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Cbd oil for external use

Can CBD Oil Be Used Topically?

Lately we’ve been hearing a lot about the “best CBD oil for…” any number of issues. Sometimes, that’s exactly what they’re looking for—the best CBD oil for sleep or certain skin conditions.

But, in many cases, people are really looking for CBD creams and other topicals. For example, if you’re looking for the best CBD oil for acne, the best CBD oil for rosacea or eczema? You’re really looking for a CBD cream or similar CBD topical.

Most CBD oil is actually formulated to be taken orally. So what is the difference between topicals and CBD oil? That’s exactly what we’ll focus on here.

CBD Topicals vs CBD Oil

Although it is already massive, CBD and skin care are two growing markets that have merged to create a ton of new products. This means that while companies are still developing many new ways to use CBD, the basic CBD oil that is taken orally is still the most common way of administering the cannabinoid.

When you use a CBD tincture, you just place several drops or whatever your serving size is under your tongue. Hold it there for at least a minute, if you can, to hasten the benefits, which you can feel in minutes.

Still, especially for those with skin issues or joint and muscle pain, CBD topicals are often more effective and quicker. Topical CBD formulations typically include additional ingredients to enhance an analgesic, anti-inflammatory effect. So although there are many ways to try CBD, a topical may be your best bet if you need to treat skin issues or relieve aches and pains.

A CBD topical is any CBD-infused lotion, cream, or salve that can be applied directly to the skin. They don’t have enough tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, of course, to get you high.

However, many have other cannabinoids and terpenes and are therefore capable of producing the entourage effect–the effect that happens when all of the plant’s cannabinoids and terpenes work together to produce benefits.

Science on CBD topicals (and the cannabis plant as a whole) is in its infancy, but we do know some promising things:

We already know that cannabis sativa has anti-inflammatory properties. CBD topicals may help manage inflammation and pain associated with arthritis more effectively by avoiding the GI system, resulting in more constant plasma levels.

Experts from the American Academy of Dermatology have also suggested that topical CBD products might be used to treat eczema, acne, and psoriasis. As a bonus, these products don’t have the typical side effects of oral medications, and they provide additional skincare benefits.

Just like other forms of CBD, however, the effectiveness of topical CBD varies depending on things like dosage or serving size, quality, and source.

Unlike edibles, topicals serve a different and unique purpose. They are used mostly to target surface areas to treat muscle pain, spasms, and tension because topical CBD does not reach the bloodstream. Instead of treating your entire body or system, you’re just spot treating a place where you’re having chronic pain.

Can You Use Oral CBD Oil Topically?

What type of product will work best for you? There are pros and cons for both oral and topical CBD products—so if you apply a tincture or oil to your skin, do you get the same benefits of CBD you’re used to?

A lot of this is related to the endocannabinoid system (ECS), a biological system all mammals share. The ECS is mostly composed of enzymes, endocannabinoids, and CB1 and CB2 receptors for the endocannabinoids. The ECS regulates many functions in humans, including memory, appetite, pain sensation, mood, reproduction, and sleep.

The ECS helps achieve and maintain homeostasis in the human body—or in some cases re-establish it. Homeostasis is the balanced, healthy zone within the bounds of which biological systems stay well-regulated. Imagine a human body with ideal blood pressure, blood sugar levels, etc.

What are cannabinoid receptors and why do we have them? Much like a thermostat, cannabinoid receptors collect data on conditions just outside the cell upon whose surface they sit, allowing them to then respond to changing conditions by “kick-starting” the correct cellular response.

For example, when bacteria attacks the body and causes infection, the immune system triggers inflammation to help battle the infection. This also triggers the ECS to release endocannabinoids which assist in signaling other immune cells and help limit the inflammatory response so it isn’t excessive. The receptors in turn help the body fight infection, and return to normal without damaging itself.

The skin also has its own endocannabinoid system, which helps keep the skin healthy and balanced. Just like for the rest of the endocannabinoid system throughout the human body, the goal is stasis. In fact, CBD topicals are useful and can also produce healthy skin because the root cause of most skin problems is usually some kind of an imbalance in the skin.

