Entering a local dispensary introduces you to a plethora of balms, tinctures, and roll-ons for topical application. Skin is the largest organ in the body consequently it has more endocannabinoid receptors than any other organ.

Cannabis topicals are excellent for treating arthritis, atopic dermatitis, psoriasis, pressure ulcers, rashes, cancer, pigmentation disorders like vitiligo, radiation burns, and numerous skin ailments. Remember, cannabidiol (CBD) is mainly for inflammation while 9delta tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is mainly for pain. THC is added to many skin preparations due to its anti-aging properties; it blocks harmful oxygen particles. All topicals are an individual preference unless the treatment is for cancer lesions or pressure ulcers. For these conditions, it is best to consult with a cannabis specialist.

Since arthritis is a painful inflammation of the joints, a topical rich in CBD is a good start. Apply a CBD-rich balm 2-4x/day. Relief is noticed within 30-60 minutes. Once this is ineffective try increasing the potency of the balm. Switch from a low dose (175-300 mg/jar) to a high dose (600-800 mg/jar). The next step is to include a hybrid that contains THC. CBD alone may not work. High intense painful skin conditions sometimes require ingestion of a systemic tincture along with the topical.


I do not recommend purchasing CBD products from Amazon, other Internet sites, or grocery/cosmetic stores. While they have zero THC, these hemp products are labeled nutritional supplements, are not regulated by the FDA, are not required to provide a Certification of Analysis (COA) to authenticate potency, safety, or purity, and they do not include on the label terpenes unique to that strain.

Terpenes or other ingredients included can be peppermint, eucalyptus, tea tree essential oil, frankincense, calendula, tulsi, vanilla bean, cinnamon, lavender, lavender spike, myrrh, bergamot, rosemary, cineole, sage, and lemongrass. Every manufacturer has its own preference. The only product that is effective is the one that works for you.

Products known by this author are: Papa Barkley Relief CBD balm/roll-on available in California; Aunt Zelda’s – THC Topical balm cultivated by Myra Gordon, only available in Northern California; Dragon 1:1 deep tissue salve which includes myrcene, pinene, humulene, caryophyllene, and nerolidol, only available in WA state; MUV Evolve 1:1 THC:CBD Gel, only available in Florida; and lastly but not least, physician-developed Healer Topical Hydrogel Cream containing 850mg 1:1 CBDA:CBD, menthol, and Copaiba; it does not contain THC, therefore Dr. Dustin Sulak from can ship his product to all states.

I leave you with a side note to illustrate how hypocritical our government is. Vitiligo is a long-term condition where pale white patches develop on the skin. It is caused by the lack of melanin, the pigment in the skin. Our United States Government (we taxpayers) have a patent dated Feb. 28, 2019, (US020190060252A120190228) which verifies a 15% efficacy of cannabis treatment when the higher dose is used. Who would have thought? The patent states: “The method comprises topical application of a composition containing cannabinoids, in particular, cannabidiol (CBD) and cannabigerol (CBG), at a concentration of 3 % – 20 % by weight of the composition onto the affected skin area of a subject in need thereof. Application may be twice (2) daily for about six (6) weeks. Cannabidiol (CBD) and cannabigerol (CBG) may be sourced naturally or synthetically and applied daily for about six weeks.”

Beware of product or dispensary websites that fail to include the potency/or strength of the jar. (e.g. 300mg CBD or 175mg CBD:175mg THC). California websites rarely omit the amount of THC in the picture. Websites that show labs (COA) are the best products. Experiment with different balms and share your critique. I am always interested in what other states have to offer. Please share your favorite topical with me.

Visit Ruth A Hill at for more information.