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How Do Cannabis Topicals Work?

If you have ever used quality cannabis topicals, you’ve likely experienced some therapeutic effects without getting high. Topicals are used for various purposes, from regular skincare routines to targeted pain relief. And while they are often quite effective, the question remains for many: how do cannabis topicals work?

How Do Cannabis Topicals Work?

May 4, 2021

Cannabis topicals have been around for ages, seemingly. You’ve probably seen hemp-based topicals on the market long before legal recreational weed or CBD made it into the marketplace. 

However, those topicals were on the market because they made use of hemp seed oil, not hemp extract. Hemp seed oil contains no cannabinoids, meaning no THC, CBD, or other compounds. It still has health benefits, but products made with hemp seed oil are significantly different from products made from extracts containing cannabinoids. 

These days, cannabis topicals are extremely popular in the recreational and medical world. You may also see CBD topicals available over the counter at various retailers. 

Before we dive into the details of how cannabis topicals work, let’s make a distinction. Many people confuse cannabis topical products with transdermal products, but they are not the same at all. 

Cannabis topicals vs. transdermal products

You’ll typically see two types of products: transdermal and regular topicals. They both go on the skin, but they are different in the way they interact with the body. 

Transdermal products, such as patches or gels, are able to enter the bloodstream and directly deliver effects. This method is a great way to enhance the bioavailability of the CBD, and will get users high if there is enough THC entering the bloodstream. 

Topicals products, on the other hand, typically do not enter the bloodstream. As such, the effects of topical products are limited to the specific area of application. It’s why many people use topicals for targeted relief without any intoxication. 

Topicals and the endocannabinoid system

How Do Cannabis Topicals Work?

To fully understand how cannabis topicals work, you need an understanding of the endocannabinoid system. If you’re not familiar, you can learn more about the endocannabinoid system here. 

Put simply, everybody has this complex biological system of endocannabinoids (neurotransmitters that bind to cannabinoid receptors) and cannabinoid receptors. The system is responsible for a variety of bodily processes, and can be influenced by chemical compounds binding to receptors and stimulating various processes. 

Bodies naturally produce neurotransmitters that specifically bind to cannabinoid receptors in the body. The naturally-produced neurotransmitters, endocannabinoids, act in very similar ways to THC, CBD, and other plant-based cannabinoids. 

Therefore, you can stimulate your endocannabinoid system and influence different processes by binding cannabinoids to cannabinoid receptors. Since endocannabinoids and plant-derived cannabinoids (phytocannabinoids) are so similar, both can influence this complex system. 

Topicals bind to local cannabinoid receptors

As if it wasn’t already fascinating enough that our bodies produce cannabinoids and have receptors for the sole purpose of binding with cannabinoids from the body and plants, there’s more!

Cannabinoid receptors are located all throughout the body. When you apply a cannabis topical directly on your skin, the cannabinoids in the product bind to receptors in that specific zone. The effects of the cannabinoids will take place solely in the area that you have applied the topical. 

There are a wide range of effects you may experience from using cannabis topicals, depending on what’s in the product. CBD topicals, THC topicals, combinations of the two, specific terpene blends, and many other combinations formulated for specific results will all act in unique ways. 

Cannabis topicals effects

How Do Cannabis Topicals Work?

One of the most common reasons people turn to cannabis topicals is to relieve pain. Because cannabinoid receptors are located throughout the body, you can easily target afflicted areas and provide relief with topicals. 

Cannabinoids are generally considered to have anti-inflammatory properties. THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids are known to regulate inflammation in the body. Additionally, certain terpenes have anti-inflammatory properties and can help boost the overall therapeutic effects.  

Considering the role of cannabinoids in managing inflammation, there are some common uses for topicals: 

  • Muscle soreness
  • Joint pain 
  • Tension 

Whether the pain is chronic or acute, topicals are often used to provide relief from common aches and pains. 

Given their anti-inflammatory properties, topicals are becoming increasingly popular for various skin conditions as well. Anecdotal evidence has shown that people use cannabis topicals to manage eczema, psoriasis, dermatitis, and other inflammation-based skin conditions. 

Topical recommendations from Piece of Mind Cannabis

Want to try cannabis topicals for yourself? Whether you are near our Spokane dispensary, Bellingham weed store, or Seattle pot shop, we’ve got you covered with a variety of quality cannabis topicals. 

Ceres Dragon Balm

CBD 500mg Super Dragon Balm Roll On Product Image

Ceres makes a deep tissue salve called Dragon Balm that customers can’t get enough of. They have different strength levels and ratios of CBD and THC to meet different needs. 


The product also contains camphor and menthol, two soothing ingredients that provide opposing effects: menthol is cooling, while camphor provides a warm sensation. 

Try it out if you are looking for relief from aches and pains!

Find Ceres Dragon Balm at Piece of Mind Cannabis by selecting your location below!

Bodhi High CBD Skin Care

CBD Skin Care Product Image

Looking for a way to rejuvenate your skin? Try CBD skin care!

Soothing CBD is combined with coconut oil, beeswax, shea butter, almond oil, and eucalyptus. This therapeutic blend is a powerful way to keep your skin happy and in balance. 

Find Bodhi High CBD Skin Care at Piece of Mind Cannabis by selecting your location below!

Fairwinds Flow Gel 

CBD Flow (Gel) Product Image

This topical combines cannabis oil with terpenes, herbal extracts, and other soothing ingredients. It’s easy to apply and provides quick relief.

We love Fairwinds Flow Gel because of its unique, therapeutic effects. It’s perfect for targeted pain relief in many forms. Try it for yourself and see how it can help!

Find Fairwinds Flow Gel at Piece of Mind Cannabis by selecting your location below!

Ready to try cannabis topicals?

Now that we’ve talked about how cannabis topicals work, it’s time to try some for yourself or a loved one. We can all use a little relief in our daily lives! 

Stop by Piece of Mind Cannabis to shop CBD topicals, THC topicals, and everything in between. Are topicals not your style? We’ve got a wide range of concentrates, beverages, edibles, and classic flower in store, too.

Come say high!

Piece of Mind Cannabis is a medical marijuana and recreational Cannabis dispensary with locations in North Spokane, South SpokaneSeattle, BellinghamPullman and Anchorage!

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