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There's a Cannabis-Infused Bath Soak That Can Actually Help With Managing Pain and Anxiety

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Benjamin Stone

Dahlia Mertens took her love for holistic healing, combined it with a massage therapy practice, and eventually birthed the cannabis-infused body product line Mary Jane's Medicinals. Since getting the business up and running in 2009, Mertens has already seen public attitudes toward cannabis shift greatly. POPSUGAR got with the green-minded entrepreneur over email to chat about anxiety management, changing legalization, and "aha!" moments in the bathtub.

POPSUGAR: You started infusing oils with cannabis as a massage therapist to help clients manage chronic pain. Tell me more about what inspired you to start dabbling with this kind of plant-based therapy.

Dahlia Mertens: I have always gravitated to a more holistic approach to health and healing. While working in the spa industry, I was exposed to many different lines of body products. The plant-based natural products were always more attractive to me than the product lines that had long lists of ingredients I could not pronounce. While working as a massage therapist, I started thinking about creating my own line because I was inspired by some of the herbal product lines I was working with and loved the therapeutic nature and smells of essential oils.

In 2009, I visited my friend's medical marijuana farm in Northern California. For the first time I saw cannabis plants growing outside. The plants were massive and breathtakingly beautiful. While at the farm, I was introduced to a cannabis-infused grapeseed oil that was being used as a massage oil. At the time I had never heard of cannabis being used topically and did not think it would do anything. After applying some to the sore muscles in my neck I experienced a warm sensation of increased circulation and relaxation in those muscles, but I did not experience any of the psychoactive effects commonly associated with smoking or ingesting cannabis.

At that time in Colorado, the medical marijuana movement was in its infancy but quickly gaining momentum and cannabis businesses were popping up all over the place. The wheels started turning in my head and this discovery of cannabis being used topically excited me. When I got back to Colorado I began experimenting with different cannabis infusions and created an infused massage oil that I began using in my practice. Initially I thought the use of the oil would just make for a more relaxing massage, but to my surprise my clients were regularly reporting back to me of chronic pain, circulation, and skin issues being alleviated with use of the oil.

At that point I realized I was onto something bigger and more exciting than just an extra relaxing massage oil. So I developed my branding, expanded the product line, and began driving around the state knocking on dispensary doors and opening people's eyes up to the wonders of cannabis-infused topicals.

PS: How else can MJM's cannabis-infused lotion and massage oil be used, outside of managing pain?

DM: Cannabis used topically has analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects so it is very effective as a natural pain reliever, but through the years we have received so many testimonials of these products doing so much more. The cannabinoids (the active chemicals in cannabis such as THC and CBD) which are in our products bind to receptors in your skin which stimulate the endocannabinoid system (a system in your body that regulates homeostasis). When the cannabinoids bind to these receptors it stimulates your [body's] natural healing response. These products help your body heal itself. They speed healing time for injuries and help mitigate the pain of the injury. These products are also very effective at treating burns - all kinds of burns, from radiation burns, to sunburns, to burns from hot soup!

People use these products for many different types of skin issues: itchy or painful rashes, old scars, fine lines, sun damage and age spots, cold sores and warts, acne (because cannabis also has anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties). Cannabis is also a neuroprotectant so people use it for nerve issues such as Restless Leg Syndrome. We have also received a lot of excellent feedback from people who have experienced nerve damage after chemo and radiation treatments and these products seem to help [that], as well. [For some people] migraines seem to be lessened with use of these products with application to the temples and the back of neck when a migraine is coming on. The massage oil is a wonderful and stimulating lube for sexy time. People also use these products to relieve stress and hypertension.

Our tag line is "Just put some salve on it!" because it works for so many different types of health issues.

PS: I've tried and fell in love with the Heavenly Hash Bath soak. I used it before a wedding I was nervous to attend. How can people use your products to help temper anxiety?

DM: The Hash Bath is a wonderful product for relieving anxiety. That is probably our most effective product for treatment of stress, anxiety, and hypertension. Personally, I apply our lotion to my entire body after my evening shower and I find that also really helps me unwind after a stressful day and allows me to sleep more soundly. Smoking or vaping a little cannabis before application of the products seems to boost up the efficacy too - the cannabinoids applied to the surface of the skin interact with the ingested cannabinoids. I experience a subtle-but-pleasant tingling sensation when I combine smoking cannabis with application of the topicals. Applying the salve to the base of the feet is another way to systemically treat your body for stress. There are so many receptors on the soles of the feet that I have found this to be effective.

PS: How did you decide on what products to include in your current lineup? What other products can we expect to see in the future?