Either way, depending on the type of issue you’re trying to treat and pain management you’re seeking, it is possible to get the effects of CBD topically or orally—if what you’re taking is made for that kind of use. But you wouldn’t eat hand cream, right? So would you put CBD oil on your skin?

The best method will depend on all of the details.

Taking CBD by mouth. You absorb CBD that you swallow in capsules, gummies, food, or liquid, through the digestive tract. This makes absorption slow and dosing a bit challenging due to several factors, including recent meals, unknown effects of stomach acids, the delayed onset of effect which is one to two hours, and other factors.

You can also take CBD using a tincture, oil, or spray by holding it under your tongue (sublingual) and allowing it to absorb directly into the bloodstream for 60 to 120 seconds. You can feel effects within 15 to 45 minutes, although you will also taste the preparation. Full-spectrum CBD oils in particular have a strong plant taste.

Taking CBD topically. Apply topical products such as balms, creams, lotions, and salves directly to the skin over a painful area. Simple! But do not apply CBD oils that are designed for taking orally to the skin; they have nothing to suspend them on the skin or make them work there, and they are intended to be in the bloodstream.

If you’re not sure if it would be better to use CBD orally or topically, you may need to refocus your question to decide which type best suits your needs. Using CBD topically works best if you have a targeted area where you need CBD the most because it allows the cannabidiol compounds to work with the cannabinoid receptors right where you apply the topical cream.

With CBD topicals, the effects are more concentrated because the cannabinoid compounds never get absorbed into the bloodstream and they aren’t spread thin throughout the entire body. This makes it a great choice for treating minor, local discomfort in muscles and joints, or soothing skin.

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What CBD Products Can You Use On Your Skin?

CBD topicals are any CBD products you can use on your skin: lotions, creams, balms, roll-ons, and salves that have CBD in their formulations. CBD lotions, creams, and balms are typically not edible and are intended to be applied directly to specific affected areas of the skin.

CBD topicals generally can be used to provide localized relief by delivering CBD to the outer layer of the skin. They often have particular formulations, such as CBD creams for skin-related issues like eczema, acne, rosacea, and psoriasis, and for injuries and problems like insect bites and stings and burns.

Some of the most common types of CBD topicals that you might find on the market include these, and here are some of their applications:

Creams, lotions, and salves: These are typically used for inflammation and pain relief.

Oils, ointments, and serums: These are typically used to treat skin-related conditions such as burn ointments or ointments for eczema, acne, dry skin, and psoriasis; and in beauty applications, including anti-aging serums, beard creams, anti-aging products, tattoo ointments and other hair and skin products.

There are other miscellaneous CBD topicals, too, like CBD soap and CBD lip balm—all have specific uses.

In a CBD topical, the base, whether it is oil, cream, wax, or something similar, works as a carrier agent. If you recall our other discussions of how cannabinoids work, you remember that THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids bind with fatty acids. This is why carrier oils are so common.

The carrier agent works, usually alongside essential oils and other natural ingredients, to smoothly apply the CBD to skin conditions and other affected areas and help it cling there long enough to work.

What will happen if you use a CBD oil that isn’t a topical on your skin? For one thing, it won’t have the right carrier to hold it on your skin well enough to interact with the ECS locally. To be effective, CBD must interact with the endocannabinoid system in some way, either by entering the bloodstream or the skin’s layers. Simply placing oils on the skin won’t necessarily make that happen.

Can you use oral CBD oil topically?

CBD oil has been among the most common products since the legalization of the hemp plant in 2018 in the USA. The oil is manufactured in various formulations, including full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, and isolate. Full-spectrum contains all elements of the hemp plant, such as cannabidiol (CBD), tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), terpenes, and flavonoids. Broad-spectrum CBD contains all elements of the hemp plant-like in full-spectrum except THC. Lastly, isolate is the pure form of CBD, void of THC, terpenes, and flavonoids. CBD oil is manufactured into products like oils, topicals, capsules, gummies, edibles, vapes, and sprays. Topicals are meant for external use, while the other products are ingested or taken sublingually. So, can you use oral CBD oil topically?

