Ingesting CBD can be more beneficial for people with systemic inflammatory conditions (such as rheumatoid arthritis or Multiple Sclerosis [MS]), autoimmune conditions, and full body pain, caused by neurological conditions such as fibromyalgia or cancer pain.
Keep in mind that while CBD can have many benefits, it is not a cure-all and should not be viewed as an alternative to your other pain care treatments. Rather, CBD should be considered a complementary treatment to add to your pain management toolbox.
Selecting a CBD product depends on:
Choose a CBD Product that Fits Your Needs
– Won’t get you high
– Contains 0.3% or less THC
– Has limited chemical compounds
– Is used to makes clothes and textiles
– Is legally sold in many stores and online
Here’s a quick cheat sheet but note that efficacy of each is still up for debate.
Our natural endocannabinoids function on demand, meaning that when our body senses inflammation, or needs to return to homeostasis (a state of stable balance) it will release endocannabinoids that bind to cannabinoid receptors.
When we talk about CBD, we are typically talking about CBD products, such as topical creams and ingestible oils that are created by extracting the CBD compound from the marijuana plant. Although, some CBD products do contain small amounts of THC – which we will get to.
Cannabis cream or lotion can be rubbed directly into your temples. There are even some preliminary studies showing that cannabis cream and other topicals could be effective for migraine relief.
A lotion or ointment that is applied directly to the body’s surface. Topicals are utilized for fast-acting localized relief of inflammation and pain. Cannabis topicals are typically non-intoxicating, which allows patients to enjoy the plant’s therapeutic effects without THC’s attendant psychoactivity. This growing category of cannabis treatments has expanded to include transdermal solutions, as well as lubricants, often including essential oils such as clove and wintergreen for additional relief.
Acne sufferers, rejoice! CBD has been shown to inhibit lipid production in skin cells, thus effectively regulating how much oil your skin produces.
Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Researchers at the University of Colorado found that cannabis Topicals can effectively treat a variety of skin diseases including psoriasis, severe itching, and atopic and contact dermatitis.
They can include lotions, oils, patches, sprays, soaps, lubricants, bath salts, and cool or warm balms, and are often made with essential oils and other organic materials. You might find tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabidiol (CBD), or tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA) in topicals, but whether they have an intoxicating effect depends on the cannabinoids used and where on your body they are applied.
What does topically mean when it comes to cannabis creams? Your body’s natural endocannabinoid system (ECS) regulates your appetite, mood, and pain and pleasure receptors, among other functions. Cannabinoids THC and CBD, the active compounds in cannabis plants, are chemicals that activate that system. Your body also makes its own natural versions of these compounds, called endocannabinoids.
But some studies have found essentially zero side effects of high-dose CBD (900mg) and those that researchers do see—like drug interactions—aren’t considered to be issues when CBD is used topically.
Personally, I always keep a few jars of it at my desk to help with the shoulder and neck muscle tension inherent in a job consisting mainly of typing and holding a phone next to my face. But it turns out that the research behind these claims is pretty sparse, to say the least. Here’s what you need to know before you give topical CBD a try.
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.
So…is CBD cream just an expensive placebo?
The only thing that comes close is a Phase 2 clinical trial using a proprietary CBD transdermal gel (meaning it’s meant to go through the skin into the bloodstream) in 320 patients with knee osteoarthritis over 12 weeks, which has not been peer-reviewed to date. Unfortunately, in almost all of the study’s measures of pain, those who received CBD didn’t have statistically different scores from those who got placebo. But “they found some reductions in pain and improvements in physical function,” Boehnke says.
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.
“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.”
All of this points to how hard it is to study the specific effects of CBD on its own—which might be why it’s tempting to claim that it’s the cure for everything without a whole lot of research to actually back up all of those claims.