Many of our patients have never used cannabis-infused topicals before, so we’d like to present you all with some information about them.  While topicals are not best used to treat chronic pain, they can be effective mitigating localized pain. Topicals are cannabis-infused lotions, balms, and oils that are absorbed through the skin for localized relief of pain, soreness, inflammation, and even skin conditions such as eczema, acne, psoriasis, and more.  We’ll go over specifically why they are useful and what kind of ailments they can treat, how they affect our bodies, as well as other important bits of info.  We’ll provide links at the bottom of the page for more information.

How they affect our bodies:

  • Topicals do not get people high, or rather, the use of topicals does not produce a psychoactive response in our brains that smoking, vaping, or consuming edibles would.  Transdermal patches on the other hand can penetrate to the bloodstream, so don’t worry about undesired effects from other topicals such as creams, lotions, balms, salves, etc.
  • If a topical is applied to an opening in the skin, such as a cut, then it is much more likely that there will be a psychoactive reaction.  This is because the cannabinoids in the topical would enter our bloodstream.

Our Endocannabinoid System:

  • Our bodies are naturally endowed with endocannabinoid receptors, 2 prominent types of which are called CB1 and CB2.  CB1 receptors are predominantly located in the brain, while CB2 are present in the brain but are more prevalent in our immune systems and related organs.  Applying topicals do not penetrate into our bloodstream, but do activate our endocannabinoid receptors, primarily CB2.
  • Depending on the cannabinoids and terpene content of a particular cannabis product, different chemical responses occur in our bodies.  This is why it’s important to pay attention to the specifics of cannabis products, be they flowers, oils (e.g. vape cartridges), edibles, etc. because they are tailored to provide medical benefits to specific ailments and conditions.
  • THC has high binding affinity to CB1 receptors, thus producing potent psychoactive responses, whereas Cannabidiol (CBD) binds primarily to CB2 receptors.
  • To an extent, each individual has a unique endocannabinoid system.  For example, some people may naturally have less CB1 receptors, and thus may require larger intake of THC (which binds primarily to CB1) to experience comparable effects to someone who has more CB1 receptors.  The amount of receptors in any location of the body is called receptor expression.

CBD vs. THC topicals:

  • Studies have shown that cannabinoids such as Cannabidiol(CBD) and Cannabinol(CBN) penetrate the skin much better than delta-9 THC for example, so it might be preferable to treat pain and inflammation with a CBD, or high-ratio CBD topical.
  • As with all use of cannabis, the entourage effect is still important, meaning that having a variety of terpenes and cannabinoids together is more effective than isolating them from each other.  So we’d recommend purchasing topicals with a multitude of cannabinoids present for best results.

We carry high quality topicals from Kind Medicine which we recommend trying as well

Ultimately, which combination of cannabinoids and terpenes is optimal varies from person to person, so it would be wise to experiment with numerous formulas and products.  We hope this information is useful to all of you, and as always we encourage further research into the ongoing cannabis studies for greater education. Some useful links are listed below.  Good luck!