DM: I started with the massage oil, my next product was the salve. The salve quickly became our most popular product - people love that delivery system. I added the lotion because I saw the beneficial effects the salve and massage oil was having on my skin; I saw the fine lines in my skin lessen and the general appearance of my skin improve.

I also noticed some of my old ski bum friends with leathery faces and years of sun damage have dramatic improvement in their skin health and appearance - which inspired the lotion, too. I was getting great feedback on people using the salve on their lips for severely chapped lips, so I created the Lip Bong for that reason. Its healing properties make it a wonderful lip balm especially in dry climates like Colorado. The Heavenly Hash Bath was an "ah-ha!" moment in the tub.

We are working on a sex lube, a tinted lip balm, a bath bomb (the kind that fizzes up), and a couple secret projects that I can't share until we roll them out.

PS: How has California's adult-use law passing affected business?

DM: At this time our business is focused in Colorado. We are working on building a partnership in California with an established canna-business. I can speak at length to the legalization and licensing in Colorado, but we are in the initial process of navigating the new California environment.

PS: What has surprised you most on your journey with starting, rolling out, and maintaining MJM?

DM: Learning about how the plant works with our bodies and the incredible amount of healing potential it can provide for human health is incredibly exciting for me. There has been so much propaganda and misinformation concerning cannabis fed to us over the years that it is very refreshing and eye-opening to learn the truth about what this plant can do for our health. Seeing people replace their opioid regimens with cannabis is rewarding because cannabis is so much safer and less toxic than most of the pharmaceuticals we are prescribed and cannabis treatments are proving to be as effective or more so than a lot of our Western medicine approaches.

Being a pioneer in a nascent industry that is not federally legal yet has all kinds of surprises everyday, and in order to survive and maintain a business in this environment you have to be very flexible and courageous. But that aside, the incredible efficacy of the cannabis plant is the most surprising and exciting aspect of this industry for me.

PS: Tell me about your mentors in the cannabis game. Who do you think is doing some of the most important work?

DM: The people on the front lines of legalization. The cannamoms and dads fighting for their children. The Rick Simpsons of the world who are willing to risk their own freedom to get cannabis medicine to people who really need it. The athletes that are willing to put their careers on the line to advocate, and the veterans of our military who are courageous enough to stand up for cannabis medicine. I also really respect all of the people who have worked on writing and creating the laws here in Colorado. I feel like for the most part the state of Colorado has created a strong example on how legalization can work and benefit the people.

PS: How have you seen attitudes and society shift with regard to cannabis amid shifting legislation?

DM: The American people have been fed so much propaganda their whole lives regarding cannabis. I believed a lot of that propaganda for most of my young adulthood, until I started becoming educated about cannabis. Finally real information about the health risks and health benefits of cannabis are becoming available and mainstream. It takes time to re-educate people, but it is happening. When I started my business in 2009, I would brace myself when asked what I did for a living because I never knew if I was going to get a judgmental look or genuine interest in response. These days when I talk about my business or cannabis in general I am noticing a lot more open-mindedness and receptivity. The tide is turning.

PS: What would you tell someone who is apprehensive about trying cannabis-infused body products?

DM: Cannabis topicals are a very exciting niche of this industry because it is a way people can experience the medicinal benefits of the plant without experiencing the high. In this regard topicals are a great ambassador for the plant. I have seen numerous conservative people that would never dream of smoking or eating cannabis be open to topicals.

PS: What is your personal favorite in MJM's line? Why do you consider it the best?

DM: If I had to choose just one product it would probably be the salve because it is our most versatile product and easy to throw in your pocket or purse. I rub it into my tight shoulders at work, I rub it on my sore feet after work, I apply it around my eyes at night (it's amazing for reducing puffiness or bags under the eyes). It's my first aid if I injure myself or happen to get stung by a jellyfish. It's my after-sun cream and my anti-wrinkle cream. I apply it to my knees before I go skiing, and to my aching muscles after a big day on the hill. The uses seem endless: "Just put some salve on it." For real!

Everything You Need to Know About Running Outdoors in Winter


Baby, it's cold outside! So, if you've managed to resist the temptation of cozy blankets, sweats, and a steaming mug of hot chocolate in favor of sticking to your regular running routine, kudos to you. Not only are you well on your way to increasing strength, muscle tone, and cardiovascular health, but you're proving to yourself (and your friends!) that nothing - not even harsh weather conditions - can slow you down.

Running is also a great way to ward off the Winter blues. According to a study at Duke University, researchers discovered that getting regular cardio exercise not only increases your serotonin levels, but it also reduced the symptoms of depression as well as the risk of relapsing in trial participants.

