In recent years, cannabidiol, or CBD, one of the key compounds found in the hemp/cannabis plant, has gained attention for its potential abilities to help manage everything from chronic pain and anxiety to symptoms of ADHD. CBD comes in many forms, including CBD topicals, like CBD pain cream, lotions and salves. If you think a topical CBD product is right for you, keep reading—we’ll talk through how to use a topical CBD most effectively.
How to Use Topical CBD
- Pick an Application Method
- Decide Location
- Apply to Skin
CBD topicals come in many forms, including creams, ointments, balms, lotions, and topical salve. These products are applied directly to the skin with the intent of treating pain, inflammation, or irritation in that specific area of the body.
Applying a topical CBD cream or CBD oil directly onto the skin allows the active ingredient—in this case, CBD—to to be absorbed through the skin in order to achieve the desired effect. For many people, topical CBD products have had promising results, and though further research is needed, CBD may prove an effective pain relief alternative to remedies such as steroids, prescription painkillers, and non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs.
How Does Topical CBD Work?
In general, CBD’s effectiveness is tied to its interaction with the endocannabinoid system of the body, which helps regulate basic functions like pain responses, appetite, mood, memory, and the overall healthy functioning of the immune system. The CBD cannabinoid interacts with our endocannabinoid system and helps it do its job more effectively. Think of cannabinoids like vitamins for your endocannabinoid system.
Normally, by the time our brains register pain or irritation, the CB1 and CB2 receptors on our skin cells have fired off signals to help mute the sensation. Ultimately, a CBD topical cream or other product can bypass the body’s CB1 and CB2 receptors and interact directly with a neurotransmitter that blocks the signals for pain by working through agents called anandamide and 2-AG. This approach can be a much safer way to ease pain than many traditional pain-relief efforts.
Applying CBD topicals directly to your skin allows the CBD cream or CBD balm to be absorbed through the skin to interact with cannabinoid receptors near the treatment site, providing local pain relief for many people. In other words, CBD topicals allow you to treat a specific pain area location, providing CBD exactly where you need it the most.
One important point to note is that using CBD in any form, including CBD topicals, will not create the “high” effect typically associated with cannabis or marijuana. CBD does not have psychoactive effects— that type of effect is relegated to tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, an entirely different compound. Most topical CBD products contain little to no THC. Even if a CBD product does have trace amounts of THC in it, the fact that the product is applied to your skin means that it doesn’t go directly into your bloodstream.
How to Use Topical CBD
Let’s take a closer look at the factors to consider when using CBD topicals:
1. Pick an Application Method
With the wide variety of topical, broad spectrum CBD products available, it might get confusing when it comes time to pick the one you want. You may need to experiment with a few pain relief products to find which one you like. Because that’s what the best type of CBD topical comes down to—personal preference. At the end of the day, there isn’t a whole lot of meaningful difference among the various topical CBD vehicles.
You’ll find generally that CBD lotion and CBD cream have a higher water content, which often allows them to spread more easily across the surface of your skin, absorbing more quickly. This is in direct contrast to balms and CBD ointment, which are higher in oil content. This allows them to sit on the surface of your skin for a longer period of time and for the CBD to be absorbed through your skin more slowly over time.
In addition to the type of topical CBD, you also should carefully read the product label for the dosage information. As always, if you’re new to a topical CBD product, you should start with the lowest possible dosage and work your way up to get the highest therapeutic result with little to no side effects.
2. Decide Location
When it comes to deciding where to apply your topical CBD treatment, it largely depends on what you’re trying to treat. One thing that’s great to use a topical CBD for is pain relief associated with the day-to-day strains and aches that often make themselves known in the neck and shoulders after long days spent hunched over a computer screen. CBD has been shown effective at reducing inflammation and pain associated with sore muscles in general, arthritis, joint pain, and a wide variety of skin conditions that may include acne, psoriasis, and eczema. Early indications show that topical CBD products may even help with bug bites, minor cuts and scrapes, and skin infections.
When treating a localized condition, like a skin condition, cut or muscle pain, you can apply the CBD cream, ointment or balm directly to the affected area for pain relief. For example, if you’re using CBD for a headache, you can massage a little CBD cream, CBD salve, or CBD lotion into your temples and the back of your neck for headache relief.
3. Apply to Skin
As with all topical products, it’s a good idea to start with a very small amount of topical CBD product and apply it gently to the area you’d like to treat, making sure to rub it in all the way. Starting with a small amount like this allows you to verify that your skin tolerates the product and that you won’t have a negative reaction to any of the product’s ingredients. While topical CBD products aren’t generally known to produce side effects, it’s possible that another ingredient in the product could bring about a reaction.
As with any topical product, usually one application isn’t enough to get the maximum therapeutic effect. You’ll need to re-apply at regular intervals. It’s typically recommended for CBD topical products to be re-applied every eight to 12 hours, but feel free to talk to one of our pharmacists or pharmacy technicians if you have questions about how frequently you should be applying topical CBD.
Is Topical CBD Safe While Pregnant or Breastfeeding?
It’s always good to be cautious about trying new products or treatments when you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, and CBD is no exception. Because the research into CBD’s medicinal effects is in such early states, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration currently advises against the use of CBD in any form, along with THC and marijuana, during pregnancy or while breastfeeding.
To date, there is very little medical research into the effects of CBD on a developing fetus, a pregnant mother or a breastfed baby, though the FDA continues to collect and study data on possible effects of CBD during pregnancy and while breastfeeding.
Can Topical CBD Make You Tired?
It’s doubtful. While CBD often is touted for its relaxing benefits, using it topically isn’t necessarily the best way to enjoy those benefits because topical application doesn’t deliver CBD into the bloodstream.
Still, some users say they experience a sense of relaxation while using a topical CBD balm, CBD salve or CBD cream—when applied to the temples, for example. It’s important in this case to separate feelings of fatigue from feelings of calm. When our minds are experiencing a state of calm, we may find it easier to fall asleep or stay asleep, but this is a different physiological process than becoming sleepy or unnaturally tired.
Because CBD has been shown to ease symptoms of anxiety, it’s possible that the relief from anxiety symptoms and the resulting calm may help people feel more relaxed and able to sleep more easily. In addition, people who enjoy pain relief from using a topical CBD product may also feel more relaxed and able to sleep easier once their pain has effectively been addressed. Some CBD topical products may also include essential oils that can help you feel more relaxed and more easily able to sleep. For example, you might find a CBD salve, pain cream or balm that contains lavender, chamomile or even a menthol essential oil.
On the contrary, many users of CBD topicals actually report heightened feelings of focus. Which, once again, may be related to the fact that feelings of anxiety or stress are mitigated, allowing the brain to enter a calmer state that allows for better focus.
Topical CBD Products Are Great for Treating Pain and Inflammation
CBD is an extremely fascinating compound that modern medicine is only just beginning to explore. While it’s not a magical cure-all, it has shown to be effective for pain management while treating for an array of acute and chronic painful conditions.
If you think your pain, inflammation or dry skin could benefit from a topical CBD regimen, consider one of Farmer & Chemist’s wide range of topical CBD products. From our “It’s the Balm” to our “Problem Salved” collection, we’re sure we have the perfect topical CBD ointment for easy, on-the-go treatment.
Don’t put off pain relief any longer! Shop FarmerAndChemist.com today!