A Guide To Cannabis Topicals

What You Need To Know

Updated on September 22, 2023


With increasingly new ways to consume marijuana, cannabis topicals have taken the spotlight as being one of the industry’s trendiest items.
Whether it be infused lotions, creams, or balms, cannabis topicals have proven that they are an effective way to alleviate localized pain and provide therapeutic relief as well as an innovative way to medicate under the radar. From CBD salves and lotions to THC massage and aphrodisiac oils, cannabis topicals cover a wide range of categories and can be utilized by all to reap all the benefits that marijuana has to offer – even without getting high. Today, we’ll be uncovering the mechanisms behind cannabis topicals and how they can help supplement your pre-existing cannabis and skin routine!
What are Cannabis Topicals?

Medical cannabis comes in many forms and for patients who rely on cannabis for relief, there is no shortage of options – especially when you’re buying weed online at an online dispensary

Cannabis topicals are any salves, creams, or oils that are infused with THC or CBD and are meant to be used on the consumer’s skin.

Cannabis topicals can be beneficial in treating localized pain, skin-related conditions, or inflammation. Whether topicals are an effective remedy or not, is something we’ll cover later in the article.

Along with salves, creams, and lotions, there are also patches, sprays, oils, and gels. While the most common infused compounds are THC and CBD, there is a growing interest in Cannabinol (CBN) and Cannabigerol (CBG).

How Do Cannabis Topicals work?

To understand how cannabis affects our bodies, it is important to understand the fundamentals of the endocannabinoid system.

The endocannabinoid system consists of two different types of receptors, CB1 and CB2. When cannabis is consumed either through inhalation or digestion, the cannabinoids are absorbed by our bodies through these receptors.

Since topicals are not orally consumed or inhaled, they are not processed by the lungs or digestive tract. Instead, the cannabinoids are absorbed by the receptors in our skin, notably the CB2 receptors, and in lesser quantities, the CB1 receptors. Having the cannabinoids making direct contact with our skin provides a fast response and localized relief.

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One study explores the transdermal application of CBD in rats with arthritis. The research found that topicals provided reductions in both pain and inflammation. The benefits of topical applications include avoiding problems with gastrointestinal administration and first-pass metabolism as well as more balanced plasma levels.

The Endocannabinoid System (ECS)

The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a complex cell signalling system said to be the bridge between the body and mind. The endocannabinoid system is responsible for regulating a wide range of functions such as sleep, mood, appetite, sex drive, and fertility. The naturally occurring cannabinoids in your body similar to cannabinoids found in cannabis are called endogenous cannabinoids.
As mentioned before there are two main types of endocannabinoid receptors called the CB1 and CB2 receptors. The CB1 receptors are abundant in the central nervous system and are instrumental in utilizing cannabinoids for pain relief. This explains the reason why the inhalation and ingestion of cannabis products lead to their pain-numbing effects. The CB2 receptors are abundant in the peripheral immune system including the skin.CB2 receptors are known to deal with inflammation, which is why topicals are generally ideal for those looking to experience the benefits of CBD without the cannabis high. Based on scientific evidence, CB1 and CB2 receptors are found throughout the skin, mainly within cutaneous nerve fibre bundles, epithelial cells of hair follicles, sebocytes, and sweat glands. They are also active in immune cells and the spinal nervous system. That said, the endocannabinoid system is heavily involved in the maintenance and regulation of skin homeostasis and barrier formation/regeneration. The impairment of the ECS is implicated in many common diseases and disorders such as acne, atopic dermatitis, hair disorders, psoriasis, scleroderma, and various tumours.

Are Cannabis Topicals Suited for you?

For those who are interested in marijuana’s nonintoxicating effects, topicals are a great option. Individuals who are looking to treat pain, inflammation or skin conditions such as Edema or Psoriasis would greatly benefit from the use of topicals.


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Cannabis Topicals are usually non-intoxicating as the cannabinoids from the topicals typically do not enter your bloodstream, thus forgoing any psychoactive effects that would otherwise be considered common with other cannabis consumption methods.


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If you’re feeling some physical pain or body aches after a long day at work in a very localized area, cannabis topicals can actually provide better and faster relief than smoking, vaping, and the consumption of edibles.

Cannabis topicals provide fast, localized relief to target areas of concern without any danger of experiencing a psychoactive high. They’re perfect for those who want to medicate without having to also deal with the psychoactive effects.

What are Transdermal Patches?

The most common ways for cannabinoids to be infused are through extracts, isolates, or oils. Transdermal patches are an innovative method of cannabis consumption allowing its users to experience the cannabis high without any inhalation or contact with the flower itself. Transdermal patches work by making contact with a veinous region of the body where the cannabinoids can make their way into the bloodstream.

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As with many other cannabis products, transdermal patches may be found in a variety of isolated cannabinoids such as tetrahydrocannabinol acid (THCA), tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), Cannabidiol (CBD), and Cannabinol (CBN).

Transdermal patches may also come in split ratios of these cannabinoids to let consumers pick and choose their desired combinations. The isolated cannabinoids allow for specialized relief, providing a slow release of cannabinoids effective as an all-day or all-night remedy. For those who enjoy all that cannabis has to offer, transdermal patches are a great alternative to smoking or vaporizing cannabis due to their stealth and discretion.

Final Thoughts on Cannabis Topicals

While the details of topical cannabis products are still under debate, research is suggesting that topicals are emerging as an effective solution for those who are in need of CBD’s medical effects.

Cannabis topicals are an effective alternative to treating localized pain, joint discomfort, and any other areas of bodily concern without having to undergo any kind of psychoactive high.
The next time you’re feeling some bodily discomfort, why not try a few products out? You might just find a new go-to solution.

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