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Cannabis topicals are some of the most unique products in the industry. You don’t smoke them, you won’t get high, and you rub them right into your skin. But, why? What is the point of an application method like that, and why do topicals act so differently compared to other canna-products?

Today, we’re answering all your questions: from what cannabis topicals are to how they work and even their benefits. Soon, you’ll be dying to try these novel products for yourself.

What Are Cannabis Topicals?

Cannabis topicals are cannabis-infused lotions, oils, patches, sprays, soaps, lubricants, bath salts, and cool or warm balms. You apply them directly to the skin or area of discomfort.

They are fast-acting and produce localized relief for soreness, pain, and inflammation. Topicals are the favorite of consumers who want the therapeutic effects of cannabis without the psychoactive effects of other consumption methods such as smoking or edibles. 

Watch our short video to learn more about topicals.

How Do Cannabis-Infused Topicals Work?

We’ve mentioned that cannabis topicals are fast-acting but, how do they work? This is where your endocannabinoid system comes in. The endocannabinoid system regulates your appetite, mood, and pain and pleasure receptors. But that’s not all—the workings and effects of this crucial system are still being studied. 

Cannabinoids, the compounds found in cannabis, activate this system. Cannabis-infused topicals work by binding to cannabinoid receptors called CB1 and CB2 receptors. Additionally, they are found throughout the body and are part of the endocannabinoid system. According to research, these cannabinoid receptors regulate inflammation in the skin, part of the body’s immune response.

When you apply a topical to the skin, the cannabinoids focus themselves specifically on your pores and muscle tissue. They don’t travel across the blood-brain barrier, though, because of the application.

Thus, all of the effects and benefits of these products are concentrated just to the area you apply it — there are no full-body results like you get from other products. 

Can You Absorb THC Via Cannabis-Infused Products?

Technically, yes — but this absorption happens uniquely.

The THC in cannabis topical creams or other topical products may find its way into the bloodstream, but this happens so slowly that it doesn’t cause that intense “high” you’d get from smoking or ingesting cannabis. You won’t feel euphoric or blissed out.

However, be wary of transdermal patches: they can get you high depending on THC content.

Types of Cannabis Topicals

When it comes to cannabis topicals, there are various types for you to choose from:

  • Salves & Ointments: These are thick, greasy, semisolid preparations. They contain no water, and are usually made of oil, paraffin, or petroleum.
  • Creams: This is a thick, water-in-oil preparation. It is a great choice for fighting inflammation.
  • Lotions: This one is an oil-in-water formula that is light and non-greasy. It is usually made up of alcohol and a moisturizing ingredient. 
  • Oil: This is mostly oil. It is like lotion but thicker.
  • Gels: These are semisolid transparent preparations usually made up of cellulose. Gels become a liquid when they are applied to the skin.
  • Sprays: This is a mixture of active ingredients and aerosols. It takes less time to administer and is easy to apply on difficult-to-reach areas. 

READ MORE: Understanding the Different Types of Weed Products

Benefits of Cannabis Topicals for Pain & Health Conditions

The healthful properties of cannabis have been beneficial to humans for centuries. Cannabis topicals are most famous for their aesthetic and anti-inflammatory effects.

Still, there is a range of other benefits, including treatment for skin conditions, movement disorders, improving sexual performance, treatment for wounds and headaches. Topicals have different effects depending on how manufacturers make them and the ingredients they use. 

Marijuana Cream for Arthritis

Arthritis is one ailment that gets a lot of attention, especially when you think about the therapeutic benefits of marijuana. Pain and inflammation are major arthritis symptoms, and marijuana cream can help with both.

You can manage your pain with cannabis topicals; it has proved effective in treating breakthrough pain, neuropathic pain, and chronic pain. The anti-inflammatory properties are great news for people with arthritis because inflammation of the joints is the cause of arthritis. Basically, you treat the inflammation, and you sort arthritis.

Also, a post-workout rub-down session with cannabis-infused balm is a great way to beat muscle soreness.

