Research indicates that CBD skin creams have benefits for various conditions.
The American Academy of Dermatology Association (AAD) says that the anti-inflammatory properties of CBD may aid treatment for acne, psoriasis, and eczema.
CBD is one of many chemicals present in the Cannabis Sativa plant. CBD skin care products usually contain little or no tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the psychoactive compound of the plant that makes a person feel high.
Some CBD skin creams may be expensive. A person should consider the price range and how often they may need to purchase the product.
As well as creams, CBD can be present in balms, salves, and transdermal patches.
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.
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.
“It might be that cannabidiol by itself is helpful for pain, but at this point we don’t know that,” Cooper says.
So…is CBD cream just an expensive placebo?
When the National Academies of Sciences, Medicine, and Engineering evaluated decades of cannabis research, they concluded that "in adults with chronic pain, patients who were treated with cannabis or cannabinoids are more likely to experience a clinically significant reduction in pain symptoms."
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.
You don’t need me to tell you that CBD (cannabidiol) is everywhere. You can eat it, you can drink it, you can vape it, you can even bathe in it. And although there’s still plenty to learn about this fascinating little compound, fans of it claim that it has some pretty impressive benefits—particularly when it comes to managing pain.
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.