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Topical Using Cannabis Oil on Your Skin - Topicals


Vapor Accessory Addict
Staff member
Using Cannabis Oil on Your Skin
by Owen Smith posted on February 5, 2015

One therapeutic principle is to apply a medication as close to the source of the problem as possible. One example is if somebody has a skin lesion, an anti-biotic skin cream is preferable to an oral dose. Oral doses are more appropriate for gastro-intestinal conditions as they coat the G.I. tract. Inhaled cannabis is preferred for immediate relief from acute conditions. Appropriate application methods attempt to maximize desired effects and minimize undesired side effects. For medical users the psychoactive effects are sometimes undesired as they may conflict with their daily activities. Patients find they can reduce the amount of cannabis inhaled or ingested by applying an oil externally, directly to the site of concern. This has the benefit of reducing the amount of cannabis delivered to the brain through the bloodstream, reducing the psychoactive effects.

Health Canada’s information for health care professionals contains some of the few studies on topical application. Studies measuring the nanogram per millilitre of THC in the bloodstream have shown that anywhere in the range of 7-29ng/mL is enough to produce the subjective “high” effect. (source) A study on trans-dermal cannabinoid delivery found that after an hour and a half exposure blood plasma levels reached only 4.4ng/mL. Permeation of cannabidiol (CBD) and cannabinol (CBN) was found to be 10-fold higher than for Δ8-THC. (source) The consumption of a chocolate cookie containing 20 mg THC resulted in peak plasma THC concentrations ranging from 4.4 to 11 ng/mL, (source) barely passing into the psychoactive range. Studies on very weak cannabis (1.6% THC) when smoked resulted in mean peak THC blood plasma levels of 77 ng/mL, (source) approximately 10 times that of eating a cookie, and 20 times the topical administration.

(The red line Indicates the level of THC needed to produce the ‘subjective “high” effect)

While topical cannabis only minimally passes through the skin into the bloodstream, this doesn’t mean it’s ineffective. Cannabinoids bind to CB1 and CB2 receptor sites in our bodies, which have been located in nerve fibres of the skin, skin cells (keratinocytes), cells of the hair follicles, sweat glands, and other cells present in the skin. “Abundant distribution of cannabinoid receptors on skin nerve fibers and mast cells provides implications for an anti-inflammatory, anti-nociceptive action of cannabinoid receptor agonists.” (source) “It seems that the main physiological function of the cutaneous ECS is to constitutively control the proper and well-balanced proliferation, differentiation and survival, as well as immune competence and/or tolerance, of skin cells.” (source)

At the V-CBC where topical “massage” oils have long been available to members, the combination of a topical product with some form of internal administration is reported to produce greater pain relief than either on its own. Topical application reduces pain where it arises, while internal routes increase the brain’s resistance to incoming pain signals. Arthritis sufferers are the most common topical cannabis users, although members have reported rapidly healing third degree burns, experienced relief from eczema, psoriasis, atopic dermatitis and in one case cleared a poison oak rash. (testimony)

The fat soluble cannabinoids, soaked in vegetable oil and strained of the plant bulk (How to), create a simple and effective lotion.


  • Cannabis infused olive oil
  • Vitamin E (to help with absorption)

Speaking from personal experience, I've found that using my homemade salve, or canna oil, on burns and abrasions has worked very well. Not only has the healing process been shorter, the scarring is diminished as well.

Can Topical Cannabis Heal Wounds?

A case study suggests that topical cannabis can ease pain and perhaps heal malignant wounds, some of the worst abrasions around.


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Topical cannabis is perhaps one of the most underrated uses of the herb. Topical cannabis refers to balms, lotions, creams, oils, and salves that are applied directly to the skin. But, can topical cannabis really heal wounds? Recently, case study research suggests that topical cannabis may be valuable in treating malignant wounds, which are not only painful but can infect surrounding areas. Here’s why the herb may be beneficial for treating skin abrasions.

