Medicinal cannabis is proving to be an increasingly versatile treatment for a variety of conditions and symptoms. If you’ve been looking for pain management, you’ve more than likely already come across Cannabidiol – more commonly referred to as CBD.

You may have heard that CBD oil can be applied topically to areas of the skin, however, our skin’s outer layer, the epidermis provides a protective layer that ingestible CBD oil will not be able to penetrate. Therefore, purchasing the wrong kind of CBD product specifically for topical use will only result in wasted time and money.

With a constantly diversifying range of CBD products, it’s important to keep in mind exactly what you’re looking to treat. Remember that different kinds of pain respond better to different application methods. Although vaping CBD is popular for quickly alleviating pain, topical CBD products are a similarly great on-the-go option for fast-acting effects.

Keep reading to find out more about pain-relieving topical CBD products, where to find them and how to use them.

Note: If you are new to the topic of CBD-infused creams, it’s best to do research into the psychological process involved with using these products. Including consulting your doctor about any possible interactions with medications.

Topical CBD Creams & CBD Oil – What’s The Difference?

1000mg CBD lotion being poured into palm

Topical CBD creams are what consumers would recognize as salves, lotions, ointments and even cosmetic products that are infused with CBD extract. They absorb into the skin when massaged into the epidermis, the skin’s outermost layer.

The skin itself is a hugely complex organ containing its own secondary organs, immune system and cannabinoid molecules. These molecules, or receptors, monitor imbalances in the body. Including regulatory processes responsible for our hormone and mood regulation, digestion, immunity, as well as pain responses.

Unlike ingestible CBD products, CBD ointments for pain do not cross the blood-brain barrier and therefore omit the feeling of the full-body effect that is associated with ingesting CBD oil.

This means that even if the CBD distillate used in the topical base contains the Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) compound, you won’t feel the “high” effect. Instead, topicals act within a target area of skin and the tissue beneath it. These bypass the bloodstream and are absorbed directly into the skin’s cannabinoid receptors.

Types of Topical CBD Creams

CBD products for topical pain relief lying on leaves

Many lotions, balms and creams that feature medicinal CBD extracts can have deceptive labelling. A lot of brands stuff their products with so many additional ingredients that the CBD has little chance to make an impact.

CBD should be listed as one of the first ingredients so that you know there is enough of the compound to deliver medical effects.

The physiological uptake of a compound depends on the type of CBD “oil” used in the topical product. CBD needs to be extracted from the plant and mixed with a preservative base that compliments the skin’s absorption process.

This base determines how the extract will be able to be absorbed by the body. Which in turn, affects which products will best suit your use.

There are other ingredients which can also be added to these topical products, either to add medicinal benefits or enhance the product’s texture and scent. Aside from any possible allergens, keep an eye out for high levels of ingredients such as arnica and camphor.

There is nothing wrong with these ingredients. They actually have great use in treating skin irritation and inflammation. However, these kinds of blended products make it difficult to determine if CBD is actually helping your cause, or just acting as an expensive accessory.

How Do CBD Topicals Relieve Pain?

Cannabidiol compound against a weed leaf background

The secret to humans’ therapeutic relationship with cannabis is the Human Endocannabinoid System: a fascinating and ancient physiological process that’s still being explored.

The Endocannabinoid System works by utilizing two different kinds of cannabinoids to maintain homeostasis – or harmonic balance between the body’s regulatory functions. These are endocannabinoids, which are produced by the human body, and phytocannabinoids, which are found in plants such as cannabis.

The Endocannabinoid System consists of:

  • Cannabinoid receptors which are responsible for regulating the amounts of cannabinoids in the body, as well as the absorption of external cannabinoids.
  • Enzymes that produce or break down cannabinoids as needed by the body.
  • Cannabinoid compounds which trigger the necessary bodily response to reintroduce homeostasis.

Our bodies contain cannabinoid receptors within the surrounding peripheries of our cell membranes. These are present all over our bodies, but the highest concentration of these are found in our skin tissue. CBD topicals take advantage of this by adding CBD extract to an appropriate base material that is easy for the skin to absorb.

Choosing the Right CBD Lotion For Pain

Different CBD gels and lotions for muscle pain

CBD cream for pain is a hugely popular product choice. This is because you’ll be applying these products directly to a targeted region – be it a troublesome patch of skin or a nearby muscle. So there is a more localized concentration of CBD being directed to the affected area.

CBD Cream For Acute Pain Relief

Because of it’s quick uptake time and anti-inflammatory properties, CBD creams for back pain and menstrual cramps are some of the main uses for these kinds of products.

The general rule of thumb for measuring dosage in CBD topicals is usually 1-6mg of CBD extract to every 4,5kg of body mass, but this varies between individuals.

For more acute pain, you’ll likely need products with higher doses of CBD to deliver a more satisfying effect. If you’re a beginner, however, start with a small dosage and slowly increase the amount you use.

CBD Topicals For Dermatological Disorders

For those suffering from dermatological ailments such as psoriasis, eczema and cystic acne, CBD creams deliver fast-relief. They also assist the skin to combat the imbalances which cause these issues in the first place.

So, Does CBD Cream Work for Pain?

Medicinal Hemp held in a gloved hand

For you to decide whether CBD topicals are the right choice for your symptoms of pain, consider the source of your condition. Topical CBD Products are great for targeted and fast-acting relief, especially if it is related to a condition affecting the skin.

If, however, you are looking for a treatment to more generalised conditions that affect multiple parts of the body at a time, taking cannabis extract through ingestion or sublingually will deliver a more well-rounded physical experience.