Almost all of us use, or have used, CBD to provide relief of some sort.  There are quite a few different modes of use with CBD as well, but one in particular gets overlooked by many:  topicals.  Since there isn’t a lot of buzz surrounding topicals, many faithful CBD users never get to realize the advantages of using them.

In 9 Surprising Benefits of CBD Topicals,  Author Rachel Garland lists some of the following as advantages of transdermal application and absorption:

  • Localized relief for localized problems.  You don’t necessarily need to flood your body with CBD if you just have a sore elbow, so topicals are preferable for these kinds of issues.
  • Relief for skin conditions ranging from bug bites to psoriasis.
  • Helps in the treatment of burns and bacterial skin infections.  There is mounting evidence that CBD has antimicrobial properties.
  • Great for therapeutic massage.  This method of application helps topicals penetrate deeper into the tissues of the skin.  

Topicals come in balms, creams, lotions, and even 4 Corners Cannabis’ own salve and massage oil options. They are all meant for direct application to the skin, but have different properties that provide differing potential benefits for customers’ preferences.  

Several factors to consider when choosing:

  • Glide

Glide refers to how smoothly the product moves across the surface of the skin as it’s being applied.  Does it sit in one spot like glop, or does it spread evenly and seamlessly.

  • Absorption

How easily and quickly does the product penetrate through your skin and pores? Is there a lingering residue at the point of application.  Some products, particularly some lotions, remain greasy on the surface of the skin even when massaged into the area of application.

  • Ingredients

Aside from hemp extract, what else is in there?  Different ingredients can help or hinder how effectively the skin uptakes the CBD (much like carrier oils in tinctures can impact how well our bodies use ingested CBD).  Menthol, for instance, expresses dermal receptors and allows for easier passage of CBD to deeper layers of the skin.

  • Potency

As with any CBD product, consider whether the strength of a product is adequate to suit your needs.  Compare the milligrams of CBD in the container with the volume of the container.

  • Value

How long does one container last you?  How much relief do you get for the money you’ve paid?

By now, 3rd party lab tests are the standard for legitimate CBD companies.  You should be able to view lab reports for the product you are curious about at the company’s site.  In the case of 4 Corners Cannabis, you can enter the batch number on your product’s label to find the exact lab report that corresponds to your product.  If reports are difficult to find, companies should still at least be able to provide you with a lab report if you reach out to them and ask for one.

Why use a topical when I can use a tincture?

You’ll have to determine whether or not the topical route addresses the specific issue you want to use it for.  Many people report great results when topicals are applied to sore muscles and joints.  For obvious reasons though, topicals aren’t going to help anyone soothe  digestive problems or calm a hyperactive nervous system.

Medical Marijuana, Inc Author Kim Nunly outlines the importance of topical CBD products in her CBD Topicals Guide.  She writes, 

CBD topicals are often the first point of contact for curious consumers who are new to CBD.”

Given the fact that topicals make or break so many people’s impressions of CBD products, topical product research and development deserve as much attention as the R and D allocated for any other product.  A poorly-performing product may turn someone away from CBD completely.

What about the placebo effect?

Although it may not seem like a good fit, a lot of customers use topicals for chronic joint issues.  This confused many companies for some time, and led them to believe that those customers were merely experiencing the effect of a placebo.  

Research is beginning to suggest that this is more than a placebo effect.  While designed primarily for surface problems no deeper than the pores, more and more evidence suggests that topicals are actually able to enter the bloodstream through your skin, providing deeper relief for afflicted areas.  Dr. Chan Yung of the Apex Dermatology Institute, when quoted in the South China Morning Post, states, 

Since some chemicals can enter your bloodstream through topical application, it’s best to avoid products that contain harmful ingredients […]”

This entry into the bloodstream is likely why customers who use topicals daily for an extended period of time report greater levels of lasting relief than those who use topicals on an “as-needed” basis.

Surely the topical products don’t show on drug tests… or do they?

Due to this transdermal revelation, it’s important to assess one additional factor:  THC content.  If topical CBD can make it to the bloodstream, you can be sure that THC will make the same journey.  There are numerous anecdotes of people who haven’t ingested or inhaled anything from a cannabis plant, and still tested positive for THC with the use of topicals.  If you have to drug test for any reason, THC-free topicals offer a safer alternative to full-spectrum products containing trace amounts of THC.

The physical application of topicals

The manner in which we apply topicals matter more than most people think.  You won’t get maximal benefits by just smudging some on your skin and leaving it there to set.  You’ll also ultimately waste a good portion by applying it that way.  

Instead, take 10, 20, or even 30 seconds to gently massage the product into the affected area.  This approach promotes blood flow to the area and expresses the pores.  Additionally, the friction stimulates some of the same dermal receptors that ingredients like menthol stimulate, facilitating the pathway to deeper tissues.  Remember, the more of the topical you can get beneath the surface, the better.

As an added precaution, Author D. Dutt of recommends one last check before generously applying your product.  She says, 

“CBD oil is classified as a low allergen and is highly unlikely to cause any allergic reactions.  However, it may cause skin irritation in some users.  Make sure to test the product in a small area of the skin before applying on damaged skin.”

Honing your knowledge

You now know the potential benefits, considerations, and proper application of topical CBD.  For those who haven’t tried any topicals yet, they can now try them.  If you know somebody else who wants to try CBD, but is apprehensive, you can help them make a more informed decision.  Even if you’re an experienced CBD user, maybe you want to try a new topical.  Whatever you do, just don’t overlook them!  To read about the specific benefits of menthol in 4 Corners Cannabis’ Menthol Salve, click here.

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