cannabis topicals

Cannabis Topicals – Are they effective?

Over the last number of years, cannabis topicals have become more and more popular. Miss Envy’s Buddha line of cannabis topicals have won the Cannabis cup in Canada multiple years in a row. Typically, topicals are used for pain and inflammation, but they can be used for a wide range of things; such as headaches, arthritis, menstrual cramps. Cannabis topicals are also used for everyday skincare as well as skin conditions like dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis and acne.

What are topicals? Cannabis topicals are any products applied directly to the skin. The advantage of this is that the cannabis is applied to where it’s needed the most. Also, a person can use high levels of THC without experiencing the psychoactive effects.

We’ve spoken to one of our customers, Cat Dallo, about her experience using cannabis topical for skincare, including dermatographia read more about her experience on our blog (previous links).

What the Research Says About Cannabis Topicals

The endocannabinoid system is present in all mammals and is responsible for maintaining homeostasis in the body. This means it helps to regulate a number of functions like mood, sleep, appetite, and even our immune system. The cannabinoid receptors responsible for regulating the endocannabinoid system are present throughout the body, including in our skin

Before we get into the research regarding cannabis topicals, let’s define the difference between topical and transdermal. As mentioned previously, topicals are applied to the skin and are intended to have effects at the site of administration without being absorbed into the bloodstream. This is why a person does not experience the psychoactive effects with cannabis applied topically. On the other hand, transdermal medications are applied to the skin with the intention of being absorbed into the bloodstream for potential effects in other areas of the body. Transdermal medications are often used as an alternative to oral or injectable medications, for example, for patients who are unable to swallow medication. 

Why is this important? Because many research articles looking at the effectiveness of topicals report the impacts when it is absorbed into the bloodstream. 

Cannabis Topicals for Pain

One of the main uses of cannabis topicals is for pain, mostly muscle or joint pain but it’s also used for headaches and menstrual cramps

Cannabis is well established for use associated with pain, it reduces inflammation, impacts pain signalling in the brain, and interacts with the immune system. More research is necessary to understand the potential of cannabis topicals on pain. Though numerous people have had a positive experience with topicals and pain. 

Read more about how cannabis is used for fitness, both pre-workout and post-workout recovery for muscle and joint pain.

cannabis topicals for skincare

Cannabis Topicals for Skincare

Although the focus of cannabis topicals is generally for muscle and joint pain, many people use topicals as part of their regular skincare routine as it helps to attract and lock in moisture. Cannabis topicals are also used to manage irritated skin and common skin conditions like dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis and acne.

What does the research say?

Cannabis is effective in treating inflammation, pain and itchy skin. There is also evidence that cannabis has antibacterial properties that can help prevent things like sunburns from getting infected. Long-term exposure to the sun can also lead to other skin damage, including premature ageing. Cannabis has antioxidant properties which not only helps to repair damage to the skin but it to prevent damage as well as reduce fine lines and wrinkles. This suggests ongoing use of cannabis can have positive long-term effects on the skin. 

A 2019 study showed preliminary evidence that cannabis topicals have a positive impact on inflammatory skin conditions such as dermatitis. In this study, topicals were used twice a day for a total of three months. Participants experienced a reduction in symptoms and reported an increase in their overall quality of life. It’s also important to note that none of the participants experienced adverse reactions to the CBD topical. 

If you experience irritation after using cannabis topical products stop using them. But take note of the other ingredients as that’s more likely to be the cause of irritation. 

Cannabis topicals have shown promise in the management of symptoms associated with acne. Acne symptoms are typically a result of excess sebum, an oily substance secreted from the sebaceous glands. A 2014 study showed that cannabis inhibits the production of sebum; therefore, this, along with its anti-inflammatory properties, means cannabis is well suited for treating acne. 

How are Cannabis Topicals Made

Cannabis topicals are made by extracting the cannabinoids from the plant and infusing them into a skin-friendly base product – like shea butter, or oils such as coconut oil, avocado, jojoba, vitamin E, etc.

Miss Envy has a number of cannabis topicals in our product lineup. Buddha Buddha cream, the product that started it all for Miss Envy, includes shea butter, coconut oil, castor oil, jojoba oil, essential oils, and THC distillate. (Extra strength version contains the healing power of both CBD and THC).

Miss Envy Cannabis Topicals

While the Buddha bar roll on salve is uniquely formulated to relieve muscle pain as it includes menthol for cooling, arnica for deep muscle relief and lemongrass essential oil to soothe. (Extra strength version contains the healing power of both CBD and THC).

Miss Envy Cannabis Topicals

We’ve also infused cannabis into other cannabis products such as our lip balm that moisturizes, nourishes and restores cracked, dry and damaged lips. As well as our bath bombs that are designed for total body relaxation and perfect for self-care days.

cannabis bath bombs

What’s the difference between a cream and a salve? Salves are topicals made with oil-based products and tend to be thicker and a bit greasier when applied to the skin. Lotions are typically made with softer oils like almond, jojoba, or sunflower and have the most water of these three products so they’re the thinnest. Creams are generally slightly thicker than lotions as they have less water but aren’t as thick as salves. 

How to Use Cannabis Topicals

Cannabis topicals are easy to use as they’re applied directly to the skin, in the same manner you would any typical cream or lotion. Before you apply the topical make sure to rinse the area to remove any dirt or bacteria. And make sure to wash your hands after applying the topical. (You probably don’t want to get the cream in your eyes, nose or mouth by mistake). 

However, the challenge lies in determining the dose as it’s challenging to determine how much THC or CBD is in each application. That being said, the dose is significantly less important than other routes of administration due to the fact that it’s not absorbed into the bloodstream, therefore, can be tolerated at higher doses. So, don’t be afraid to apply liberally and multiple times.

How to use cannabis topicals

Final Thoughts

Topicals are one of many routes of administration when it comes to cannabis. Topicals can be used in combination with other administration methods to manage ailments as well as a regular part of your health routine. The advantage of topicals is they can be applied directly to the site of pain and are well tolerated at high doses. Topicals also help to nourish the skin so they are a great addition to your regular skincare routine. 

Have you used cannabis topicals before? How do you incorporate them into your regular routine? We want to hear from you! Let us know how you use cannabis topicals in the comments or tag us in your story on social media. 

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