How does CBD topical work?


CBD topical has risen in popularity in the past couple of years. It is one of the CBD products that many people use. CBD topicals are available in different formulations, including balms, lotions, and creams.

Most people choose lotions for their body due to their moisturizing effects that make the skin supple. CBD topicals are among the many products that can be formed using CBD. Topicals are made by skillfully combining CBD with creams, lotions, and balms. Other products formed by CBD include vapes and edibles such as gummies and tinctures. Topicals are purposely made for skin use. They are utilized by applying the formulation to the skin. Their nutrients are absorbed into the skin and bloodstream. After absorption, the endocannabinoid system (ECS) presents effects such as relieving pain. Want to know more about these creams and balms? Keep on reading this article to discover how CBD topicals work.


Massi et al. (2006) and Bauer et al. (2020) described CBD as the non-psychoactive chemical compound in hemp, marijuana, and other variants of cannabis plants. Other compounds found in the cannabis plant include THC or tetrahydrocannabinol. This compound makes one feel high. Everyone has cannabidiol receptors in their body, and researchers identify two distinct receptors, namely, CB1 and CB2. The CB1 receptor is located in the central nervous system, which includes the spinal cord and the brain, while the CB2 receptor is found in the tissues that form the immune system. These two receptors are located in the skin.

How CBD Topicals Function

CBD eases pain by offering a natural pain relief free from irritation. However, CBD minimizes the pain by offering a natural pain relief free from irritation. CBD topicals' effectiveness is made easy through the endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system is a structure used in signaling the body for action. Battista & Di Tommaso's (2012) overview states that the endocannabinoid system plays an important role in maintaining homeostasis. It works hand in hand with the two receptors. These cannabinoid receptors and enzymes work to regulate functions such as reproduction, sleep, and response to immunity. When one applies a topical product made from CBD to the body, the skin takes it in, but it doesn't enter the bloodstream. Rather, it communicates with the cannabinoid receptors that are near. The receptors then send signals to the endocannabinoid system to relieve pain in the affected area.

Uses of CBD Topicals

Various CBD topicals are in different forms. These forms have been instrumental in pain-relieving and inflammation purposes. Schuelert & McDougal (2011) and Hammell et al. (2016) found CBD topicals great for alleviating inflammation. Several people embrace the use of CBD topicals as a natural way of treating skin conditions, such as acne.

The Skin

According to Finch (2003), the skin is the largest organ in the body. It comprises three main layers: the dermis, epidermis, and hypodermis. The topmost layer of the skin is the epidermis consisting of pores, scars, and freckles. The second layer, the dermis, is below the epidermis containing nerves, follicles, and various skin cells. CBD topicals have an impact on the two major layers, that is, the epidermis and dermis.

CBD Products that Care for the Skin

There are numerous CBD products offered to care for your skin. CBD topicals such as balms made from the extracts of cannabis provide a soothing sensation to the skin when applied. The main ingredient in these balms is CBD, but there are other components that complement it. These additives include coconut oil and shea butter. The two additives protect the skin naturally and offer nourishment to it. The CBD balm is usually harmless and can be applied to almost all parts of the body to offer relief to problems such as inflammation, soreness, and irritation in the skin.

How Topicals Get into the Skin

CBD creams are absorbed in the body through the small pores located on the skin's surface. The skin acts as an entry point for CBD in the body. CBD application in the skin makes use of the ability of the body to absorb nutrients via the skin. Casares et al. (2020) stated that CBD and other cannabinoids have an anti-inflammatory action known as the Keratinocyte cytokine.

Should one Use Balm, Cream, or Lotion?

Anyone is at liberty to use their preferred product. Balms are dry with low water content. They are made from base oil or wax from bees. Other ingredients include jojoba, avocado, and lavender oils. On the other hand, lotions are mixtures of large amounts of water and cream; that's why they are less greasy. Creams are thicker than lotions and have low concentrations of water.

Benefits of using CBD Topicals

Pain relief is the most popular and common use of CBD topicals. It is done by inhibiting the levels of glutamate in the brain, which is linked to a rise in feelings and pain transmission. Additionally, it helps in responding to the inflammatory injuries in the muscles. The number of cytokinesis is reduced in the affected area, which leads to a reduction in pain. The beauty of it all is that different flavors can be added to the creams and balms to offer a scent of your choice, such as lavender. The CBD topicals are used daily. The body part where the CBD cream is applied, such as the knees, back, or elbow, will be relieved from pain within a few minutes as soon as it gets absorbed in the skin. It takes roughly 10 -15 minutes for one to experience the soothing effect on the skin after applying the cream to the area affected.


CBD topicals work hand in hand with the endocannabinoid system to relieve pain in the skin or soothe an inflamed part. For good results, ensure that you apply the topicals consistently and give it time to kick in the body. The cream's potency is usually well labeled on the packaging that comes with the cream. Consult your doctor on the right amount to be applied and the number of times to get the right treatment for your skin. CBD topicals have proven to be so efficient to their users, and it is worth giving a try.


Battista, N., Di Tommaso, M., Bari, M., & Maccarrone, M. (2012). The endocannabinoid system: an overview. Frontiers in behavioral neuroscience, 6, 9.

Bauer, B. A. (2020). What Are The Benefits Of CBD–And Is It Safe To Use?. In Mayo Clinic.

Casares, L., García, V., Garrido-Rodríguez, M., Millán, E., Collado, J. A., García-Martín, A., ... & Muñoz, E. (2020). Cannabidiol induces antioxidant pathways in keratinocytes by targeting BACH1. Redox biology, 28, 101321.

Finch, M. (2003). Assessment of skin in older people: as the largest organ in the body, Hammell, D. C., Zhang, L. P., Ma, F., Abshire, S. M., McIlwrath, S. L., Stinchcomb, A. L., & Westlund, K. N. (2016). Transdermal cannabidiol reduces inflammation and pain-related behaviors in a rat model of arthritis. European journal of pain (London, England), 20(6), 936–948.

Massi, P., Vaccani, A., Bianchessi, S., Costa, B., Macchi, P., & Parolaro, D. (2006). The non-psychoactive cannabidiol triggers caspase activation and oxidative stress in human glioma cells. Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences CMLS, 63(17), 2057-2066.

Schuelert, N., & McDougall, J. J. (2011). The abnormal cannabidiol analog O-1602 reduces nociception in a rat model of acute arthritis via the putative cannabinoid receptor GPR55. Neuroscience Letters, 500(1), 72–76.

the skin can offer valuable information about the general health of an older person. Nursing Older People, 15(2), 29-31.

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