Can topical cannabis heal wounds?

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Cannabis stands apart from other medicinal herbs in more ways than one. Not only is the plant psychoactive, but it is capable of producing over 100 unique chemical compounds called cannabinoids.

While only a handful of these cannabinoids have been studied, preliminary research suggests that many of them are pharmacologically active and hold therapeutic value.

Like any other plant, cannabis can also produce at least 200 different terpenes. Terpenes are aroma molecules that give the herb its signature scent. Different cannabis cultivars produce different terpenes in response to environmental conditions, giving each individual plant a unique bouquet of aromas.

Research suggests that terpene concentrations as slight as 0.05 percent can have active medical effects. While cannabinoids are large molecules and are less able to permeate unbroken skin, the terpenes abundant in cannabis certainly can. It’s the combination of these beneficial cannabinoids and terpenes that make cannabis such a valuable wound healing tool.

4 reasons why cannabis is beneficial for wounds

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Just to play it safe, it’s important to mention that applying any sort of product to an open wound can be risky. Anecdotally, medical cannabis patients have reported success with full extract cannabis oils on wounds caused by skin cancer and other maladies. Full extract cannabis oil is also called Rick Simpson Oil (RSO).

Full extract cannabis oils are often made using ethanol or grain alcohol as solvents. These solvents strip beneficial oils off of plant material, creating a concentrated essential oil of the cannabis plant. It is not recommended to use oils that contain harmful solvents or questionable additives on broken skin.

If using a lotion or a balm, it is recommended to opt for products that contain skin-safe carrier oils like organic coconut oil or almond oil. As a bonus, coconut oil contains lauric acid, which is a natural anti-microbial. Otherwise, it is important to be mindful when using any sort of topical product on broken skin. It is always recommended to speak to a medical professional before self-treating.

Without further ado, here are four reasons why cannabis may be beneficial for healing wounds:

1. Malignant wounds

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A case report published in January of 2017 in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management suggests that topical cannabis may aid in the treatment of malignant wounds. According to the case report, topical cannabis is a centuries’ old remedy for malignant wounds.

Indeed, contemporary medical cannabis consumers like Rick Simpson have made headlines around the globe after successfully self-treating skin cancer lesions with cannabis oil.

Now, this case report offers an official account of cannabis as a wound-healing agent. In the study, a 44-year-old man had a cancerous wound on his cheek. He had been diagnosed with squamous cell cancer three years prior and had undergone surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. Despite these conventional treatments, his cancer continued to eat through the side of his cheek.

The patient initially sought out medical cannabis for pain relief. His doctors obliged and recommended vaporized cannabis that contained a mixture of both tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).

THC is the primary psychoactive in the cannabis plant, while CBD is a non-psychotropic cannabis compound. The vaporized cannabis was successful in reducing pain and easing the man’s symptoms. He was able to reduce the usage of his pharmaceutical pain medications by 25 percent within one month.

After success with vaporized cannabis, he began to use a topical cannabis product directly on his wound. The product contained cannabis-infused sunflower oil that contained 5.24 percent THC and 8.02 percent CBD. He applied the oil directly to the wound and inside his cheek. He also swished the oil around in his mouth.

He used the oil four times daily and reported feeling pain relief within 10 to 15 minutes. The relief lasted for two hours and the wound healed by five percent within four weeks.

Unfortunately, however, the man had to discontinue cannabis treatment after being admitted to the hospital as his overall condition worsened. He has since passed away.

2. Cannabis as antibiotic

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Research published in 2008 suggests that cannabinoids like THC and CBD are potent antibiotics. So potent, in fact, that they have successfully killed methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in the laboratory. MRSA is an antibiotic resistant bacteria that contributes to extremely painful open wounds.

