Topical cannabis products (“topicals”) can be a confusing topic for newcomers. Not everyone knows what these products are or how they work. Therefore, it is very understandable that people want to know what they actually do. Most of the time you will hear people talking about smoking cigarettes, cigars or eating cannabis. But can cannabis also help your skin?
It turns out that cannabis and our largest organ, the skin, go hand in hand, and research is currently underway to find out.
WHAT IS CANNABIS TOPICAL?
In a nutshell, cannabis topicals are products that are applied to the skin and enriched with compounds extracted from the weed plant. You can get a mixture of both, along with THC, CBD or a combination of terpenes.
The term “topical” can be thought of as a medicated cream or lotion, but the definition is broader than you might think. To demonstrate what we mean, we are going to go through a list of the most popular types of cannabis topicals.
SALVES AND BALSAMS
There is a wide range of choice when it comes to cannabis-infused ointments and balms. Users use these types of products to soothe and protect the skin, and since cannabis is known to be blessed with soothing compounds, this combination makes perfect sense.
However, instead of mixing actual flowers into the balm, manufacturers often use concentrates of cannabinoids and terpenes. For example, if you want to make a cannabis ointment at home, you will need to use coconut oil to absorb the THC. This is very easy to do, but if you need an exact dosage of THC / CBD, it is advisable to use a shop-bought product.
Cannabinoids and terpenes have recently been studied for their medical benefits, so it makes sense that THC and CBD are also used in medicinal creams. These creams are designed to alleviate all types of skin-related health problems, and some are considerably more effective than others. However, while all of these creams have potential, they will become even more useful as more research is done and their formulations are adjusted accordingly.
WHAT IS CBD TOPICALS?
Many first-time users of cannabis products assume that “cannabis” and “THC” are synonymous. However, it is important to remember that even in places where THC is legal for medicinal or recreational consumption, CBD products are often included under the term ‘cannabis’.
The reasons for this are not simple. However, there is still a kind of “taboo” around these terms, which is used for marketing purposes. On the other hand, the term “CBD” is becoming more popular, but is still not widely recognized. Cannabinoids are usually listed on the front label, but are often not part of the product name.
This is why it is said that a topical product fortified with either THC or CBD will have much the same effect.
WHAT ARE THE EFFECTS OF CANNABIS TOPICALS?
Speaking of the effects of cannabis, you may be wondering what the effects of cannabis in topicals are. Which parts of the skin actually absorb THC and CBD?
We know that the endocannabinoid system affects not only our internal processes, but also our skin. Like the receptors in our body, our skin receptors are equipped to interact with endocannabinoids. Phytocannabinoids can bind to the same receptors or indirectly influence the system
DO CANNABIS TOPICALS MAKE HIGH?
That, however, leaves another important question open. Can these products get you high? This is out of the problem with CBD products, as this cannabinoid cannot get you high. Even if a topical product contains THC, it will not get you high. Why is that? Topically applied THC (and other cannabinoids) simply cannot penetrate the skin and enter the bloodstream.
However, there are transdermal products designed to deliver cannabinoids from the skin into the bloodstream. However, these are not true topical products. The difference in their terminology is important because you have probably been making up your mind since long ago whether or not to get high.
WHAT CAN CANNABIS TOPICALS BE USED FOR?
ALLERGIC DERMATITIS Although CBD is widely considered to be a true ‘medicinal’ cannabinoid, THC also has many potential uses for skin health. Allergic dermatitis, for example, seems to recede in the face of psychotropic cannabinoids.
The researchers behind this 2013 study, which was also conducted in mice, looked at both normal animals and rodents with deficiencies in CB1/2 receptors, with both groups suffering from AD. The mice were treated with topically applied THC. The results showed that myeloid immune cells’ infiltration and swelling were reduced in both groups, suggesting that allergic inflammation was suppressed.
Of course, further studies are needed to corroborate these results. However, the fact that it appears to work in mice without active CB1/2 receptors opens up a world of possibilities.
After all, those who have psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis may hope that a cannabis cream will provide relief from their condition in the near future. In 2007, scientists used a secret mixture of cannabinoids to see what effect it would have on the production of extra skin cells in human skin samples. The results showed that the effect of the cannabinoids was independent of the CB receptors, and that they significantly slowed down their production. This suggests that cannabinoids may have a place in the fight against psoriasis.
Now, with all that reasonable optimism, there are a few problems we must acknowledge. Firstly, the study does not mention that cannabinoids were used. Secondly, the study was done over 10 years ago, so much remains to be done. Also, tests need to be done on living human volunteers, not just skin and cell samples.
WHAT ARE CBD TOPICALS GOOD FOR?
Now that we’ve covered the general benefits of cannabis topicals, you may be wondering what CBD can do for your body.
As mentioned above, the effects of cannabis topicals are very localised and will only affect the area directly applied. Instead, you can’t use topical CBD to treat mental or internal physical problems.
HOW TO USE CANNABIS OR CBD TOPICALS
To conclude this discussion, we must quickly explain how you can use these topical products for yourself. All you have to do is take some of the topical and apply it directly to your skin. You will first need to test it on a small area of skin to see if there is an allergic reaction or something similar. If this is not the case then you can use it topically on the whole affected area.
SHOULD YOU TRY CANNABIS OR CBD TOPICALS?
Given the minimal risks and the variety of possible effects, there are many reasons to try cannabis topicals, and whether you choose THC lotions, CBD make-up or 1:1 lubricants, you will discover a myriad of possibilities.