Unless you’ve been lost in the arctic circle or living under a rock, you know what CBD is. For those that have been living under a rock, you don’t need us to explain it to you.
CBD is a versatile little phytocompound that can be eaten, drank, vaped, inhaled, and slathered all over your body.
CBD-rich topical creams are more than just the latest skincare or health craze. While most products are buzzing with other beneficial ingredients like Vitamin E and mint extracts, CBD-rich topicals are only one part of a full-body solution when it comes to treating unwanted skin irritations.
The Science of CBD Topicals
While understanding how versatile this little cannabinoid can be is very much in its infant stage and research still needs to be conducted, we do know that it posses an array of pretty neat therapeutic benefits.
These benefits stem from helping our body heal itself. Have I lost you? Not to worry, we’ll get to that down below. But basically, CBD works with your body to promote wellness and body-balance.
From physical pain and tension to common skin irritations, a CBD topical can help reduce and prevent unwanted ailments. Topical means a product you apply to your skin. Most CBD products only penetrate the first layer of skin and do not reach all seven layers.
The bioavailability of a CBD-rich topical product is quite low. If you are using CBD to treat ongoing symptoms it is best to use a combination of CBD products with different methods of consumption.
Unfortunately, science is so scarce that I can barely prove my point with what limited research has been published. Fortunately, I’ve found enough to get you educated. These are the things you should know about before you give a CBD topical product a whirl.
CBD Topicals: How do They Work & What Are They?
This study and this study show what we’ve got to work with regarding topical CBD products and effectively treating both skin irritations and minor pain. Unfortunately, we don’t have enough human clinical trials to understand the ideal dose for pain-relieving effects.
Topical CBD products are applied to the skin whereas vapes and edibles are ingested and CBD tinctures are taken sublingually (under the tongue). The epidermis is the first of seven layers of our skin. This layer of skin is the barrier to other layers: dermis and hypodermis. It protects against chemicals, pathogens, and UV rays.
It makes sense the epidermis is hard to penetrate. This means that topical products (including CBD products) will not reach the other layers of our skin, and they definitely do not penetrate the blood-brain barrier and enter the bloodstream.
First time CBD users should try a topical product prior to using a tincture if they are concerned about cannabinoids entering their body. There are a few notable texture differences when it comes to CBD topicals. They each have their own classifications. The most common CBD topicals that have their own ingredients and functions are:
Applying CBD-Rich Topicals
For those that use a CBD topical product daily on tense and sore areas, they have seen an improvement in their symptoms. While the science isn’t there to say for sure it is the product, we do know that CBD possesses an array of therapeutic benefits.
Because we don’t have accurate dosage guidelines when it comes to applying a CBD topical product, it relies on the consumer to apply as much or as little as they would like to.
While the CBD in lotions, salves, and balms do not penetrate the blood-brain barrier, they can be effective for local (general area) pain relief and reducing skin irritations.
There are three simple steps to applying CBD topical products and they are prepared, apply, and indulge!
The area you want to apply to your CBD-rich lotion, cream, or salve should be washed with soap and water. Remove any clothing that may cover the area as well. Make sure the application area is completely dried.
With your fingertips, take some of your CBD topical product and apply it to the area that you want to reduce pain and discomfort. Gently massage the topical into the skin in a circular direction. Ensure that the CBD topical has been completely absorbed and is dried before you apply any more.
Within moments you will begin to experience a nice relaxation effect. Although the true nature of healing will greatly depend on the CBD potency, a sense of calm is to be expected. If you are applying a CBD cream to a bite, burn or sting, apply the lotion around the area that surrounds the main point of pain.
Can CBD Topicals Get You Stoned?
CBD is a non-psychoactive cannabis compound. Meaning, it does not get you high. Even if THC were present above the legal 0.03% amount, topical products do not penetrate all seven layers of skin and enter the bloodstream.
Because CBD doesn’t produce psychoactive effects and that legal CBD topicals are not allowed to contain more than 0.03% THC, do not expect any euphoric results. A full-spectrum CBD product will contain a trace amount of THC, but not enough to affect your perspective.
CBD topicals are special because unlike other methods of consumption, a lotion will not interact directly with your endocannabinoid system (ECS).
For local relief of pain, redness, and other minor skin issues, a CBD topical can be greatly effective. There is absolutely no way you can get stoned from using a CBD topical lotion.
What Makes CBD Topicals Unique?
While cannabinoid-rich products are taking over the holistic health scene, topical products are unique. The method of application, the effects, the cost, the concentration, and dosage calculations are much different than a CBD tincture or CBD-rich edible.
The cost of CBD-rich topical products is quite reasonable. Even for a high-end serum, you can expect to pay about $0.30 per milligram or about $30 per bottle. There are pricier products on the market. The ingredients used to manufacture the product will also play a role in the cost.
Method of Consumption
Applying CBD topicals cannot penetrate the bloodstream, so you will not be receiving the full effects of any cannabinoids, including CBD.
Unfortunately, the dosage amount and frequency depend on many factors including the product you are using, the CBD potency, as well as the reason you are using the product.
CBD via topical products will never actually take effect like a tincture, an edible, or a vape extract. However, a full-spectrum CBD product will be much more beneficial than a product made with isolated CBD.
