Topical's are hemp-infused lotions, balms, and oils that are absorbed through the skin for localized relief of pain, soreness, and inflammation.
Topical's are most popularly chosen for localized pain relief, muscle soreness, tension, and inflammation, but anecdotal evidence is beginning to show a widening spectrum of potential benefits, from psoriasis, dermatitis, and itching to headaches and cramping.
Topical methods of relief work by binding to a network of receptors called CB2. These CB2 receptors are found throughout the body and are activated either by the body’s naturally-occurring endocannabinoids or by cannabis compounds known as “phytocannabinoids”.
Topical's are made from infusing high-quality hemp in some kind of quality oil—coconut or olive typically—which extracts the active compound CBD from the plant. This oil is then blended with other therapeutic herbs, like arnica or essential oils, that are well-known pain relievers.
Different topical's have different benefits to offer depending on the way they are processed and the ingredients that are used, so experiment with various transdermal products to see what works for you.
So how do you choose the right topical? Below I have listed some things to consider:
1. CBD or not? Definitely yes. CBD is absorbed through the skin's surface to interact with nearby cannabinoid receptors like CB1 and CB2. Though most evidence is still anecdotal, there are more and more research pointing to CBD’s potential as a topical.
2. Balms, lotions or gels? Balms are usually an oil based product with no water and are firm to the touch. You will usually find them in a tube container or a plastic jar where you can scoop it out. They are generally a bit greasy when applied making it a great option for those who like to massage the topical into the skin. Lotions are generally a thinner product with water as a main ingredient. They can be on the greasy side or not depending on how much oil is added to the formula. Lotions are great for those who want a little bit of massage but want to apply clothing after using. Either one is a good option for a topical, it will depend on what is pleasing to you. Are gels better than lotions or balms? Gels are able to penetrate the skin better than any other topical. This is do to the fact that gels are mostly water based and water penetrates into the skin quicker. So, if you need something that is quick to work and not greasy, a gel may work well for you.
3. Spasms or muscle issues? Look for something magnesium based for muscle spasms or pain. Also, look for some good essential oils like wintergreen, helichrysum or peppermint to name a few (there are MANY essential oils that work well in topical's). Those have the ability to calm and sooth muscle issues.
4. Pain, inflammation or stiffness? Look for something with some herbs in it such as arnica or white willow bark. Those plant-based botanical's are said to have pain relieving properties. Arnica has the ability to penetrate a bit deeper into the skin tissue than a product without it. Essential oils and terpenes work very well for pain issues too.
5. Are ingredients important? Yes! Before you buy a product, research the essential oils, terpenes, oils and other ingredients. For example, if a product has eucalyptol or eucalyptus in it, your research will show you it is good for nerve type pain and neuropathy. Some pain-relieving creams will use special oils like apricot kernel oil, known for its ability to reduce inflammation. Capsaicin (a chemical compound in peppers) is an ingredient in many over-the-counter topical pain-relief preparations. When first applied, topical capsaicin causes a burning sensation. This sensation lessens within a few minutes, and also over time with repeated applications. There are other ingredients similar to Capsaicin that may help also. So, do some research on the ingredients, then decide what may work for you.