What are topicals?
Topicals are lotions, balms and oils infused with cannabinoids that are applied to the skin for localized relief of aches, pain, and inflammation.* Even though some topicals may contain THC, most are non-psychoactive (the exceptions to this are “transdermal” topicals, like patches and pens, which enable the cannabinoids to enter the bloodstream through the skin). Because of this, topicals are often preferred by those who want the therapeutic benefits of marijuana without the psychoactive effects produced via inhalation or ingestion.
Recently, topicals have been the subject of steady innovation, with new products being rolled out by companies including patches, lubricants and even bath soaks for deep relief and relaxation during baths. Some topical producers even add essential oils to further enhance the beneficial effects of topicals.
How do topicals work?
Cannabis topicals work by binding to the CB1 and CB2 receptors. These receptors are found throughout the body and are activated by the body’s naturally-occurring endocannabinoids or by cannabis compounds known as cannabinoids.
Research on topicals has been very minimal, but one study published by the US National Library of Medicine found that both CB1 and CB2 receptors are located in many areas of the skin, including hair follicles, sweat glands and nerve fiber bundles. Essentially, this study finds that cannabinoids can directly affect the CB1 & CB2 receptors without allowing THC to pass through the brain or bloodstream, thereby preventing the user from feeling “high”.
Transdermal patches and pens, on the other hand, do deliver cannabinoids to the bloodstream and can produce psychoactive effects with the right amount of THC. Transdermal patches are also available with CBD, one of the many non-psychoactive cannabinoids found in cannabis. Think of transdermal patches as the same way you would a nicotine patch, but instead of nicotine you are receiving cannabinoids like THC, CBD, CBN, and others.
What symptoms do topicals help with?
Pain Management: In the same way cannabis products that you inhale or ingest are known to help with pain, topicals can also help if applied directly to the affected area. The effects of the topical work almost immediately and can provide pain relief on that specific area without producing the feeling of being “high”. *
Anti-inflammatory: Topicals such as lotions and balms can be directly applied to swollen areas and have been shown to reduce the swelling and relieve pain. This is something you can do before you start your day or at night before going to sleep. *
Increased Sexual Pleasure: Over the past few years companies have developed lubricants that can spice up activities in the bedroom. These lubricants have high amounts of THC oil in them and, if used correctly, can heighten the sexual experience. *
Migraine Pain: If you suffer from migraines you know they are a tricky beast to handle. Topicals are a treatment option to help relieve that painful migraine. People have said that applying cannabis lotion to their forehead when the migraine hits greatly helps reduce the migraine. As you know if you suffer from migraines there is no real cure-all, so test out possibilities until you find something that works for you. *
Excessive Itching and Bug Bites: Applying lotions or balms to itchy or bug bite-affected areas has been shown to greatly reduce that itching, uncomfortable feeling.
Arthritis: Because topicals can reduce pain and act as an anti-inflammatory, they can be helpful for those suffering with arthritis. These lotions or balms can give temporary relief to arthritis pain and help you get through your normal day to day activities without having any psychoactive effects.
Topicals have been shown to help a lot of our customers and patients. After trying topicals we often see people coming back for more saying, “Finally, something that helps!” Like any cannabis product, you should try topicals that will best suit your specific needs or ailments.