One of the most controversial plants out there is cannabis, while it’s also widely recognized for its various uses. For years, people suffering from different disorders and health problems have been using this plant to alleviate numerous painful symptoms caused by these disorders. Modern medicine has also come to recognize the health benefits offered by cannabis as research has shown that THC, the cannabinoid responsible for the psychoactive effects in marijuana, is not the only ingredient in the plant. There are other cannabinoids as well and one of them, cannabidiol (CBD) has gained considerable popularity. This non-psychoactive component offers tons of medicinal benefits.
CBD products are widely available nowadays in various forms such sublingual tinctures, vape oils, capsules, and edible candy. Yet, a large number of people prefer to apply CBD directly to the skin.
What Is Topical CBD?
Topicals infused with CBD have become popular amongst people looking to enjoy the medical benefits of this cannabinoid. Even though CBD doesn’t cause a high, a lot of people still worry about it and topicals provide them with a simple solution. This is because topical CBD products are not transdermal, which means that they don’t actually get into your bloodstream. There are plenty of CBD topicals you can find in the market such as lotions, balms, salves and oils that are infused with this cannabinoid.
Due to the rising popularity and demand for CBD topicals, manufacturers are getting more creative and you can now find cosmetics, lip balms and even massage oils infused with this cannabinoid. Skin is the body’s largest organ and when a CBD topical is applied, the cannabinoid will seep in and be absorbed directly by the affected area. It interacts with the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is essentially a series of receptors that can be found throughout the body. This includes bodily systems, organs, glands and tissues. The ECS plays a vital role in digestion, immunity, emotional well-being and more thereby enabling it to regulate hunger, memory, mood and pain. Through binding with these ECS receptors, CBD is able to positively affect the different areas of the body through its anti-inflammatory, anxiolytic, and anti-oxidant properties. Therefore, topical CBD is able to offer a world of health benefits.
How do CBD Topicals Work?
As mentioned above, there are different ways CBD can be consumed. If CBD oil is ingested orally, it affects the whole body, but it may take up to an hour or more for users to feel the full effects. In contrast, topical CBD may be more preferable for skin conditions because it’s absorbed directly into the affected area. This absorption happens at a faster rate and the onset of effects is more concentrated. CBD topicals are usually created by extracting CBD from high quality hemp plants. Once it has been extracted, it is then formulated and infused with hemp, olive, coconut oil and other ingredients to be ready for use in consumer products.
Topical CBD is therefore regarded as the most minimally invasive method and often serves as a point of contact between first-time consumers and the CBD industry. New users can be somewhat reluctant to consume CBD oil, but are more open to trying external applications. Prior to experimenting with oral CBD supplements, they are willing to consider and use topical CBD oil to judge its effectiveness.
Similar to other CBD products, topical CBD oil is non-psychoactive. The cannabinoids found in topical CBD interact with the CB2 receptors found in the skin, which activates the endocannabinoid system. This ensures that they never enter your bloodstream. However, there is one thing to keep in mind; in order to ensure CBD topicals can have the desired impact, you need to apply them in large quantities. Typically, products containing CBD topical creams will instruct you to apply the creams liberally to the affected area due to the fact that absorption rate of the human skin is very low. However, it is also a fact that this cannabinoid is more permeable than THC, which means that it has a greater chance of activating the CB2 cannabinoid receptors once absorbed. This is one of the top reasons why manufacturers of cannabis-based topicals prefer to use CBD rather than THC as the active ingredient in their products.
Is it Legal to Use Topical CBD?
This is one question that a lot of people ask when they are contemplating using this cannabinoid. CBD topical benefits have enhanced its reputation, but since it is derived from the hemp plant, there is confusion about its legality. Simply put, topicals containing hemp-derived CBD are legal in all 50 states, but those made from marijuana-derived CBD are only legal in states where the use of medical or recreational marijuana is permitted.
Hemp and marijuana are members of the cannabis family, but the difference is the amount of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) produced by each plant. Hemp plants contain only trace amounts of THC (0.3% or less)whereas marijuana plants may contain up to 35% of THC. Since THC is considered a schedule 1 drug, it is federally though several states have legalized its use on the state level. Thus, when considering the legality of use, topical CBD products made from hemp-derived CBD are the safest alternative.