How To Use CBD Oil Topically

Although most CBD oil is designed for oral or sublingual use, some people use it topically. People who use CBD oil topically apply it directly to the skin. However, some CBD brands manufacture CBD oil for topical use only. Most of the oils are designed to be applied during the massage. CBD massage oil is strictly designed for topical use only, and it is thicker than oral CBD oil. The oil is designed alongside other significant elements such as arnica and MCT oil (coconut oil) to enhance effectiveness. MCT oil is highly recommended in most products due to its bioavailability features that speed up the absorption of CBD products into the bloodstream.

CBD oil can also be mixed with other topical products for rapid effectiveness. While mixing CBD oil with topical products, experts recommend blending during usage. Take a considerable amount of either CBD topical or any cream on your palm, spread considerable amounts of CBD oil, and mix using the other palm by rubbing it together. This method yields rapid effectiveness since CBD oil will speed its absorption due to its liquid state that lightens other creams.

Other Ways of Using CBD Oil

CBD oil can be used in various ways to yield effectiveness. Most CBD manufacturers recommend them for oral or sublingual use. However, you can add it to your favorite drink.

Sublingual Use

Although it is uncommon among users, especially beginners, this administration method is highly recommended for rapid effectiveness. Consumers should use the marked droppers in the product to take exact dosage, especially in high CBD concentrations. Due to the effectiveness of this method, you can divide the dosage into half, one in the morning and the other half in the evening. Place the accurate dose under your tongue and hold it for 60 seconds before swallowing. This method speeds the absorption of the CBD oil into the bloodstream giving it rapid effectiveness. However, it’s recommended for veterans only.

Oral Use

This is the most common and easiest method to administer your oil. Although it also creates rapid effectiveness, it is not as effective as CBD sublingual use. Use a dropper to take the required amount of CBD and administer it directly into the mouth. Unlike in sublingual use, swallow it immediately. This method is highly recommended, especially to people who desire rapid effectiveness from unflavored CBD oil but dislike the earthly taste of the cannabis plant.

Adding in Favorite Foods or Beverages

You can also add CBD oil to your foods or beverages to completely evade the natural taste of the hemp plant. Taking CBD oil in your food will slow its effectiveness since it has to be digested first. However, it might be rapid in drinks and beverages since they are easily absorbed into the bloodstream. In foods and beverages, CBD oil takes one to two hours before yielding the desired results.

How To Choose The Best CBD Oil For Topical Use

While going for CBD products for topical use, consider the following factors;

Buy CBD Oil Strictly for Topical Use

Various brands in the CBD market offer CBD oil for topical use only. Although some are for therapeutic use, others are designed to improve general wellness, such as enhancing muscle relaxation. In addition, CBD oil for topical use should not be applied on open wounds.

The Lab Results

Despite the method of use, it’s important to assess the lab results and ensure the products are safe for consumption. Confirm the THC and CBD levels as per the Foods and Drugs Administration (FDA). When CBD products were legalized in 2018, various bodies such as the FDA and the Federal Administration were mandated to ensure THC concentration doesn’t exceed 0.3 %, while CBD variance should be within the 10% limit. Also, asses contaminants that expose your body to harm. Since most CBD products are manufactured with chemicals, they can be contaminated with various solvents or heavy metals. In addition, check on customers’ reviews to ensure the products are effective. Lastly, consider a brand offering a full money-back guarantee of products failing to offer the stated effect within 30 to 90 days.

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Conclusion

CBD oils are the most common products, unlike capsules, vapes, tinctures, and gummies. About 90% of CBD manufacturers in the USA have them on their product catalog. Due to their effectiveness, they are offered in a different range of potency from 10 mg to 10000 mg per 30 ml bottle. Since most CBD users dislike the natural taste of the hemp plant, they are offered in various flavors such as mint. If you wish to use CBD oil topically, brands offer some products for topical use, and you can use them with your cream or lotion. However, you can only mix your topical products during usage; avoid mixing all the 30 ml bottle creams and keep them. Besides the usage method, consider the quality of CBD oil. Purchase from a reputable brand that utilizes a private certified lab to assess the purity and potency of its products.

