My desire to learn more about CBD and other cannabinoid compounds has grown exponentially in the last few years and I have found the benefits of cannabis far outweigh the skepticism of the general population.
My passion has grown so much that I have started developing my very own line of CBD infused bath & beauty products and I think these products could benefit my loved ones tremendously. I recognize that many people are still unaware of all the benefits that cannabis can bring to the table so I wanted to take a few minutes to explain from a topical perspective.
The talk of CBD is practically new in the mainstream media and the attention that it has been getting lately has really rocked my world, and for good reason! Americans are steady pushing to end the prohibition of marijuana, so much so, that even THC’s little cousin CBD has jumped into the spotlight. Since more and more people are discovering the healing properties of CBD, it is showing up in everything from bath bombs to hair treatments and everything in between. Due to the over saturated CBD market which has drastically increased in the last 3 years, it is easy to get confused on which products are legitimate and which ones will leave you confused.
Don’t you worry! In this article, I am going to give you everything you need to know about the world of CBD topicals. Whether you have been using CBD for years or diving in to the world of cannabis treatment for the first time, this guide will help you become the CBD wiz of your group of friends.
What is a Topical?
“Topical” is a word that means balm, lotion, cream, salve, oil or any other substance that is applied directly to the body with the intention of treating a specific area. These substances always have some sort of medicinal element to them like in this case, CBD.
There isn’t much difference in a cream or body oil, lotion or salve. These products all have the same job description: to allow the most absorption possible to gain the desired effects of a CBD treatment. In fact, aside from in unique marketing, the words “salve,” “balm,” and “ointment” are virtually the same word with little to no real distinction.
There will however; always be differences in the consistency and viscosity of each substance and that will make a difference in how our skin absorbs the CBD. Lotions and creams tend to have a higher concentration of water which allows them to spread over the skin easier and are more quickly absorbed. Balms, salves and ointments, on the other hand, tend to have a higher concentration of oil, which stays on the skin longer so that the CBD absorbs more slowly over time.
The topical you choose will largely depend on what you want to use it for.
Note: If you are using a CBD topical for a specific medical condition, it is always a great idea to talk with your doctor about the delivery method that best suits your needs. Otherwise, follow your gut and your own personal preference for what feels best on your skin.
So, How Does CBD Work?
Before we can understand topicals, we must first understand how CBD works. Lets get started!
Basically, every living thing with a spine has receptors all throughout its body that interact with chemicals called “cannabinoids.” These chemicals are naturally produced by the animal itself. Yes, it is safe to say that your body is producing cannabinoids all by itself at this very moment.
These receptors form a unique network solely for the process of producing and interacting with cannabinoids in the body. This process is called the “endocannabinoid system” (ECS), and is responsible for the regulation of pain, appetite, mood, memory, and the immune system. In short, the ECS helps the body maintain some of its most basic and important functions. Who knew?!?!
Think of it this way: just like a bird knows to eat seeds, a horse knows to eat hay and a tiger knows to eat meat… it is no wonder that we found our self on the topic of cannabis application!
An even more amazing fact is that we have found cannabinoids which are naturally produced in plants that can interact with our own ECS and help it do its job. We call these plant-based chemicals “phytocannabinoids.” They work as vitamins for your ECS.
When we apply CBD directly to the skin using a topical, it absorbs through the skin and binds with the cannabinoid receptors near the location of your ailment. Depending on there you apply the topical, it will bind to the receptor that is closest to the application spot.
Will topical CBD get me high?
No, and there are two main reasons why it won’t:
First, CBD is NOT psychoactive the way that its rambunctious cannabinoid cousin THC is, meaning it won’t give you a feeling of being “high.”
Second, even if there are trace amounts of THC in your topical (which is common and is always under .3%,) like I said before, topicals rubbed into the skin don’t make it all the way down to the bloodstream. The best CBD products will have a little THC because the THC binds with the CBD and increases the potency of the healing effects up to 60%! Think of it this way: have you ever used a skin lotion that contains alcohol (check your ingredients, I bet you have!) or sanitized your skin with rubbing alcohol? Did you get drunk? I’m guessing not.
Can I use too much?
Studies keep showing that CBD is 100% safe and has no known level of toxicity, making it virtually impossible to overdose. The amount of CBD absorbed through topical application is relatively low, so you should feel confident in using as much topical CBD as you like. Either way, you should always start any new skin care routine by using a small amount on a test patch of skin to make sure there are no adverse effects. Start small and work your way up. Plus, you could have a reaction to one of the other, non-CBD ingredients, so be sure to take your time.
