As popularity grows, are CBD topicals more than just a fad? Although I don’t know the definitive answer to that question, I would assume no. The lotions, balms, salves and creams have become an industry staple and I don’t think that will change. Skin is the first line of defense against biological, chemical, mechanical and ultraviolet threats. This magnificent organ is comprised of epidermis, the outer layer, dermis and subcutaneous layer. It makes sense to use clean topicals made with CBD, essential and carrier oils.
CBD fad or fact
Although more studies need to be done to get a better understanding of how CBD oil and CBD topicals work, here’s what we know. CBD from hemp, also called cannabidiol, is one of more than 60 compounds belonging to a class of molecules called cannabinoids. CBD oil is made from strains of cannabis sativa that have low levels of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). The human body creates cannabinoids. It contains millions of cannabinoid receptors, mostly in the brain, central nervous and immune systems and skin. Cannabinoids play a fundamental role in the body, because the endocannabinoid system (ECS) regulates homeostasis, or balance.
We also know CBD is an anti-inflammatory, which helps relieve pain for one thing. It’s also rich in antioxidants, which protect our skin from free-radical damage. By stopping the destructive powers of free radicals, antioxidants help slow aging, decrease inflammation and oxidative stress and more. CBD is also known to have antibacterial and analgesic properties.
Another fact about CBD topicals is that they are versatile, easy to use and have few, if any, known side effects. The beauty of topicals is that they go to work quickly. More quickly than if you ingest CBD.
How do CBD topicals work?
I’ve already mentioned our ECS, and this is how it responds to applied CBD. We all have two CBD receptors, CB1 and CB2.
The CB1 receptors in the brain affect coordination and movement, pain, emotions, mood, thinking, appetite, memories and other functions. CB2 receptors are more common in the immune system. They affect inflammation and pain.
When you apply a CBD topical directly to the skin, it penetrates the layers and interacts with the CB receptors. Instead of attaching to the receptors, it acts like a guide, telling the receptors to use more of their own CBD.
“There is research to support that phytocannabinoids, like CBD, interact with receptors and other enzymatic factors within our skin that modulate pain and inflammation,” says Emma Chasen, co-founder of Eminent Consulting, a cannabis consultancy firm. “Because the skin is actually quite thick, when you apply CBD cream, it soaks into the skin but does not make it to the bloodstream. It interacts with CB1 receptors … to modulate the pain and inflammatory response.”
What do CBD topicals benefit?
By applying CBD rather than ingesting it, topicals go to work immediately hydrating the skin to relieve pain and itching. It also kick-starts CB receptors in the skin that help the endocannabinoid system in our bodies maintain homeostasis, or balance.
In your brain, producing cannabinoids is essential for proper function. Stress and poor diet can cause damage to brain cells; CBD oil, rich in Omega-6 and -3 and linoleic acid, boost cannabinoid production to make necessary repairs. Plus, its calming effect on the brain can reduce anxiety and depression.
But the benefits don’t stop at the brain. In several studies, CBD has been shown to relieve pain because of its anti-inflammatory properties. Conditions such as neuropathy, nerve pain, arthritis and others respond well to CBD topicals and oil.
Common skin conditions such as psoriasis, eczema, poison ivy, hives or athletes foot respond well to CBD topicals, too. So does acne, rosacea, scaly dry skin, dermatitis and cold sores. Plus, the itching from bug bites also abates when you apply CBD.
A big plus for using CBD topicals is that there have been few if any side effects, unlike most over-the-counter products. That alone may convince you to look more closely at using CBD topicals for your health and beauty needs.
Choose CBD wisely
Not all CBD products are the same, so do your research. Here are four things to look for when you purchase CBD:
- Manufacturing. Ask how the company extracts the CBD from the cannabis plant. Two healthful extraction methods are done with organic, pharmaceutical-grade ethanol or a process called supercritical CO2 extraction. Look for that instead.
- Sourcing. Find out where the cannabis or hemp originated. How it was grown, and the species; sativa, ruderalis or indica. Hemp easily accumulates toxins in the soil. If the growing environment isn’t clean, your CBD probably isn’t either. One of the best sources of CBD is organic-certified, hemp-grown farms in pristine regions of Europe. If you can find it, U.S.-grown hemp can be a good source, too. Check a company’s website or inquire with its customer service to get that information.
- Purity. Look for a label that says CBD is whole plant or full spectrum. Using the whole plant ensures that the oil contains CBD as well as a full range of primary and secondary parts of the hemp plant. These include terpenes, flavonoids and other cannabinoids that enhance the CBD, making the benefits exponentially higher than with CBD alone.
- Lab results. A product should be tested by a third-party lab to ensure that the CBD is what its label claims. A company willing to undergo scrutiny by an independent lab has nothing to hide. Look for high levels of CBD, with trace levels of several other cannabinoids such as CBD, CBG and CBN to name a few. There should also be test results for potential impurities such as solvents, pesticides and heavy metals to ensure a safe product. Reputable companies will disclose their lab results if you ask or may even put it right on the products.