Creams, gels, sprays, rubs, ointments, and more: cannabis topicals are everywhere in California. How are these treatments any different than any other lotion? Along with aloe, coconut, essential oils, or other natural plant-based ingredients, these products contain the benefits of cannabis.

Skin-based products have been scientifically shown as an effective and safe method of delivery. Rubbing on cannabis may be the only option for someone in extreme pain, bedridden, or has trouble swallowing. Other conditions benefit best of all when cannabis is applied directly to the problem area.

If you’re confused by the terms associated with some cannabis products, such as transdermal and non-transdermal, read on.

What Conditions Can Cannabis Help?

While many native peoples have known about the medicinal powers of cannabis for centuries, researchers began to study it only in the last few years. Due to conflicting federal and state laws regarding marijuana, funding for studies was rare only until somewhat recently.

A recent study, published by the U.S. National Library of Medicine, found that cannabis can be an effective treatment for:

  • Acne
  • Dermatitis caused by allergies and other conditions
  • Psoriasis
  • Some skin cancers
  • Other skin conditions

There are many other health conditions that cannabis has been shown to help. Cannabis supports pain management, weight maintenance, insomnia, anxiety, and many other conditions, thanks to the body’s endocannabinoid system. This system, discovered just a few years ago, helps the endocrine system function. In times of stress, it benefits from supplemental cannabinoids and other natural elements in cannabis topicals.

What Does Transdermal Mean?

Because cannabis is used for such a variety of health conditions, manufacturers produce many options for consumption. People can decide what is best for them based on the desired effects. Some may choose to smoke a pipe or use a water pipe or vape. They may ingest a tincture, swallow capsules, or eat candies or baked goods infused with cannabis. Another way to enjoy the benefits of cannabis slowly throughout an extended period of time is known as transdermal application.

Transdermal is a way to describe how medicine is absorbed into the body’s bloodstream. Once in the bloodstream, benefits can be seen throughout the body. Often, transdermal products are marketed as patches worn like a bandage on the arm. But there are also creams with emulsifiers and special compounds to allow for this absorption into the body.

What Are Non-Transdermal Products?

If you’re interested in a cannabis topical because you would like on-the-spot care, a non-transdermal product is for you. These creams, oils, and gels are manufactured to apply directly to a problem area. This could be irritated skin or sore muscles. Cannabis is often used topically in massage oils and facial products.

Topicals that have non-transdermal application instructions have a limited function. A little on the shoulders won’t necessarily ease anxiety or insomnia, but it will release tension in the muscle.

The different strains, types, and mixtures of different cannabinoids will also change how a product delivers the benefits of cannabis. You may need to experiment with a few kinds to determine the best method of delivery for your needs.