A high percentage of home healthcare patients need wound care at home. Can cannabis help?
There is much research into the potential healing properties of cannabis. It may help manage pain, reduce inflammation, and even reduce skin irritation — all of which are beneficial to wound healing. In fact, cannabis may speed up the healing process, enabling wounds to close earlier than normal — whether they are external or internal (like ulcers).
Closing wounds earlier means less chance for infection and frees up the body’s internal mechanisms to work on other issues. It makes movement easier and life more enjoyable.
So, before reaching for Neosporin or gulping down Pepto-Bismol, consider how a cannabis salve or oil could help take away the pain and irritation while helping wounds to heal faster.
Chronic Wound Care
While any wound can be problematic if left untreated, chronic wounds are especially troublesome. In addition to being hard to treat, these tend to affect older adults disproportionately, making treatment even more crucial for an already at-risk population.
Instead of progressing through the normal stages of healing, chronic wounds don’t move beyond the inflammatory stage. By staying inflamed, the skin doesn’t get a chance to heal and the wound remains open. This puts the patients at risk for infection and disease. Luckily, cannabis has shown great promise in treating chronic wounds.
Regular skin is hydrophilic, but wounds are lipophilic, meaning these absorb lipids the way non-punctured skin absorbs water. The cannabinoids THC and CBD are also lipophilic, meaning wounded skin will readily allow these to pass into the skin layers.
The anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving functions of cannabis aren’t the only ways it can help wound care at home, however. Cannabinoids have natural antibacterial properties that may help keep wounds clean and free of disease-causing germs during the healing process.
While it can feel tense to apply a natural or homemade salve to an open wound, cannabis is a safe, clean, and effective way to manage skin lacerations. For the truly squeamish, many cannabis skin patches can offer the benefits of a salve paired with the easiness of a bandage.
Cannabis and Wound Care at Home
A 2018 studyKlein, M. et al. (2018). Effects of cannabidiol, a Cannabis sativa constituent, on oral wound healing process in rats: Clinical and histological evaluation. Phytotherapy Research. 32(11):2275-2281. … Continue readingof rats tested whether CBD could treat mouth ulcers — and it did offer some advantage. Published in Phytotherapy Research, the study found that rats treated with CBD had significantly less inflammation of their ulcers after three days than the control group. However, by day seven the inflammation levels were the same. CBD speeds up the healing process early on, but the effect may not persist.
That’s better than it sounds. First of all, these rats had small lacerations and ulcers that would have healed on their own anyway. Not all wounds can get themselves through the first two stages without help. Second, the most dangerous time for wounds is in the beginning. That’s when most infections set in and the most likely time re-opening would occur. If CBD can accelerate healing for wounds during this most dangerous periods, that’s a valuable tool.
How to Make a Cannabis Salve at Home
Homemade cannabis salve is a fantastic way to soothe minor injuries at home. Everything from paper cuts and kitchen knife mishaps to bug bites can be helped with a slathering of cannabis goodness. Here’s a quick recipe to make on your own. Like so many things, a cannabis salve is a better thing to have on hand before you need it. So make it today!
- A slow cooker or pressure cooker
- A thermometer if your cooker doesn’t have one
- Cannabis flower — one ounce or twenty-eight grams (cannabis oil can also be used — see below)
- Two cups of coconut oil or an oil of your preference, such as almond oil or olive oil
- One teaspoon of sunflower lecithin
- Two teaspoons of beeswax pellets
- Five to eight drops of essential oils if you desire, flavors like lavender or camphor are popular
- A cheesecloth
- A mixing bowl
- Container jars for storage
1) What Chemovar?
A note on the kind of cannabis used: Many people who make at-home topicals prefer to use high-THC chemovars for the pain-reduction benefits. Alternatively, some choose CBD-rich chemovars for helping to manage the symptoms of inflammation.
Whichever you choose, you’ll first need to decarboxylate the cannabis to get the best activation out of the cannabinoids. Those using cannabis oil instead of flower can skip this step.
A simple way to do this is to preheat your oven to 260 degrees Fahrenheit and line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil. Spread the cannabis out on the cookie sheet in an even layer, then cover it with another sheet of foil and fold it over to box in the cannabis. Cook the cannabis in the oven for one hour. (If your oven isn’t great at maintaining a proper temperature, be sure to check it halfway through).
2) Add a Base
Next, you’ll need to add the cannabis (or cannabis oil) to your base oil (usually coconut oil). Combine these ingredients with the soy lecithin or beeswax and put it all in your cooker. If you’re using a semi-solid oil, like coconut, some people suggest melting it a bit in the microwave before combining it with the cannabis and soy. Stir it all together until blended. Cover the mixture and slow cook it at a temperature of about 160 degrees Fahrenheit for three hours. Gently stir every sixty minutes.
After three hours, you can remove the lid and let the mixture cool for fifteen minutes. While it cools, spoon the mixture onto the cheesecloth and then wrap it entirely. Squeeze the cheesecloth into your mixing bowl, straining out as much as you can. Be careful – it can be hot! Be sure to let it cool down enough to strain — or put the cheesecloth over of a mason jar opening and let gravity pull it through.
Repeat the straining process if you find lumps of green material in your bowl. Repeat the straining process with all of your mixture until it’s all been strained into the mixing bowl. Once it’s all in the bowl, add in the beeswax and supplemental essential oils. Stir it all together until it’s completely mixed in.
Then spoon the results into your final glass containers. Cool the final products in the fridge for an hour, then return them to room temperature for at least another hour before putting the lids on. And voila! You have a potent salve to treat wound care at home.