What Are Cannabis Topicals? 

cannabis topicals

Dispensaries are basically wonderlands of different ways to enjoy MJ, from edibles to tinctures and everything in between. In this blog post, we want to focus on cannabis topicals, which are great for pain management and localized relief. We’ve got everything you need to know about these topicals, including how they work and which types are best for what use.

What Are Cannabis Topicals?

Cannabis topicals are lotions, balms, creams and oils that have been infused with cannabis for use dermally, which means on the skin. These items are designed to be rubbed into the skin for localized pain and inflammation relief.

Cannabinoids, or the chemicals in cannabis like THC and CBD, are actually hydrophobic, which means they don’t like to interact with water. Your skin has a water-based layer that makes it tough for cannabinoids to penetrate through the skin barrier and enter the bloodstream. The oil- or fat-based nature of topicals makes it easier for the cannabinoids to absorb into the skin.

How Do Cannabis Topicals Work?

Pop quiz: What’s the body’s biggest organ? If you answered the skin, you’re correct and you deserve a gold star! 

The skin is connected to your body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is designed to interact with different chemical compounds naturally produced in our bodies using protein-based cells called receptors. Some of these receptors, called CB1 and CB2, also interact with the cannabinoids in cannabis.

The ECS can influence everything from wound healing to hair growth — and when it’s working optimally, it can reduce inflammation across the body. Cannabis topicals work by introducing cannabinoids to the CB1 and CB2 receptors in your skin, reducing pain, swelling and inflammation.

Because cannabis topicals can’t really reach the bloodstream and instead interact locally with the skin and muscles, even varieties with active THC won’t produce the same mind-altering effects as cannabis that’s ingested or smoked. Instead, they are used for localized pain relief.

The Benefits of Cannabis Topicals

Everyone from athletes to arthritis patients can benefit from cannabis topicals. They are used for muscle soreness, chronic pain, inflammation and cramps. The topicals can be mixed with other essential oils, like menthol or peppermint, to soothe aches and pains.

While cannabis topicals are typically THC-based (since THC is used primarily for pain relief), they can also be either Type I: THC-dominant; Type II: a THC/CBD hybrid; or Type III: CBD-dominant. Some topicals are designed to replicate the sensations of specific strains.

Cannabis topicals are great because they can be used to treat specific issues, like a sore knee or aching back — and there’s no dose limitations since they can’t make you high. It’s easy to try different varieties and apply throughout the day for consistent pain relief. The convenience of a topical means they can be incorporated into any part of your routine, like after a tough workout or before bed. They can soothe aching muscles for better sleep.

Because they can all be so different, it’s worth having a conversation with your friendly neighborhood budtender about your specific wants and goals. They’ll be able to steer you in the right direction so you can find the perfect product for you.

Different Topicals To Try

There are lots of different types of topicals out there, and each one has its own benefits. The types can differ between their actual physical makeup and what kind of cannabinoid combinations they contain. These include:

  • Lotions are typically made from alcohol and a moisturizing ingredient and are designed to absorb quickly into large areas of skin. They are great for general muscle recovery.
  • Salves are semi-solid and have bases of oil, paraffin or petrolatum. They are ideal for inflammation and people with dry skin.
  • Creams are made from a combination of water and oil, and are designed to spread on the skin and stay on longer. They are useful for arthritis and other chronic pain conditions.
  • Bath products, like bath bombs, are easy to incorporate into your daily routine.

Questions To Ask Your Budtender

A great dispensary is staffed by great budtenders! These MJ experts are more than happy to help you find the perfect cannabis topical for your lifestyle, so don’t be afraid to take some time and have a conversation about your goals and preferences.

Think about what you’re looking for — is it mostly for pain relief or muscle recovery? Do you have any skin conditions, like dryness? Do you prefer something that’s easy to apply throughout the day, or do you want a one-time treatment? It’s also worth taking a little time to browse the dispensary’s online store to see what’s available.

Once you’ve got an idea of what you might want, head on in and talk to the budtender. Some questions to ask include: What’s your recommendation for topical products? What’s the best way to use this product? Do you have any specials or deals right now? They’ll help you find something that you can feel confident about bringing home.

Cannabis topicals are a useful and easy way to add pain relief into your life. If you’re dealing with any kind of chronic condition or you’re hard on your body with physical activity, then these lotions and balms can make a big difference in your day-to-day quality of life. Visit your local dispensary and give cannabis topicals a try!

We are not medical professionals and are not providing any medical advice. Please speak to your doctor before using any products for pain relief.

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