While cannabis is best known for its effects on the body when it is ingested or smoked, it is becoming increasingly recognized for its benefits when used topically. It can be used to provide localized pain relief with a variety of healing properties and can help to protect the skin and maintain its youthfulness

A study by PNAS found that cannabidiol (CBD), which is found in the cannabis plant, is in fact a more potent antioxidant than both Vitamin C and Vitamin E, which are both commonly included in skincare products. Antioxidants are recognized for their ability to speed up the healing process of the skin and prevent tissue damage caused by the environment by neutralizing harmful compounds known as free radicals.

There are three major types of cannabis topicals.

● Topicals with CBD

● Topicals with THC

● Topicals with both CBD and THC

Unlike ingested cannabis, topical cannabis is non-psychoactive in form. The euphoric high felt from cannabis, mainly through inhalation, is produced by the cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which binds to CB1 receptors found in the brain.Conversely, cannabidiol (CBD) binds to CB2 receptors which are found in the layers of the skin closest to the epidermis, and does not produce psychoactive effects.

Recently research has gone into the relationship between cannabinoids and the skin. When cannabinoids interact with the surface of the skin, they are able to immediately alleviate pain, whereas ingested cannabis goes through a significantly longer process, travelling through the digestive system and then entering the bloodstream. Once in the bloodstream, depending on the compounds found in the substance, psycho-activity may also kick in for a temporary period.

Intense and chronic pain is best treated with a topical that contains whole plant extracts because they consist of both THC and CBD, which produce optimal results when combined. Cannabis topicals that are THC-dominant are best used for treating neuropathic pain, which is often described as a shooting or burning pain. Cannabis topicals that are CBD-dominant greatly enhance circulation and play a role in regenerating cellular activity. They are are also great for treating the pain associated with skin-conditions such as acne, eczema and minor burns or bruises.

CBD helps regulate pain by increasing the body’s natural levels of endocannabinoids while simultaneously decreasing the inflammatory response and pain receptors. For athletes, CBD topicals can assist with recovery following intense strength training. Heavy lifting causes micro-tears in the muscles and the soreness we feel from these tears lengthens recovery time. CBD limits the release of pro-inflammatory signals which will minimize the amount of soreness.

Cannabis topicals are available in many forms and are often blended with other natural herbs. For example, CBD-infused topical creams are often made by infusing high-quality cannabis flowers in an oil base, such as coconut or olive, to keep the body nourished when applied. It is then blended with herbs like Arnica, rosemary, and/or lemongrass — which are all also pain relievers.

Topical cannabis can also be used for common relief from headaches, to sooth the neck, elbows, wrists, soles of the feet or even to simply keep the skin from becoming dry and flaky. It will become increasingly available in many forms such as lotions, balms, sprays, oils, salves and more and is a traditional therapeutic that is experiencing a new lease on life with impending legalization. So cannabis-infused topicals may just be the best health and beauty secret that you have never heard of.