It’s always a good idea to tell your doctor if you plan on using alternative treatment methods like CBD. In fact, the medical experts who worked with the Arthritis Foundation said CBD use should be discussed with your doctor in advance, and followed up with evaluations every three months.
When people refer to hemp oil specifically, they’re talking about the oil that’s extracted from the seeds of the hemp plant. CBD topical oils are made from hemp plants, which are only legally allowed to contain up to 0.3% THC. This is another reason CBD oils will not get you high. In a study done by the American Chemical Society, researchers looked at the lipid profile of hemp seed oil and found that it is packed with healthy fats. Natural hemp oil is often seen in beauty products for its moisturizing and nourishing benefits.
Topical CBD has a number of uses including skin care, massage therapy and relaxation. But more and more, CBD products are being used to help treat musculoskeletal problems like arthritis. A 2019 report from the Arthritis Foundation found that 79% of the 2,600 arthritis patients surveyed had considered using CBD or had already used it. Twenty-nine percent said they currently use it for arthritis symptoms, and out of those people using CBD, 55% applied a topical CBD product to their joints.
Talk to your doctor before using a topical CBD product
When you’re looking at CBD products in-store or online, you will likely see the terms isolate, broad-spectrum and full-spectrum listed on the packaging, and it’s important to know what each of those mean. Products that are CBD isolate are pure CBD, with no other cannabinoids or THC in them. Broad-spectrum CBD products contain most cannabinoids, but generally don’t include THC. And full-spectrum CBD products contain all of the plant’s cannabinoids, including THC.
Just a couple years ago, the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) suggested using topical CBD products as an alternative treatment for acne, eczema and psoriasis. Board-certified dermatologist Jeanette Jacknin, MD said the research uncovered a great deal about the dermatologic applications of cannabis and that they are constantly learning more.
CBD, short for cannabidiol, is a chemical compound from the cannabis sativa plant, which is also known as marijuana or hemp, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. CBD is a naturally occurring substance that’s used in products like oils and edibles that can produce feelings of relaxation and calmness in some people, but it does not exhibit psychoactive properties like the compound THC.
Topicals include CBD-infused lotions, creams, serums, salves, body oils, rubs and other skin care products. Most CBD topical products are between $30 and $60, depending on the quality, potency and source of ingredients.
Ingredients not specifically addressed by regulation must nonetheless comply with all applicable requirements, and no ingredient – including a cannabis or cannabis-derived ingredient – can be used in a cosmetic if it causes the product to be adulterated or misbranded in any way.
Certain cosmetic ingredients are prohibited or restricted by regulation, but currently that is not the case for any cannabis or cannabis-derived ingredients.
Dr. Scott Gottleib, the outgoing head of the FDA must have heard the news because on April 2 the FDA issued new guidelines on Hemp-CBD, updated its marijuana and hemp FAQs online, and sent a new round of warning letters to distributors of CBD products. Gottleib himself took to Twitter to chime in:
I was also concerned to hear recently that several national pharmacy chains and other major retailers have begun to sell or will soon begin to sell cannabidiol (CBD) products in several states. We’ll be contacting them to remind them of
#FDA obligations and our commitment to protect consumers against products that can put them at risk.
The story doesn’t end there though. In addition to ingredients that are prohibited by rule, cosmetics are adulterated if they contain “any poisonous or deleterious substance” which could harm users. The FDA’s FAQs take a look at this as it applies to cannabis:
Prior to the April 2 guidance, the FDA had side-stepped the issue of Hemp-CBD in cosmetics, unless those products were deemed drugs based on the way they were marketed (e.g., “this CBD cream cures cancer”). That is no longer the case as the FDA has updated its cannabis FAQs to include this question: What is FDA’s position on cannabis and cannabis-derived ingredients in cosmetics?
Though cosmetics aren’t regulated as tightly as other products, the FDA still has regulatory authority over them and their ingredients. For example, color additives used in cosmetics are generally subject to premarket approval. Additionally, the presence of a harmful ingredient in a cosmetic causes the FDA to deem that cosmetic adulterated. The FDA has determined by regulation that some ingredients cannot be used in cosmetics. For example, if a product contains chloroform (other than in trace amounts) it is deemed adulterated. According to the FDA’s FAQs, CBD does not fall into this category:
“In Connecticut, we’re limited to using only [liquid] carbon dioxide as a solvent for extraction or ethanol as a solvent, Ferrarese said. “In other states, such as Colorado and California, they’re allowed to use solvents like butane.”
Extractors can prevent THC from entering a CBD supply. To sap CBD or THC from plant material, all extractions use a chemical solvent. That sounds nefarious, but a solvent is any substance that can dissolve another. Water, for instance, is one of nature’s best solvents — but it wouldn’t be effective for something like this.
“THC is psychoactive or mind-altering, hence it can make you high and why it is illegal. CBD, meanwhile, isn’t psychoactive.”
The math that’s fueling the CBD green rush
The FDA has prohibited the sale of CBD in any unapproved health products, dietary supplements or food — which literally means everything except for the drug Epidiolex.
The rapid legalization of hemp and CBD has put the FDA in a tough position. Under its mandate, the agency must validate the safety of foods, drugs and dietary supplements. But CBD products are already flooding American stores.
“What a lot of consumers don’t realize is that the FDA, who’s charged with protecting our safety with respect to food and medicine in the U.S., are not on top of policing those CBD products that you see in the gas station or at the grocery store,” Ferrarese said. “A lot of these products are also not under the purview of departments of public health either.”
To collect CBD or THC from hemp, farmers harvest the plants and send them to an extractor, who collects the drugs and preps them for sale. The issue is that extracting CBD or THC is essentially the same process. If your supplier does it incorrectly, your CBD bottle might carry an illegal dose of THC.