What Are Cannabis Topicals and How Do They Work?

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The cannabis industry is one of the fastest-growing industries on the planet right now, with countless entrepreneurs setting up their own cannabis startups and countless new cannabis products hitting the best cannabis shop shelves across the globe as research continues to unveil new uses and benefits of this miraculous plant.

Along with cannabis edibles and oils, it’s now possible to buy cannabis topicals too, such as tinctures, creams, lotions, and even sunscreens. These products can seem a little confusing to those who are unfamiliar with what they are and how they work, but this guide will tell you all you need to know about cannabis topicals.

What are topicals?

The word “topical” refers to products that are applied directly onto the skin. So examples of topicals you might use in your daily life include sunscreen, moisturizing lotion, night cream, day cream, oils, serums, and balms. When we talk about cannabis topicals, the term basically refers to all of those same products, only with cannabis as a key ingredient.

We can find cannabis lotions, creams, balms, and more in the best cannabis shop locations, and they’re used just like regular topicals, but may be able to offer unique benefits and applications, with the healing powers and unique advantages of CBD and other cannabinoids helping to make these products highly effective at treating certain conditions and helping people with certain problems.

How do cannabis-infused topicals work?

There’s a lot of ongoing research related to cannabis and cannabinoids in terms of how they interact with the human body and how exactly they produce certain effects and trigger certain reactions. Scientists still aren’t sure exactly how cannabis-infused products, like topicals, work, but it is believed that their chemical constituents, otherwise known as cannabinoids, are able to interact with the ECS.

ECS stands for the endocannabinoid system. This is a complex cell-signaling system in the human body. The ECS has receptors all over the body, including in the skin, and scientific research suggests that cannabinoids like CBD and THC can connect with these receptors in order to trigger certain effects, such as the alleviation of pain or the easing of inflammation. It’s also important to note that different cannabis strains, whether sativa, indica or hybrid, contain different levels of CBD, THC and other cannabinoids and terpenes that can impact their effects.

What symptoms do cannabis topicals treat?

Cannabis topicals, unlike regular creams and cosmetic products made with cannabis, are able to offer unique benefits and possible healing properties, helping people feel relief from a range of symptoms, including:

  • Pain and Inflammation – Research has consistently shown that CBD and THC are very effective at alleviating pain and inflammation throughout the body, so cannabis topicals can be applied to painful areas, for example after a workout, to help ease the aches and pains in those areas.
  • Skin Conditions – Many people suffer from skin conditions like acne, psoriasis, eczema, and so on. Studies have shown that cannabis topicals can help to alleviate the symptoms of these conditions, reducing the rate of acne breakouts, for example, and soothing dry patches of skin.
  • Wounds – Actual wounds of the skin may also be aided with the help of cannabis topicals. Scientific research has revealed that CBD and THC, along with other cannabinoids, may help to speed up the body’s natural healing processes and ease inflammation in wounded areas.
  • Others – There are various other health and wellness benefits associated with cannabis products such as easing of stress, a more relaxed mood, reduced risk of headaches and nausea, and so on.

How Are Cannabis-Infused Topicals Made?

We’ve seen a definition of cannabis topicals and looked at ways in which these products can be used to treat certain conditions and alleviate certain symptoms, but how are they actually produced in the first place? Well, there are a lot of different brands out there making CBD topicals, and they all have their own techniques and recipes.

The exact way to make cannabis-infused topicals will depend on several factors, such as the type of topical being made and the ingredients involved. For example, a natural, shea butter-based cannabis balm will be made in a different way to a CBD anti-aging lotion.

In general, however, these products are made just like regular cosmetics, except with cannabis oils or extracts included as part of the process. For example, to make a cannabis balm, the usual butters, waxes, and oils will be melted down and blended together, with CBD oil or another cannabis-based ingredient mixed in too. The balm will then be cooled before being ready for use.


Skin disorders, as well as pain and inflammation, can be relieved by applying a CBD topical to the affected region. Topical CBD therapy decreased acute joint inflammation in rats, according to a 2017 research. CBD may aid in the treatment of skin diseases such as contact dermatitis, according to a research published in the “Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology” the same year.

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