By Rebecca Victoria Olmos | Correspondent

What are topicals?

Cannabis is beneficial for our bodies through traditional ingestion methods like smoking or eating and when applied to the body externally through topicals. Topicals are cannabis-infused lotions, creams, oils, or balms that are applied directly to the skin. Since they do not cause any psychoactive effects, they are mainly used in an attempt to help with localized pain, inflammation, and some skin conditions.

How do they work?

Cannabis topicals come in various ratios of cannabinoids like THC and CBD. When applied to the skin, these cannabinoids bind to the cannabinoid receptors in the skin, nerves, and muscles. These receptors are part of an extensive endocannabinoid system that helps to regulate various biological functions throughout the body, like sleep, appetite, pain, and inflammation.

Topicals do not penetrate through the skin to enter the bloodstream, so they do not cause the user any psychoactive effects. It’s important to note because topicals can be confused with transdermals which may cause psychoactive effects. Transdermals contain skin penetrating enhancers that help push the cannabinoids past the epidermis or first layer of skin into the bloodstream.

What might they help?

People have used cannabis-infused topicals for things like arthritis relief, muscle soreness, tension, cramps, psoriasis, eczema, and even headaches. Since cannabis receptors are all over your body, you can even use cannabis topicals for sexual enhancement through infused lubricants.


You can be purchase topicals in hemp varieties at health stores or cannabis-derived ones at your nearest dispensary. They will all have different dosages of THC or CBD. Remember that everyone is different and what works for one might not work for you. A good rule of thumb is that if you’re looking for relief from muscle-related issues, steer towards THC-rich products. For joint pain or inflammation, try CBD-rich.

Don’t get discouraged if one product doesn’t work for you. Be open, and experiment with different brands, cannabinoid ratios, and ingredients. And if all else fails, you can always try and make your own infused topical!