The origin of a product’s active ingredients is extremely important. You may be able to find unregulated products in Canada, and they’re likely not tested for potency, heavy metals, pesticides, or other toxins.
Dr. Ahmed finds topical application of cannabinoids helpful for a variety of conditions in her practice, including dermatitis, psoriasis, and for relief of neuropathic pain, while Pearson says that “nothing compared to the results” she observed once she started adding topical cannabis to her massages.
Cannabis-infused topicals—creams, lotions, salves, and other products applied to the skin—are exciting and newly-legal options for Canadians interested in cannabis’s therapeutic potential without its high.
Know your source
Jordan Pearson, senior medical expert for CannabisMD and a licensed massage therapist in Colorado, where cannabis is legal, knows firsthand that there is no one-size-fits-all answer: “I wish that I could give you some magic answer like ‘for pain apply 20mg of so-and-so’s product’ and ‘for bruising apply a quarter-sized amount six times a day until gone’. We just don’t have that scientific answer, yet.”
Pearson notes that it’s important to know the source of any topical products, as they might contain little to no cannabinoids and/or potentially cause negative health effects. In addition, Dr. Ahmed explains that unregulated extractions can contain potentially harmful impurities.
Hemp seed oil has been used in the aesthetics industry for some time—it’s an excellent carrier oil and contains hydrating lipids and omega fatty acids. There will always be a place in the beauty industry for hemp seed oil, but it’s important to understand hemp seed oil is not CBD.
However, topicals infused with extracts from the cannabis plant can include CBD, THC, or any combination of cannabinoids. If you’re interested in a topical product, but unsure if it contains cannabinoids, look for the excise stamp. At this time, all production and sale of cannabis-infused topicals is regulated by Health Canada, so if it doesn’t have the stamp, it’s not a regulated product.
Determining whether to use a CBD versus a THC topical may simply be based on personal preference. If you find that a THC topical is ineffective, then I recommend trying a CBD topical and vice versa. Not all products are created equal in potency, absorbency and quality.
Eloise was a board director for the American Cannabis Nurses Association (ACNA) (2014-2016) where she helped develop the first on-line core curriculum program for nurses on cannabinoid therapeutics. She currently serves on the scope and standards committee for the ACNA. She is working to help further legalize and destigmatize therapeutic cannabis therapy. She’s a regular speaker at industry events and teaches classes at universities in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Q: How do I know when to use a THC topical or a CBD topical? Which works better for what issues?
For over 17 years, Eloise Theisen has been a dedicated and patient-focused nurse specializing in aging, cancer, chronic pain, dementia, Alzheimers, Parkinsons, anxiety, depression, fibromyalgia, and various auto-immune and neurological diseases. The founder of Radicle Health (formerly Green Health Consultants), she started her career at John Muir Medical Center caring for patients suffering from cancer, terminal illnesses, respiratory failure/complaints, drug overdoses, acute alcohol ingestion, gastrointestinal bleeds, traumatic brain injury, and multiple traumas and from there worked her way up to management. Following that, her work with Aunt Zelda’s and the American Cannabis Nurses Association gained her an extensive knowledge of the Endocannabinoid system and how cannabis and cannabinoids can be used successfully to treat patients.
Pain is more difficult to treat with a topical application. Depending on the type of pain and location, a topical application of cannabis may only provide limited relief, if any relief at all. Topical cannabis has been shown to help with arthritic pain in the hands, ankles, neck and shoulders. Pain from spinal stenosis, sciatica or neuropathy is less likely to respond to a topical. Chronic pain that is deep and constant will benefit from treating it systemically rather than topically.
An East Bay, California native, Eloise is a passionate advocate for medical cannabis and cannabis oil alternatives after seeing the positive benefits it has had for patients. In partnership with Dr. R. David Ferrara MD, she started Radicle Health, a clinic dedicated to ensuring patients receive the qualified counseling they need to safely and effectively use cannabinoids to manage a health condition, cure an illness or reduce their intake of pharmaceuticals. She also provides education and training to other medical practitioners on the therapeutic potential of cannabis as a treatment option.
Typically, the onset of a topical will occur within 10-20 minutes and last 2-3 hours. Cannabis can enter the body through the skin by topical application of plant extracts. There is very little data to detail the pharmacokinetics of topically administered cannabinoids. In fact, there remains some disagreement about whether topicals enter the bloodstream. Cannabis is a fat-soluble medicine and this limits the absorption of cannabinoids in topical, oral, sublingual and rectal administration. Topical cannabis generally only penetrates a few layers of the of skin, which is why it is unlikely to produce any systemic effects. However, if there is an opening in the skin, like a cut, the topical cannabis can enter the bloodstream and therefore produce systemic effects. Another way cannabis can enter the bloodstream is with the assistance of a transdermal agent. Transdermal products have chemical agents that help cannabis penetrate the skin and enter the bloodstream.
While everyone is talking about CBD and THC differences, very few people mention their similarities. However, since THC and CBD are essentially chemical compounds, they do have differences. We’re going to delve deeper into the details of both compounds to give you seven lesser-known differences between CBD and THC topicals.
Because of this, CBD is mostly sold in the market, in the forms of topicals, extracts, supplements, oils, pills, edibles, gummies, gels, and more. THC is also available in capsules, tinctures, edibles, oils, and more.
1. The two strains
Both THC and CBD have almost no difference when it comes to their chemical structure. That’s mostly because both ingredients come from pretty much the same plant. Both Indica and Sativa contain the same compounds, which are composed of 21 carbon atoms, 30 hydrogen atoms, and two oxygen atoms.
On the other hand, Sativa is rich in CBD. It contains a rather high concentration of CBD, which is the main reason this strain is used for medicinal purposes, mostly to provide relief from chronic pain.
If we compare THC and CBD, we can see the two most obvious similarities – they both provide relief from inflammation in the muscles and pain.