That said, there are times when even the most avid runners should think twice about logging miles outdoors. "While everyone handles the cold differently, generally if it's zero and windy, it's just too cold to run," says Rachel Spurrier, an RRCA-certified running coach in New York City. "No matter how many layers one wears, running with windchill can really make one get cold really quickly. So skipping one run or moving it to a slightly warmer day is much better than risking unsafe conditions."

Although there are preventative measures you can take, like wearing layers, gloves, a hat, and running shoes with good traction, it's important to weigh the pros and cons before pounding the pavement. "Frostbite and hypothermia are the two major concerns when training in extreme cold," says Desi Bartlett, MS, CPT exercise physiologist. "Also, bear in mind that falling or slipping on ice can be a danger."

Bartlett, who originally hails from Chicago, aka The Windy City, advises that runners check the weather report less than an hour before they run since temperatures can change quickly. It's also important to check in with your body midrun to make sure you aren't experiencing numbness, fatigue, intense shivering, impaired speech, or lack of coordination, all signs that you should cut your run short since you are probably doing more harm than good.

"I sometimes tell clients if they think they look a little ridiculous, they probably are appropriately dressed."

"For a healthy adult with no temporary or chronic conditions, it's OK to run in the cold," says Bartlett. "But generally it's best to skip your outdoor run if conditions are 20 degrees or colder or if there is ice or freezing rain."

If you do opt to brave cold temperatures, it's also important to make sure that you are dressed appropriately. "It's all about layers!" says Spurrier. "Wearing a base layer is key; then layer up from there. Cover all exposed skin and always make sure to cover all extremities. If there is any kind of wind, it's good to tuck a layer or two into one's leggings to protect your midsection from getting cold. Also, put an extra pair of socks over one's pants. One can lose a significant amount of heat through one's head and chest, so it's important to keep these protected and covered. I sometimes tell clients if they think they look a little ridiculous, they probably are appropriately dressed. It's always better to be too warm than too cold."

And if all else fails, don't shy away from taking a well-deserved rest day. After all, you've earned it. "Athletes should remember that rest days are essential to their training," says Spurrier. "Taking an unscheduled rest day doesn't mean that you're derailing your training or you're lazy. It's good to get into the mindset that it can actually make for a stronger and more rested runner so, when one does run, they have a better quality workout. This is when the muscle rebuilding phase happens, which is key to smart training and running."

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3-Move Circuit From BBG's Kayla Itsines For Tight and Toned Abs

We're big fans of Aussie trainer and founder of the Sweat With Kayla app Kayla Itsines, and we're delighted to share this abs workout she created for POPSUGAR. See the exercises in the video, then read below for additional instruction and tips.

Directions For Abs Circuit Workout

Start a timer for seven minutes and aim to complete the exercises in the following circuit as many times as you can before your timer goes off. While you're aiming to complete each exercise as quickly as possible, it's important that you maintain proper technique throughout.

Bent Leg Raise and Hip Lift

Start by lying flat on your back on a yoga mat and place both hands underneath your coccyx bone as shown. Extend both legs out and engage your abdominal muscles by drawing in your belly button to your spine. This is your starting position. Keeping your feet together, contract your abdominal muscles and bend your legs to bring your knees to your chest. Allow your lower back to lift off of the floor as shown to allow full contraction of your abdominals. Briefly hold this position and then slowly extend your legs to return to starting position. Complete 15 reps.

Tip: Tuck your knees all the way in to your chest to fully contract your abs.

Outward Snap Jump

Place both hands on the floor slightly further than shoulder-width apart with both feet together behind you, resting on the balls of your feet; this is your starting position. Quickly jump both feet outward so that they're wider than your hips, as shown. Quickly jump both feet inward to bring them back together into the starting position. Continue alternating between feet together for 20 reps.

Tip: Keep your shoulders in line with your hands. Engage your core to keep your hips stable.

Straight-Leg Sit-Up and Twist

Start by lying straight with your back on the floor, both arms extended above your head. Place both hands behind your head. Engage your abdominal muscles by drawing your belly button in toward your spine; this is your starting position. Keeping your heels firmly planted on the floor, slowly lift your head, shoulder blades, and torso off the floor. Ensure that it's your abdominals that initiate the movement and that you do not use your arms to swing your torso up. As you sit up, extend your left arm and twist over the right side of your body as shown. Slowly untwist and lower your torso back into starting position. Repeat using your right arm and twisting over the left side of your body; this counts as one rep. Continue alternating between left and right for a total of 20 reps.

Tip: Your abs should be initiating this movement. Avoid using your arms to swing yourself up.

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