Best CBD Creams Of 2022

Lenore Cangeloso is a board-certified acupuncturist and herbal medicine practitioner based in Oregon.

Commissions we earn from partner links on this page do not affect our opinions or evaluations. Our editorial content is based on thorough research and guidance from the Forbes Health Advisory Board.

When it comes to pain, cannabidiol ( CBD ), can potentially help provide some much-needed relief. Clinical studies note topical products containing CBD, such as creams, balms and gels, can help alleviate pain related to conditions like arthritis , nerve damage and muscle aches. If you’re interested in trying a CBD cream, we sifted through the market and rounded up our top picks below.

To choose the best CBD creams, the Forbes Health editorial team analyzed data on more than 50 CBD cream products made from plants grown in the U.S. All have a certificate of analysis (COA), are third-party tested by ISO 17025-compliant laboratories and contain no more than 0.3 percent THC. From price to potency to special effects, see which CBD cream products stand out as our top picks. Note: Prices listed are accurate as of the publication date.

  • Featured Partners
  • Best CBD Creams of 2022
  • Lazarus Naturals CBD Balm
  • Vermont Organic Science Organic CBD Balm
  • Redeem Therapeutics CBD Pain Cream
  • Medjoy Full-Spectrum Hemp Balm
  • RE Botanicals Menthol Muscle Rub with CBD
  • Plant People Soothe+ Body Balm
  • BATCH CBD Original CBD Balm
  • Appalachian Standard Menthol Salve Full Spectrum Hemp Oil
  • Carmen’s Medicinals Full Spectrum CBD Salve
  • Active Botanical Co. Therapeutic Formulation CBD Topical Salve
  • Methodology
  • What Is CBD Cream?
  • Using CBD in the U.S.
  • Using CBD Cream
  • Best CBD Creams Ratings
  • Best Diets
  • Noom Diet Review
  • GOLO Diet Review
  • Best OTC Allergy Medications
  • Best Fitness Apps

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Best CBD Creams of 2022

Lazarus Naturals CBD Balm

The Lazarus Naturals Relax + Unwind CBD Balm is a potent topical with plenty of CBD per application. The balm is geared toward relieving localized muscle pain and inflammation. The balm also passes third-party tests for the exclusion of pesticides, heavy metals and molds.

  • Cruelty-free certified by the Leaping Bunny Program
  • All natural ingredients
  • Two sizes available

Cost: A 2.1-ounce container of Lazarus Naturals CBD Balm containing 3,000 milligrams of CBD costs $42.

Vermont Organic Science Organic CBD Balm

Vermont Organic Science bills this CBD balm as a soothing treatment for sore muscles. The balm is infused with menthol for an additional cooling effect. The balm also includes the non-psychoactive compounds cannabigerol (CBG), which is known for its anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antioxidant properties, and cannabichromene (CBC), which can have anti‐inflammatory and antinociceptive (pain-blocking) effects.

  • All natural ingredients
  • Strong potency
  • Includes sweet almond, tangerine, frankincense and lavender essential oils

Cost: A 1-ounce container of Vermont Organic Science Organic CBD Balm containing 1,100 milligrams of CBD costs $35.

Redeem Therapeutics CBD Pain Cream

This affordable CBD cream targets inflammation, especially in joints and muscles, with its addition of menthol, capsicum and arnica extract. The cream also contains aloe, jojoba oil, tea tree oil and vitamin C to aid absorption and further support skin health. The product passes third-party tests for safe levels of pesticides, heavy metals and molds as well.

  • USDA-certified organic hemp
  • Hemp cultivated from a Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) certified farm
  • 100% THC free

Cost: A 3.4-ounce container of Redeem Therapeutics CBD Pain Cream containing 1,500 milligrams of CBD costs $59.99.

