Sidelined for years, changing cultural attitudes are now paving the way for scientists to at last confirm what your great-grandmother knew—cannabis creams are great for pain relief and skin irritations. The antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and pain-inhibiting effects of cannabis-infused topicals are effective in treating a wide variety of ailments. Research is still emerging, but historically and anecdotally cannabinoid creams are used to effectively treat everything from arthritis to migraine pain.

According to a study done by the University Hospital Münster in Germany, some of the same cannabinoid receptors in your brain that react when you take cannabis internally are also in your skin. When you massage the cannabinoids tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol (THC and CBD) onto your skin, they permeate and stimulate these receptors without ever traveling far enough to reach your central nervous system. This means that while your skin gets high, you don’t.

At least one other study, found in the The FASEB Journal in October 2008, also indicates that the natural cannabinoids in your body regulate dry skin and acne (Dobrosi, Toth & Nagy). The potential for using cannabinoids like THC on your skin to stimulate these receptors to plump, heal and nourish skin is exciting. A diverse group of companies are now incorporating THC-rich cannabis strains into skincare and therapeutic health products. By tinkering with the chemical profile of the cannabis used, producers can customize their products to address individual needs.

<blockquote><strong>"A diverse group of companies are now incorporating THC-rich cannabis strains into skincare and therapeutic health products."</strong></blockquote>

Hemp, often incorporated into cannabis topicals, is a variety of cannabis bred to be low in THC (known for its psychoactive effect) and high in CBD. CBD delivers many of the wonderful health benefits of cannabis including its anti-inflammatory properties. Hemp oil is full of essential fatty acids that easily permeate and nourish the skin. A perfect complement to any cannabis infused topical, hemp oil is already used in a wide range of health and beauty products.

With the laws around the accessibility of marijuana products in a constant state of flux around the world, understanding the simple process of making your own topicals at home can be a useful skill. To make your own topical, start with nourishing fats like beeswax, coconut oil and shea butter. Next, melt and mix your chosen base with either cannabis resin or cannabis-infused oil. As mentioned before, the addition of hemp seed oil is great for giving your skin that extra glow.

If desired, use complementing essential oils to personalize your topicals. Cinnamon and ginger add warmth and stimulate blood flow, while chamomile and lavender have soothing effects. These essential oils smell divine and are just a few of the many extracts you can use to heighten your experience. Barring an allergic reaction, the end product is safe and effective for topical use.

The only thing that remains to be determined is just how far the therapeutic benefits of topical cannabis will extend. Anecdotally, the claims are remarkable and the applications continue to grow. Will a good topical cure all forms of cancer?

Probably not. Can cannabis creams ease sore muscles and impart pain relief to an old injury after a long day? For sure they can. Like all cannabis-infused products, education, exploration and a culture of change remain the keys to revealing the far-reaching medicinal and therapeutic benefits of infused topicals.