Lotion, shampoo, face and body wash, sunscreen, lip balm, pain and antibacterial ointment, acne cream, and massage oil. These are the most commonly used transdermal topical applications — and all have at some point in time been infused with cannabis to create the increasingly popular trend that is cannabis topicals.
Cannabis topicals are considered any treatment rub or oil derived from cannabis or hemp that is applied directly to the surface of the body. In order to understand why cannabis is so critical for general health maintenance, and why topicals are often ideal for relieving certain symptoms, one must first become familiar with the Endocannabinoid System.
Endocannabinoids are simply cannabinoids that our bodies naturally produce. These endocannabinoids have been discovered to help stabilize any off-balanced functions that may disrupt health. The Endocannabinoid System is located all throughout the body and is composed collectively of endogenous cannabinoids, cannabinoid receptors, biosynthetic pathways and metabolizing enzymes. The endocannabinoids bind to the receptors, fitting “like a key in a lock,” activating messages of repair to be sent via chemical pathways, depending on what each specific cell needs in that moment.
No matter the need, the goal of the endocannabinoids remains the same: Homeostasis. And the phytocannabinoids found in cannabis plants, such as CBD and THC, mimic endocannabinoids, much like duplicate keys would fit into the same lock. In other words, cannabis provides an external source of nutrients that our bodies already produce.
The difference between accessing these cannabinoids through topicals and attaining them via ingestion or inhalation is that topicals do not allow cannabinoids to access the brain, therefore do not trigger psychotropic effects. By dissolving cannabis into fat-soluble substances (such as coconut oil or Shea butter), the cannabinoids become ready to enter cell membranes. Cannabinoid receptors are located in nerve and mast cells within the skin, allowing the relief to be direct and immediate.
Cannabis topicals come in many different consistencies including lotions, balms, oils, salves, sprays, cleansers, alcohol solutions and ointments. THC and CBD patches have also been invented that are applied directly to the skin.
Due to the stability of cannabinoids, cannabis topicals have been documented to treat a variety of symptoms including pain relief, muscle soreness, tension, inflammation, itching, headaches, MRSA, burns, bug bites, hemorrhoids, sore throat, cramping, dry skin, allergic skin reactions, post-herpes neuralgia. Topicals also can aid in the regeneration of cells, thereby encouraging wounds to heal more quickly.
By adding specific ingredients that work synergistically with cannabinoids, such as different terpenes, different essential oils, and hemp seed oil, specific relief can be targeted even more effectively. Using hemp seed oil without any additional cannabinoids can still be considered “cannabis topical,” and is very commonly used. Despite the inability to ignite the Endocannabinoid System directly, hemp seed oil is nutrient-dense and contains all of the essential amino acids in a desirable ratio for the body to use, making it very beneficial in maintaining all aspects of health.
Because cannabis topical applications cannot alter the state of mind, it is considered the safest form of cannabinoid access. With no possible overdose, there is no restriction on who can benefit from using these topicals. Incorporating these vital nutrients into our everyday lives is essential for the continuous renewal of our health. Next time you need relief, give cannabis topicals a try.