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Cannabis Topicals: The Therapeutic Benefits and How They Work

cannabis topicals

Discover the Science Behind Topical Cannabis Products and Their Pain-Relieving Properties

Cannabis topicals are becoming increasingly popular for providing localized relief for pain, inflammation, and skin conditions. In this article, we’ll delve into how cannabis topicals work and the therapeutic benefits of the cannabinoids they contain.

Cannabis Topicals: How They Interact with the Body’s ECS

Cannabis topicals are different from other cannabis products like edibles or inhalables, as they don’t produce a high. Instead, they interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS) through the skin without entering the bloodstream.

THC and CBD in Topicals

When applied topically, THC and CBD interact with the body’s ECS in a unique way. THC in topicals provides targeted pain relief and reduces inflammation without producing psychoactive effects because it doesn’t enter the bloodstream and, thus, doesn’t have access to CB1 receptors in the brain that are responsible for THC’s psychoactive effects.

How THC Works in Topicals

Topically applied THC interacts with CB1 receptors primarily found in the peripheral tissues of the skin, helping to reduce pain, inflammation, and other symptoms associated with conditions like arthritis, neuropathy, and psoriasis.

CBD in Topicals

CBD in topicals interacts primarily with CB2 receptors found in the immune system and peripheral tissues, including the skin. CBD’s interaction with these receptors helps to reduce pain and inflammation.

CBD’s Interaction with Other Receptors

CBD can also interact with other receptors in the body, including TRPV1 and 5-HT1A receptors involved in pain perception and mood regulation, respectively. This makes CBD a promising ingredient in topical products designed to provide relief for conditions like chronic pain, anxiety, and depression.

Therapeutic Benefits of THC and CBD

CBD is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid with anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and antioxidant properties. Topical CBD has been shown to reduce pain and inflammation associated with arthritis, as well as improving skin conditions such as acne, psoriasis, and eczema. Studies have also found that CBD can aid in anxiety and depression.

THC, on the other hand, is a psychoactive cannabinoid that can produce a high when ingested or inhaled. However, when applied topically in low doses, THC can provide localized pain relief and anti-inflammatory effects. In fact, a 2008 study found that a topical gel containing THC and CBD was effective in reducing neuropathic pain in patients with multiple sclerosis.

In addition to their pain-relieving properties, both THC and CBD have shown promise in cancer treatment. Studies have found that THC can induce apoptosis (cell death) in cancer cells, while CBD can inhibit the growth and spread of tumors. However, more research is needed to fully understand the potential of these cannabinoids in cancer treatment.

Choosing Quality Cannabis Topicals

It’s important to choose a reputable brand and check the product’s lab test results before using cannabis topicals. The quality and potency of these products can vary widely. It’s also a good idea to talk to your doctor before trying any cannabis-based product, especially if you’re taking medication or have a pre-existing medical condition.

Final thoughts on Cannabis Topicals

Cannabis topicals are a promising option for localized pain relief and skin conditions, and both THC and CBD have therapeutic benefits. They interact with the ECS to produce beneficial effects, without causing the psychoactive effects associated with THC ingestion or inhalation. As with any new treatment, it’s important to do your research and talk to your doctor before trying cannabis topicals.


  1. This study discusses the effects of topically applied cannabinoids on inflammatory and neuropathic pain.
  2. This review article provides an overview of the therapeutic potential of cannabis-based products for various skin conditions, including acne, psoriasis, and eczema.
  3. This study investigates the anti-inflammatory and anti-itch effects of topical cannabinoids in mice.
  4. This review article discusses the role of the endocannabinoid system in skin health and the potential of cannabinoids for treating skin disorders.
  5. This study explores the analgesic effects of inhaled cannabis in patients with neuropathic pain.

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