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6 Topical CBD creams – do they work?

CBD oil Canada is usually taken orally, sublingually (under the tongue), or inhaled through a vaporizer. However, supermarket shelves are stacked with, and cannabis outlets are stocked with a whole range of CBD creams, lotions, ointments and all manner of cosmetic products.

The question is, do they work, or is it just clever marketing that’s selling the products?

What are topical CBD products used for?

People use topical CBD products for skin conditions like acne, eczema and psoriasis. For cosmetic purposes, you can find skincare products like CBD moisturizers, serums, sprays, cleansers, and masks. Some of these brands claim anti-aging capabilities. People are also using topical CBD products to deal with arthritis pain and inflammation.

The Arthritis Foundation conducted a survey in 2019 to find out about CBD use among arthritis patients. Of the 2,600 arthritis patients that answered, 79% were using CBD, have used it in the past or are considering using it. Almost a third of the respondents were using CBD to manage their arthritis symptoms. Some 62% were using a liquid form of CBD, and 55% were using a topical product applied to their joints.

Upon applying a cannabinoid product to their skin, people often assume the cannabinoid enters their bloodstream. But just how true is this supposition? Well, it really depends since CBD and other cannabinoids can be applied to the skin in two distinct methods: Topical and Transdermal.

Do topical CBD products work?

Topical products like creams, lotions, and ointments are formulated to treat the topmost layers of the skin, called the epidermis. These products are meant for the skin itself; they don’t penetrate beyond the top layers. Their aim is not to reach the bloodstream.

However, that does not mean that topical products don’t work. They affect the endocannabinoid system through receptors that are present throughout the body. There are many endocannabinoid receptors in the skin and the CBD in topical lotions and similar products interacts with these receptors.

This is why topical CBD products work best for surface-level pain and inflammation where it is applied and why they are not optimal for deep tissue pain.

A 2019 trial looked at the therapeutic effect of CBD-enriched ointment in inflammatory skin diseases. Patients with psoriasis and atopic dermatitis applied CBD-enriched ointment to scars on their skin twice daily for three months. After the treatment, the patients’ skin had improved and the inflammation eased, contributing to a general improvement in quality of life.

Transdermal products make all the difference

Transdermal products use skin patches, gels or lotions to get products deeply absorbed into the body.They contain skin penetration enhancers that carry the CBD and any other compounds through the epidermis into the dermis – the second layer of skin. The dermis has blood vesselsthat absorb the CBD and other compounds, allowing them to reach the bloodstream.

Topical products don’t contain skin penetration enhancers, so the CBD can’t reach the bloodstream for deeper penetration. The CBD in transdermal products has a bioavailability of 20-40% compared to the 1-5% of topical products. Bioavailability refers to the percentage of a product that can be absorbed and used by the body.

For a CBD product to be of any medical use, such as the relief of pain or inflammation associated with arthritis, a topical formulation is ineffective because it doesn’t penetrate deep enough and doesn’t reach the bloodstream. Cannabinoids and terpenes can only be of therapeutic use if they are able to reach the bloodstream.

A 2016 study in rats has shown that transdermal CBD gel application has therapeutic potential for the relief of arthritic pain and inflammation. The scientists concluded that transdermal CBD is a good candidate for developing improved therapies for debilitating diseases like osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Advantage of transdermal delivery

Transdermal delivery has better bioavailability than taking a CBD product orally due to minimal first-pass metabolism. First-pass metabolism refers to the fact that any drug taken orally gets metabolized in the gut and the liver before it lands in the bloodstream. In the process, the compound can get destroyed before it enters the blood circulation. This process thus affects the bioavailability of a drug. Transdermal delivery sidesteps this route, increasing the ability of a drug to be absorbed into the bloodstream.

CBD patches

Transdermal CBD patches are used by athletes and sports enthusiasts that like to keep fit and need relief for muscle pain after a workout. There are relatively few providers of CBD patches, so you may not have come across them yet. They are patches that contain a controlled dosage of CBD in a solution, gel, or oil in combination with penetration enhancers.

There are two kinds of CBD patches: matrix patches and reservoir patches. A reservoir patch has the CBD and other components contained in the middle of the patch. The reservoir has a rate-controlled membrane that controls the rate at which the CBD is released. Matrix patches have the CBD and other components spread throughout the whole patch. The CBD molecules spread from the patch to the skin, where penetration enhancers take it deeper down the skin. If you want a more controlled release of CBD, you should choose a reservoir patch.

Benefits of CBD Patches

  • Enhanced bioavailability through the avoidance of first-pass metabolism. Most of the CBD on the patch reaches the endocannabinoid system.
  • CBD can interact with skin cells directly where they are most needed, which is an optimal solution for people with skin disorders.
  • CBD patches are a discreet delivery option – you simply carry it around with you on your skin under your clothes.
  • CBD patches are uncomplicated to use – the dosage is already determined.
  • CBD patches offer consistent dosing – the CBD is gradually released into your bloodstream.
  • Patches come formulated with different doses and timeframes for different clinical and therapeutic needs.
  • You can get the therapeutic benefit of CBD without the bitter taste.

Final thoughts

There seems to be no doubt that CBD oil Canada and topical CBD products can help with pain relief and inflammation. In the case of joint pain as a result of inflammation due to osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis, the best delivery system seems to be transdermal patches.

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