Skin Care Benefits of Using CBD Topicals
The potential anti-inflammatory, anti-seizure and anti-tumour properties of CBD are what brought this cannabinoid into the limelight. This doesn’t mean that people should overlook the potential ability of this non-psychoactive cannabinoid to improve the appearance and health of hair, skin and nails when applied topically.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is quite a powerful antioxidant, which means that it can provide the skin protection from free radicals such as smoke, UV rays and environmental pollutants. These free radicals are very harmful for the skin because they can lead to fine lines and wrinkles. The good thing is that antioxidants are immensely helpful in protecting the skin against this kind of damage and can also be useful in fighting the effects of ageing. Furthermore, as the cannabinoid receptors are located all over the skin, this gives CBD the ability to interact with these receptors thereby allowing it to encourage healing and homeostasis.
Apart from that, CBD has also been found useful for treating a variety of conditions that are related to the skin. Eczema, which is also known as atopic dermatitis, has been shown to improve after the use of topical CBD oil. Moreover, the CBD topical benefits also point to the cannabinoid’s ability to adjust the output of oils in the hair and skin and inhibit the lipid production of the skin cells. This makes it quite handy for preventing acne.
There has also been some research done on CBD topical benefits and it has been found that it can control cell differentiation and proliferation. This indicates that CBD topical products can be used in the treatment process of skin diseases like cancer or allergies.
Do CBD Topicals improve Skin Appearance?
Other than the natural health benefits CBD has to offer, you should know that topical CBD also contain a plethora of other essential and useful nutrients. This includes minerals, vitamins, fatty acids and proteins for encouraging skin health and appearance. For instance, Vitamin A and D are quite beneficial when it comes to skin repair. As mentioned before, they can inhibit oil production and support skin cell growth, which aids in keeping the skin supple and soft. Hence, CBD oil benefits for the skin include healthy and youthful skin.
CBD also comprises of Vitamin E and C, which are antioxidants like the cannabinoid itself, which means that they can protect the skin’s elastin and collagen against damage from free radicals and the sun. There are also B complex vitamins in CBD, which play an important role in the construction process for hair, skin and nails to prevent hair loss, dermatitis and other skin conditions.
The buildup of excessive skin cells is defined as psoriasis, which causes redness, inflammation and itching. This condition has no cure and the treatment options are also quite limited. CBD topicals can be immensely useful in this situation because they can inhibit the buildup of these skin cells. This allows it to provide relief from the pain, even if you cannot cure the condition. Burns, rashes and other skin infections can be effectively treated with the use of topical CBD. Its anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties allow it to heal burns faster. The antibacterial properties of cannabinoids can also be effective in treating impetigo, cellulitis, boils and folliculitis amongst others.
Thousands of patients of skin cancer have also used topical CBD oil and reported improvements in their condition. Some patients have gotten results after initial contact while others have noticed results after a few days of use.
One of the most notable things about topical CBD is that your body doesn’t show any kind of resistance to the use of these products, which is something you experience when antibiotics are being used.
Uses of Topical CBD
Topical CBD products are often preferred to topical THC products because it is generally safe to apply them to the skin with no risk of side effects. Even if the topical contains THC, and applied is small amounts, the risk of getting high is significantly reduced due to the low absorption of skin. However, it is still recommended that you first apply a small amount on the skin before you apply it liberally to the affected area. This is an excellent way to ensure that there are no allergic reactions. Even if there is a reaction, there is a chance it is due to some other ingredient included in the CBD topical you are using and not necessarily due to the cannabinoid itself. You should check the ingredients of the product before you apply it to the skin.
CBD topical products are immensely useful when you want to relieve pain in a generalized area. For instance, if you’re suffering from shoulder pain, you can apply the cream directly to the affected shoulder when looking to relieve that pain. The CBD in the topical product combines with the endocannabinoid receptors, which send signals to the brain and body, thereby relieving pain.
Topical CBD oil cannot provide full body relief because it’s not transdermal. However, it’s great for focusing on a particular area, which has made it immensely beneficial for relieving pain associated with arthritis. CBD serves as an anti-inflammatory agent helping with chronic pain relief. It can soothe any swelling you may have in your joints, which will improve mobility. Since arthritis pain is associated with inflammation, easing it down can be the first step to reducing the pain. You can rub the CBD topical onto the arthritic areas, thereby soothing them.
CBD topicals can also be great for soothing muscle soreness after you have had a tough workout. When’re exercising, your muscles are damaged as you are trying to build more muscle tissue. During strength training, small tears occur in your muscles and you experience pain and soreness during the healing process. The damage is detected by the immune system and inflammatory mediators are released for repairing the torn tissue. The application of topical CBD reduces the release of the signals that cause inflammation and can also minimize pain without impairing the healing process.
There are receptors in the body called TrpV1, which regulate body temperature. When these receptors are triggered, they soothe pain receptors and put out heat. Therefore, injured muscles tend to feel warmer when you touch them as compared to others. These receptors are triggered by CBD and the cannabinoid sets them off for a while. Heat is released and this can desensitize the nerve endings that sense pain.
