One of the most prevalent misconceptions about cannabis is that it must be smoked—in other words, a user must inhale cannabis smoke or vapors—in order to access the plant’s therapeutic and medicinal benefits. This is entirely inaccurate, as there are a variety of different ways to safely ingest cannabis without inhaling smoke. For example, according to Leafly, cannabis-infused topicals are not only safe to use, but they also feature a wide range of benefits. These “cannabis topicals” highlight a thriving, and relatively new viewpoint among medical professionals: that cannabis does have potent medicinal benefits, and that patients can use cannabis without “getting high,” or experiencing any feelings of euphoria.
What is it?
Cannabis topicals are exactly what they sound like—they are topical lotions, ointments, and balms that have been infused with cannabis. So, instead of consuming or smoking cannabis, a user simply applies a cannabis-infused topical directly to the skin. The topicals offer temporary relief from pain, inflammation, or soreness. Because these topicals lack certain psychoactive chemicals, patients can use a topical and gain all of the pain-relieving benefits of cannabis without experiencing any sense of a euphoric high. Some companies have also developed cannabis-infused patches and lubricants, and others have developed topicals that feature particular cannabinoids—such as THC, CBD, and THCA—which can, if the user desires, induce a high.
Cannabis-infused topicals work by targeting particular neural receptors within a person’s body—namely the CB2 receptors. Interestingly, the chemicals within these topicals don’t enter the bloodstream, so most topicals—save for particular, and specially designed transdermal THC patches—won’t induce a “high” of any kind. These topicals are excellent for localized pain relief, and they’re also ideal for reducing inflammation and muscle tension, as well. Some manufacturers claim that the topicals can be used to combat dermatitis and even psoriasis, but clinical proof is minimal, at best.
However, these topicals can prove to be especially beneficial for patients who’ve experienced a muscle-related injury, but want to avoid taking any medication—such as prescription opioids—that might alter their state of mind or perception of the world around them. Additionally, individuals who’ve relied on traditional acetaminophen-based pain relievers—such as Tylenol—that have been shown to induce stomach pain (according to the LA Times) may find that cannabis topicals—with their minimal effects—to their liking. In short, these topicals highlight that cannabis can be used in a safe and effective manner, and that cannabis could, potentially, become a respected medicine on a global scale within the near future.