The image of medical cannabis is changing in the public perception.

Some of that is through broader acceptance in the public eye, but some of it is a greater understanding of the potential medical benefits that don’t even require ingesting or inhaling anymore.

What we’re talking about is topical applications – applications that target muscle groups without getting into the blood stream. These products are gaining a lot of attention as a way to treat certain types of pain or inflammation with a powerful and natural product in a non-intoxicating way.

Marijuana topicals provide a different delivery method that can help a lot of people, so let’s take a closer look at what they are and how they work.

Defining Cannabis Topicals

When we talk about “topicals,” we are simply referring to a range of cannabis-infused products that include oils, lotions, and balms. When you apply them to the surface of your skin, they can start to target pain, inflammation, and soreness in localized areas.

Topicals are different from patch delivery methods, because topicals do not induce an intoxicating effect. This characteristic has made them a very popular option for people who are searching for natural pain relief without the euphoric sensations that come with patches, inhaling, or ingesting.

How Do Cannabis Topicals Work?

How do topicals actually provide pain relief? What is it about cannabis that reduces inflammation and soreness?

There are a series of receptors in the body – called CB2 receptors – that are activated by chemicals that occur naturally in the body or by applying cannabis compounds that are called “phytocannabinoids.”

Cannabis, depending on the strain, can have a number of these cannabinoids, including THC, CBD, THCA, and others. These elements can target localized pain points to provide a therapeutic effect.

Whether you find them in oils, lotions, salves, or sprays, this transdermal delivery method has the potential to work by binding to the CB2 receptors in a very specific area.

In recent years, there has been a lot more research done on CB1 and CB2 receptors, and you can really delve into some of that research on the website for the National Institutes of Health. In summary, though, while the research is ongoing, “With the availability of increasingly precise and selective pharmacological, genetic, preclinical, and clinical tools and a more complete understanding of the importance of CB2 agonist functional selectivity, CB2 receptors still appear to be promising targets for drug development, both for chronic pain and other indications.”

Or, to put it another way, the research “suggests that therapeutic strategies aiming at modulating CB2 signaling could be promising for the treatment of various inflammatory conditions.”

Why Don’t Cannabis Topicals Give You a “High”?

Not all topicals contain the same ingredients, but even if it does contain THC, it won’t be able to create the euphoric high that people immediately associate with cannabis products that you inhale or ingest.

The reason for this is simply that most topicals can’t get into the bloodstream. They go as far as the CB2 receptors and stop there.

This is why a transdermal patch can still give you a high, since they’re designed to deliver their payload into the bloodstream. Most lotions and oils, though, can’t go that far.

Best Uses for Cannabis Topicals

Because of the way cannabinoids interact with the CB2 receptors, the most common use for these topicals are to relieve localized pain, inflammation, and soreness. This could be everything from muscle pulls to joint pain to a range of other ongoing discomfort.

Many people are also combining these topicals with other natural ingredients, like essential oils, for added relief and stress reduction.

And, even though most of the research into cannabinoid interactions is all about pain relief, some people are starting to report other uses, from treating various skin conditions to relieving headaches and cramping.

A Treatment, Not a Cure

Whenever we discuss treating pain this way, it’s important to always note that these products are meant to provide some relief, but if there are underlying issues that are causing chronic pain, you should always consult with a health care professional.

These cannabis topicals have some amazing abilities to reduce or relieve pain, but they won’t cure the condition that might be causing the pain.

So, try these products for yourself and discover a new way to naturally treat inflammation, soreness, and pain. But be sure to talk to a professional if the pain just doesn’t go away.