Since MRSA is resistant to common antibiotics, it can be extremely difficult to treat once the infection takes hold. Preclinical research suggests that a few psychotropic cannabinoids, including cannabinol (CBN), cannabichromene (CBC), and cannabigerol (CBG), successfully killed MRSA bacteria.

3. Burns

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Cannabis has been used as a topical treatment for burns and cuts since ancient times. Yet, it’s not only cannabinoids that may be helpful for burn treatment. Some cannabis cultivars contain high levels of linalool. Linalool is a terpene that provides a floral lavender aroma.

Research suggests that linalool may be very useful for burns. Linalool has both cooling and pain-fighting properties, making it a particularly useful compound for burns.

For the greatest relief, opt for medical cannabis oils that have had their terpene content analyzed. Choose products that contain as high of a percentage of linalool as possible. Linalool is also highly concentrated in lavender oil. Mixing lavender oil and cannabis oil may be useful in this particular instance.

4. Pimples and pustules

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Pimples and acne may not be “wounds” exactly, but there is some early evidence that CBD may be useful in treating acne abrasions. Early research suggests that CBD has sebostatic and anti-inflammatory properties on human pimples. This means that the cannabinoid reduces the amount of sebum, which is the oil created by glands in the skin.

Coupled with the anti-bacterial properties of CBD, the cannabinoid seems to be a useful tool in the treatment of skin abrasions.

While this article is based on Canada becoming recreational, I believe it pertains to topicals being offered elsewhere as well.

How cannabis topicals work and why they're not yet regulated

Recreational marijuana is poised to become legal in a matter of months, but some products — such as cannabis topical creams and ointments — will take a year longer to enter the legal market.

Topicals are made from oils or other extracts from the cannabis plant and are applied to the skin to relieve a range of skin conditions.

A consumer does not get high from its use.

Dr. Bonnie Goldstein, a doctor in California and advisor to the cannabis company Weedmaps, told CBC Greenlit columnist Rohit Joseph that cannabis topicals are not a cure for health issues. But they can help patients with conditions like eczema or psoriasis.

"[People] want to put topical cannabis right on the rash to help with [inflammation] and itching. And in general I find that they tend to be very effective," Goldstein said.

Concern about topicals
Right now, the only legal way to get topicals is as a patient approved by a medical practitioner and Health Canada, Joseph told On the Coast guest host Matthew Lazin-Ryder.

Once regulated, consumers will be able to buy topicals without a prescription.

But the way topicals are manufactured is not yet government-regulated, so there are risks, said Joseph.

There are concerns that the cannabis that topical creams contain could have traces of pesticides, fungus or contaminants, according to Dr. Lydia Hatcher, a physician and associate clinical professor at McMaster University. Government regulation would ensure that topicals are clear of contaminants. (CBC)
There are concerns that the cannabis that topical creams contain could have traces of pesticides, fungus or contaminants, according to Dr. Lydia Hatcher, a physician and associate clinical professor at McMaster University.

Access to topicals
It is not easy to get legitimate medical approval for cannabis, said Joseph.

Dispensary customer Jacquie Nassar uses cannabis topicals to treat her arthritis. She said her doctor was reluctant to give her approval.

"Basically they said they would be ostracized if they were to do that," said Nassar.

She instead got approval from a naturopath.

Hatcher thinks many Canadian doctors are hesitant, even with imminent legalization of recreational cannabis, to approve a patient for medical marijuana.

Hatcher told Joseph that doctors receive no education on cannabis in medical school.

"If you don't know anything about it … the likelihood is you're not going to give a prescription," she said.

Joseph says that once topicals are regulated, the cannabis industry will see some change in how the product is viewed by the public.

"If you're able to buy a cannabis topical over the counter, without any prescription, and it is indeed certified by our own government and scientists to help with certain aches, pains, and skin conditions … then the cannabis as a wellness product gains a lot more legitimacy," said Joseph.

Well I just tested some CBD topicals from my local health store and had a conversation with the clerk earlier today. Started taking Ananda hemp tincture lately and just ordered their salve. Hoping it offers the same relief in topical form.

