The Best Topical Pain Relief Cream
If you have chronic pain and are enrolled in a medicinal marijuana program, you most likely have spoken with your recommending physician about your condition and some of the ways in which THC and CBD products can help. But even with the best direction from medical professionals, there are often so many choices. It can feel overwhelming just trying to get started. If you often find yourself feeling lost in the dispensary showrooms or scrolling endlessly through online menus, here is a brief rundown of how cannabis topicals are formulated and how.
THC vs. CBD: What’s the Difference?
Though the medical marijuana industry may still seem rather new, both Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD) are compounds produced by both hemp and cannabis and have been around for millennia. Cannabis produces higher concentrations of THC, and hemp has higher concentrations of CBD.
THC and CBD are inherently fat-soluble compounds. This means topically applying cannabinoids will not penetrate in the bloodstream resulting in the euphoria or “high” patients expect from THC, due to the fatty layers of the dermis. Instead, the cannabinoids dissipate and interact in the upper layers of the dermis, potentially bringing localized relief. What that potential relief looks like depends on the product’s formulation.
As molecular compounds, THC and CBD are very similar. Their properties, on the other hand, help divide them into two distinct categories that can stand alone or be combined to maximize specific effects.
THC or Tetrahydrocannabinol
THC has a strong legacy of providing pain relief – both anecdotally and recent research. A simple Google search of “marijuana for pain relief” yields over 20 million results. Not to mention the recent surge of research currently underway.
In 2008, due to the high levels of self-reported analgesic effects of cannabis, researchers sought to measure the efficacy for neuropathic pain. The double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study over three sessions found that smoked cannabis, one puff per 60-minute interval, decreased perceived pain for patients.
CBD or Cannabidiol
CBD has been confirmed to be an effective anti-epileptic, as well as an aid in soothing persons with autism, in addition to anti-inflammatory properties.
In 2015, transdermal CBD was applied on rats' paws in a study examining its effect on inflammation and pain in rat models of arthritis. The study found the transdermal CBD gel reduced joint swelling significantly.
Due to the federal scheduling of marijuana as a Schedule 1 narcotic, studies involving human participation are rather scarce, leaving moline (mice) studies as a key reference in the physiological effects of cannabinoids.
A 1:1 ratio of THC:CBD combines the synergistic effects of both cannabinoids. THC and CBD work in tandem to potentially address a wide variety of patient concerns.
How are Topical Cannabis Products Formulated?
To formulate a marijuana topical, you must first extract the THC and CBD from the cannabis plant. This begins with a solvent, used to isolate the desired compounds, while leaving behind the fats, lipids, chlorophylls and other undesirable material. The resulting material is referred to as a crude extract. This crude extract is refined to distillate oil, which is then infused into cannabis topicals.
Are Topical Cannabis Products Effective?
This is where the cannabis research is still lacking. What is available is primarily on systemic applications of cannabis such as smoking, oral and transdermal applications. Though, it is worth noting that a study published in 1998 determined that topically applied cannabinoids (THC and CBD) produced antihyperalgesia (reduced sensitivity to pain) in addition to reduced inflammation in rats. In addition, in a clinical trial conducted in Italy and published in 2019, topical application of CBD resulted in therapeutic effects for 20 participants with psoriasis and atopic dermatitis, with no adverse effects.
If effective, the treatment received by patients using topical CBD and/or THC creams and ointments helps lessen the number of times they would need to take stronger solutions for their minor or major aches and pains. CBD products typically work to reduce inflammation whereas THC addresses pain, as is the norm with typical over-the-counter relief aids like ibuprofen or other topical ointments.
What Is the Best Pain Relief Cream?
Ultimately, every patient is different. Personal preference will always be the main deciding factor when seeking cannabis topicals. The best pain relief cream for you is going to be one that ticks all your personal boxes. Several factors affect the way each product works, including:
- Dosages. While there is a range of dosages your recommending physician or MÜV MedTender at your local dispensary can help you choose from, some doses will seem inappropriately strong or weak depending on experience with other pharmaceuticals.
