How Do Cannabis Topicals Work? Intro to Cannabis for Skin Care.
Medical cannabis comes in many forms, from smoking or vaping, to eating and skin creams. Having this many options is amazing for medical patients. However, it can be daunting at the beginning of your journey with cannabis, especially if you don’t understand the benefits and the downsides to your consumption method of choice.
Today we’re focusing on topicals, rather than the more talked about consumption methods like smoking and vaping. Topicals are unique for a few reasons: The first is you don’t actually “consume” anything. Second, intoxication is not as prominent. Third and last, the way your endocannabinoid system absorbs it.
What are Cannabis Topicals?
As the name implies, cannabis topicals are salves, creams, oils or ointments containing cannabis to let your skin to absorb it. Topicals are great for treating issues in specific parts of your body. For example, to relief joint paint, inflammation and skin issues like eczema or rashes.
How do Topicals Work?
The endocannabinoid system consists of two different types of receptors that absorb the cannabinoids CBD and THC into our bodies.
When you consume cannabis via inhalation or ingestion, your lungs or digestive tract process the cannabinoids until the cannabinoids enter your bloodstream. Once in the bloodstream the cannabinoids spread throughout your body, binding with the various CB1 and CB2 receptors.
Topicals and your CB1 and CB2 Receptors
Different from edibles and other presentations, CBD topicals do not enter to your bloodstream through the lungs or digestive tract, but through the receptors in our skin. Our skin is home to primarily to CB2 receptors.
CB2 receptors bind with CBD and while this is the most abundant receptor in the skin, the CB1 receptors are still present in lower quantities.
Topicals are directly applied to the skin, and absorbed by the receptors. As the receptors directly receive the cannabinoids, the response is fast, providing relief to the localized area effectively and efficiently.
Can Topical Get you High?
As topicals do not hit your bloodstream, chances are zero to get high. In other words, cannabinoids do not reach the receptors in the areas of your body that are responsible for the intoxicating, psychoactive effects associated with cannabis. So no, topicals do not get you high the way cannabis usually does.
A word of caution, however: if topicals come into contact with areas of your body that have a higher concentration of mucus glands like the vagina or anus, increased absorption can occur. If you’re interested in understanding how cannabis behaves differently in regard to the vagina and anus Starbuds wrote a blog that better delves into that topic.
Best Treated Ailments with Topicals
Because our skin is home to higher levels of CB2 receptors, topicals are great for ailments or conditions that cause inflammation, swelling or an immune response.
This is because these symptoms are what CBD is typically used to treat (more on CBD here). On a surface level, this usually looks like skin rashes, joint swelling, chronic back pain and new to the treatment possibilities, erectile dysfunction and increased pleasure for women during sex.
Where Can I buy Cannabis Topicals?
As the law currently stands to purchase topicals is illegal. This was expected to change in October 2019. In the meantime, we HIGHLY encourage you to make your own, as it is not illegal to create topicals. Creating your own cannabis topicals is easy and very customizable.
Even when purchasing topicals from a Licensed Producer is legal, we would still encourage you to try your hand at a DIY recipe.
Why? Everybody has unique needs, and ailments can present themselves with very different symptoms in different cases. A DIY approach to topicals allows you the freedom to make changes in your dose, and other accompanying ingredients that may also aid in relief.
You will also likely manage to save a few dollars with the DIY approach. Although we don’t know how pricey topicals will be once legal, but saving money is never a bad thing!