By the time you feel any annoying itch or prick of pain, CB1 and CB2 receptors on your skin cells have already fired off signals to help dampen those unpleasant vibes. These receptors — part of the body’s endocannabinoid system — spend their workdays responding to chemical messages that help our skin nurture a healthy balance. CBD cream bypasses the CB1 and CB2 receptors and heads straight for a neurotransmitter middleman that blocks signals for pain and itch by working through agents called anandamide and 2-AG.
Sidestepping the CB1 and CB2 receptors means that CBD can mute pain without the high sensation delivered by THC. Not only does CBD have very little interest in switching on CB1, cannabidiol can actually mute any signals sent to that receptor. Researchers looking for safer pain treatments want to take advantage of this action because it means that CBD won’t spark addiction.
Consumers aren’t waiting for clinical trials. But they need to remember, says Hurd, that slathering on creams can be risky, considering how the skin absorbs everything. Even topical CBD can react with oral medications.
Hurd suggests telling your doctor if you are using CBD creams because what’s absorbed into your skin will get into your bloodstream. “These are sometimes things people don’t appreciate when they are putting cream ‘only on my knee,’” says Hurd. “We also have a lot of seniors using CBD creams for arthritic pain and we need to know sooner rather than later whether this chemical cream used by so many people can indeed be effective.”
Researchers have confirmed that CBD works against pain and inflammation , and they’re still finding new ways that it works in the body . They're also working to nail down the proper dose of topical CBD needed for pain relief. For example, the dose that brings relief to achy joints may be insufficient to effectively treat nerve damage in feet. While rubbing topical CBD onto the skin seems to work, researchers still need to figure out how much skin coverage is most effective. Some skin creams also contain menthols, which carry their own pain relief and anti-inflammatory properties, possibly masking any effect from the CBD itself.
Calm by Wellness claims that this product helps with dry skin, scar reduction, sunburn, stress reduction, and sleep.
The American Academy of Dermatology Association (AAD) says that the anti-inflammatory properties of CBD may aid treatment for acne, psoriasis, and eczema.
Alternatives to CBD skin creams often contain other forms of pain management or skin-soothing ingredients, including:
Vertly Relief Lotion
A 2019 study found that people who experience temporomandibular disorder (TMD) may notice an improvement in their condition after using CBD products. TMD can cause pain and stiffening in and around a person’s jaw.
Some CBD skin creams may be expensive. A person should consider the price range and how often they may need to purchase the product.
The company claims to use 100% organic, natural ingredients and to grow the hemp in the U.S. Other ingredients include aloe leaf juice, coconut oil, lavender extracts, and jojoba seed oil.
CBD skin creams most often use broad-spectrum CBD, which is CBD with either no THC or only trace amounts.