known anti-inflammatory and analgesic,” says Sandra Hinchliffe of Hempista magazine and author of The Cannabis Spa at Home. “The full range of chemistry within the plant, the cannabinoids and terpenes, contributes to these soothing effects. In my opinion, the soothing aspects of the cannabis plant can be further unlocked in a salve or lotion with the addition of more herbs that have a complementary terpene profile, such as lemons, cloves, bay leaves, black pepper, etc.”

In her book, Hinchliffe outlines what she calls simple but effective methods for bringing cannabis together with other herbs to create salves and other topicals that have these soothing effects. Although she says some people use the oil as a singular ingredient in their treatment, Hinchliffe warns that when cannabis goes through the curing process, many of the terpenes that occur naturally within the flowers, such as limonene (think lemons or oranges) or linalool (think lavender flowers), dissipate over time.

“Adding back in the non-phototoxic versions of these essential oils (such as distilled lemon oil), and even introducing some new herbs such as myrrh, can increase the soothing effects and pleasure of using a cannabis topical preparation,” she says. “Cannabis topicals can be applied or used in a number of ways — salves, lotions, athletic wraps or even bath salt formulations.”

More: Why women are the future of marijuana legalization

You can only purchase and use oil that contains cannabinoids from a cannabis plant if you live within legal or medical states. The rest of us have another option, but it isn’t as potent or effective — unless you add in alternative herbs.

“Hemp seed oil, which is a component of many off-the-shelf lotions and balms and is also a culinary or health oil, is available at any natural grocer in all 50 states,” Hinchliffe says. “If you are not in a legal state, you may purchase hemp seed oil and use that as a substitute along with herbs that contain a similar terpene profile found within cannabis to create your own legal cannabis salve for workout strains and pains in prohibition states.”

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