September 13, 2018

Cannabis Delivery Methods: Topicals & More

Welcome to the Cannabis Supply Co. educational series on delivery methods! We’ll be taking an in-depth look at delivery methods for medical and recreational cannabis. You can find Part #1 on smoking & vaping here and Part #2 on edibles & oils here.

When we say “delivery methods” we’re talking about the way you’re ingesting your cannabis. We’re going to talk about the two types of legal medical cannabis in Canada: dry flower and concentrated oil. There are three main ways to ingest dry flower or oil and then variations within those three main ways.

Today we’re looking at method #3: the integumentary system – that means your skin, hair & nails! This means absorbing cannabis extract through your skin which is also commonly known as “topically”. To use cannabis topically, you will need to use a cannabis extract such as cannabis oil from an LP. You will then need to use the oil itself or a mixture of the cannabis oil and other ingredients and apply it to your skin. Let’s take a look at how it works and how it affects you!


Method #3: The Integumentary System, or, Topicals

Cannabis Topicals: what are they?

We know that the skin is the largest organ in the human body and that what you put on your body is just as important as what you put in it. The skin is part of the endocannabinoid system, so topical application of cannabis – and all its cannabinoids – is well received by the human body. Stay tuned for an article explaining the endocannabinoid system!

The main difference between topicals and edible or inhaled cannabis is the ability to apply your cannabis to one specific area of the body that needs attention rather than ingesting cannabis throughout the entire body. This is especially important for medical cannabis users who need targeted relief in a particular area of the body and would otherwise have to use a larger amount of cannabis to get the desired results through inhalation or edibles. This is just like taking a painkiller pill for an injured knee versus applying a topical numbing cream directly to the knee. The pill will need to be processed by your digestive system and distributed throughout the entire body, whereas the topical cream will work directly where it is applied on the knee.

The skin works very quickly, just like the cardiovascular system, so you will feel the effects of topical cannabis much quicker than an edible or oil taken orally. Many athletes are starting to use cannabis topicals as a post-workout recovery treatment for sore muscles.

Topicals can come in the form of an oil, cream, balm, and many other forms. Currently in Canada, only cannabis oil extract is legally saleable so you will need to create your own mixture at home. Licenced Producer Medreleaf sells a specifically formulated cream to mix your cannabis oil into. It is formulated with less lipids (oils or fats) so the addition of cannabis oil will not offset the cream’s consistency and your body will absorb the medical cannabis from the mixture. Stay tuned for future blog posts with DIY recipes!


What conditions are commonly treated with cannabis?

  • Shingles, eczema, and psoriasis
  • Pain from diabetic skin conditions
  • Arthritis pain and inflammation
  • Post-workout pain and inflammation
  • And more! Any type of ache and pain could possibly be lessened with medical cannabis. Your Cannabis Supply Co. specialist will help you find the delivery method and strain that works for you!

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Suppositories & Lube – Yes, cannabis does that too!

Another interesting way that cannabis topicals can be used is as a suppository to aid with hemorrhoids and difficult bowel movements. As well, Licenced Producer Tweed has a very popular vaginal spray called FORIA that is intended to heighten sexual pleasure. There is limited research on these uses and the effects one will experience, but we’re guessing that it would work just as well for anyone!


Topicals: How long will it last?

With topical application, you will feel the onset of your medical cannabis in 0-30 minutes and the effects will last one to four hours. Topical application is the happy medium between inhalation and edibles: it has a quick onset just like inhalation but lasts longer like an edible. Many patients will use a combination of delivery methods to treat their condition throughout the day. For example, using a topical cream once or twice a day and then using a vaporizer for breakthrough pain when needed.

Cannabis delivery methods how long will it last


Topicals: What will it feel like?

Unlike the other delivery methods we’ve looked at, topicals are different! If you are using a topical with THC, you will not feel the psychoactive “high”. Topicals are an excellent choice for pain management when you can’t or don’t want to feel the psychoactive effects of THC. When applied topically, THC has an immediate tingling and numbing effect which is excellent for pain management and other skin issues like itching. There is very limited research on topical cannabis products at this time so most information is via product testing by the manufacturing company and via personal testimonials. As more research emerges, we’ll update our education series.

Want to feel the psychoactive effects of THC? Learn more about vaporizing and edibles.

Topical cannabis products are an excellent choice for first time cannabis users and those who are nervous about feeling the psychoactive effects of THC. Because topical cannabis products won’t get you “high” it’s a great way to harness the medical properties of THC while staying clear headed. Learn more about cannabis strains and cannabinoids!


Looking Forward: What Canadians can look forward to: Sprays, patches and more!

There are many interesting new delivery methods that may be available in Canada in the future. Some are already available in other countries right now! Once they are regulated and legally available in Canada, we’ll take a deeper dive into these amazing new delivery methods. Here are some delivery methods that you can keep an eye out for:

  • Transdermal patches – like a nicotine patch, this will be a controlled release patch that sticks to the skin. Note that even though these are technically a topical, some are formulated to provide a psychoactive high.
  • Sprays – We talked about sublingual sprays in the last article, but new lipid sprays are expected to enter the market. They will be like aerosol sunscreen that is currently available and will be a mess-free and controlled dose spray to apply a cannabis cream to any part of the body. These will be great for hard to reach body parts, to keep your hands from becoming medicated, and for caretakers who would like to preserve the modesty of their patients during application.
  • Oral thin films – These are just like those quick dissolving Listerine breath strips and are essentially a non-liquid alternative to a sublingual spray or drop of oil. A cannabis infused strip will be placed beneath the tongue and will dissolve in the warm saliva into the abundant blood vessels beneath the tongue.
  • Micro-needle patches – These would look like a transdermal patch but the side that sticks to the skin would have thousands of tiny needles. When applied, the tiny needles gently perforate the skin and deliver the drug. It is a less invasive way to deliver a drug.

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Stay tuned for the rest of Cannabis Supply Co.’s educational series on all things cannabis!

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