When it comes to cannabis, most people think of flowers, joints, vape pens, edibles, and tinctures. But there’s another way to consume the plant: topical products. These include lotions, balms, and salves infused with varying amounts of CBD (and sometimes THC) and different additional ingredients to achieve particular goals. Some are formulated to alleviate pain, others to soothe skin, and still others to fight acne or reduce itching.
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CBD topicals are applied directly to the skin and deliver relief right at the source of discomfort. They’re incredibly easy to use, and they don’t smell or feel like cannabis. Instead, they look like a regular cream or lotion and can be used discreetly anywhere on the body. Unlike other cannabis products that may have some psychoactive effects, hemp oil topicals don’t penetrate the skin to enter your bloodstream, so you won’t experience a high.
When you apply a CBD topical, the cannabinoids enter your body through the epidermis, the outer layer of your skin. Once absorbed, the cannabinoids bind with CB receptors in your skin cells and sensory nerves to provide pain relief and other benefits. Some products also contain ingredients that create a cooling or warming sensation, which many people find soothing and pleasant. But it’s important to test a product for sensitivity before applying it to a large area, especially on mucous membranes or broken skin. You might want to choose a cream that is free of known irritants and allergens, such as common over-the-counter ingredients such as menthol or camphor.