Topical Cannabis

Let’s Talk About Topicals!

Topical cannabis products are relatively new in the medical cannabis marketplace. Traditionally, medical cannabis users have relied on either inhaled or ingested products to address symptoms.  However, in recent years, the demand for cannabinoid-based products that are applied topically (directly to the skin) is on the rise. A 2019 Nurturing New Growth publication reports that 71% of current consumers and 79% of likely consumers use or plan to use topicals to alleviate or treat specific pain.1
Although the research is in the early stages, studies suggest that topical cannabis such as creamslotions & gels containing cannabinoids may effectively reduce symptoms associated with neuropathic pain, inflammatory skin conditions such as atopic dermatitisacne, eczema, pruritus or psoriasis.2-8 Anecdotal evidence also suggests that topical cannabis may be effective for alleviating aches, muscle tension or joint pain.10 

Why Topicals May Be Effective:

It turns out that we have cannabinoid receptors throughout the many layers of our skin. Within these layers CB1 and CB2 receptors have been discovered in sebaceous glands, immune cells of the skin, hair follicles, sweat glands and sensory nerves. With the skin being one of the largest organs of the body, it makes sense that there is a vast potential to treat the symptoms of various skin diseases by specifically targeting localized areas with plant-based cannabinoid treatments. 
CB1 and CB2 receptors in the layers of the human skin
Remember the “entourage effect”? By consuming or utilizing all parts of the cannabis plant, each component works synergistically to produce a greater overall effect. This also extends to topical cannabis products. Select Canadian licensed producers are now bringing full spectrum topical medical cannabis products containing terpenes as well as cannabinoids to the marketplace.
Different terpenes may have varying symptom-relief effects from soothing, cooling, calming to potentially increasing the effectiveness of cannabinoids. For example, Canna Farms has just released a full-spectrum topical creams called Beacon CBD T, Extra Strength Cannabis Cream, which contains bisabolol, terpineol and menthol terpenes. It is thought and demonstrated that these specific terpenes assist with absorption of the cannabinoids through the layers of the skin and penetration of surrounding tissues, increasing potential to be effective for joint or muscle pain relief. 
Beacon Medical Extra Strength CBD cream CBD|T

Potential Benefits of Topical Products

Aside from the preliminary scientific research and anecdotal evidence, there are several simple benefits to trying topicals:  
  • Localized treatment of symptoms  
  • Little to no risk of impairment or harmful drug interactions  
  • No need to inhale or ingest 
  • Ideal for individuals who are new to medical cannabis 
  • Discreet, affordable, and convenient to use   
Looking for more evidence-based information? Check out our latest Harvest Medicine clinical summary on topicals and skin diseases 
Whether you’re looking for a topical to use daily or only when required, dive into the details about each of the available topicals here to see which one suits your health & wellness needs.  If you have questions on whether topicals may be suitable, you can always book a visit to speak to your Harvest Medicine doctor or nurse practitioner for guidance. 

1.   Lee, J. (2019, May 31). Nurturing New Growth. Deloitte Canada. 

2.  Dermatologischen Gesellschaft = Journal of the German Society of Dermatology : JDDG, 8(2), 88–91. 

3.  Ali, A., & Akhtar, N. (2015). The safety and efficacy of 3% Cannabis seeds extract cream for reduction of human cheek skin sebum and erythema content. Pakistan journal of pharmaceutical sciences, 28(4), 1389–1395. 

4.  Palmieri, B., Laurino, C., & Vadalà, M. (2019). A therapeutic effect of cbd-enriched ointment in inflammatory skin diseases and cutaneous scars. La Clinica terapeutica, 170(2), e93–e99. 

5.  Ständer, S., Reinhardt, H. W., & Luger, T. A. (2006). Topische Cannabinoidagonisten. Eine effektive, neue Möglichkeit zur Behandlung von chronischem Pruritus [Topical cannabinoid agonists. An effective new possibility for treating chronic pruritus]. Der Hautarzt; Zeitschrift fur Dermatologie, Venerologie, und verwandte Gebiete, 57(9), 801–807. 

6.  Xu, D. H., Cullen, B. D., Tang, M., & Fang, Y. (2020). The Effectiveness of Topical Cannabidiol Oil in Symptomatic Relief of Peripheral Neuropathy of the Lower Extremities. Current pharmaceutical biotechnology, 21(5), 390–402. 

7.  Tammaro, A., Magri, F., Chello, C., Giordano, D., Parisella, F. R., De Marco, G., & Persechino, S. (2019). A successful topical treatment for cutaneous inflammatory diseases:an additional or alternative therapy to topical steroids. European annals of allergy and clinical immunology, 51(3), 129–130. 

8.  Maghfour J, Rietcheck HR, Rundle CW, Runion TM, Jafri ZA, Dercon S, Lio P, Fernandez J, Fujita M, Dellavalle RP, Yardley H. An Observational Study of the Application of a Topical Cannabinoid Gel on Sensitive Dry Skin. J Drugs Dermatol. 2020 Dec 1;19(12):1204-1208. doi: 10.36849/JDD.2020.5464. PMID: 33346512. 

9.  Eberlein, B., Eicke, C., Reinhardt, H. W., & Ring, J. (2008). Adjuvant treatment of atopic eczema: assessment of an emollient containing N-palmitoylethanolamine (ATOPA study). Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology : JEADV, 22(1), 73–82. 

10.  Baswan, S. M., Klosner, A. E., Glynn, K., Rajgopal, A., Malik, K., Yim, S., & Stern, N. (2020). Therapeutic Potential of Cannabidiol (CBD) for Skin Health and Disorders. Clinical, cosmetic and investigational dermatology, 13, 927–942. 


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