Cannabis comes in all different shapes, sizes, and concoctions. Edibles. Hash oil. Tinctures. Regular old bud. But what about topicals? You’ve probably heard of them, but what exactly do they do? What do they treat? And can they get you high?
Marijuana topicals are simply lotions, balms, and oils that are applied to the skin to relieve pain, soreness, and inflammation. They’re similar to other topicals, from lotions to Bengay, and they do essentially the same thing.
Of course, they pack a punch other topicals don’t. The compounds in marijuana are known to be effective anti-inflammatories, pain relievers, and balms for chapped skin. When it comes to symptoms that flare up on or just beneath the skin, they can work wonders.
But sadly (at least for us), they can’t get you high – at least not if you use them correctly. That’s simply not what they’re designed to do. The active ingredients in topicals include THC, THCA, and CBD, so it’s possible to get baked if you drink them, but don’t do that. It’s a waste of good money and good product.
Application of cannabis topicals provides pain relief
Most topicals come in the form of a lotion or other oil that can be applied directly to the sore or inflamed area. But there are other kinds, too, including patches, sprays, and sexual lubricants. So there’s something for everyone.
Always be skeptical when it comes to cannabis topicals. Their uses are many, but finite. Many dispensaries tout the additional “soothing” chemicals in these products, including cayenne, wintergreen, and clove, but there is no medical basis for claims these “natural” substances do much of anything. It’s the weed itself you should be after.
Pot-infused topicals work by binding to cells in the body known as CB2 receptors. These cells accept the component cannabinoids of marijuana and use them to create certain physical effects – such as pain relief for patients with arthritis.
Cannabinoids are the most critical chemicals in cannabis and include THC and CBD. THC is the chemical that gets users high, while CBD is non-intoxicating. Both have a wide range of medical uses.
But don’t expect the THC in a topical to get you buzzed – again, unless you drink the stuff. Cannabinoids in topicals typically can’t get far enough beneath the skin to enter the bloodstream and thus the brain. That’s changing with the introduction of medicated patches, but mostly you’ll be wasting good product if you try to get high off it.
Who should use topicals?
The most popular application is for relief of localized pain, including sore muscles, inflammation, and tension. Growing anecdotal evidence suggests topicals could also be useful in treating diagnosable conditions such as psoriasis, arthritis, and dermatitis, as well as headaches, itching, and muscle cramps.
THC works well on many pain issues, but CBD and THCA are particularly useful in treating arthritis and other types of painful inflammation. These chemicals are believed to be especially effective in reducing inflamed joints.
Finding topicals can be a bit of a challenge, depending on where you live. Many pot shops in Colorado, Washington, and other places where the drug is legal offer these products alongside edibles, concentrates, and standard bud. Otherwise, you may just have to DIY.
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