A Look at Cannabis-Infused Topicals

By Justin Allec

Ask yourself what sounds better: a massage, or a massage with cannabis-infused lotion? If you started giggling at the prospect of the latter, it’s time to take a look at cannabis-infused topicals. Topicals are products that include lotions, creams, sprays, and oils that, despite containing cannabis, are meant to be used externally. The beauty of these products is that they mesh with our endocannabinoid system to produce a localized effect in the area they’re applied. This differs considerably from the whole-body psychotropic effects that happen when you ingest cannabis; topicals aren’t transdermal, which means they can’t penetrate the bloodstream. It’s a broad and rapidly growing category of cannabis products that are looking for a place in your daily health and beauty routines.

It’s a different view of cannabis’ benefits and one that values other aspects of the plant. Currently, most topicals on the market are geared towards pain relief, such as muscle soreness and inflammation. The natural anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties of cannabis make it an ideal ingredient to mix with other proven ingredients such as menthol, peppermint, and eucalyptus. These ingredients work well in tandem because they’re all high in fatty acids, which, when bound to a cannabis molecule, is easily absorbed through the skin and into the CB2 reactors of the endocannabinoid system.

As an example, I tried using a “general purpose” lotion to address some post-snow shoveling muscle soreness. Tidal’s Tullia CBD:THC Lotion ($42.80/61g; THC 100.00mg, CBD 100.00mg) uses a balanced mixture of cannabinoids for rapidly penetrating relief. Using a hybrid strain, Tidal blends their cannabis with eucalyptus extracts to produce a lotion that promises “a pleasant cooling sensation similar to a cool ocean breeze.” That sounded lovely, and it mostly provided what it promised: a cooling, numbing effect on the skin that worked down into the muscle tissue. I’m not sure if it’s considerably different from some regular products I’ve used like Tiger Balm or Rub A535, but it also worked well.

Though I’ve only tried the one product so far, I’m encouraged by what I found. It’s best to compare these cannabis-infused products to their “regular” counterparts, as you can’t really compare the experience—or the reason you’d want to use it—to ingesting cannabis. There’s still ongoing research into the potency of topicals, but in general, it seems that most products can be considered low-dose or non-intoxicating. However, there’s still considerations for the potency of the product, so in all cases, refer to the manufacturer’s information. Then prepare for some relief.