What are Cannabis Topicals and How Do They Work?

Cannabis topicals are among the most popular new cannabis-based products. Lotions, balms, oils and transdermal patches are just a few examples. These products can be fortified with cannabis to deliver cannabinoids, terpenes and other beneficial plant compounds directly to receptors in the skin. Here’s everything you need to know about cannabis topicals, including how they work and their potential benefits.

What are cannabis topicals?

The term “cannabis topicals” refers to cannabis-based products for topical use on the skin. When you smoke, vape or eat marijuana, cannabinoids and other compounds from the cannabis plant enter your bloodstream, but with cannabis topicals, that doesn’t happen, aside from transdermal patches (which we’ll get into below). Cannabis topicals instead deliver their active ingredients directly to receptors in the skin, without the compounds entering the bloodstream. Aczedol (Cibdol) 50ml (1) View

What are transdermal patches?

Transdermal patches are patches that release small doses of compounds from the cannabis plant through the epidermis and dermis into the bloodstream over an extended period of time. While it may sound advanced, transdermal patches have been around for a while. Nicotine patches, for example, work the same way. By releasing small amounts of nicotine into the blood over an extended period of time, these patches help you quit smoking.

Do cannabis topicals really work?

You’re probably familiar with the endocannabinoid system (ECS). This is a biological system found in the bodies of humans, as well as most vertebrates. Over the past decade, there has been an increasing amount of research into the ECS. Research to date suggests that the ECS plays an important role in mediating many different physiological processes. However, this is still under active investigation. Some researchers have even gone so far as to call the ECS the “universal regulator[1]” of the body. Although much is still unknown about this system, research has shown that it is present throughout the body, even in the skin[2]. For example, it plays an active role in cell division, cell growth and cell differentiation, as well as hormone production and much more. Since the receptors of the ECS are also present in the skin, topicals can potentially deliver cannabinoids and terpenes to it. Several studies are already underway to determine the role of the ECS in keeping the skin healthy. For example, one study[3], published in the Journal of Dermatological Science, tested the effectiveness of cannabinoids in reducing hyperproliferation of skin cells. This can cause red, itchy and flaky skin. Other studies actually looked at the effects of cannabinoids[4] on sebum production. Sebum is an oily, waxy substance produced by the body’s sebaceous glands. Excessive production of sebum is one of the main causes of skin blemishes. Thus, the skin contains receptors that can interact with compounds naturally found in the cannabis plant. Topicals containing cannabis can be a useful product in this regard. Cannabis creams, lotions, oils and similar cannabis products can offer the following benefits in this regard:

  • Reduce redness and dryness
  • Promote healthy division of skin cells
  • Control sebum production

Do cannabis topicals get you high?

This is a common question among people who are curious about cannabis-based skin care products. And the answer is no, topicals will not get you high. Because even though a topical contains THC (the intoxicating ingredient in cannabis), it cannot release this compound into the bloodstream. With transdermal patches, it’s a different story. These products can release this compound into the bloodstream and therefore you can get high when they contain THC. Transdermal patches without THC, however, will not produce the effects that we associate with the typical cannabis high.

Can the use of cannabis topicals be proven by a drug test?

No, the use of cannabis topicals is not detectable with a drug test. As mentioned earlier, this is because these products do not release the compounds from cannabis into the blood. If you use transdermal patches without THC, you should also pass a drug test without any problems. Full spectrum CBD patches may contain traces of THC, but this is often not enough to test positive. However, patches with THC will cause you to test positive on a drug test.

Topicals with THC versus CBD cream

The main difference between topicals with THC and CBD cream concerns the chemical composition. Generally, CBD cream is made with extracts from hemp or cannabis strains with negligible THC content. These products are also usually easily available, as CBD is legal in many parts of the world. Topicals with THC, on the other hand, are usually made from extracts of THC-rich cannabis. These are the same type of buds that are smoked to get high. However, THC is still illegal in most parts of the world. Therefore, these products are often harder to come by than topicals with CBD. Because the two types of products contain different compounds, they also interact with the ECS differently. THC is very similar in composition to anandamide, an endocannabinoid that our bodies naturally produce. Therefore, THC also naturally binds to the receptors of anandamide, also known as CB1 receptors. To understand this a little better, it may help to think of THC and anandamide as two different keys that both fit into the same lock (or receptor). CBD and the other cannabinoids found in CBD cream, on the other hand, do not bind to cannabinoid receptors in the same way that THC does. Instead, they are believed to interact with the ECS in a more indirect manner. Moreover, they are also suspected to have other molecular targets.

How do you use cannabis topicals?

Using skin care products with cannabis is simple. First, apply a small pea-sized amount to an area of your skin. This way you can test if you are sensitive to it. Once you are sure that the product does not cause irritation, you can use it according to the instructions or guidelines provided. How much and how often you use it is up to you and what you want to achieve with it. For example, if you want to use cannabis cream for post-workout relief, you can apply the cream every time after exercising. Jacob Hooy CBD+ Cream (50ml) (8) View

Create your own cannabis topicals

Cannabis topicals are becoming increasingly popular. So there’s probably a lot to choose from, whether it’s online retailers or health and cosmetic stores near you. If it proves difficult to find suitable topicals in stores, you can always make your own cream using almost any cannabis strain. Cannabis creams offer a great way to enjoy the benefits of the cannabis plant, without having to smoke/concentrate/vape or eat edibles. Because the substances in them don’t enter the bloodstream, cannabis topicals are also excellent for people who want to try cannabis but don’t want to get high or avoid the risk of a positive test result. So visit our CBDshop soon for various skin care products with cannabis, or find out how to make your own cannabis topicals!