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the complete guide to cannabis topicals and how they work

Cannabis has woven its way into the fabric of human wellness for centuries, evolving from ancient rituals to modern science, and in no form is this more evident than with cannabis topicals.

These are the creams, balms, and lotions infused with the potent properties of cannabis. Each is designed to offer localized relief and therapeutic benefits.

As the stigma surrounding cannabis dissipates and the body of scientific research grows, we are rediscovering the diverse ways in which CBD- and THC-infused creams can contribute to overall health and well-being. Let’s take a look at how cannabis topicals work.

a brief history of cannabis topicals 

The use of cannabis topicals is not a novel invention of contemporary times. We can trace the roots back thousands of years, with evidence found in ancient Chinese texts and practices, Egyptian papyri, and Greek medical treatises.

Historically, cultures around the globe recognized the plant’s anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, applying it to wounds, sores, and inflammation. In traditional Ayurvedic medicine, it’s common to use cannabis as a key ingredient in balms used to alleviate arthritis and other pain syndromes.

As we entered the modern age, prohibitionist laws cast a shadow on cannabis. However, recent legislative changes have rekindled interest and opened doors to new research and rediscovery of ancient wisdom.

top reasons to use cannabis topicals

top reasons to use cannabis topicals 

Cannabis topicals are now celebrated for their versatility and ease of use, becoming a go-to solution for those seeking non-intoxicating relief from various ailments.

Who can use cannabis topicals? Just about anyone over the age of 21.

Here are some compelling reasons to consider incorporating them into your care regimen: 

  1. Targeted Relief: Unlike systemic methods of cannabis consumption, topicals are applied directly to the skin. This provides localized treatment right where it’s needed—whether that’s a stiff joint, a sore muscle, or inflamed skin.
  2. Non-Intoxicating: Topicals typically don’t cross the blood-brain barrier. This means they can deliver the benefits of cannabinoids like THC and CBD without producing psychoactive effects.
  3. Synergistic Formulations: Many topicals are crafted with a blend of therapeutic herbs and essential oils that work in harmony with cannabinoids to enhance their effectiveness.
  4. Skin Health: Rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents, cannabis topicals can also support skin health, combating issues like dryness, irritation, and aging.
  5. Accessibility: They are widely accessible, even in regions with strict cannabis consumption laws, making them an appealing option for individuals in different legal landscapes.
  6. Variety of Options: There’s a topical to suit every need, including lightweight, water-soluble lotions that penetrate deeply into the skin. (Like our Relief Cream!)

Cannabis topicals have transcended their humble beginnings to become a sophisticated, scientifically-backed option for those seeking an alternative or complement to traditional treatments.

With their rich history and proven benefits, these products are not just a trend; they are a testament to the enduring legacy and versatility of cannabis as a medicinal ally. 

cannabis topicals and the endocannabinoid system 

When you apply a cannabis-infused topical, you’re not just slathering on any old cream. Instead, you’re engaging with a complex biological system beneath your skin.

This system, known as the endocannabinoid system (ECS), is a network of receptors spread throughout our body. The ECS plays a role in regulating pain, inflammation, and even our mood.

The magic of cannabis topicals lies in their interaction with this system. The skin is more than just a barrier; it’s a hub of ECS receptors. Topicals infused with cannabinoids like THC and CBD latch onto these receptors, potentially soothing soreness, calming irritation, or reducing inflammation right where you need it.

Think of it like a targeted relief mission: instead of dispersing throughout your entire system, these cannabis compounds focus on the specific area where you apply the topical. Plus, you get all these potential benefits without the high, since the cannabinoids don’t enter the bloodstream through the skin as they would if you smoked or ingested cannabis.

So, next time you rub in that cannabis cream, remember you’re not just easing your muscles or joints; you’re tapping into a sophisticated network that’s been a part of human health for millennia.

how cannabis topicals work

how cannabis topicals work

When you’re navigating the world of cannabis topicals, understanding their functionality is key. Let’s break down the nitty-gritty of how these products work and address some common questions you might have.

applying cannabinoids to the skin

Cannabis topicals work their magic when applied to the skin. The cannabinoids in these products, primarily THC and CBD, aim for the ECS receptors located in the skin.

