In medical terms, a topical is anything relating to or applied directly to a part of the body. In Cannabis terminology, this is defined as anything placed on the skin surface, for instance, deodorants, lotions, balms, etc. Cannabis-infused topicals are revolutionizing the realm of cannabis use as well as its availability, efficiency, and safety. While this market is still growing, and thus introducing new products constantly, current Indica and Sativa cannabis topicals include balms, lotions, oils, salves, sprays, patches, and lubricants.
Topicals can provide immediate, focused relief. They often function as a gateway to the curious, as they are minimally invasive. New consumers in the cannabis market may be more likely to try an external topical before “graduating” to ingestion or inhalation.
Cannabis topicals are primarily used for localized relief of inflammation, pain, and soreness. However, anecdotal evidence points to other benefits such as treatment for acne, cramping, dermatitis, eczema, headaches, itching, and psoriasis. More research is needed to discover the wheres, whens, whys, and hows before these are more heavily advertised. Some cosmetic venues even tout that cannabis can be good for your skin as a whole.
Most topicals cannot breach the bloodstream, reaching only far enough to activate CB2 receptors in the endocannabinoid system. “They don’t cause intoxication, though they contain THC and CBD,” Williams explained. But the transdermal topicals designed to deliver a specific dose on the skin, such as patches, can cause intoxication since they deliver cannabinoids to the bloodstream.
Different topicals deliver different benefits. Some also provide cooling or warming sensations. It all depends on the ingredients used, including the strain of cannabis and its specific effects. Some work best when used every day, while others are meant to be used when needed. What topical will work best for you depends on what you need it for. When debating where to apply your topical, make sure you aim for the source of the pain, and not the immediate feel. For instance, many headaches can be caused by tension in your neck; therefore, you would need a topical to help with that neck tension.
If you are interested in topical cannabis products, remember to clean the area you wish to treat, be generous and vigorous, and wash your hands when you are done.