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Thursday March 2, 2017

Updated on 3/4/2022

By Morgan Smith

Marijuana topical product on someone's fingertip Health/Science

Looking for another way to enjoy the beneficial properties of cannabis? Then marijuana topicals may be the perfect product for you. External application of these products to relieve pain and inflammation is gaining traction not only in the cannabis industry but in the skincare world as well.

Beauty salons and massage parlors have begun offering CBD-infused products to help repair wrinkles, promote anti-aging effects and rejuvenate the skin. The positive effects cannabis can have on the skin are just beginning to be studied, and marijuana topicals are the key to uncovering better ways to treat aches, pains and ailments. 

What Are Marijuana Topicals

Generally speaking, topicals are lotions, balms, salves, creams and oils that are infused with cannabis and absorbed through the skin to provide concentrated relief for pain, inflammation and soreness. Although they have cannabinoid elements, topicals are non-psychoactive and are generally used by patients who want therapeutic relief without a “high.” There are many different brands and companies that produce marijuana topicals, so be sure to try a few different products to figure out which one works best for you.

If you’re looking for something particular, marijuana topicals can be strain-specific. These contain similar chemical profiles and cannabinoid make-ups of individual strains so you can get the exact effects you’re looking for. Research isn't conducive about the exact path to effectiveness, but it works just like any other method of cannabis consumption.

The topical is absorbed directly into the skin and the cannabinoids bind to CB2 receptors to activate your endocannabinoid system. With a topical absorption and application method, however, cannabinoids never enter the bloodstream, which also means a sufficient amount of coverage and dosage must be applied for it to work. While effective dosage will vary from person to person, many people are able to use higher amounts of THC when applying topicals.

Medicinal Properties

Marijuana topicals are most often used to treat localized pain and soreness since they only affect the region where they’re applied. Patient stories show that topicals can help treat psoriasis, dermatitis and itching, as well as headaches and cramping. More and more products are being developed and added to the market, meaning countless new benefits are coming to the spotlight. In addition to the multiple benefits to the skin, cannabis-infused topicals have proven to provide serious benefits for arthritis symptoms. Both THCA and CBD have anti-inflammatory properties and when combined in a product can relieve swelling, pain and stiffness.

Cannabinoids also provide serious antioxidant benefits, perhaps, even more powerful than vitamins A, C and E. So, fine lines and wrinkles don’t have a chance if you regularly apply a topical. Plus, antioxidants can help prevent skin effects from daily exposures like UV rays, smoke and other pollutants. In fact, smoking exposes your skin to hydrocarbons and carcinogens. That causes cells to halt new collagen production, which leads to quicker aging and can damage your skin’s appearance and overall health. Topicals have the opposite effect and can help reverse the damage.

If you’re looking for extra omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, look for topicals that have both hemp seed oil and activated cannabis. You’ll receive a boost in cell production that creates a protective layer to enhance elasticity and retain water. (Your hair and nails may also see some improvements!) A few companies are even adding essential oils and other properties to the mix, which helps expand the reach of its benefits. For example, a rub with menthol and peppermint provides cooling relief, which is great for muscle soreness after a workout or strenuous hike. And using aloe or vitamin E provides a “cool” relief.

When used as a cream or face mask, topicals can help with anti-aging, sun damage and wrinkles — and provide a healthy, radiant glow to boot.

Have under-eye bags? Irritated skin? You should consider adding infused balms to your skin care routine. Because the endocannabinoid system plays an active role in your response to pain, a topical’s THC and CBD properties can target and help heal skin damage or irritation.

There are many benefits cannabis-infused products can have on the skin — and it is probable that much more will be uncovered when more legitimate research is conducted. The latest developments? Pleasure oil for women that increases blood flow and nerve sensation when applied externally and internally to amplify sexual enjoyment.

Apothecanna Topicals Extra-strength topicals from Apothecanna are great for relieving the strongest aches and pains. (photo credit)

Our advice? Give topicals a try. There are even a few DIY recipes to test out. You never know; you could feel (and see) some serious benefits.

Photo Credit: Shawn Campbell (license)


Morgan Smith Morgan Smith

A born and raised Hoosier and Indiana University alumna, Morgan Smith is a freelance writer and editor based in the Denver area. Morgan has worked with B2B, nonprofit and regional publications, but especially enjoys learning and educating others about the inner-workings of the cannabis industry. Her freelance writing supported her recent six-month solo backpacking trip to South America where she climbed volcanoes, played with llamas and jumped off a bridge.

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