How Do Cannabis Topicals Work, Exactly?

Topical application is one of the oldest ways that the cannabis plant has been used medicinally. For example, in early Indian medicine, cannabis was mixed with other ingredients to create a surgical anesthetic, it was also used topically as an ancient Tibetan treatment for itchy skin, and it’s a traditional Arabic remedy for skin ailments and hair growth. Not surprisingly, because of prohibition and years of development in modern medicine, cannabis topicals are now one of the lesser known and under appreciated ways to medicate naturally.

There are many benefits to cannabis topicals – especially for those who are looking to gain the benefits of cannabis (such as reduced pain) without the associated high.

“If you have tennis elbow and your elbow hurts, you can eat a cannabis brownie and it’ll go through your digestive system and enter your bloodstream and reach all parts of your body,” explains Ramona Rubin, founder of the topical cannabis company Doc Green’s in California.

“Or you can rub lotion on your elbow where it hurts and almost instantaneously you get a localized effect—very quickly and very effectively, and without any psychoactive effect.”

Most of the time, topical cannabis creams, lotions or salves are used for pain relief – making them a great option for those who might have otherwise turned to over-the-counter pain medications like Tylenol, Motrin or Aspirin, and even those who are prescribed stronger opioid medications for chronic pain from illness or injury.

But how do topicals work, exactly? Well, when you consume cannabis via smoking, vaping or eating, it will allow the THC, CBD, other cannabinoids and terpenes to reach your bloodstream, where it travels to cannabinoid receptors throughout the body. Depending on your consumption method, you can expect the onset of therapeutic effects anywhere from a few seconds (for smoking and vaping) to forty-five minutes or more (for edibles).

Topicals, rather than entering your bloodstream and creating psychoactive effects (a mind and body “high”), will instead be directly absorbed by cannabinoid receptors, mostly CB2 receptors, which are found in the skin. These CB1 and CB2 receptors are found on mast cells, which are linked to inflammatory and allergic responses.

It is because of this that you will find that cannabis topicals provide a relatively quick and effective pain relief for aches and pains, burns, rashes and menstrual cramps among other things. You may also find that when applied to more sensitive areas it can enhance intimate experiences.

Evergreen Organix offers a variety of THC infused cannabis topicals – from lip balm and sunscreen to menstrual relief and an intimacy massage oil, there is something for everyone who may consider cannabis topicals over other forms of consumption.