Topical Cannabis Products with Medicinal BenefitsThe cannabis industry is experiencing steady growth. As a result, people are developing new and improved ways to utilize cannabis for medicinal benefits. A common misconception about cannabis is that using any extract from the plant will result in psychoactive effects or becoming “high”. Although some patients desire that effect, there are other ways to use cannabis without getting high.Cannabis topicals are substances that are applied to the skin for site-specific (“local”) benefits. This means that the effect is felt wherever the product is applied on the body. This makes topicals great for skin irritations, muscle soreness and arthritis pain. How does this happen without the user getting high? Topicals are often infused with two well-known cannabinoids. These are CBD, commonly known for its medicinal benefits, and THC which is also known for medicinal benefits, but is better known for its psychoactive effects (producing a high). The reason for the cannabinoids’ effect on the body is the body’s natural endocannabinoid system, as described in “Do Cannabis-infused Topicals Get You High? The Definitive Answer”. When a topical product is applied, both the CBD and THC molecules are absorbed by the endocannabinoid system. (That does not mean that all products will contain both CBD and THC. Some may have only CBD, so it is important to ask the budtender or cannabis specialist about the product’s nature at the time of purchase.) After being absorbed, the molecules linger in fat cells, but are never fully absorbed into the bloodstream, which explains the long-lasting effect. The cannabinoids are not circulated throughout the body but are affecting only the areas where the product was applied. Therefore, there is no associated high, nor was it designed to do so.
Transdermal products are another form of medicinal cannabis and are sometimes confused with topicals because both are applied to the skin. They are often sold as patches and can be found with CBD alone or with both CBD and THC. Patches are commonly used to treat chronic pain, muscle spasms, and nausea. Transdermal products that contain THC will produce a high, which is the manufacturer’s intent. This contributes to the confusion about topicals vs. transdermal products. Both are applied externally on the skin. According to “Cannabis topicals: Will I Get High, fail a Drug Test and End Up Smelling Skunky?”, only transdermal products are designed to break through and reach the bloodstream. Once in the bloodstream, the THC and CBD cannabinoids are distributed throughout the body and provide the psychoactive effect. These effects are not typically felt for a few hours, similar to the effects of edible cannabis. Since transdermal patches release the compound over a period of time, they are very convenient for patients who want a prolonged effect instead of having to medicate multiple times.
It is always important to take time to research cannabis products and to be aware of how you should feel when using these products. There are many ways to use cannabis and people continue to discover more.
Topicals and transdermals are a great way to achieve the medicinal benefits of cannabis without experiencing any psychoactive effects and remaining low key while doing so. Be sure to read labels. Know what is in the product before using it.
Topicals with CBD and THC are good for local effect and will NOT produce a high. Transdermals with any THC are great for a prolonged effect and WILL produce a high.