Treating Aches and Pains Without the High with CBD Topicals

Cannabis creams, balms, and lotions – often referred to with the catch-all term topicals – are a great alternative for individuals with aches and pains that would prefer not to ingest cannabis in more traditional ways, either orally or vaping or smoking. By-and-large these cannabis products are CBD-only, meaning they are non-psychoactive and available in most states where CBD is legal as well as online; although there are products on the market that contain active THC (but using it still won’t get you high).

Cannabis topicals for pain

CBD topicals are often a go-to product for older consumers because they lack any psychoactive side effects and some high-strength products can provide pain relief throughout the day. Many athletes also use topicals for post-workout relief as an anti-inflammatory and pain reliever.

How to use them and what to use them for

Many people suffering from chronic pain might find relief from cannabis topical products and can use it throughout the day like any other traditional topical cream, balm, or lotion. Topicals only penetrate a couple layers of the skin; however, it’s unclear whether cannabinoids applied to the skin enters the bloodstream. Some transdermal products – such as patches – may contain chemicals to help cannabinoids enter the bloodstream but typical topicals do not contain such agents. Topicals work because humans have cannabinoid receptors on their skin and many topicals will onset between 10-20 minutes; although some patients and consumers have reported immediate relief, while some have reported finding no relief at all.

In addition to pain, CBD based cannabis topicals can provide relief from skin inflammation, itching, and burning. Some have found relief for skin conditions that sometimes don’t cause pain, such as eczema, acne, psoriasis, and dermatitis. The amount of CBD varies from product-to-product so the frequency one might have to use the product is dependent, not only on CBD amounts, but also whether the product’s base is a cream or gel – and always check the label to make sure there is nothing in the base that you might be allergic to.

Okay, topicals have been around for a while but what’s new?

Personal cannabis-based lubricants are becoming more popular and are more commonly available with THC. Anecdotally, women report increased sensitivity – and decreased pain – when using infused lube; with some saying using the lube products increases their sex drive and enhances orgasms (although, it should be noted many report the products can take 20-40 minutes to begin working). Like other topical products, the lube does not get you high, despite containing THC.

Cannabis THC Lube

Cannabis lube, by most accounts, does not have the same effect in men because male genitalia does not absorb THC the same way female genitalia does. Despite that, these products are safe to consume — many relying on a coconut oil base — so it is possible that men can get psychoactive effects if the perform certain activities but the reported effects on women often use the adjective “mind blowing.”

Cannabis-infused massage lotions, containing both THC and CBD-only, are also gaining popularity. These products often contain more traditional essential oils than other topicals; however, your everyday topical could easily double as a massage oil or cream.

Suffice to say, cannabis topicals are an option for most any adult

The elderly, athletes, couples who want to spice things up, laborers, and just about anyone else who suffers from simple or chronic pain can use certain cannabis topicals without fear of getting high or any other adverse reactions. It’s often a discreet and effective choice when over-the-counter remedies no longer, or have never, cut it.  

Greenlight Approved is a consumer education platform dedicated to “guiding the cannabis curious.” We believe when you start something new, it’s best to start slow. Gather all the information you can to make a safe informed decision. Let Greenlight Approved be your guide so your first experience with cannabis is an educated, safe and positive one. Let us direct you to premium product and brand options as well as participating retailers near you, at

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