© 2013 – Home herbalist “kaneh bosm” ointment containing olive oil
*Author’s note: I’ve opened this article again and updated it due to it having a bit of viral activity on Facebook last week! I’m glad that this is a topic of interest and I am pleased to share my own findings as a home herbalist that has been preparing cannabis spa massage oils, salves, lotions and other preparations.
Coconut oil is very trendy for all kinds of purposes these days. My favorite purpose is the flavor and texture it lends to popcorn. But don’t put it in my cannabis topicals please! It’s greasy and lingers on my skin! I’m also not crazy about the smell which seems to overpower everything else when it is combined with cannabis. That being said, I do think there are topical makers that are talented at working with coconut oil, it’s not a fat that I use for base–but it is one I will use in a blend for fragrance. As a base, Coconut oil doesn’t even register on the oleic acid scale; which, in case you were wondering, is the fat chemistry necessary to transdermally deliver cannabinoids and essential oils from the cannabis plant effectively.
Let’s talk about another problem with coconut oil. Coconut oil may not be safe for some consumers that have tree nut allergies due to the processing of tree nuts is frequently done in the same areas of a processing plant as coconut. And if a dispensary serves medical marijuana patients, utmost care must be taken to manage and disclose allergen exposure.
There is a similar issue in medical pot dispensaries regarding shea butter and latex allergies, shea butter being another common base fat that many dispensary marijuana topicals are made from. Shea butter is a nice butter and is fine for most people, but it does need to be disclosed for those with latex allergies.
Grape seed oil, another popular ingredient in dispensary topical preparations, is higher in oleic acids and absorbs into the skin, but there are also concerns with solvents in grape seed oil extraction unless this is sourced certified as solvent-free.
My ideas about what the right oils and fats are
The home kitchen preparation of a fresh and solvent-free, high in oleic acid salve, ointment or massage oil, with wholesome ingredients you already have like plain virgin olive oil, kitchen spices, fruits, flowers and herbs prepared using various temperature changes to –and this is the basis of my cannabis spa preparation philosophy that I outline in the Quick Start chapter of my book and that I practice at home!
Making external cannabis products is not as easy as adding cannabis oil to a standard lotion or balm recipe.
Fortunately, the fats that are highest in oleic acids, olive, sunflower seed oil, camellia oil, mango seed butter (a great substitute for shea butter), and are also free of major allergen proteins and they make fabulous base oils for herbal external cannabis products. As a home herbalist, or as an herbalist for a dispensary, you can create a higher in oleic acids topical product that’s allergy friendly, fresh and potent!