A THC-rich rub infused with cooling menthol and peppermint is a perfect way to wind down from a brutal workout or hike. For intense localized pain, you may try a warming balm that combines the deep painkilling properties of cannabinoids with a tingling, soothing sensation. Inflammation symptoms may require a different chemical profile, as Cannabis Basics’ CEO Ah Warner explains:
Topicals are cannabis-infused lotions, balms, and oils that are absorbed through the skin for localized relief of pain, soreness, and inflammation. Because they’re non-intoxicating, topicals are often chosen by patients who want the therapeutic benefits of marijuana without the cerebral euphoria associated with other delivery methods. Other transdermal innovations are fast arriving in the cannabis market, including long-lasting patches and tingly lubricants for patients and recreational consumers alike.
Topicals are most popularly chosen for localized pain relief, muscle soreness, tension, and inflammation, but anecdotal evidence is beginning to show a widening spectrum of potential benefits, from psoriasis, dermatitis, and itching to headaches and cramping.
How do cannabis-infused topicals work?
Even if a topical contains active THC, it still won’t induce that intense “high” you’d get from smoking or ingesting cannabis. With most topicals, cannabinoids can’t breach the bloodstream; they only penetrate for localized relief. Transdermal patches, however, do deliver cannabinoids to the bloodstream and could have intoxicating effects with a high enough THC content.
Strain-specific topicals attempt to harness certain terpenes and cannabinoids in a chemical profile similar to that of Blackberry Kush, Permafrost, Blueberry, or whatever other strains the processor wishes to imitate. Along with THC, CBD, THCA, and other cannabinoids, topical producers may also select ingredients and essential oils for additional relief, like cayenne, wintergreen, and clove.
Cannabis-infused lotions, salves, oils, sprays, and other transdermal methods of relief work by binding to cannabinoid receptors. These receptors are found throughout the body and are activated either by the body’s naturally-occurring endocannabinoids or by cannabis compounds known as cannabinoids (e.g., THC, CBD).
New methods of cannabis consumption are bringing us further away from the notion that marijuana belongs solely in a bong or joint – or that it has to get you high, for that matter. Cannabis-infused topicals are an example of how new modes of consumption are revolutionizing perceptions of marijuana as their accessibility, safety, and efficacy invite even the most unlikely patrons into the world of medical cannabis.
Interest piqued? Learn more about hemp cream for pain relief and all its variations.
But there is an argument to be made for simply believing the CBD adds that special something. "Scientific literature says there's a 33 percent chance of the placebo effect helping people, so for some, just using a cream they believe can help will provide some relief," adds Dr. Colberg.
What Is Hemp Pain Relief Cream?
So do you need CBD? All of the experts here agree that until there's more peer-reviewed research, all claims should be looked at as marketing hype and not evidence-based. (Or, they can be anecdotal. Read what happened when one woman tried CBD for anxiety.)
Science has shown that cannabis is an effective pain reliever, reinforced in a massive new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. But there's a big difference between ingesting cannabis or its individual chemicals orally and absorbing it topically through your skin.
Finally, you have receptors called TrpV1 that detect and regulate your body temperature. When activated, they put out heat, soothing your pain receptors. Using this channel, CBD makes these pain receptors hyperactive for a period of time, causing them to get hot, desensitizing them and downregulating those pain-sensing nerve endings.
People have been using cannabis in medicinal settings for thousands of years. Finally, the western world is starting to catch on to the benefits of cannabinoids, and the stigma surrounding these products is beginning to go away. One of the biggest advancements in the industry comes in the form of cannabis-infused topicals, which do not produce psychoactive effects. In other words, you can safely use cannabis topicals without getting high or failing a drug test.
Most likely, CBD lotion cannot make you fail a drug test. CBD is already a non-psychoactive cannabinoid, so drug tests aren’t looking for it. Drug tests for marijuana are looking for THC, which is the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis. Even when topicals contain THC, it’s extremely unlikely that they could make someone fail a drug test by getting into the blood or urine.
Can THC Be Absorbed Through the Skin?
Cannabinoids bind with fat molecules, which means they’re most likely going to stick around in your skin and the underlying tissue wherever you apply them. People have used cannabis topicals as an excuse for failing a drug test, but it’s most likely not the truth. The only way topicals can get distributed throughout the entire body is if a person uses a THC patch, or if the topical is transdermal.
Simply put, cannabis-infused lotion does not make you high. Cannabis does not produce its psychoactive or intoxicating effects through local applications, so people can safely get relief from cannabis lotion without getting high. People have used cannabis-infused lotion to address everything from arthritis pain to post-workout soreness, and they can do so without being concerned about a fuzzy head. It’s ok to use topical cannabis without worrying about driving, working, or anything else you have to do.
Instead of binding with receptors in the brain and causing a high, cannabis topicals bind with local cannabinoid receptors throughout the body. For that reason, topicals should only affect the area where they’re applied. Don’t expect to get any heady or cerebral effects from your cannabis-infused lotion, but it might work wonders for your aching back. The soothing effects of cannabinoids can work on joints and muscles, as well as the skin itself. People have even used it to address conditions like psoriasis, dermatitis, itching, and acne.