What Are Cannabis Topicals and Why Do People Use Them?

April 15, 2021

When you think of cannabis, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Many people imagine flowers, joints, or vape pens. Others might think of concentrates, tinctures, or edibles. Did you know that there’s a whole other category of products that doesn’t involve inhaling or ingesting cannabinoids? 

Cannabis topicals are cannabis-infused products that you apply to your skin. They come in a wide variety of creams, lotions, balms, and more. Every product has varying ratios of CBD and THC, which help to achieve specific goals. Depending on the cannabinoids, terpenes, and other ingredients, topicals can provide pain relief, ease itchiness, or help treat any one of several skin conditions. 

Topicals also provide an alternative to inhaling or eating cannabinoids. Instead of putting them in your body, you put them on your skin. But why? In this article, we’ll take a closer look at this unique category of cannabis products, including how they work and why people use them. 

What Are Cannabis Topicals?

Cannabis topicals include a variety of different cannabis-infused products such as lotions, salves, balms, oils, and more. Instead of putting the product in your body, you apply it directly to your skin for fast, effective, localized relief. People use topicals for such purposes as:

  • Pain relief
  • Inflammation
  • Skincare
  • Cosmetics

These products contain different strains, different cannabinoid ratios, and different additional ingredients, all of which allow them to achieve specific goals. For instance, one product may be formulated for alleviating joint or muscle pain, while another may be formulated for treating and reducing acne. They offer fast-acting results, with many users feeling relief from ailments within minutes after application. 

How Cannabis Topicals Work

Everyone has an endocannabinoid system, a system that connects the brain to the body. Its main job is to maintain balance within your body. It’s also responsible for managing numerous functions within your body including your mood, appetite, digestion, immune function, reproduction, and more. 

Your endocannabinoid system has cannabinoid (CB) receptors, which reside throughout your body. When you inhale or ingest cannabis, the cannabinoids enter your bloodstream and bind with the CB1 and CB2 receptors to produce a variety of effects. 

Many CB receptors are located in your brain and spinal cord. They also live on some peripheral organs and tissues, including your spleen, gastrointestinal tract, and parts of the reproductive system. Believe it or not, you also have receptors in your skin. It’s these CB receptors that make use of the cannabinoids in topicals. 

When you apply a topical, the cannabinoids and other active ingredients absorb into your skin. The cannabinoids bind with the CB1 and CB2 receptors in the cells and sensory nerves of your epidermis –  the outer layer of your skin. When they do, they provide relief right at the source – easing pain, inflammation, itching, muscle cramps, tension, and a variety of other ailments. 

Will Topicals Get You High?

In most cases, topicals will not cause a high, no matter how much THC a given topical contains. When it comes to many topical products, creams, lotions, balms, and salves won’t trigger mind-altering effects. The reason for this is that although the various cannabinoids in a topical absorb into your skin, they don’t penetrate deeply enough to reach your bloodstream. Since they can’t reach your bloodstream, they can’t reach the cannabinoid receptors in your brain. 

The exception here is transdermal patches. Using these products can cause you to get high. Transdermal patches are thin, discreet pieces of plastic that you apply to your skin like a bandage. You apply these cannabis-infused patches to a veined part of your body, such as the inside of your wrist, arm, or ankle. Your natural heat activates the patch, which slowly releases cannabinoids into your skin. 

Unlike other topicals, the cannabinoids can reach your bloodstream. As such, they can trigger a high. However, the patch releases them gradually, so you likely won’t experience the same kind of high you would if you were to smoke, vape, or consume medical cannabis. They offer long-lasting relief in a very discreet way. 

Benefits of Cannabis Topicals

Cannabis topicals provide several benefits over other methods of use. Some of these benefits include:

No Impact on Your Lungs

Smoking and vaping offer some of the fastest-acting results of any method of cannabis use. The thing is, not everyone feels comfortable inhaling their cannabinoids. Cannabis topicals go right on your skin, so there’s nothing to inhale. 

No Need to Eat Anything

Again, due to the application method, you don’t have to put anything in your body. You don’t need to inhale anything, nor do you need to eat anything. Topicals also take effect more quickly than edibles do. 

Most Topicals Won’t Get You High

Cannabis creams, lotions, balms, and similarly infused products don’t penetrate the skin deeply enough to reach the bloodstream. As such, they won’t get you high. Instead, the cannabinoids work at the site of application. You can apply them as often as you need without having to worry about mind-altering effects. Now, the cannabinoids from a transdermal patch can reach your bloodstream and cause some psychoactive effects, but the high won’t be the same as if you were to smoke or eat the same strain. 

Provide Relief From a Variety of Ailments

While cannabis topicals only provide localized relief, they can still help treat a wide range of ailments, including muscle pain, tension, inflammation, itchiness, and more.

Situations That Call for Topicals

As we just mentioned, cannabis topicals can treat a wide range of ailments. You may prefer these types of products over other methods of use in situations such as:

  • Joint pain – such as arthritis
  • Muscle pain and soreness
  • Muscle tension
  • Acne
  • Skin conditions – such as psoriasis and eczema

Again, since topicals like lotions and creams don’t cause a high, you can apply them as often as you need. These products are incredibly discreet, so you won’t have to worry about trying to hide what you’re doing. To anyone around you, it looks like you’re applying a regular lotion or pain-relief cream. There are no tell-tale signs of cannabis use unless someone’s looking directly at the package. They’re perfect for daytime, nighttime, and on-the-go use. 

Are Cannabis Topicals Right for You?

If you’re looking for a way to get relief from pain, itchiness, redness, irritation, and more, cannabis topicals may provide an ideal solution. Not only do they treat the issue right at the source, but they do it without you needing to inhale or eat anything first. Additionally, unless you’re choosing a transdermal patch, you don’t have to worry about getting high. Even high THC topicals don’t cause mind-altering effects. 

As one of the top dispensaries in Battle Creek, Quality Roots offers a range of the highest-quality topicals, as well as an array of other quality cannabis products. Check out our selection online and place your order for pickup, or visit our dispensary in person today.