A few weeks ago, I broke a bone for the first time in my life. Made it all the way to 32 carefully protecting this soft skeleton, but walking around in my own apartment, probably more careless because of months spent indoors, I stubbed my toe really hard. Or so I thought. A few hours later it was throbbing and pointing the wrong direction, so a visit to Urgent Care let me know what had actually gone down – baby’s first complex fracture. While mental health is finally getting the attention it has deserved as an integral part of our overall health, living almost entirely indoors has been impacting more toes than mine.
According to a story in The Washington Post this past January, broken toes are yet another side effect of pandemic life, with cases reportedly tripling ore quadrupling. I suppose this makes me feel a teensy bit better, that I’m not alone in my clumsiness, it’s just a numbers game of increased time spent barefoot, but the only thing that’s actually made me feel better since the break is CBD. I’ve written about some of my favorite CBD oils and tinctures before, but this throbbing, near constant pain required something a little more heavy duty.
So I scanned through my cupboards to see what else I’d collected and came upon Pachamama’s offerings, both the icy muscle gel and the pain cream. They also make a wide variety of tinctures — like one with goji powder and cacao, that’s great for focus — but topicals were what I was after in this scenario. Pachamama products are on the more expensive side of the CBD spectrum (heh), the tinctures and the pain cream run about $75 for 1 oz and 3.4 oz respectively, while the icy muscle gel is slightly less expensive and smaller, around $45 for 2 oz. But, you also don’t need a lot of product to get a lot of relief, so even though I’ve been using the gel and cream topically for the last three weeks, there’s still more than half a bottle left, respectively.
Anyway, for the first few days I was so focused on ice and elevation that it didn’t occur to me to put anything herbal related on my toe, but once a yoga friend who dealt with a broken ankle last year suggested it, I began anointing my toe with a double dose every few hours. The icy muscle gel was great right after icing, to bring some feeling back into the numb area. It reminds me of the icy/hot I used whenever I had an injury from running competitively in high school, due to a massive dose of menthol, but also includes camphor (which increases circulation) and, along with the CBD.
While my memories of icy/hot in the early 2000s include the fact that it took forever to dry, Pachamama’s take on the classic absorbs almost immediately, which is helpful if you’re trying to tape your toes together after applying it. I also loved the easy roll on application, so I didn’t necessarily have to get any strong-smelling, reactive gel on my fingers in order to rub it in. I think the icy muscle gel is helping my toe heal because my break goes into the joint, but if I was still hiking and lifting weights, it seems like it would be a great after a difficult workout, too. I’ll hopefully get to try it in that capacity in a few weeks or so.
As for the pain cream, the applicator reminds me of an old school shaving gel pump, and it’s honestly not as practical to apply. Once you get some squeezed out of the pump, the cream is bright orange in color – which helps you see exactly where you’ve applied it — and it seems to have an even stronger effect than the icy muscle gel. After the first two days of using it, my toe went from black and blue back to normal skin color, and the inflammation also decreased rapidly. Pachamama’s pain cream includes Arnica, one of my favorite healing herbs when it comes to bringing down inflammation, and capsaicin, which is commonly found in spicy peppers like cayenne, but helps with pain relief. There’s also menthol in the pain cream, but definitely not as much as in the icy gel.
Pachamama is a Denver-based company that was founded by brothers Ryan and Brandon Stump after the latter tore a ligament. After several years in recovery, the Stump brothers had founded their own network of sober living houses, and Brandon knew using prescription drugs for the pain would risk his sobriety. A friend recommended CBD, and after reaping the benefits, he wanted to spread the word about CBD as a source of drug-free relief. Pachamama loosely translates to “mother earth,” echoing his realization that pain killers were unnecessary, even when dealing with a severe injury.
Not only did the brothers get into CBD on their own, they were also committed to making their products as clean as possible, insisting their is extracted from a single-origin flower grown on a Colorado-based hemp farm that’s USDA certified organic. Pachamama is one of only four CBD brands to be recognized for a Purity Award from the Clean Label Project, a non-profit that’s dedicated to increasing transparency in consumer products. Of course, an ethos like this is always important to me, but combined with the brothers’ dedication to helping those struggling with sobriety survive and thrive, it seemed like exactly the kind of company I want to get behind. Particularly when I’m dealing with my first-ever broken bone, it’s great to know that their CBD products are basically the most pure distillation currently on the market.