- Ratios. Some cannabis products are purely CBD, while some are purely THC. Many products you will see as both topicals, vapes, and flower, have a ratio of a certain part CBD and THC combined. This ratio becomes important if you are looking to treat a range of specific symptoms/disorders.
- Ingredients. The ingredients of whichever product you choose for your topical cream are going to affect your enjoyment of the product. Some topicals are gels and ointments, and others come as a cream or lotion. Be sure before you purchase to review any ingredients you might be allergic to or have a negative reaction to and take note of any ingredients that you like or dislike for when you make your final decisions.
How to Choose the Right Cannabis Product for Pain Relief
Always be sure to only buy from reputable sellers. If any product boasts something that sounds too good to be true, it most likely is. Any claims that don’t seem possible (let alone probable) should be considered with utmost caution.
As for medical marijuana dispensary options, here’s a list of things to do before committing to a purchase:
- Speak with your doctor. Remember to check in with the participating physician who recommended you to the medicinal marijuana program to keep your selections in line with the discussed treatment plan for your particular ailment.
- Read the whole label (even the fine print!). Don’t skip over any lines when reading the ingredients and directions on your label. Anything you may be allergic to or disagree with the use of in your cannabis products, you’ll want to spot right away to eliminate them from your list of choices.
- Decide on dosages. The MedTenders at your local MÜV Dispensary will help you identify the formulations that may be best for your treatment plan.
- Monitor the effects. Remember to record your experiences in detail in Strainprint to start building your medicinal cannabis history and look for patterns in both positive and negative effects.
The Strainprint mobile cannabis journaling app makes recording the effects of a medication session as easy as tapping buttons in your phone.
So, which cannabis topical pain relief creams are best, objectively speaking? We may be a little biased, but our answers are the unbeatable MÜV Pain Relief Cream and MÜV Sports Gel. Both products are a 1:1 ratio of THC to CBD, extracted from the marijuana plant in controlled environments without using any harmful pesticides in their growth or extraction process.
Pain Relief Cream
MÜV Pain Relief Cream was developed to be applied topically to permeate the skin. This topical cannabis product targets deeper aches and pains that can be caused by anything from sore muscles after a long day at a labor-intensive job to arthritis. It is infused with 200 mg CBD and 200 mg THC to address a wide variety of symptoms; MÜV Patients report relief from arthritis, post-surgery sites, torn ACLs and more for up to 6 hours.
The cream is made with all-natural ingredients like jojoba, shea butter, and aloe, all acting together as a vehicle to help your skin soak up the topical, leaving soft skin and relaxed muscles in its wake. For a product like this, your recommended dosage would only be a 0.05 mL, dime-sized amount — allowing a long-time use for patients looking for a well-rounded cannabis experience through a topical solution.
MÜV Sports Gel is formulated with 100 mg THC and 100 mg CBD for topical application. While the name is “Sports Gel,” it by no means is limited to those with an active lifestyle. MÜV Patients report eased pain when applied to bumps and bruises, arthritis, muscle spasms and then some for up to 4 hours.
Sports Gel, though half the dose of Pain Relief Cream, is no less effective. The gel boasts arnica and peppermint in its ingredients. These additions lend a tingly, soothing feeling, much like that of Icy Hot or Bengay. With MÜV Sports Gel, it is recommended to apply a dime-sized amount to the area in need of relief.
Content Manager for MÜV Florida and Contributor for Zen Leaf Dispensaries. A cannabis connoisseur with a passion for explaining the miraculous possibility of the plant, Swan began her journey with cannabis as a recreational user and quickly realized its positive impact on her depression and severe anxiety. She joined the cannabis industry as Receptionist and MedTender and witnessed first-hand the immense potential of the plant for a wide variety of ailments, deepening her passion for alternative medicine. Swan is dedicated to self-education on the plant and sharing its potential with all. She holds a Journalism degree from the University of Iowa.