Cannabis topicals have been used for thousands of years. Indigenous grandmothers all over the world typically keep a jar of cannabis-infused alcohol or salve to rub on everything from sore muscles and joints to cuts and burns. 

Let’s take a look at how cannabis topicals work and how they can benefit you.


How Do Cannabis Topicals Work?


Cannabinoids like CBD and THC function by interacting with our endocannabinoid systems (ECS). The ECS evolved over 600 million years ago into a network of receptors designed to help our bodies maintain homeostasis, or internal balance.

Human skin contains an abundance of endocannabinoid receptors. ECS receptors are attached to nearly every type of cell in our skin, including our nerve endings, lymph cells, sebaceous glands, and hair follicles. Topical cannabis applications absorb directly into the skin and interact with these receptors, providing immediate and localized relief.


Benefits of Cannabis Topicals


The benefits of cannabis-infused topicals cannot be overstated. Here are just a few examples of their immense potential.


Cannabis topicals reduce inflammation.


A plethora of laboratory research has proven that cannabinoids excel at reducing inflammation. Excessive inflammation underlies nearly every condition, and reducing it can have a significant impact on pain reduction. 

According to a study published in the peer-reviewed journal Brain, Behavior & Immunity, biomarkers of systemic inflammation were significantly lower in subjects who had used cannabis in the past 30 days. Additionally, several studies have shown that topical cannabis application can help diminish the symptoms of peripheral neuropathy.


Cannabis topicals can help keep the skin healthy.


Cannabinoids have potent antioxidant effects. Some researchers assert that CBD has 30-50% more antioxidant power than vitamin C. Free radicals caused by aging, toxins, or sun exposure are the primary causes of fine lines, wrinkles, and crepey skin. Topical cannabis also has a moisturizing effect and can help with dry and flaky skin.

Not only can regularly applying cannabis topicals help you maintain a glowing complexion, but they may also provide relief from inflammatory skin conditions, such as psoriasis, rosacea, and dermatitis. Additionally, topicals interact with human sebaceous glands, which has shown positive results in treating acne.


Cannabis topicals can be used as antiseptics.


Topical application of cannabinoids can slow the growth or even kill harmful microorganisms, such as bacteria, fungi, and even viruses. Researchers are especially encouraged by the ability of cannabinoids to combat the antibiotic-resistant bacteria often seen in hospitals, such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).    


Cannabis topicals may help with skin cancer.


One of the most exciting recent revelations about cannabis topicals is that they may help treat the symptoms of skin cancer. CBD, in particular, has been shown to encourage programmed cell death in cancer cells, a phenomenon called apoptosis.

Pro-Tip: Not all cannabis topicals are created equal. Consumers should always examine official third-party lab reports called Certificates of Analysis (COAs) to ensure the potency and purity of CBD and cannabis products. Effective cannabis topicals should have at least 5-8 milligrams of CBD or THC per milliliter of the carrier. You should also examine the other ingredients in the topical to ensure that you aren’t allergic to any of them.