In recent years, CBD has gained a lot of attention for its potential therapeutic benefits, particularly when used in topical creams, balms, and lotions. Many people use topical CBD to alleviate a range of conditions, from chronic pain and inflammation to skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis. But how effective is topical CBD, and is it as effective as ingesting CBD oils and supplements? In this blog, we’ll take a closer look at the uses and effectiveness of topical CBD oil, as well as the conditions it can be useful in. We’ll also discuss the potential side effects of CBD and how it compares to other forms of administration.
CBD and the Endocannabinoid System
To understand how topical CBD might work, it’s helpful to first understand the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is a complex network of receptors and signalling molecules found throughout the body that helps regulate various physiological processes, including pain, inflammation, and immune function.
CBD interacts with the ECS by binding to certain receptors, particularly the CB2 receptor, which is found primarily in immune cells and tissues. By activating the CB2 receptor, CBD may help regulate inflammation and immune function, which could in turn help alleviate certain symptoms.
How Topical CBD Works
Before we dive into the specific conditions that topical CBD can help with, it’s helpful to understand how it works. CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is a complex network of receptors and signalling molecules found throughout the body. The ECS helps regulate various physiological processes, including pain, inflammation, and immune function.
When CBD is applied topically, it interacts with the ECS receptors in the skin, muscles, and other tissues. By activating these receptors, CBD may help regulate inflammation and immune function, which could in turn help alleviate certain symptoms.
Topical CBD for Chronic Pain and Inflammation
One of the most common uses for topical CBD is pain relief. Studies have found that CBD can help alleviate pain and inflammation in a variety of conditions, including arthritis, neuropathic pain, and muscle soreness.
In one study published in the Journal of Pain Research, researchers found that a topical CBD cream reduced pain and inflammation in rats with arthritis. Similarly, a review of several human studies found that topical CBD products were effective for treating pain and inflammation in conditions like osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia.
It’s important to note that the effectiveness of topical CBD for chronic pain and inflammation may depend on a number of factors, including the severity of the condition, the dose of CBD used, and the type of product used.
Topical CBD for Skin Conditions
CBD may also be effective for certain skin conditions, particularly those that involve inflammation or irritation. For example, studies have found that CBD may help alleviate symptoms of acne, psoriasis, and eczema.
In a study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, researchers found that CBD reduced sebum production and inflammation in skin cells, which could help prevent acne breakouts. Similarly, a review of several studies found that CBD may be effective for treating psoriasis, a chronic autoimmune condition that causes skin inflammation and flaking.
It’s important to note that while topical CBD may be effective for certain skin conditions, it’s not a cure-all. Other factors, such as diet, stress, and genetics, can also play a role in skin health.
Conditions Topical CBD Can Help With
Chronic pain: Using topical CBD for chronic pain can help, particularly when it’s caused by inflammation. CBD may reduce inflammation and pain signals in the affected area, which can help reduce discomfort.
Arthritis: Using topical CBD for arthritis can help reduce pain and inflammation. A study published in the European Journal of Pain found that topical CBD gel reduced joint swelling and pain in rats with arthritis. Other studies have found that topical CBD can help improve physical function in people with osteoarthritis.
Muscle soreness: Topical CBD can help relieve sore muscles and promote faster recovery after exercise. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation found that topical CBD reduced inflammation and pain in rats with arthritis. Another study found that topical CBD reduced muscle pain and stiffness in people with multiple sclerosis.
Skin conditions: Topical CBD can be effective for certain skin conditions, particularly those that involve inflammation or irritation. For example, a study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation found that CBD reduced sebum production and inflammation in skin cells, which could help prevent acne breakouts. Another study found that topical CBD may be effective for treating psoriasis.
Anxiety: Topical CBD may help alleviate symptoms of anxiety, particularly in people who experience anxiety-related skin conditions like stress eczema. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology found that CBD reduced anxiety in people with social anxiety disorder.
Potential Side Effects of Topical CBD
While topical CBD is generally considered safe, there are some potential side effects to be aware of. For example, some people may experience skin irritation or allergic reactions to CBD products, particularly if they contain other ingredients like fragrances or preservatives. Additionally, while CBD is non-psychoactive and doesn’t produce a “high,” it can still interact with other medications, particularly those that are metabolised by the liver. It’s important to talk to your healthcare provider before using topical CBD if you’re taking other medications.
Is topical CBD as effective as ingesting CBD supplements?
The effectiveness of topical CBD versus ingested CBD depends on the specific condition being treated and the individual’s response to CBD. Both methods of administration have their advantages and disadvantages.
Topical CBD is generally most effective for localised pain, inflammation, and skin conditions. When applied directly to the affected area, the CBD can interact with the endocannabinoid receptors in the skin, muscles, and other tissues to provide localised relief. Because topical CBD doesn’t enter the bloodstream, it doesn’t have the same systemic effects as ingested CBD.
Ingested CBD, on the other hand, can have systemic effects that may be beneficial for conditions like anxiety, depression, and seizures. When ingested, CBD is metabolised by the liver and enters the bloodstream, where it can interact with the endocannabinoid receptors throughout the body. This can help regulate mood, appetite, sleep, and other physiological processes.
It’s important to note that the bioavailability of ingested CBD can vary depending on the method of administration. For example, using CBD for arthritis that’s swallowed in a capsule or edible may have a lower bioavailability than CBD that’s absorbed sublingually (under the tongue) or inhaled through a vaporizer.
In summary, both topical and ingested CBD can be effective for certain conditions. The choice of administration method depends on the specific condition being treated, as well as personal preference and individual response to CBD. It’s important to talk to your healthcare provider to determine the best approach for your specific needs.
In conclusion, topical CBD oil can be a highly effective and safe way to alleviate localised pain, inflammation, and skin conditions. When applied directly to the affected area, the CBD can interact with the endocannabinoid receptors in the skin, muscles, and other tissues to provide targeted relief. While topical CBD may not be as effective for systemic conditions like anxiety and seizures, it can still be a valuable addition to an overall treatment plan. It’s important to note that CBD can have potential side effects, including dry mouth, fatigue, and changes in appetite or mood. It’s also important to talk to a healthcare provider before using CBD, especially if you are taking other medications or have underlying health conditions. Overall, topical CBD can be a safe and effective option for those looking for natural alternatives to traditional medications. As with any supplement, it’s important to do your research and speak with a healthcare provider to determine the best approach for your individual needs.