Medjoy Full-Spectrum Hemp Balm

Medjoy’s ultra-concentrated full-spectrum hemp balm is packed with all natural ingredients, including beeswax, coconut oil, soothing lavender and cooling menthol.. It’s ideal for use either before or after exercise, according to the company, and it can be applied as often as you like, based on your personal needs and preferences.

  • Cooling menthol aroma
  • Non-GMO
  • Passes third-party tests for safe levels of pesticides, heavy metals and molds

Cost: A 2-ounce container of Medjoy Full-Spectrum Hemp Balm containing 1,500 milligrams of CBD costs $119.95 .

RE Botanicals Menthol Muscle Rub with CBD

This Menthol Muscle Rub with CBD aims to provide relief from pain and inflammation with the added cooling effect of menthol. The travel-size product is meant to be rolled on for easier application. What’s more, it’s certified by the Detox Project to be free of glyphosate residue, a pesticide chemical that can be harmful in large amounts.

  • USDA-certified organic
  • 1% of RE Botanicals sales donated to support farmer education and regenerative agriculture
  • Passes third-party tests for safe levels of pesticides, heavy metals and molds

Cost: A 3-ounce container of RE Botanicals Menthol Muscle Rub with CBD containing 600 milligrams of CBD costs $34.99.

Plant People Soothe+ Body Balm

The Plant People Soothe+ Body Balm is meant for targeted pain, inflammation and stiffness relief on affected areas of your body. In addition to CBD, the balm contains CBG and CBC, as well as California poppy and arnica flower extract.

  • Made by a Certified B Corporation (a business that meets high standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency and legal accountability)
  • USDA-certified organic
  • Levels of pesticides, heavy metals and molds all pass third-party tests

Cost: A 2-ounce container of Plant People Soothe+ Body balm containing 515 milligrams of CBD costs $48.99 .

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BATCH CBD Original CBD Balm

Along with CBD, this simple balm contains lavender and tea tree oils to help relieve irritation. It also comes in a twist-up container so you don’t have to get your hands messy while applying it to harder-to-reach areas.

  • Contains jojoba oil for better absorption
  • Non-GMO
  • Paraben-free

Cost: A 2.5-ounce container of BATCH CBD Original CBD Balm containing 1,250 milligrams of CBD costs $49.99.

Appalachian Standard Menthol Salve Full Spectrum Hemp Oil

This menthol salve is meant to relieve sore and tight muscles with several liberal applications daily. The menthol also provides cooling and moisturizing effects alongside the nourishing mango butter base.

  • All natural ingredients
  • Menthol and herbal scent
  • Includes hemp plant terpenes to enhance CBD effects

Cost: A 2-ounce container of Appalachian Standard Menthol Salve Full Spectrum Hemp Oil containing 500 milligrams of CBD costs $40.

Carmen’s Medicinals Full Spectrum CBD Salve

A mix of all-natural essential oils and terpenes, this CBD salve can provide relief for localized aches and pains while also moisturizing the skin. Carmen’s Medicinals recommends use of the salve on your joints, hands and back.

  • USDA-certified organic hemp
  • All natural ingredients
  • Passes tests for safe levels of pesticides, heavy metals and molds

Cost: A 1.7-ounce container of Carmen’s Medicinals Full Spectrum CBD Salve containing 1,000 milligrams of CBD costs $44.95.

Active Botanical Co. Therapeutic Formulation CBD Topical Salve

At the highest price point and with one of the highest potencies on this list, Active Botanical Co.’s Therapeutic Formulation CBD Topical Salve is 99.9% pure CBD isolatecombined with the company’s proprietary terpene profiles to help your body get the most relief from the plant compounds. By using CBD isolate, the salve dilutes the earthy scent often associated with hemp.

  • Strong potency for additional relaxation effects
  • Passes tests for safe levels of pesticides, heavy metals and molds
  • 18-month shelf life

Cost: A 1.35-ounce container of Active Botanical Co. Therapeutic Formulation CBD Topical Salve containing 5,000 milligrams of CBD costs $179.99.

