If you read the ingredient list, often everything in the jar is straight from mother earth. As long as that's indeed the case with the cannabis cream you have your eye on, the formula is immensely safe, chemically, says Gregory Gerdeman, Ph.D., neurophysiologist who researches cannabinoid biology and pharmacology at Eckerd College in Saint Petersburg, FL. And since hemp pain relief creams are formulated to be topical (absorbing into the top layer of skin) and not transdermal (which would pass through the skin and into your bloodstream) there's no risk of getting high, explains Gerdeman. (P.S. Here's How Marijuana Affects Athletic Performance.)
So cannabis lotions may be safe, but there's one problem: There's practically no scientific data to support the idea that a CBD-infused topical pain relief cream is any more effective than other topical pain relievers, such as Tiger Balm, BenGay, or Icy Hot. Michelle Sexton, a San Diego-based naturopathic doctor and medical research director of the Center for the Study of Cannabis and Social Policy says that her patients do seem to have a great interest in cannabis creams and ointments, and roughly 40 percent of them have indeed tried one. However, these people are in her office now because the topicals didn't work for them. "As a medical professional, my opinion is there's little evidence to back up the claims being made—it's all marketing for now," she says.
What Is Hemp Pain Relief Cream?
Chances are if you're on this website and reading this story you currently have an achy muscle or seven somewhere on your body. You might be familiar with foam rolling, warm compresses, or even ice baths as a means of easing muscle soreness, but what about hemp cream for pain relief?
Even still, cannabis creams could still reduce your acute pain or muscle soreness. That's because pretty much all of these hemp pain relief creams on the market right now have other scientifically-proven analgesic compounds, such as menthol, camphor, and capsaicin which are also found in other, non-CBD topical pain relievers. "Any cream with a heating or cooling sensation desensitizes the nerves to pain by distracting them with stimuli on top," explains Dr. Colberg. Plus you're often massaging the area as you apply, which improves circulation and reduces muscle spasms, he adds. (Get the best of both worlds by trying a CBD massage.)
Hemp creams for pain relief are typically is made from infusing high-quality cannabis flowers in some kind of quality oil-coconut or olive typically-which extracts the active compounds, either CBD, THC, or both depending on the type of hemp used. (Here's a guide to the difference between THC, CBD, cannabis, and hemp.) This oil is then blended with other therapeutic herbs, such as arnica or lemongrass essential oils, that are thought to also ease pain.
“Typically products infused with a broad spectrum CBD extract are more effective than products containing isolate or distillate,” Chasen said.
CBD-infused topicals include lotions, salves, creams, or transdermal patches that are applied on the skin for relief on the surface or even deeper in muscle tissue. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Finding the most effective mixing ingredients that will properly mingle with CBD oil or CBD isolate is also important. A carrier oil, such as coconut oil, shea butter, CBD tincture, or isolate can also be mixed to create a therapeutic homemade topical.
Choosing a CBD cream
For instance, if you have a 30-milliliter bottle with 1,500 milligrams of CBD, that equals 50 milligrams per milliliter. Using these dosing parameters, you can figure out how much CBD oil you should drop into the non-infused cream or topical, depending on the amount you plan to make.
Generally speaking, using CBD-infused creams and other topicals is extremely easy. Simply apply the topical on and around any painful area that might benefit from local treatment. As will all lotions and creams, CBD cream shouldn’t be used on broken skin.
Start with a low viable dosage and gradually increase the amount of CBD cream until finding optimal therapeutic relief. When it comes to applying a topical infused with hemp-derived CBD, there are no known side effects to worry about.
“Much of the scientific evidence points to CBD’s ability to modulate pain, inflammation, and the histamine response when applied topically,” Chasen said. “It has been shown to diminish redness, help with painful arthritic joints, and quicken the healing process.”
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