These interactions can lead to reduced discomfort, easing of tension, and less inflammation right where you need it–all without affecting your mind or mood, since they don’t enter the bloodstream. 

do cannabis topicals get you high? 

One of the greatest myths to bust is that cannabis topicals will get you high. They won’t.

Because they’re used externally, and cannabinoids from topicals don’t typically reach the bloodstream, they don’t produce the psychoactive effects associated with other forms of cannabis use.

how much should you use?

Start with a small amount, typically enough to cover the affected area easily is the right amount. Observe the effects and gradually increase as needed. Every person’s response can vary, so it’s important to find the right balance that works for your body’s unique chemistry. The good thing about topicals is that they are easy to layer on.

cannabis topical vs. edibles and smokables

Unlike edibles and smokable forms of cannabis, topicals offer localized relief. They provide a focused approach to discomfort without the full-body effects or the psychoactive experience. This makes topicals a discreet and manageable option for those looking for targeted benefits.

do cannabis topicals engage the entourage effect?

do cannabis topicals engage the entourage effect?

The concept of the entourage effect is fascinating within the realm of cannabis science. It suggests that the various compounds in the cannabis plant—cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids—may work together to enhance each other’s effects, potentially increasing the overall efficacy of the product. This synergy could also extend to topicals, particularly those made with full-spectrum extracts.

what cannabinoids are found in cannabis topicals?

Beyond the well-known THC and CBD, cannabis topicals may also contain cannabinoids like CBN (Cannabinol) and CBG (Cannabigerol). 

Each cannabinoid can serve a specific purpose, from soothing skin to providing better sleep quality, and their combination in a product can cater to various needs.

are there terpenes in cannabis topicals?

Terpenes are not just for aroma; in topicals, these aromatic compounds derived from plants could offer additional therapeutic benefits. When included in cannabis topicals, terpenes like linalool and myrcene may amplify the product’s effectiveness in targeting tension and discomfort.

how to choose the right cannabis topical for you

Selecting the ideal cannabis topical is a personal journey, one that takes your unique preferences and needs into account.

To navigate this choice, here are some guiding principles to consider.

identify your needs 

Before diving into the plethora of available options, pinpoint the reason you’re considering a topical. Is it for relaxation, to ease muscle tension, or to support skin health? Your goal will influence which product is the right fit.

understand the ingredients

Read labels carefully. Look for the presence of cannabinoids like THC, CBD, CBN, and CBG, and consider whether you want a full-spectrum product that might leverage the entourage effect. Also, check for terpenes and other additives that can enhance therapeutic potential.

consider the potency

The concentration of active ingredients matters. A higher potency product may offer more pronounced effects, but start with a lower dose if you’re new to cannabis topicals to gauge your skin’s reaction and the relief provided.

think about the texture

Do you prefer a light lotion, a thick balm, or an oil? Your preference will affect your experience, so choose a texture you’ll enjoy using regularly. 

check for testing and transparency

Reputable brands will provide third-party testing results to verify the product’s safety and potency. Transparency is key in ensuring you get a quality topical. 

start with a patch test

Same as any other topical, always perform a patch test to ensure you don’t have an adverse reaction to the product. After applying, listen to how your body responds. It’s the best indicator of whether a product is right for you.

escape artists lavender cbd cream

shop the relief cream collection from escape artists

Choosing the right cannabis topical is ultimately about what works best for you, considering both the physiological effects and the sensory experience. With careful consideration and a bit of trial and error, you can find a cannabis topical that fits seamlessly into your wellness routine.

As you explore what’s available, let us share the magic of our Relief Cream with you. There are several potencies to choose from, and we know once you try our incredible cannabis topicals, your search for the perfect one will be over.

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