According to research, cannabis has proven effective in treating pain in cancer patients too.

READ MORE: What is Arthritis, and What Causes It?

Cannabis Topicals for Pain Management

Are you looking for an all-natural way to get rid of aches and pains? Cannabis topicals may be just what you need. These topical ointments and creams are infused with cannabis, offering a safe and effective way to relieve pain without the psychoactive effects of smoking or ingesting marijuana. Let’s take a closer look at how cannabis topicals can help alleviate pain.

Cannabis topicals work by using cannabinoids, which are naturally occurring compounds found in cannabis plants. When applied to the skin, these compounds interact with receptors in the body’s endocannabinoid system, producing therapeutic effects without producing any psychoactive reactions like those associated with smoking or ingesting marijuana. In other words, you don’t have to worry about getting “high” when using cannabis topicals!

Cannabis topicals have been known to provide relief from a variety of conditions ranging from muscle aches and joint pain to rheumatoid arthritis and even nerve damage. While everyone reacts differently to different treatments, many people have reported feeling immediate relief after applying a cannabis topical. In addition to helping with physical pain, some research suggests that cannabis topicals may also help reduce stress, anxiety, depression, nausea, headaches and even menstrual cramps.

Cannabis Topicals Benefit Skin Conditions

Is your skin not acting right? Researchers at the University of Colorado have discovered that you can use cannabis topicals to treat skin diseases such as psoriasis, severe itching, and atopic and contact dermatitis.

Also, the anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and anti-itch qualities of cannabis can help treat eczema.

LEARN MORE: CBD Benefits for Skin We Bet You Didn’t Know | Medical Marijuana and Eczema

Movement Disorders

Doctors and researchers recognize cannabis for its soothing effects; this holds promises for people who suffer from movement disorders like dystonia, dyskinesias, and tics.

According to a study, these conditions worsen when the sufferer is anxious, and cannabis topicals can provide soothing relief.

Benefits of Antiseptic Cannabis Topicals

One study says, “the synergistic contributions of cannabidiol to cannabis pharmacology and analgesia have been scientifically demonstrated.”

The antimicrobial properties of cannabis give the plant powerful antiseptic properties. This means you can use it in the care and treatment of injuries.  


Science has proven that cannabis is a potent antioxidant, which prevents cell damage caused by free radicals. Some of these free radicals come from external sources, and when they contact your skin, they contribute to the fine lines and wrinkles.

To combat the formation of wrinkles, try using some cannabis topicals! 

Advantages of Using Cannabis Topicals

  • Fast-acting: Because cannabis topicals are applied directly to the affected area, they go straight to work and provide quick relief and results.
  • Minimal side effects: Unlike oral consumption, topical application of cannabis does not have side effects like getting high or overdosing.

Mastering Topicals With Elevate Holistics

Here at Elevate Holistics, we want you to not only understand cannabis products, but we want you to be comfortable using them and educating others, too. That’s why we’ve made it our business to bring this information to you.

We ensure that access is not a barrier to your enjoyment of nature’s miracle drug. To do so, we’ve crafted a range of services suited to your various needs. We can help you get your MMJ card, set up a health and wellness plan, or answer all your canna-related questions and inquiries. From cannabis topicals to medical recommendations, Elevate Holistics has you covered.

Get Your MMJ Card Right From Home

Elevate Holistics’ process is quick, affordable, and done entirely online. It’s never been so easy.

About the author

Ally Hilbert is the Content and SEO Manager here at Elevate Holistics, working to publish and run Elevate’s blogs and landing pages, as well as conduct keyword research, competitor analysis, and more. After having brain surgery at the age of 17, Ally became fascinated with medical cannabis and its benefits, and, at 18, had her first CBD-related piece published. Today, she’s been writing about cannabis for the past six years, and simply can’t think of a better company to get to do it for. When she’s not writing or editing, Ally’s side-by-side with her pup Sadie in Seattle.
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