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is cbd oil used topically

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Leef bridges the gap again with their Leef Organics Wild Crafted CBD Skin Oil, which is very different from oral CBD oils, in that it is intended exclusively for the skin. Once again, a read-through of the ingredients shows us that there are added components to help with absorption by the skin, that make this an external use only product.

That being said, we are aware of one company that has bridged this gap. When Leef Organics developed their acclaimed Revive CBD Balm, they focused on developing a holistic topical that could be used as needed around the entire body (avoid the eyes though!). We’ve heard from several customers that their morning routine is actually to add this topical to their coffee in the morning. With a simple list of ingredients like Cacao Butter, Grapeseed Oil, Organic Whole Plant CBD Extract, Calendula, Peony, & Lavender, Leef’s Revive Balm keeps it simple and provides endless uses for their topical.

By contrast, when examining the ingredients of oral CBD oil, one may note a stark simplify when compared to topicals. The Design Wellness CBD Oil has only two ingredients for instance, Full Spectrum CBD and a carrier oil (MCT). Some, like Mary’s Remedy Oil, also contain flavoring (cinnamon) and other essential oils. As these ingredient combinations have been formulated to be absorbed through the digestive tract and glads, and not the epidermal layer of the skin, they are MUCH more effective when taken orally, especially when applied to the Submandibular Glands occupying the space under the tongue. This type of administration is called “sublingual” and while research is still ongoing, mounting evidence points to this being the most effective method of absorbing CBD.

Oral CBD Vs. Topical CBD: The Ingredients

Yes, in most cases you can use your oral CBD oil products topically on your skin. However it’s probably not a good idea for efficiency, price, and overall effectiveness. Let’s take a look at the differences between oral and topical CBD products.

The skin and internal systems interact differently with CBD, which is why when you examine the ingredients of popular topicals like Mary’s Nutritionals Muscle Freeze, versus a tincture from the same company like Mary’s Nutritionals Remedy Oil, they are starkly different. The primary difference is that oral CBD oils are meant to be absorbed in the digestive tract and the saliva glands of the mouth, while topicals are designed to effectively absorb through the body’s largest organ, the skin. This means topicals have carriers that are different from oils, which would cause gastrointestinal distress, as they’re not meant to be ingested.

To recap, of course you can apply CBD Oils intended for oral application directly to the skin, but they will likely lack ingredients that allow for effective uptake into the body. This will result in a bit of an oil slick on the skin as well, as absorption rates of oil are slow. For someone looking to use CBD as biologically and cost effectively as possible, experts recommend using oral CBD Oil in small amounts daily, under the tongue, and allowing your body to ramp up the strength of the Endocannabinoid System and allow this powerful tool to slowly work it’s magic from head to toe.

If you’re worried about a purely topical CBD product getting into your bloodstream, Dr. Tishler explains that’s unlikely. CBD is hydrophobic (meaning it isn’t water-soluble) and lipophilic (attracted to lipids, like oils) and tends to stay on the outer layer of skin or possibly accumulate in the sebaceous glands unless it’s paired with “enhancers” (ingredients designed to help them make it through the skin, at which point they would instead be transdermal). Making a truly “water-soluble CBD” has been a challenge for the industry, although there are a variety of patents out there.

If you (like me) feel like your CBD cream is truly having an effect, it’s likely unrelated to the CBD itself. And because there are plenty of other pain management options out there that we know more about—including medical cannabis—it’s important to talk to a health care provider to make sure you’re not overlooking something else that might be more helpful.

But if you’re reading this, you are probably not a rat, which means these results aren’t directly applicable to your life. Although we know that rats do share much of our physiology—including CB1 and CB2 receptors—these studies don’t really tell us if humans would have the same results with CBD.

So…is CBD cream just an expensive placebo?

But at this point, we have no idea how deep the commercially available creams are penetrating. And even if they’re getting to that sweet spot in your skin, we don’t know how much CBD is getting there or how much is necessary to provide an effect.

“Cannabidiol is a super messy drug,” Ziva Cooper, Ph.D., research director of the UCLA Cannabis Research Initiative in the Jane and Terry Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior and the department of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences, tells SELF. “It has lots and lots of targets and it’s not clear how much of its effects on each target contribute to the potential pain relieving effects.”

It’s totally possible (and actually pretty likely) that any effect you get from a commercially available topical CBD product is a placebo effect or related to some other aspect of the product. But there are a few things going on here that are more complex than they seem.

“If somebody comes in with pain, do you reach for a bottle of CBD? The answer is absolutely not,” Dr. Tishler says.