Was skeptical of any CBD salve even being a thing beforehand. Also surprised to find testers for the skin products. After reading the above articles ^^^ I'm considering the pro-active skin protection it might provide.

Bought a CBD tea from a coffee house the day before. To scratch that consumerist itch until the more effective salve arrives.
Well I'm seeing even more CBD products in my local health food store. Nearly a whole endcap. Bluebird Botanical's, Charlottes's Web brand, Sunsoil to name a few. And a few locally owned CBD products. The clerk was telling me a lot about Bluebird Botanicals and their purity control and quite a few other things on the topic of CBD. O.K. I've never use salve of any kind and I know there are things like arnica and menthol and a list of get-to-know ingredients that are working their magic as well. Trying to remain skeptical, but it seems to get right to work as I apply it.

I have a UD with copper bowls. Already use the wax and essential oils with it. How hard would it be to make my own topical? Starting to remember more about old school cannabis topicals, before this became the rage.

Amanda and Bluebird Botanicals will put out reports regarding the plants that were harvested. BB has serial numbers relating to each batch and testing information. Imagine other crops with such QC.
How hard would it be to make my own topical?
Not hard at all. My basic 'recipe' is here. The essential oils I use in this recipe are for pain. But other blends can do other things. I use the same base salve for pain salve, psoriasis salve, calming salve... The book shown in this post is a wealth of information on which essential oils do what for what.
An older article that explains how topicals work... and a couple recipes.

How Do Cannabis Topicals Work? Intro to Cannabis for Skin Care

How do Cannabis Topicals Work?

Medical cannabis comes in many forms, from smoking or vaping, to eating and skin creams. Having this many options is amazing for medical patients but can be daunting at the beginning of your journey with cannabis, especially if you don’t understand the benefits and the downsides to your consumption method of choice.

Today we’re focusing on topicals, rather than the more talked about consumption methods like smoking and vaping. Topicals are unique for a few reason, the first is you don’t actually “consume” anything, the second, intoxication is not as prominent and finally, the way the cannabinoids are absorbed into your endocannabinoid system.

What are Cannabis Topicals?

As the name may imply cannabis topicals are salves, creams, oils or ointments that are infused with cannabis and applied topically to your skin. Topicals are great for treating localized issues like joint paint, inflammation and skin issues like eczema or rashes.

How do Topicals Work?

The endocannabinoids system is made up of two different types of receptors that absorb the cannabinoids CBD and THC into our bodies. When you consume cannabis via inhalation or ingestion the cannabinoids are either processed through your digestive track or lungs until the cannabinoids enter your blood stream. Once in the blood stream the cannabinoids are carried throughout your body binding with the various CB1 and CB2 receptors.

Topicals and your CB1 and CB2 Receptors

Topicals do not have to be processed through the lungs or digestive track before they are exposed to the receptors in our skin. Our skin is home to primarily to CB2 receptors. CB2 receptors bind with CBD and while this is the most abundant receptor in the skin, the CB1 receptors are still present in lower quantities. Topicals are applied to the skin, and are absorbed by the receptors. Because the receptors are directly exposed to the cannabinoids, the response is fast, providing relief to the localized area effectively and efficiently.

Can Topical Get you High?

Because topicals are not consumed through inhalation or digestion, they do not enter your blood stream. This means that the cannabinoids are not exposed to receptors in the areas of your body that are responsible for the intoxicating, psychoactive effects associated with cannabis. So no, topicals do not get you high the way cannabis usually does. A word of caution, however: if topicals come into contact with areas of your body that have a higher concentration of mucus glands like the vagina or anus, increased absorption can occur. If you’re interested in understanding how cannabis behaves differently in regard to the vagina and anus Starbuds wrote a blog that better delves into that topic.

What Ailments are Best Treated with Topicals?

