CBD Topicals: What Are They and How Do They Work?

According to a 2019 report on CBD usage in the UK, between 8 - 11% of UK adults have tried CBD, totalling approximately 4-6 million people overall. 

While the report doesn’t specifically state what kind of CBD product people actually use, there is clear evidence in it to suggest there is a huge CBD market growth currently in the UK – in fact, the report even states the growth of CBD has overtaken vitamin D and vitamin C sales combined at a whopping £300 million per year. 

Although tincture oils will be the CBD product that most people are familiar with, there is also a growing CBD topical market with a proliferation of CBD creams, serums, and lotions across the United States and Europe.

What Are CBD Topicals? 

CBD topicals come in a range of different variants. Some are marketed for surface layer skin complaints, whilst others are marketed for muscle and joint pain.

You can find serums, gels, balms, sprays, and creams, each differing depending on the makeup of the product and the ingredients used in the formula. 

Most serums and creams, for example, are water-based products without additional thickening agents or substances and boast a higher number of active ingredients – this is particularly useful if you’re looking for a non-oil based CBD product that’s fast-acting and easily absorbed into the skin. 

Balms and rubs, on the other hand, are generally oil-based and have a thicker consistency due to the mixture of oils and waxes in the formula, which allows them to leave a sturdy, protective layer on the skin  – this is especially useful if you’re looking for a CBD product that can target both skin and muscle/joint pain for an extended period of time. 

Furthermore, most, if not all CBD topicals are only to be applied to the skin and not ingested orally or via bodily orifices. 

How Can CBD Topicals Be Used & How Do They Work

The skin, muscles, and joints are three of the most important parts of the human anatomy.

The skin acts as our protective barrier, shielding us from external elements such as microbes, moisture, UV rays, toxic or radioactive substances, and harmful germs – as well as helping to regulate our internal body temperature. The muscles and joints work as a duo to facilitate movement in the limbs and face for us to walk, talk, chew, etc.

Unfortunately, there are times when these parts of the body don’t function as well as they should. This could be as a consequence of overstress and injury or through chronic medical conditions such as cystic acne in the skin, rheumatoid arthritis in the joints, or chronic fatigue syndrome affecting the muscles.

When this occurs, the pain can be excruciating, debilitating, or psychologically damaging (particularly when persistent skin conditions are visibly present), which is why many are turning to CBD in an effort to potentially alleviate their symptoms.

CBD topicals have therefore enjoyed breakthrough success in the CBD market. As with many new treatments however, clever but exaggerated marketing blurb has muddied the lines between fact and fiction and we’re seeing many CBD topical products being pushed as a miracle cure for every skin, muscle, and joint problem under the sun. These kind of statements, particularly when it has not been verified through scientific studies and/or clinical trials, do a disservice to both customers and to the CBD industry itself.. 

In light of this, we’ve compiled some already existing research on CBD topicals and how effective they are.  

Current Research on CBD Topicals

Over the past decade or two, research into the dermatological effects of CBD has shown consistently beneficial results due to cannabinoid signaling present in the skin being deeply involved in the maintenance of skin homeostasis, as well as barrier formation and regeneration.

In terms of common muscle and joint pain associated with athletic activities, heavy lifting, or general overstress of the body, CBD has been proven to be effective, both scientifically and anecdotally. 

In terms of scientific research, the most compelling research currently available is CBD’s effectiveness in treating arthritis in test animals.

A study released by Dalhousie University in Canada on the effectiveness of CBD to treat osteoarthritis-related pain in rats showed promise in alleviating early-stage inflammation. Rats were injected with sodium monoiodoacetate (MIA) into the joint space of the knee to create lesions and reduce functionality. Researchers then put 300 micrograms of CBD onto the joint. The findings were that the application of CBD did alleviate pain and inflammation in the test subjects. 

It’s worth noting that because this study was conducted on animal test subjects using rodents, the efficacy of CBD oils for arthritis in humans is still undetermined.

However, the Arthritis Foundation, a leading organisation in the United States established for people suffering from arthritis, has very recently released a very interesting guide to using CBD for adults with arthritis.

This guide highlights the hows and whys of using CBD to treat arthritis and the debilitating symptoms commonly associated with it, as well as other general information - which CBD product to use, what to look for when purchasing a CBD product, and whether CBD is safe for public use. 

As far as anecdotal evidence goes, one look at Reddit or at one of the various CBD-related groups on Facebook and you’ll find a huge list of stories asserting CBD’s efficacy on tackling joint and muscle pain, mainly from sport or occupational stresses but also from temporary and chronic medical conditions. 

CBD topicals are meant for localised application either on, or immediately beneath, the surface layers of the skin, however. Depending on what you are looking to treat, you might want to take a look at CBD Oils as well.

Closing Thoughts

As with any new substance or compound used widely by the general public, more research needs to be done to really determine how it really affects the user. 

Though there are many research papers and studies on CBD, human-based pre-clinical and clinical trials need to be conducted in the future for us to really determine CBD’s effectiveness on and below the skin.

However the signs do tentatively suggest a range of benefits that CBD can bring to the body, and with CBD topicals this is now true for the skin, muscles and joints. 

So, make sure you check out our CBD Muscle Rub topical, which combines eucalyptus, peppermint essential oils, beeswax, and 300 mg of California-grown CBD to target localised pains in the muscles and joints. 

Have you used CBD topicals and how did it work for you?

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