Applying cannabis-infused balms to your skin seemingly works like magic to benefit a wide range of issues. Consumers may be dubious until they learn why it works and experience it for themselves.
Our bodies have a system of regulation, the “endocannabinoid system” that modulates immune response, pain, inflammation, the nervous system and more. Cannabis in topical form interacts with receptor sites in epidermal layers to provide relief locally, without psychological effects in contrast to ingesting cannabis for a full-body sensation. Topical use of cannabis dates back thousands of years.
Pain is the primary reason people use cannabis topically. Localized pain, like from injury, arthritis, nerve flare ups, menstrual cramps, muscle spasms and tension will benefit from topical cannabis.
Skincare is the secondary reason. Due to their modulating and anti-inflammatory properties, certain cannabis topicals can provide relief from an array of skin issues such as eczema, psoriasis, bug bites, acne, fungal infections, wounds, burns, skin ulcers, crepey skin & puffiness.
Topicals with THC or THCa are considered strongest for pain and soreness
Topicals with CBD or THCa are considered to be most anti-inflammatory
Full spectrum contains THC/THCa and CBD for both pain and anti-inflammation.
Regular vs Transdermal
Regular topicals penetrate outer epidermal layers. “Transdermal” topicals use various ingredients like neem oil, emu oil, or shea butter that allow active ingredients to penetrate through skin layers, potentially enough to enter the bloodstream. Studies have shown that regular use of cannabis topicals will not show THC in blood or urine tests, but transdermal topicals (or regular topicals applied to broken skin) may and also might produce a “high” effect.
Balms/Butters depending on ingredients can be smooth (shea butter or candelilla wax) or greasy (coconut oil or olive oil); long-lasting, best value
Creams go on smoothly; may need to use more frequently for max effect
Alcohol produces quickest onset and dissipates quickly; may dry-out skin
Transdermal patches are strongest on deep pains; may be psychoactive
The way a cannabis topical is made will impact how broad the benefits will be.
Many brands add cannabis extracts or distillates. During extraction, plant matter is stripped away. In contrast, an infusion of whole plant cannabis may retain more active ingredients such as minor cannabinoids like CBG (antibacterial), CBC (bone growth), natural terpenes (beneficial scent oils) and chlorophyll (anti-aging, skin-protecting) to achieve the greatest range of effects.
*TIP topicals act within minutes and can last from around an hour to several hours; with regular use, topicals may reduce/cure some issues permanently
*TIP many people ingest cannabis in conjunction with topical use for overall body relief and mental relaxation
*TIP beware of harsh topica/s with peppermint, menthol, alcohol etc. that can aggravate sensitive skin when used as skincare or for pain in delicate areas. Look for topica/s with gentle ingredients
*TIP the smell will linger on you. Request a topical that doesn’t smell like cannabis or medicine
*TIP request a minimum of 100 mg/oz. Higher doses may be more effective up to 350 mg/oz or so, when they reach maximum absorbability & you may pay more for no additional benefit
*TIP topicals with green hues may contain full spectrum “whole plant” cannabis