Cannabis Topicals: More Than Skin Deep Benefits?
Cannabis topicals are becoming increasingly popular choice for patients in the in the medical industry. Many people like to use cannabis oil by applying it to joint aches, muscle pains, and assorted skin issues. Each month consumers are checking out the external ways to take cannabis medicine and many find great benefit with using topicals as needed. Topicals can also be applied while combining it with cannabis internally to alleviate overall inflammation and treat a pain issue both locally and internally.
Cannabis topicals/creams are not a new thing in this space. The use of topically applied cannabis oil preparations dates back to ancient China. Archaeological evidence also indicates that the Egyptians used cannabis topically. Imangine that? Something our current society is just now getting around to aknowledging has been used for htousands of years. External application allows cannabis to work on the body directly from where it is applied to soothe, alleviate pain and protect the skin.
What is the role of the endocannabinoid system on the skin
You know of course that the skin is the largest organ in the body, and the endocannabinoid system (ECS) influences all of its aspects. The ECS plays an important role in skin homeostasis. It impacts oil production, hair growth, skin pigment, wound healing, and how the skin protects itself.
The endocannabinoid system also modulates the growth, proliferation, and death of skin cells. The most common skin conditions are acne and seborrhea. These situations stem from an overproduction of the skin’s oil by the sebaceous glands. The activation of CB2 receptors in these glands enhances the production of oil.
Based on current research, acne, seborrhea, and alopecia areata require decreased endocannabinoid tone. Skin tumors, psoriasis, hirsutism, dry skin, pain, and itching would be improved by increasing endocannabinoid tone. The endocannabinoid system influences pain and itching by stimulating the central nervous system. In skin diseases such as psoriasis and tumors where abnormal skin cells replicate rapidly, the skin’s ECS will inhibit cell growth and cause cell death.
How do the skin’s layers manage absorption
The cannabis plant is a complex one with many different compounds that work on the body, and the manners in which it is taken into the body is no exception. Topical cannabis creams exert their effects by activating cannabinoid receptors in the skin. This may lead to pain relief, enhanced healing, and decreased inflammation.
When cannabinoids are taken orally, they are processed by the liver before getting into the bloodstream. However, cannabinoids applied externally are difficult for the skin to absorb. This is because cannabinoids are hydrophobic, meaning that they are not water-soluble. Cannabinoids are fat and alcohol soluble. This makes cannabinoid transport over the water-based layer of the skin challenging.
Various uses for topicals
People can take cannabis both internally and topically to act on an area from the inside out. This can be especially helpful when systemic medications do not relieve a particular zone of concern. For example, many arthritic patients take cannabis orally or via inhalation for overall relief of pain and inflammation. If arthritis mostly affects the knees, they can apply a topical to relieve local pain where the systemic medication may not be as effective.
Topicals can be made from Type I (THC-dominant), Type II (a combination of CBD:THC), or Type III (CBD-dominant) cannabis products. Currently, there are many CBD-dominant or combination CBD:THC cannabis topicals on the market. Each case and person is unique. A patient may have to try a few types of cannabis products to find what works for them. This is mainly because there are many different topicals and they contain various chemovars, potency, and ingredients.
What Are The Advantages of using topicals:
- No high effects, therefore no impairment
- Effective local treatment
- No dose limitations
- Minimal or no side effects
- May enhance the effects of systemic products in the target area
- Can be applied many times per day
What Are The Disadvantages of using topicals:
- Effects are only local
- May require application more than once per day
- May be expensive
- Potential need for experimentation with different options to find what works. This is typical of cannabis medicine and can be seen as an advantage or a disadvantage
Choosing from Different Types of Topicals
Cannabis topicals come in a variety of options. Cannabis is extracted into an alcohol or oil base and then made into the topical preparation. Alcohol extractions, sometimes known as liniments, have been used as a “folk remedy” for sore joints and other ailments. A cannabis-infused oil is the base for many cannabis creams/topicals on the market. There are a wide variety of options available to consumers. Here is a breakdown of some of them and how they work.
- Salves & Ointments are usually a semisolid preparation that has no water. They are thick and greasy. Salves and ointments are composed of oil, paraffin, or petrolatum. Their ability to get into the pores is beneficial for dry or inflammatory skin conditions.
- Creams are a combination of water and oil in close to equal parts. There is a difference between oil in water or water in oil. Oil in water preparations are non-greasy and spread more easily. Water in oil preparations are thicker and stay on the skin longer. Creams can be good to soothe inflammation and for oily skin types. Creams sometimes have preservatives, so be sure to look on the label.
To determine what kind of topical you should use for your skin condition, consider the type of skin lesion versus the preparation. For example, if the skin condition is moist or “draining”, avoid an oily or greasy topical. If the condition is in a hairy area, a lotion or a gel would be ideal. Gels tend to be drying so are probably not optimal for skin conditions that require moisturization.