Women have also used CBD topicals for relieving menstrual pain. Cramps can be difficult to deal with for some women and applying topical CBD products directly to the lower abdominal area may help soothe the pain.
Fibromyalgia patients also benefit from the application of topical CBD. While this type of pain can be widespread, it tends to have ‘hot spots’ of muscle pain. For instance, most patients of fibromyalgia often report feeling extra pain in the back and neck. This pain typically originates from irritated nerves in the fascia i.e. connective tissue found around the muscles. Inflammation tightens these areas and similar inflammation and pain is also caused by nerve damage or neuropathy.
Pain in these areas can be lessened with the use of CBD topical products. They are also useful in reducing or eliminating spasms and calming of the muscles.
CBD Topical- As a Pain Relief
As highlighted above, topical CBD products are used for relieving pain associated with different conditions such as arthritis, muscle pain, etc. There are several reasons why topical CBD creams, lotions and balms are used for this purpose. First and foremost, the anti-inflammatory effects of CBD are highly effective in reducing inflammation, which is great for combating pain. Secondly, using CBD topical products is a much better choice than using short-acting opioids because they can cause more problems than they solve. The side effects are a problem and they are also slow in alleviating the pain.
There is no such issue with using CBD topicals because they are composed of organic and natural ingredients, which do not cause any side effects and aren’t addictive. In the case of marijuana and opioids, there is high risk of addiction and abuse. Cannabidiol, on the other hand, is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid, which doesn’t make the user feel high or cause any hallucinatory reactions. Moreover, CBD contains terpenes, which are analgesic i.e. pain relieving and anti-inflammatory in their own rite increasing the compound’s effectiveness in countering pain.
The best part about topical CBD is that it can be used for targeting specific areas where you feel pain, such as your back, knee or anywhere else unlike pills that provide overall pain relief.
Application of CBD Topical
You can select any one of the numerous CBD topicals available on the market, but there is a proper procedure you should follow when applying them to ensure you are getting the best results. Follow the steps below:
- Determine where to apply topical CBD
Before you apply your chosen CBD topical, you need to figure out where your pain is coming from. Is the headache due to tension in the neck or simply due to stress? When you determine the source of the pain, you can apply the topical at that location to get the quickest results. If you’re unable to pinpoint the specific area of pain, use hot spots such as temple, shoulders, wrists, neck, soles of your feet, knees, elbow and other joints etc.
- Clean the area
During the course of the day, you come in contact with a world of contaminants and unseen bacteria and you need to get rid of them before you apply a CBD topical. If possible, take a shower, but you can also just take a moist wash cloth or paper towel and wipe the area before application to ensure it is clean. Dry the area before you put on the topical CBD product.
- Be vigorous and generous
After the affected area has been sufficiently cleaned up and dried, it is time for you to apply the CBD topical generously. This doesn’t mean that you bathe in it, but you can apply it twice or thrice if you wish. Every time you apply it to the skin, make sure you massage it vigorously and rub it into your skin. Don’t apply too much pressure as it can exacerbate your discomfort, but you should still give it a firm rub.
- Wash your hands
Once you are done with applying your topical CBD, you need to wash your hands carefully. A number of topicals have other ingredients such as citrus and mint and these can lead to adverse reactions, especially if they get into your eyes or nostrils.
- Manage expectations
You need to manage your expectations when using CBD topicals. Those who have heard stories about CBD may expect magical results. However, it is improbable that a lifetime of arthritis will simply vanish after one or two applications of topical CBD. Instead, you can expect to see subtle and innocuous relief, also depending on other ingredients that are included in your topical CBD product. Bear in mind that in some cases, these topicals can only provide relief from pain and not actually treat the problem causing it.
In the past, the use of marijuana and cannabinoid derivative has been stigmatized to a very high degree. None the less, most of the research done to date, field studies, observations, and anecdotal evidence suggests that the analgesic, neuro-protective and anti-inflammatory effects of CBD with regard to topical applications are definitely positive and promising.
As a result, a large number of people in the medical community are rapidly coming to accept that CBD can be a powerful and effective relief agent for a wide array of conditions and one that poses little or no health risk. A significant amount of research has been conducted on the ECS system and CBD. There have also been journal entries from pilot studies that have been conducted by doctors from all over the world in the last few decades. But, this still remains quite a novel area of medicine and it is recommended that people do their own research before they decide to start using CBD for health and treatment purposes.
There is plenty of information that can be found online, but it should be noted that there is a mix of both misleading and valid data on the internet. The sources need to be vetted before you can trust the information they provide.