- On June 8, 2016
- 1 Comments
Cannabis can be consumed in many ways – it can be eaten, smoked, vaped, dabbed – but there is one way to consume marijuana that has even non-stoners raving: topical application. Because topical cannabis does not produce the characteristic “high” associated with other methods of consumption, even those who would rather avoid that feeling can benefit from its use.
So what is topical cannabis and how does it work? We’re glad you asked.
What are Cannabis Topicals?
Cannabis topicals are lotions, balms and oils that have been infused with cannabinoids from the cannabis plant. They can be used alone or in conjunction with other medicines to reduce pain, improve dermatological conditions and increase the efficiency of medication.
Unlike other forms of cannabis consumption, topical marijuana creams and oils will not cause the user to feel “high” because cannabinoids are unable to pass through the blood-brain barrier without a special carrier agent like oleic acid (which is what Mary’s Medicinals use in their patches). Instead, they get absorbed directly into the skin where they bind to cannabinoid receptors in hair follicles, sweat glands and nerve fiber bundles. In this way, cannabis topicals can address location-specific issues without any adverse side effects like a sleepy head or racing mind.
What are cannabinoids?
Cannabinoids are chemical compounds that interact with cannabinoid receptors in the body. They can be produced internally by the body (endocannabinoids), derived from plants (phytocannabinoids) or synthetically produced.
There are more than 80 known cannabinoids in cannabis, each with their own chemical make-up and effects on the body. THC is the most well-known cannabinoid and is the primary one in causing the “stoned” sensations, but it has many other applications, as well, including pain relief, appetite stimulant, and nausea mitigation.
Another common cannabinoid (and perhaps the most medically-promising) is cannabidiol or CBD. Though CBD is not psychoactive (and may, in fact, reduce the psychoactive properties of other cannabinoids by blocking cannabinoid receptors), it has many amazing health benefits including pain relief, reduced inflammation, anxiety relief, seizure control, improved immune functioning and bone stimulation (just to name a few).
Stimulating the EC System
The endocannabinoid system consists of a series of special receptors designed to interact with cannabinoids. There are two types of cannabinoid receptors which are named after their location in the body. CB1 receptors, for example, are primarily found in the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord) while CB2 receptors are found throughout the rest of the body with an abundance located in or near the skin surface.
Different cannabinoids have different effects on these receptors. For example, while cannabinoids like THC, CBD, CBN and CBC have been shown to reduce pain, others, including CBG, help kill bacteria. Likewise, CBG and CBC-A can be used to treat fungal infections. You can also use a combination of cannabinoids to reduce inflammation, suppress muscle spasms and help inhibit tumor growth, Visit the Colorado Pot Guide for a list of the most popular cannabinoids and their medical properties.
Potential Health Benefits of Topical Marijuana
Here’s where it gets especially tricky. Marijuana has long been known for its healing properties, but its Schedule 1 status (which states that it has no medical value) prohibits medical practitioners from prescribing it as medicine (medical marijuana states allow doctors to recommend it but not prescribe it). But because of the research we do have (which hints at medical benefits), medical marijuana products cannot be sold as supplements, either. Nevertheless, research and anecdotal evidence suggests that topical marijuana might be beneficial for the following applications.
- Burns: Using cannabis-infused products to treat burns can be an effective way to reduce the severity and duration of discomfort and help prevent long-term damage.
- Skin infections: Hemp seed oil (which is the base for CBD topical creams) has been shown to improve skin infections, strengthen the skin and reduce the likelihood of future infections.
- Inflammation: In both human and animals, topical cannabinoid application has been shown to reduce inflammation and control the pain associated with it.
- Joint and muscle pain: Animal studies have shown topical cannabis to have powerful analgesic properties which is especially beneficial for breakthrough pain (or sudden pain) that occurs while other pain medications are in use.
- Skin abnormalities: Though smoking cannabis can actually dry out your skin, used topically it can help reduce skin abnormalities like acne, warts and moles by attacking the source of the imperfection at the source.
- Increased sexual pleasure: Due to the porous nature of female sexual organs, cannabis-infused sensual oils can be readily absorbed causing an increase in blood flow and “heightened” sensations in the area.
By using topical marijuana products, you can reap the rewards of this amazing plant without ever having to face the “high” typically associated with cannabis use.
At LiveGreen, we would be happy to answer any questions you may have about cannabis topicals or other marijuana products. Please contact us today!