Hemp-infused products, such as CBD topicals, are great ways to get the medicinal benefits of CBD without the intoxicating effects of THC. Despite being a popular delivery method of CBD, people often wonder what are the best tips for using CBD topicals.
Topicals come in a variety of forms. Some are moisturizing lotions you can use every day. While others are balms, salves, liniments, or ointments designed for a specific condition.
Choosing the right cannabis topical is specific to you and what your body requires can be tricky. But here are five tips for using your CBD topicals that help you get the most out of the product.
Tips for Using CBD Topicals #1: Determine where to apply your topical
We need more clinical trials and data to know the potential benefits and limitations of CBD topicals. But there is a growing amount of research that shows CBD and cannabis products made for skin application could have a wide possibility of use. As always, we suggest talking to your doctor before starting any CBD regimen.
In order to properly address any of the above concerns, like most products, you should first consider where on your body you’d like your CBD topical to target. This might seem like an obvious statement but it is important to give the product its best shot at helping you. Are you getting a headache from your head or tension in your neck? Differentiating between the two is important.
We inadvertently put a lot of stress on our bodies, and finding the “why” of our pain will help define a way to subdue it and, in this case, where to apply the topical.
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If pain is your main concern but you don’t have any specific nagging areas to focus on, try adding some topical relief to these common sore spots:
- Elbows, knees, and other joints
- Soles of your feet
- Back of the heel/foot
Tips for Using CBD Topicals #2: Clean the area
The world is a messy place. Since our skin is the barrier between us and that mess, coming into contact with bacteria and contaminants is inevitable. Before applying your CBD topical, it is best to clean the area you intend to apply it to.
Deep cleanses are not necessary. Just simply grab a wet wash cloth or paper towel and scrub the applicable area to remove any unwanted residue from your skin. Then dry the area prior to application.
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Tips for Using CBD Topicals #3: Be generous and firm
After you’ve sufficiently cleaned and dried the affected area, don’t be shy when applying your cannabis topical.
Apply a generous amount of your CBD topical to the affected area and be firm and thorough when rubbing it in. Be sure to not apply too much pressure as to hurt yourself or aggravate your condition.
Always refer to the packaging of your CBD topical for specific directions and recommendations from the manufacturer.
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Tips for Using CBD Topicals #4: Wash your hands!
After this application process, be sure to thoroughly wash your hands.
Many topicals have touches of citrus, capsaicin (pepper), menthol, or mint, all of which can sting your eyes and nostrils.
Unless the CBD topical is intended to address a problem on your hands, be sure to wash and dry your hands before getting on with your day or risk having the product’s scent on all your belongings.
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Tips for Using CBD Topicals #5: Accept that it is not a miracle product
As much as we would like it to be, CBD topicals are not a cure-all.
CBD topicals’ potential effectiveness lies in the fact that once the substances penetrate the outer layer of skin. Essentially, they bind with cannabinoid receptors. These receptors can be thought of as locks on the surface of cells, causing cellular changes when they’re unlocked. In this metaphor, cannabinoids are the keys to the locks. And those keys can be either the body’s own endocannabinoids (which play a role in exercise euphoria) or an external source of cannabinoids, such as a CBD topical.
This process is not a fast one. Don’t expect a lifetime of arthritis to suddenly feel like nothing. Or to even subside entirely (although some people do find that CBD soothes their pain entirely). Rather, prepare for subtle, gentle relief alongside other sensations depending on the concentration of other soothing ingredients in your topical. Just like a heating pad or IcyHot, cannabis topicals don’t necessarily cure our ailments, they simply make them more bearable.
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According to Dr. Neil Shah:
“CBD directly downregulates (i.e. reduces the receptor density of CB1) and neuropathy as well as some pain syndromes upregulate (increase density of CB1). However, changes in any receptors in the body usually takes 2-4 weeks. I think three weeks is pretty close to the exact amount for complete turnover of receptors. But you can assume 2-4 to be safe. Additionally CBD has indirect upregulation and downregulation of receptors through modulation of transmission of GABA and other neurotransmitters. (GABA is a naturally occurring amino acid that works as a neurotransmitter in your brain.)
For example, if you increase GABA neurotransmitter, a chemical messenger, three weeks later you have less GABA receptors. That’s because the excess GABA overused the receptors. So these processes take weeks of use to cause change. Which is why I always tell my CBD patients to “try it for 20 days before you judge it”. Also, even if it doesn’t do anything for someone, it’s never great to try to refute the placebo effect or the idea that they don’t have control over their pain. Chronic pain is impossible to treat so if something works, best not to have them question it.”
CBD and cannabis skin products are generally safe to apply liberally to the skin. They are not likely to cause any side effects. You can’t get intoxicated from CBD topicals.
Despite the safety claims, it is however still very important to see if you have a reaction. Test a small amount of the CBD cream on your skin before applying liberally to the affected area. Just test it and observe any possible adverse or allergic reaction. Allergic reactions have occurred with some users. Dermatologists agree that when it comes to your skin, patch testing your product is a great way to start. Whether your product contains CBD or not!
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With all the products out there on the market, keep in mind to not opt for CBD skin products containing alcohol. Because that could irritate your skin.
If you happen to develop an allergic reaction, it may not necessarily be caused by CBD. But the result of any of the other ingredients found in your cream.
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We hope these tips for using CBD topicals was helpful. If you’re still not sure whether CBD topicals will suit your specific lifestyle and needs, feel free to experiment. There are a lot of different delivery methods. Speak to a CBD-friendly doctor to receive some guidance around whether CBD will be helpful for you.
Sian Ferguson is a freelance writer based in Cape Town, South Africa and she has written for publications such as Healthline, Greatist, and Psych Central to name a few.