Because our skin is home to higher levels of CB2 receptors, topicals are great for ailments or conditions that cause inflammation, swelling or an immune response. This is because these symptoms are what CBD is typically used to treat (more on CBD here). On a surface level, this usually looks like skin rashes, joint swelling, chronic back pain and new to the treatment possibilities, erectile dysfunction and increased pleasure for women during sex.

Where Can I buy Cannabis Topicals?

As the law currently stands purchasing topicals is illegal. This is expected to change in October 2019. In the meantime, we HIGHLY encourage you to make your own, as it is not illegal to create topicals. Creating your own cannabis topicals is easy and very customizable. Even when purchasing topicals from a Licensed Producer is legal, we would still encourage you to try your hand at a DIY recipe. Why? Everybody has unique needs, and ailments can present themselves with very different symptoms in different cases. A DIY approach to topicals allows you the freedom to make changes in your dose, and other accompanying ingredients that may also aid in relief. You will also likely manage to save a few dollars with the DIY approach. Although we don’t know how pricey topicals will be once legal, but saving money is never a bad thing!

We’ve put together a few beginner recipes and have linked them below, remember it’s important to go slow and listen to your body. If a topical, cream or ointments is having adverse effects on your body, stop immediately and discuss your situations with your doctor. While the potential for an allergic reaction to cannabis itself is very low, we wouldn’t want you to neglect a follow up if needed.

A few Topical DIY Recipes to Try:

Cannabis Cream for Eczema

Cannabis Lube

Cannabis Massage Oil for Muscle Aches and Pains
Speaking seriously about cannabis oil, it has very useful components and really helps our skin. It sounds a little strange for someone you have to take it very seriously. But I have a question, do you guys think that it works the same for the animals? One of my friends has a dog and it has skin tags. He has found this site https://www.skintagsoff.com/cure/dog-skin-tag-removal-methods-_-mistakes-you-must-avoid/ and there are some rules that he is following in order not to make more problems. But do you think it can work with pets too? If yes please tell me!
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Speaking seriously about cannabis oil, it has very useful components and really helps our skin. It sounds a little strange for someone you have to take it very seriously. But I have a question, do you guys think that it works the same for the animals? One of my friends has a dog and it has skin tags. He has found this site https://www.skintagsoff.com/cure/dog-skin-tag-removal-methods-_-mistakes-you-must-avoid/ and there are some rules that he is following in order not to make more problems. But do you think it can work with pets too? If yes please tell me!
I don't know that it would work for a dogs growths like skin tags. But it has worked miracles on my son's dog who has allergic skin conditions. As long as there are no actives in the oil used (because of licking) it can't hurt to try it.

Study: Topical Cannabinoids Heal Intractable Leg Ulcers

Toronto, CA: The topical administration of plant-derived cannabinoids is associated with wound closure in patients with refractory leg ulcers, according to data published in the journal Experimental Dermatology.

A team of researchers affiliated with the University of Toronto and the University of Ottawa assessed the effects of topical cannabis-based treatments in conjunction with compression bandaging in 14 elderly patients with recalcitrant leg ulcers. They reported that “complete wound closure” was achieved in 11 patients. The treatments were well-tolerated and no adverse reactions were reported.

Authors concluded: “The rapid wound closure of previously non-healing venous leg ulcers among elderly and highly complex patients suggests that Topical Cannabis-Based Medicines may become effective adjuvants in conjunction with compression therapy. This may also indicate that they may have an even broader role within integumentary and wound management.”

A previous paper published by the same team of researchers in September documented similar results in a cohort of two elderly patients.

A pair of prior case reports have similarly shown that the topical administration of cannabinoids facilitates wound healing and reduces the use of analgesics in patients with the rare skin-blistering disease epidermolysis bullosa.

Full text of the study, “Topical cannabis-based medicines – A novel adjuvant treatment for venous leg ulcers: An open-label trial,” appears in Experimental Dermatology.

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