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how do thc and cbd salves ease pain

Made By Hemp’s CBD salve packs a lot of pain relief into a small package. (Courtesy of Made By Hemp)

He took the bottle to a testing facility and found out it was packed with CBD—but this was back in 2012, and he could find only a single company selling CBD online. That lack of access inspired Gallagher to take matters into his own hands.

CBD Salve As a Direct Delivery

CBD salve is just one of many CBD-packed products from Made By Hemp. (Courtesy of Made By Hemp)

“I put $1200 worth of CBD products on my credit card and planned to help five people per week with their anxiety or health,” says Gallagher. “Shortly after I set up a website to reach more people, and soon I had so many orders that I was spending all of my time shipping packages. My part time hobby to help five people per week turned into a full-time business helping a lot more.”

Biology lesson aside, all of this has yet to be proven in scientific studies on humans.

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.)

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.

How CBD and Cannabis Might Help Pain Relief

But there is an argument to be made for simply believing the CBD adds that special something. "Scientific literature says there's a 33 percent chance of the placebo effect helping people, so for some, just using a cream they believe can help will provide some relief," adds Dr. Colberg.

The fatty tissue can only hold so much oil, so, theoretically, if you apply enough of a cannabis cream to your skin, it might leak down into your skeletal muscle just out of diffusion, adds Sexton. But there's no study to show this, and that means you're going to be rubbing on a whole lot of the stuff.

Finally, you have receptors called TrpV1 that detect and regulate your body temperature. When activated, they put out heat, soothing your pain receptors. Using this channel, CBD makes these pain receptors hyperactive for a period of time, causing them to get hot, desensitizing them and downregulating those pain-sensing nerve endings.

Interest piqued? Learn more about hemp cream for pain relief and all its variations.