Two years ago, my father called for what I thought was our weekly phone chat, full of goofy jokes and laughs. Instead, he told me in an uncharacteristically somber voice that he’d just been diagnosed with aggressive Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
In a moment when, more than ever before, I should have been there for him, been his rock — I totally lost it.
“Dad, you can’t get sick, you’re Superman.”
“Well,” he sighed. “Looks like my ‘S’ fell off.”
His spontaneous remark helped us manage a little laugh, which, Lord knows, felt better than more tears. We’d already survived watching cancer devour my mom for five long years. I think we both thought that somehow we were immune to death, having endured her devastating departure.
Though obviously we can never escape the Grim Reaper, we did discover three months into my dad’s treatment that he was successfully kicking cancer’s ass to the curb. For another six months, he endured massive doses of chemotherapy, and the chemicals proceeded to do their job in fighting the fight — but not without excruciating headaches, pretty much daily. But Pops refused to let that get him down, and he kept telling his ridiculous jokes and silly puns to keep our spirits up.
When I mentioned his migraines to a dear friend and long-time weed activist, Cynthia Johnston, she beamed (a bit mischievously) when she told me about a Cannabis-infused spray she was now deeply involved in getting into the hands of the public called “Xternal Rub” by Making You Better Brands (MYBB.) She handed me a bottle and said, “Just spray where it hurts and rub it in.” I took it to my father with my fair share of doubt — doubt that he’d even try it, and doubt that it would even work.
I myself had never heard of topical therapy, and Pops certainly wasn’t a Cannabis connoisseur. That said, we weren’t pro or con, either. But because all the over-the-counter remedies had failed to relieve his headaches, he was game to give the spray a try.
When Bud — which is, coincidentally, my dad’s name — took the bottle of cannabis-infused liquid and saturated the top of his head with it, he looked up at me with wonder in his eyes and a huge smile on his face.
“Though I felt pretty silly spraying this stuff on my head, as soon as I applied it, the ache I’d been having for weeks completely disappeared,” he reports now, completely cancer — and headache — free. “I was amazed… and grateful.”
Not knowing exactly what this magic potion was, my dad and I were floored by the results. And while cannabis as medicine has come a long way since he was diagnosed with Lymphoma, this experience for novices like my dad and me (and probably many others out there still) was truly eye opening in that it awakened us to the healing capacities of marijuana. We started learning about the power of pot. Here’s what us newbies found out:
1. What exactly are topicals?
Topicals are Cannabis-infused sprays, lotions, balms, and oils that are absorbed through the skin for localized relief of discomfort and pain. Externally applied, the product triggers a healing in the nerves just below the skin, much like an icy-hot cream treatment. Who knew? Xternal Spray became Bud’s new version of that oldie-but-a-goodie go-to remedy after battling it out on the tennis court: Ben-Gay.
2. What do topicals treat?
Various Cannabis-infused potions can be beneficial for the treatment of sore muscles, arthritis, joint pain, headache, inflammation, backache, chronic pain, stiffness, minor sprains, skin irritation, sports-related pain, musculoskeletal pain, muscle spasms, muscle fatigue, neuropathic and diabetes-related pain. Though these products emerged many years ago, topicals continue to be a mystery to the general public — just like they were for my dad and me.
3. Pops is not a pothead.
Much to our surprise, topicals don’t get you stoned. Because they’re non-psychoactive, topicals are often preferable for patients who want the therapeutic benefits of marijuana without the high associated with joints, bongs, etc.
4. What are the advantages of topicals vs. pain pills?
Topicals are formulated to provide a high local concentration of cannabinoids for targeted relief. They have no known side effects or dosing issues, and are not known to cause ulcers, GI irritation, constipation or addiction. Unlike aspirin, ibuprofen, etc, there has never been a cannabinoid-related death reported.
Making You Better Brands (MYBB) is a San Francisco Bay Area company founded in 2010. MYBB provides affordable, effective, fast-acting cannabinoid therapy for people and their pets. MYBB will continue to share with the world at large the science behind its full-spectrum whole-plant extract, “maximizing the relief and healing benefits of cannabinoids as nature intended.”
5. The remedy road ahead.
My friend, Cynthia Johnston, in addition to representing MYBB full time, continues to evangelize the “miraculous healing properties of our God-given plant,” as a founding member of the Brownie Mary Democratic Club of Los Angeles – an official part of the Democratic Party of California, inspired by San Francisco’s own Cannabis activist, “Brownie Mary” Rathbun, who eased the suffering of hundreds of “her kids” who were dying of AIDS and cancer back in the ’70s and ’80s.
Indeed, medicinal cannabis has come a long way since those dark days. And based on what I learned from this very personal experience, the fact that topicals are still not readily available shows me that we still have a long way to go, fighting the fight.