With CBD popping up on shelves everywhere, maybe you wonder how CBD topicals work. How are topicals different from other forms of CBD? Topicals are unique in that they are the only form of CBD that is applied directly to the skin. Other methods include vaping, ingesting and applying it under the tongue, sublingually. All these methods differ from topicals in that when you apply CBD to the skin, it doesn’t make it to the blood stream. Here’s a deeper look into what they are and how CBD topicals work.
What are CBD topicals?
Cannibidiol, or CBD, can be extracted from hemp in several ways. At Lost Remedy, we prefer the C02 extraction method for full-spectrum hemp oil (FSHO) because it contains all the cannabinoids and compounds found in the hemp plant. It also contains many essential vitamins and minerals, fatty acids, proteins, chlorophyll, fiber, flavonoids and terpenes. FSHO contains dozens of cannabinoids. The most abundant is CBD, which makes up 90% of this oil. Other cannabinoids found in hemp oil are CBD, CBG, CBN and trace levels of THC (under .2%). Plus, CBD from hemp will not get you high and you can use it as often as necessary safely because it is nonaddictive.
CBD topicals are CBD-infused creams, lotions, balms and salves that you apply directly to the skin at an affected area. For instance, common conditions such as psoriasis, eczema, poison ivy, hives or athletes foot respond well to CBD topicals. So does acne, rosacea, scaly dry skin, dermatitis and cold sores. Plus, the itching from bug bites also abates when you apply CBD. Pain in the form of arthritis, burns, joint and muscle aches, nerve pain, neuropathy and wounds also respond to applied CBD topicals. You can see, there are multiple reasons to explore CBD topicals.
Why do CBD topicals work? Because we all have an endocannabinoid system, or ECS.
What is the ECS?
According to the US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, “The endogenous cannabinoid system – named for the plant that led to its discovery – is one of the most important physiologic systems involved in establishing and maintaining human health.”
This system is what maintains balance in the body. Two receptors, CB1 and CB2, travel throughout the body, internally and within the skin, to keep our systems running smoothly. In fact, Ethan Russo, MD, medical director, PHYTECHS, says, “There is hardly any physiological process that is not affected by [the ECS] to some degree.”
CB1 is found mostly in the nervous system and brain. CB2 is found outside the brain and tends to monitor and regulate the immune system. When the ECS functions optimally, you’ll have a general sense of well-being and good health. Our bodies create endocannabinoids to stimulate the receptors. When the balance is off, the receptors can’t do their jobs. Illness or imbalance occurs. On the other hand, to kick-start the system, small doses of cannabinoids from cannabis can signal the body to make more endocannabinoids and build more cannabinoid receptors.
Unlike traditional pharmaceuticals prescribed by medical professionals, CBD and cannabis work in concert to promote health and combat disease rather than isolate a condition, which often brings about significant side effects and additional problems.
How do CBD topicals work with the ECS?
As previously noted, our skin, the largest organ in our bodies, has its own ECS. CBD applied to an affected area stimulates the CB2 receptors. These receptors are mostly found in the peripheral nervous system, affecting different organs, including the skin.
The difference is that when applied to the skin, CBD topicals don’t penetrate deeply enough to reach the bloodstream. Other methods of CBD use, do pass through the blood stream, taking hours compared with minutes that it takes topicals. By applying CBD rather than ingesting it, topicals go to work immediately hydrating the skin to relieve pain and itching and protect the skin from bacteria. It also kick-starts CB receptors in the skin that help the endocannabinoid system in our bodies maintain balance.
CBD topicals provide a localized effect because it’s absorbed through the pores – working with the CB2 receptors inside the skin. Deep in the tissue, it binds with the receptors and works to alleviate pain or other skin conditions.
While it’s true that other ways of using CBD can help certain conditions, in cases where there is pain or a skin condition, topicals act the most quickly. There are many conditions, some of them noted above, for which a topical is preferred because of its fast-acting ability.
So if you’re looking for a natural alternative to caring for pain or skin conditions, CBD topicals could be the ticket.