Cannabis-infused topical products like lotions, salves, lip balms, and body oils are claimed to offer us an innovative way to experience the therapeutic benefits of marijuana. Though manufacturers and users alike allege that these topical products help with a variety of aches, pains, and skin conditions, the claims are anecdotal, as presently there is little scientific research done on the subject.
Absorbed directly through the skin, cannabis-infused topicals are made strictly for external use and are meant to provide fast-acting relief to a localized area for many body pains and skin conditions. Some cannabis-infused topicals are claimed to help alleviate muscle soreness and pains stemming from inflammation, tendonitis, rheumatism, and arthritis, as well as some chronic, long-term conditions like multiple sclerosis. Others are made to provide relief from skin allergies, rashes, burns, psoriasis, eczema, mild infections, and other conditions.
A major advantage cannabis-infused topicals offer is that they are non-psychoactive, which means they won't ever cause a “high” like when you smoke or ingest marijuana. This is because the active cannabinoids in topical products bind directly to CB2 receptors just beneath the skin and never enter the bloodstream, so any compounds that would bind to CB1 receptors (which create the cerebral euphoria some experience when they consume marijuana) never get the chance.
Other than being a natural alternative for mediating pain, cannabis-infused topical products offer other alluring reasons to try them. You are able to administer topicals directly to a targeted area faster than oral pain relievers, which take some time to take effect, often affect the entire body, and often cause unwanted side effects of opioids. The minimal invasiveness and fast-acting properties of cannabis-infused topicals make them a good way to introduce people to medicinal marijuana; just remember that there is no guarantee these products work.
Since many cannabinoids are known to have anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antioxidant, and analgesic properties – to ranging effect, depending on the strain – it makes sense to think these products are effective topical pain relievers, we just don't have scientific evidence now to confirm the claims. However, some complain that the products are greasy, smell like cannabis and that large quantities are needed to feel the effect. Presently, research will continue side-by-side with the manufacturing of these products, and hopefully, we'll soon get some solid science on how best to create and use them to our benefit.