Topical creams and lotions containing cannabinoids work because cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2 are abundantly expressed in skin cells. When applied directly to the skin cannabinoids can bind with these receptors and thus reduce local inflammation and pain.
Topicals are popular in the wellness community because they are non-intoxicating. This makes it a low-risk entry point for elderly, wary, or cannabis-naive individuals.
For decades, researchers have studied cannabinoids’ ability to treat clinical skin conditions like acne, ulcers, and dermatitis. In the skin, as elsewhere, the endocannabinoid system works broadly to maintain balance, proper functioning, and immune response, including through the synthesis of endocannabinoids.