Methodology

To choose the best CBD creams of 2022, the Forbes Health editorial team analyzed data on more than 50 CBD creams products that are:

  • Made from plants grown in the U.S.
  • Have a certificate of analysis (COA)
  • Are third-party tested by ISO 17025-compliant laboratories
  • Are made with all natural ingredients

We then ranked CBD creams based on price, potency and the inclusion of ingredients that provide additional soothing properties.

We considered a standard application size to be .05 ounce of CBD cream but provided full product pricing in addition to a per-application breakdown to help you determine the best daily value, as well as what works for your budget as a whole.

What Is CBD Cream?

CBD cream, which often includes balms and salves, is a topical application of cannabidiol. This cream offers more localized effects rather than systemic ones that edibles or inhalation can provide.

“When CBD is used topically, it does not reach the bloodstream,” says Robert Milanes M.D., founder of Holistic On Call and a doctor with Heally, an alternative medicine telehealth platform.

This application method makes CBD cream a good choice for people who are new to CBD and less comfortable ingesting it, but still want to benefit from CBD’s potential pain relief abilities.

“Because it’s localized, it’s not the best method of delivery for trying to help yourself sleep or for anxiety,” says Steven Phan, founder of Come Back Daily, a CBD dispensary in New York.

How Does CBD Cream Work?

Compared to ingesting CBD, which can take anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours to take effect, applying CBD topically allows you to feel the localized effects pretty quickly, according to Laura Fuentes, a licensed compound pharmacist and co-founder of Green Roads, a major CBD brand.

This quick uptake, paired with CBD’s inherent benefits, makes CBD cream a great option for pain, inflammation, soreness and tightness relief in specific parts of your body, she says.

One 2018 study with over 300 participants with knee pain from osteoarthritis found a transdermal synthetic CBD gel significantly improved patients’ worst pain score and physical function averages [1] Hunter D, Oldfield G, Tich N, Messenheimer J, Sebree T. Synthetic transdermal cannabidiol for the treatment of knee pain due to osteoarthritis . Osteoarthritis and Cartilage. 2018;26:S26. . These patients were treated with 350 milligrams of CBD gel per day for 12 weeks.

Additional research shows topical application of CBD to have significantly reduced pain in some patients with peripheral neuropathy—a set of conditions damaging the peripheral nervous system—and myofascial pain (localized muscle and tissue pain) in respective studies [2] 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. [3] 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. .

Using CBD in the U.S.

CBD creams are a popular way to use CBD in the U.S., according to a recent Forbes Health survey of 2,000 U.S. adults conducted by OnePoll. In fact, 53% of respondents who reported having tried CBD used it in lotion form, and 42% used it in a serum or other topical form.

CBD use in general is increasingly common—60% of U.S. adults have tried a CBD product before. Better yet, 60% believe it has medicinal benefits. The same survey reports that the majority of people use CBD in a variety of forms to help relieve pain.

Using CBD Cream

To apply a CBD cream, you rub it into the affected area, such as an achy knee or sore neck. “The cream is absorbed into the skin and then binds to the numerous cannabinoid receptors located in the different layers of the skin,” says Fuentes.

Each topical CBD product may have unique directions, however. Some may instruct you to use a small amount while others encourage using a liberal amount.

Balms and salves have a thicker consistency and often need to be warmed in your hands before applying them to the target area. And some products don’t require getting your hands dirty at all, thanks to roll-on and stick applicators.

Potential Side Effects of CBD Topicals

CBD itself is safe and well tolerated, and it has no risks of abuse or dependence, according to the World Health Organization.

“Additionally, using CBD topically reduces the likelihood of experiencing side effects typically associated with CBD use, such as drowsiness, fatigue and diarrhea,” says Dr. Milanes.

Milanes and Fuentes warn that while CBD itself might be safe, there is a chance you might be allergic or sensitive to another ingredient in a CBD topical, which could cause adverse effects. To avoid unpleasant reactions, they suggest reading ingredient lists carefully.

Phan also recommends talking to your doctor before using CBD if you’re on any medications— especially blood pressure medications because CBD can also lower blood pressure.