WRITTEN BY TRANG TRAN AND DR. SWATHI
Cannabidiol (CBD) topicals, which come in many forms including lotions, oils, balms, serums, patches, and salves, penetrate the skin and work with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS), which regulates and balances mood, appetite, pain, and more. Notably, receptors from the ECS have been found in the skin.
Listed below are the top ten benefits of CBD topicals.
CBD topicals do not require smoking, vaping, or ingestion of products that could possibly contain harmful additives.
High bioavailability and faster effects
Some of the advantages of CBD topicals are high bioavailability, that is, more of the CBD reaches your system as compared with oral administration of CBD, and fast relief from pain or inflammation.
Topical CBD is easy to use and can quickly provide symptomatic relief of pain and inflammation.
Due to the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of CBD, CBD topicals may help reduce inflammation in skin conditions, such as acne, psoriasis, dermatitis, or eczema. In a retrospective study of 20 patients with psoriasis and atopic dermatitis, topical administration of CBD ointment has been shown to be a safe and effective non-invasive alternative for improving the quality of life in patients with inflammatory skin disease. Topical CBD has been shown to not only improve severity of itch in patients with atopic dermatitis, but also loss of sleep.
The antioxidant properties of CBD help neutralize free radicals that can damage the cell and increase collagen breakdown.
Everyday aches and pains
A rat study demonstrated that topical application of CBD gel significantly reduced joint swelling. Thus, topical CBD application has therapeutic potential for relief of arthritis pain without evident side effects. Furthermore, transdermal administration of CBD provides good absorption because such mode of administration bypassess liver metabolism encountered by orally adminisitereed CBD.
A randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial assessing the efficacy of topically delivered CBD oil in the management of neuropathic pain demonstrated that transdermal application of CBD oil significantly improved pain and symptoms of peripheral neuropathy and was well-tolerated.
In mostly men, early research suggests that topical application of CBD oil could help with hair regrowth.
In a study, patients with myofascial (coverings of muscle) pain, the application of topical CBD over masseter muscle for 2 weeks improved the condition of masticatory muscles.
The bottom line
Overall, topical CBD is noninvasive and convenient. It has a higher bioavailability and a faster effect than oral administration of CBD. Due to the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of CBD, topical CBD could play a role in inflammatory skin diseases, joint pain, and anti-aging. Other possible benefits of topical CBD include hair growth, peripheral nerve pain, and muscle pain. Ongoing research is underway examining CBD for each of these conditions to confirm their benefits.
- Baswan SM, Klosner AE, Glynn K, et al. Therapeutic Potential of Cannabidiol (CBD) for Skin Health and Disorders. Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. 2020;13:927-942.
- The CBD Magazine Team. A guide to CBD topicals: CBD topical benefits and how do they work. The CBD Magazine. https://thecbdmagazine.com/cbd-blog/a-guide-to-cbd-topicals/. Published May 14, 2021. Accessed October 31, 2021.
- Davis M. Benefits of using CBD topicals. Nature's Arc Organics. https://naturesarcorganics.com/blog/benefits-of-using-cbd-topicals/. Published June 8, 2021. Accessed October 29, 2021.
- Hammell DC, Zhang LP, Ma F, et al. Transdermal cannabidiol reduces inflammation and pain-related behaviours in a rat model of arthritis. Eur J Pain. 2016;20(6):936-948.
- Nitecka-Buchta A, Nowak-Wachol A, Wachol K, et al. Myorelaxant Effect of Transdermal Cannabidiol Application in Patients with TMD: A Randomized, Double-Blind Trial. J Clin Med. 2019;8(11):1886.
- Palmieri B, Laurino C, Vadalà M. A therapeutic effect of cbd-enriched ointment in inflammatory skin diseases and cutaneous scars. Clin Ter. 2019;170(2):e93-e99.
- Smith G, Satino J. Hair regrowth with cannabidiol (cbd)-rich hemp extract – a case series. Cannabis. 2021;4(1):53-59.
- Xu DH, Cullen BD, Tang M, Fang Y. The Effectiveness of Topical Cannabidiol Oil in Symptomatic Relief of Peripheral Neuropathy of the Lower Extremities. Curr Pharm Biotechnol. 2020;21(5):390-402.
This article was edited by Dr. Swathi and was written by Element Apothec Scientific Communications Intern, Trang Tran. She is a Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) student at Oregon State University and Oregon Health & Science University College of Pharmacy in Portland, Oregon.