When you talk about medical marijuana, most people think of either smoking cannabis or edibles, but you can get the benefits of both THC and CBD in topical products as well. With new cannabis strains hitting the market every day, there are a variety of oils, infusions & topical uses for cannabis which can help with everything from period pain to arthritis swollen joints. Hemp seed oil, which contains no psychoactive ingredients, has long been used to soothe the skin, and its benefits are also being used in more topical products than ever.
How do topical uses for cannabis products work?
In the human body, we have receptors for cannabinoids called CB1 and CB2 receptors. The CB1 receptors are in the brain, and they bond to THC and CBD. CB2 receptors are in the soft tissues of the body, and they are specifically designed to make use of not only natural cannabinoids the body makes called endocannabinoids, but also cannabinoids from the cannabis plant called “phytocannabinoids.”
With topical cannabis products, phytocannabinoids are delivered directly to the receptors through the skin, as opposed to being delivered to the bloodstream through the lungs or the stomach. This means that even if a cannabis cream or oil contains THC, it shouldn’t produce the “high” of smoking or eating marijuana. This also means that most topical uses for marijuana products will not cause a positive response on a drug test. Products called “transdermal” patches, however, can allow phytocannabinoids to enter the bloodstream and so give a little of that “high” feeling if they have a high enough THC content, so consumers should be careful.
What symptoms can you treat with topical uses for cannabis products?
Pain relief is the number one symptom because these products can deliver relief directly to the parts that hurt, like joints or hands. Muscle tension and soreness is also another popular symptom relieved by cannabis-infused topicals. In India, cannabis has also been used for centuries to provide relief from inflammation, and modern topical products are no exception. The best cannabinoids to have in a topical cream for inflammation and pain are CBD and THCA, which is the acid form of THC. Cannabis experts are formulating new products every day that is targeted for specific symptoms. Hemp seed oil is also super moisturizing, so it can help relieve itching and issues from skin disorders like psoriasis.
Types of Cannabis Topicals
Topical uses for cannabis products contain a wide range of cannabis infusions. Some may contain cannabinoids like CBD or simply healing hemp seed oil.
Lip Balm – Yes, lip balm! Your lips have some of the most sensitive skin on your body, and they need pampering too. Since cannabis can be antibacterial and anti-inflammatory, a cannabis-infused lip balm can help soothe your lips and help heal cold sores or cracked skin.
Daily Moisturizer – Cannabis-infused lotions are perfect for providing all-day relief to raw, dry skin associated with skin problems like psoriasis. Antibacterial properties also help heal and protect cracked skin, so a cannabis moisturizer would be great for someone who works with their hands or super dry, cracked feet.
Massage Oil – When combined with Vitamin E, olive, jojoba, grapeseed, hemp seed, and other moisturizing oils, cannabis-infused oil makes for a perfect skin healing oil for massages or even after a shower to lock in moisture with pain and tension-relieving properties. You can even make your own cannabis-infused oil.
Skin Repair Cream – A skin cream is heavier than lotion, with a thicker, richer feel. The thicker formula is more intensely moisturizing, but it also allows the cream to stay on for longer so that your skin has time to absorb the cannabinoids. Many creams are also targeted to specific problems like creams for cracked feet, period pain, or bruises.
Healing Balms and Salves – Like repair creams, balms are thick enough to deliver oils directly to the skin. Most balms are made with beeswax, shea butter, and/or cocoa butter so that they are harder and stickier than creams. Balms really are the best for intense pain because they can be super concentrated with cannabinoids to deliver the relief right where you need it most.
Tinctures – Instead of oils, tinctures are alcohol based, and they capture the active chemicals in cannabis like cannabinoids and terpenoids. Tinctures are used topically by placing on the temples for fast absorption into the skin or directly onto problem areas like painful joints. A few drops of a tincture on the temples can be a great remedy for headaches or the fatigue that comes with depression.
Soaps – The benefits of cannabis oil and hemp seed oil are still available in soaps. A soap isn’t just healing but also cleansing, as soap can calm down skin while also cleaning off any bacteria or fungus that might have contributed to skin issues. Cannabis-infused soaps really highlight the antibacterial aspects of cannabis oils.
Bath Salts – These are brand new topical uses for cannabis products, but they’ve proved very popular with consumers. Generally, cannabis oil is infused into soothing salts like Epsom or Dead Sea salts, along with other essential oils for fragrance. Marijuana-infused bath salts are great for period pain or sore muscles.
Transdermal Gels and Patches – Unlike other topical uses for products like balms or lotions, transdermal products try to deliver THC and CBD into the bloodstream through the skin. They often contain delivery compounds designed to get the cannabinoids into your body. These products are often super concentrated, so you can feel more of the effects than other products.
Cannabis Aromatherapy – Along with other herbs and flowers, cannabis can be very useful in aromatherapy, healing and lifting your spirits just through scent. Aromatherapy cannabis oils contain terpenes or natural plant oils that produce scent and, along with cannabinoids, produce many of the effects.
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