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What are Topicals?

Topicals, or transdermal medical marijuana creams, ointments, and balms can bring significant relief to many patients. Transdermal medicines allow the cannabinoids to be absorbed through the skin, as opposed to through the lungs or digestive tract. As happens with edible marijuana as well, the cannabinoids from the plant bind with a lipid or fat, and the medicine travels on those fat molecules. Transdermal creams and salves use oils and plant butters to carry cannabinoids.

Ingestion Methods & Advice

Marijuana topicals are made through combining liquid waxes with cannabis oil and heating (at a steady temperature) to create the final product. It is important that the mixture does not get too hot. If the mixture overheats, many of the cannabinoids will burn, leading to a change in the consistency and effectiveness of the topical.


Marijuana applied to the skin is best for pain and muscle tension, and the medicine is normally localized in its efficacy. The topical treatment should be applied to the area requiring relief.

A high level of discretion is possible with many topicals, and they are generally easy to transport. One of the greatest benefits to transdermal medical marijuana is that patients do not normally experience the intoxicating effects of the medicine, making this method a good choice if one will be driving.

A benefit to topical cannabis is the high efficiency of the method. By eliminating the digestive system and liver from the equation, the amount of medicine that makes it to the patient’s bloodstream is a higher percentage than through many other methods. When medicine is consumed through the digestive system some of the beneficial elements are lost in the process, and what is absorbed into the blood is a more diluted medicine than with a transdermal application.

Many topical marijuana medicines use marijuana seeds as they are high in essential fatty acids and proteins. The natural antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties of cannabis can be very useful in topical form. These qualities make topicals beneficial to patients who have experienced scrapes, bruises, and cuts. Topical marijuana also brings relief for Eczema patients, particularly if the product is made using cannabis seeds.

Patients with Tennis Elbow or Tendonitis can find significant relief from topical marijuana. This is also true for patients with Arthritis, stiff neck, headaches, or swelling. The discomfort of some insect bites can be lessened with the use of medical marijuana in a topical form.

An added benefit of topicals comes with the manner in which they are applied. Creams, lotions, and salves are massaged into the skin to encourage absorption. Light massage itself can be a good way to encourage blood flow, as well as allow stress-fighting neurochemicals to be released in the patient’s brain. Patients with muscle and join pain may find the massaging of topical medical marijuana into the skin brings added relief.

Topical marijuana creams are a good choice for patients who also struggle with dry, chapped, or raw skin. The moisturizing abilities of some topical treatments helps to alleviate some of the skin dryness, while also delivering medicine. Skin that is peeling and splitting is more susceptible to infection.


There are a few groups of patients for whom cannabis topicals may not be the best match. These patients include those with pain so extreme they cannot stand to be touched including some cancers and after chemo or radiation, severe burn victims, and patients with certain nerve disorders. These patients may find they are more suited to other methods of medication delivery.

For highly sensitive patients, take care the individual product used doesn’t contain ingredients that pose a risk of allergic reaction. Patients with allergies to certain oils or glycerin should make certain to check labels.

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