Posted June 14, 2018 by Jana Hepbun

How to Use Topicals

What are cannabis topicals?

Used dating back to ancient times, cannabis topicals are products applied to the body externally—as opposed to inhalation or ingestion. They include lotions, creams, salves, oils and even transdermal patches that are infused with cannabis itself or laboratory-extracted cannabinoids. There are two main benefits of using infused topicals. First, they offer localized effects instead of the widespread results that occur throughout the body when cannabis is inhaled through vaporizing or consumed through the digestive track. A patient simply applies the topical directly where needed. They are most often applied to treat pain, inflammation and skin conditions. Just as important for many users, topicals are less likely to produce a mental high that can occur from using dried flower, oils and edibles.

How do topicals work?

After applying the cannabis-infused topicals, the cannabis compounds penetrate the skin, binding to the CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors that are abundant within the epidermal cells and sensory nerves according to a study in the Journal of Dermatological Science.

Within the skin, the THC and CBD work independently, but in a complementary manner, to activate and optimize therapeutic effects through the cannabinoid receptors. However, although the cannabinoids reach their target within the skin and nerve cells, they most often do not penetrate deep enough to be absorbed into the bloodstream. This is why the THC in topicals are less likely to create a psychoactive effect, instead creating localized results. The exception is when using high THC transdermal patches, that may result in mild psychoactive effects.


Who can benefit from using topicals?

Patients with localized pain who need targeted relief, as well as those who desire the medical benefits of THC without the psychoactive effects may be good candidates for topical treatments. Topicals can be a versatile treatment, aiding everything from sore muscles and injuries to cramping, headaches and arthritic inflammation. Just as with dried flower or cannabis oils, different types of topicals or those made with specific strains may have different benefits for different patients. If you believe externally applied topical cannabis products may be beneficial as part of your treatment plan, we suggest talking to your physician or GrowWise nurse educator. We are always happy to provide assistance, so please get in touch regarding any questions you may have by emailing the team at or by calling our toll-free patient hotline at 1-844-456-1515.


/ / / / / /