Why? This is because of the entourage effect meaning, the cannabinoids derived from cannabis work better together as a team than they do when they are separated.
The concentration of CBD in the topical you choose will vary from product to product. Low-potency options from 250 to 300mg as well as high-potency options with up to 100mg of CBD are available.
While most CBD products have dosage recommendations, when it comes to topicals, you don’t have to concern yourself with factors like your weight or how often you apply.
Using a CBD-rich topical depends more on the level of pain or irritation that is bothering you.
How to Shop for CBD Topicals
Since CBD topicals aren’t regulated, the first thing you need to figure out is how much CBD is alleged to be in the product. If you are using CBD for pain, there are other methods of administration that treat more than locally. Unfortunately, we can’t say for certain what the ideal dose is for CBD topicals.
You might want to go with the highest dose possible, but the choice is yours. Remember also that some minor side effects are associated with some forms of CBD. Lower blood pressure and tiredness are the most common downsides. Unlike CBD tinctures or edibles, a CBD topical product will not penetrate the blood-brain barrier and enter your bloodstream.
The lack of regulation means that anyone with a CBD product can make a store and begin selling. The fact is: people are selling products making false CBD claims-including topicals.
Before you choose a product, make sure that the company is providing a certificate of analysis, a batch number, and third-party lab testing results for the corresponding products. This gives you peace of mind knowing the exact contents of the product you’re using.
Are There Any Side Effects?
CBD products are classified as safe to use and non-toxic. To be fair, not enough human clinical studies have been conducted on the long-term effects of using cannabinoid therapies. Because CBD is seen as a health supplement, the FDA does not evaluate these products like other health-related products.
Most of the side effects associated with CBD are considered not-life-threatening. With CBD in general, the most commonly reported downsides of consuming CBD are:
CBD is known to promote sleep quality, which makes it a top-notch holistic sleep aid. Unfortunately, taking too much CBD may make you feel sedated and lethargic. Avoid strenuous activities that require attention to detail and the ability to focus if you feel as though you’ve consumed too much CBD.
Reduced Blood Pressure
For those taking medications that affect your blood pressure or for those that have ongoing low blood pressure should speak with a doctor before using CBD.
However, a CBD topical does not interfere or penetrate your bloodstream, making it an ideal choice for those who may be taking blood thinners.
Taking too much CBD may negatively affect your digestive system creating unwanted digestive issues like lack of appetite and diarrhea.
CBD Topical Risks
CBD topicals have specific health concerns like allergy reactions. Although it is highly unlikely you are allergic to CBD (as your body creates its own endocannabinoids), there are other ingredients like essential oils that may initiate an allergic reaction in users.
Read the label if you are known to have allergies when using essential oils, and other ingredients typically found in lotion, cream, and salves.
Do not apply CBD topicals to open cuts, sores, or wounds. Doing so creates a serious potential for infection and other adverse reactions.
Things to Consider Before You Buy
Most reputable CBD brands will provide an extensive ingredient list explaining what exactly is in their products. They will also produce third-party lab results, THC content information, as well as a batch number for their products.
It is up to the CBD manufacturer to be transparent because cannabidiol and other cannabis compounds are not regulated or monitored by the FDA.
If you are using CBD to reduce ongoing physical aches and pains, it is best to combine it with another method of consumption like a CBD tincture or CBD gummy. This is because topical products are not trans-dermal, meaning, they do not penetrate all seven layers of the skin, nor do they enter the bloodstream.
CBD topicals like salves and lotions are perfect for local pain (meaning pain to that area). They are also ideal for those just beginning their CBD journey and who are concerned about cannabinoids present in their system.
Hemp-based CBD products that contain 0.03% THC are considered legal, but you must source your hemp from a reputable cultivator. The extraction method in which the CBD is extracted is also very important when it comes to potency and quality.
Topicals may help provide relief that is often associated with acne, burns, joint and muscle swelling, skin rashes, stiff muscles, bites, and stings, as well as minor injuries like bruises.
Using a CBD-rich topical daily by applying to the area that is sore may help your body heal itself. Those that have not tried CBD should speak to a doctor or medical professional before they begin their CBD journey.
If you are dealing with ongoing or severe pain, using multiple methods of consumption is best Incorporating a CBD tincture alongside your typical applications for a more well-rounded, or full-spectrum, approach to holistically treating your pain.
Feeling good and living a life in-balance should not cause you more unwanted health issues. Taking over the counter pain medication like Advil may cause serious liver damage with long-term use. Today, we have not seen any significant side effects of using CBD long-term.
However, we are also very much in the infant stage regarding the science of CBD.
CBD-infused topicals are packed with naturally beneficial ingredients like other cannabinoids, essential oils like lavender and aloe. Most CBD topicals moisturize, enhance your wellbeing, and are great for those who are in the fitness scene.
A high-quality topical product will be formulated by cultivating organic cannabis and using only the cleanest and safest extraction methods.
When it comes to all the CBD products on the market, CBD lotions, balms, and salves are by far the most indulgent way to incorporate CBD into your daily regime. Self-care has never been so therapeutic. Try a lotion, a bath bomb, or a coveted serum, and remember