How to use Topical CBD
I want to keep it real, when I see claims that another brands CBD products can cure everything under the sun from cancer to hair loss … I start looking for the words “unicorn potion” written somewhere on the bottle. I want to be clear that CBD is not a magical substance that will fix anything and everything that’s wrong with you. These implications are faulty and unethical. I don’t want to leave anyone feeling tricked or mislead. However, CBD does seem to have some life-changing effects, and even though scientists are still learning, there is more than enough reason to assume this is just the beginning of wonderful things for people and CBD.
Here are a few things that CBD is known to treat:
We have all felt the effects of our bodies getting banged up and dinged. Our bodies are like our vehicles. Could you imagine what a car would look like after being constantly driven around for 80 years? We undoubtedly feel this wear and tear from time to time. Then we add being a parent, working a day job and playing recreational sports to the mix and we have a space for CBD to act aka: serious aches and pains. Luckily for us all, this is a safe haven for CBD to come into our lives and treat our pain without worrisome addiction fears.
Since we now know about the Endocannabinoid System and how it helps regulate pain, there are two ways it helps to achieve this. Firstly, the endocannabinoids in your body naturally helps regulate the sensations of pain that you feel, and CBD elevates the number of pain-fighting cannabinoids in your system.
Second, a lot of pain is the result of inflammation, and CBD is a proven anti-inflammatory. In fact, recent studies have shown that topical CBD is effective at reducing pain caused by inflammation in animals! This is particularly good news for those suffering from inflammatory conditions like arthritis and those with acute soreness caused by tissue damage during exercise.
Although more research needs to be done, I’ve seen enough research on topical CBD to feel confident in saying that everyone should keep an open mind about using CBD to treat:
- Multiple sclerosis
- Chronic, localized pain
- General joint pain
- Muscle soreness
It is easy to see why so many companies are turning to CBD to spice up their product line. Since CBD has such strong anti-inflammatory properties, absorbing it directly into the site of the inflammation is a no brainer. Not only that, but you can pack the CBD in a salve or lotion that carries other (hopefully natural) ingredients with tons of skin-healing properties.
The coolest part is that some researchers found that CBD can help treat acne! When CBD is absorbed into the skin it tends to inhibit lipid synthesis which limits the amount of sebum (oils) that your skin produces. In other words, it prevents your skin from overproducing the oils that clog your pores and generate break outs. How neat!
Again, scientific research is just beginning, but CBD looks like a great way to treat the body’s largest organ. Here are some of the skin conditions that CBD might help:
- Red, puffy, or inflamed skin
- Flaky and patchy skin
Although these could be described as “skin conditions,” it felt worthy enough for its own portion in this article. Researchers have shown that CBD has strong antibiotic and anti-microbial properties. Combine that with its anti-inflammatory abilities and you have a perfect solution for fighting infections of the skin. Researchers are even turning toward CBD as a way of potentially fighting drug-resistant bacteria like those that cause staph infections.
But in general, topical CBD might be a good way of treating:
- Bug bites
- Bacterial infections (MRSA)
- Cuts and scrapes
- General skin infections
The ECS is the system responsible for the euphoric feeling called “runner’s high” that a lot of people experience during and after physical exercise. So, it’s no surprise that early research is showing that CBD might be effective in fighting anxiety, depression, and other sorts of mood regulation.
This goes for CBD that has been ingested, not CBD that is applied topically. Many companies are putting CBD in products like head ache oils and bath bombs claiming to induce relaxation. This is a stretch for me. Remember, topical CBD does not enter the bloodstream, so it has little chance of getting to the receptors in the brain that would largely be responsible for shifts in mood.
Many continue to report finding some success with topical CBD as a way to relax after a long day. I always find a hot bath/muscle rub to be very relaxing therefore, these claims could be from the other ingredients in the product, from aromatherapy, or the good ol’ placebo effect. Like I said in the beginning, I am here to be real with you all so be careful which companies you trust as many can unintentionally be making false claims.
CBD is a compound that we are only beginning to better understand, and the early signs are very promising. Given what we know about CBD and how it interacts with our bodies, applying it topically makes perfect sense and has some solid early research to back it up. The thing I love the most about CBD is that all signs lead to it being a safe alternative to other potentially dangerous or side-effect ridden treatments. I look forward to what future researchers discover, and I encourage you to give it a try for yourself!
For those of you who have already taken the plunge into topical CBD, what have your experiences been? I invite you to share your stories and results, good or bad! Send me a message! While the researchers slowly begin to give us the information we need, let’s get a conversation going and help each other through this new and exciting frontier!