Cannabis Topical for Pain: Does it Really Work?

Cannabis Topicals for Pain: Do They Really Work

Utah’s Medical Cannabis law allows for several different delivery methods, including cannabis topical products. A topical product is a lotion or cream applied directly to the skin. As a pain medication, topically applied THC and CBD can actually work quite well for some patients.

We are still learning exactly how cannabinoids interact with the human cannabinoid system to offer pain relief. That being said, medical science does have a working theory about how topical cannabis medications might help alleviate certain kinds of pain. The important thing to note is that topicals really do work for untold numbers of Medical Cannabis patients who swear by them.

Easy and Safe to Apply

Medical Cannabis topicals are very similar to other creams and lotions in terms of practical application. They are easy and safe to apply, and they rarely create those feelings of euphoria normally associated with other delivery methods because THC doesn’t make it to the bloodstream.

Applying a cannabis topical is as easy as applying any other cream or lotion. You put a dab on your finger and rub it into the skin. If a product contains additional ingredients like menthol or camphor, a patient might feel the hot/cold sensations typically associated with pain lotions.

Interacting with Receptors in the Skin

The most likely explanation for how topical cannabis medications relieve pain lies in two different types of receptors in the skin. The first are cannabinoid receptors. Believe it or not, these receptors are found throughout the body. They are not limited exclusively to the brain.

Limited evidence seems to suggest that topically applied Medical Cannabis stimulates CB1 and CB2 receptors located in the outer layers of the skin, primarily the epidermis. The proper amount of stimulation can reduce pain, inflammation, and even itching.

The other type of receptor is the transient receptor, frequently known as the TRP. Although TRPs are considered part of the endocannabinoid system, their functions are more limited compared to cannabinoid receptors. TRPs help the body make sense of changes in temperature, salinity, and other environmental properties.

If you want more information about how Medical Cannabis works as a topical product, check out this great article from The Cannigma. It offers a lot more detail than we can provide here in this post.

Talk with Your Medical Provider or Pharmacist

Despite the fact that many Utah Medical Cannabis patients utilize topical medications for pain, topicals are not guaranteed to work for everyone. That’s just the nature of Medical Cannabis itself; state law allows for multiple delivery methods for that very reason. So, what works for someone else might not work for you.

We routinely advise patients to talk with their medical providers or pharmacists about the pros and cons of topical products. The Pharmacy Medical Provider (PMP) at your favorite Utah Medical Cannabis pharmacy could probably offer a ton of helpful advice about delivery methods. Pharmacists are trained in both pharmacology and the human endocannabinoid system.

An Option for Easing into Medical Cannabis

It is interesting to note the demographics relating to topical Medical Cannabis. According to The Cannigma post, studies demonstrate that topicals are most popular among new Medical Cannabis patients and those aged 60 and older. The data seems to suggest that topicals are an option for gradually easing into the Medical Cannabis journey.

If you use Medical Cannabis for pain, what is your preferred delivery method? Topical products may be an option for things like joint and muscle pain. They are definitely an option that could provide pain relief without the euphoric side effects of other delivery methods. Consider giving them a try.

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Published August 29, 2023

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