Cannabis topicals can cause a range of responses, from almost no reaction (in patients familiar with or tolerant of cannabis) to rare cases of extreme anxiety. Some people also experience an odd effect where THC enters the blood and makes them feel high when they don’t expect it, especially those unfamiliar with THC topicals. This is partly due to cannabinoids (THC and CBD) not always being distributed uniformly throughout the plant material and because they can absorb into your skin rapidly.
How does the body react to Cannabis topicals?
Cannabis topicals, like other marijuana products, contain more than just THC and CBD. They typically also have other cannabinoids and terpenes, ingredients that smell and taste different. When you rub some into your skin, the active compounds will be absorbed and get directly into your bloodstream. Still, they also have the potential to interact with these secondary materials. This is good because topicals work better for some patients than others.
However, in cases where the topical was designed for particular conditions; and included a specific active ingredient(s) that doesn’t match your needs. You’ll likely experience much less success with cannabis topicals. Especially with cannabinoids like THC, which are notorious for their psychoactive effects. So if you’re using a CBD topical that doesn’t contain THC, but you’re already familiar with or tolerant of marijuana, you might be disappointed that it isn’t working for you.
For anyone who hasn’t yet become accustomed to cannabinoid effects…
…the feelings can vary from one person to the next, and can even differ in strength within one individual. While some people may find THC mildly stimulating, others might feel dizzy, tired, and nauseous. The latter is more common among first-time consumers of cannabis products. If you know someone who’s a big fan of THC and can’t stop talking about their intense, and often exaggerated experiences after trying cannabis for the first time, chances are they’re not a cannabis connoisseur and may have been experiencing the feeling of THC overwhelming them.
How do I properly prepare my skin for use with Cannabis topicals?
If you’ve never tried a cannabis topical before, then one of your first considerations should be how to obtain the highest ratio of active ingredients on your skin. Since cannabinoids are lipid-soluble, follow these tips to maximize absorption:
Warm the area of your skin where you’ll be applying the topical. Taking a hot shower or bath before use will help relax your muscles and increase circulation and will aid in removing dead skin cells that can block pores and prevent cannabinoid absorption. Let the area cool down before applying.
Taking a hot shower or bath before use will help relax your muscles, and increase circulation.
It also aids in removing dead skin cells that can block pores and prevent cannabinoid absorption. Let the area cool down before applying. Gently exfoliate skin beforehand. If you’re already using soap on that area of your body, try using a scrub or exfoliator when you plan to use the topical. This can help increase surface area contact between your skin and the cannabinoids in the oil, which improves absorption rates.
. If you’re already using soap on that area of your body, try using a scrub or exfoliator when you plan to use the topical. This can help increase surface area contact between your skin and the cannabinoids in the oil, which improves absorption rates. Allow the oil to soak into the skin for a few minutes before covering it with clothing. The longer the active ingredients contact your skin, the more they will absorb.
The longer the active ingredients contact your skin, the more they will absorb. Use a heating pad on your body to maximize absorption.
How do topicals affect my sense of touch and pain?
The effects of cannabis topicals can be different for each individual, but you’ll likely experience one or more of these sensations if you’ve used them before:
- Decreased sensation (numbness)
- Increased feeling (tingling, warmth)
- Improved circulation and blood flow to the affected area(s)
It also reduces spasms/muscle tension in the area(s) of application. While this might be uncomfortable for some people with acute muscle spasms or aching joints, it can benefit those who suffer from chronic pain. While this might be uncomfortable for some people with acute muscle spasms or painful joints, it can be constructive for those who suffer from chronic pain. Pain relief, particularly in areas of the body that have been affected by nerve damage.
The topicals I’ve used seem to affect me for a much shorter duration than other products. Is this normal?
The effects of cannabis topicals are most often felt in the application. They’re generally less potent than inhalation methods such as smoking or vaporizing—most last an average of 2-4 hours. This is why it’s important only to apply a small amount of the product. Otherwise, you’ll continue to experience its effects long after stopping using it.
If the topical has been applied to an area of the body other than the head (or topically ingested), its effects will be felt. This means that if a topical is applied to your lower back, it will affect the back and lower body muscles.
Disclaimer: The purpose of this article is to inform readers of an alternative treatment option for medical conditions. The FDA has not sanctioned and should not replace conventional medical treatment. This article is meant to show the benefits of cannabis in medicine, not be construed as a cure-all article.