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How does CBD topical cream work?

Bank of medicinal cream with CBD oil, bottle of cannabis oil, capsules, on a green plate. Flat lay, top view.

Utter the letters ‘CBD’ a few years ago and you’d have been met with a sea of blank stares – but fast-forward to 2019, and this much acclaimed oil has fast become a household name. A minor constituent of marijuana, it is widely touted as a cure-all by its legion of loyal fans. In 2018, the government relaxed its laws on when cannabis medicines could be prescribed by doctors, and CBD oil has shown great promise since in treating a variety of ailments, including acne, insomnia, anxiety and a range of inflammatory conditions.

More recently, topical CBD creams have been getting their share of the limelight, with many believe they are more effective in treating such ailments than other types of administration. But, if they contain all the same ingredients, does it really matter how CBD products are applied?

Cannabis face cream or moisturizer jar concept. Natural cosmetic.
CBD topical cream is nourishing and luxurious for the skin and works as a two in one to help soothe and moisturize

In a word, yes – and by understanding a little bit more about how CBD topical cream works, it can help to make the right decision in terms of which method of administration is right for you.

CBD topical cream is nourishing and luxurious for the skin and works as a two in one to help soothe and moisturize. When applied to the skin and rubbed in thoroughly until absorbed, the Endocannabinoid System, or ECS, can receive the cannabinoids. These then adhere to different endocannabinoid receptors, which are located all around the body. And receive and interpret signals from CBD and also from other cannabinoids which may be present in CBD oil. They react by producing many different responses, and although there are many things that the endocannabinoid system regulates, some of them include appetite, digestion, inflammation, immune function, mood, sleep, memory, pain, and pleasure.

How are CBD creams made?

CBD topical creams usually contain CBD made from industrial hemp, ensuring that the CBD oil is low in THC and abundant in cannabinoids. There are different types of CBD topical creams, including full-spectrum and broad-spectrum. The former has a higher amount of THC present since it is mostly unfiltered, keeping all of the cannabinoids, terpenes, phytochemicals, etc. intact. Broad-spectrum, on the other hand, contains lesser amounts of THC, so it is more appropriate if you are concerned about taking a drug test and having tiny amounts of THC show up. However, this does come at the cost of fewer of the beneficial substances that are found in the full spectrum creams, so ultimately, it’s down to personal choice.

CBD does not contain THC – the psychoactive compound that is found in cannabis, and as such, is seen as a safer way to reap the benefits of this powerful plant

Why use a CBD topical cream?

By using a CBD topical cream, you can bypass the digestive system, which makes for an even more potent and effective means of CBD administration. When CBD is applied topically, it can access the endocannabinoid receptors much more quickly and get straight to work. It is also more easily used by the body, resulting in a higher rate of effectiveness because the digestive system doesn’t get in the way

CBD topical creams are a great way to administer CBD. Some creams, which contain warming or cooling agents, can help with muscle aches and tensions by decreasing muscle inflammation, making them a favourite amongst athletes or those who engage in physical activity often. Warming creams can also help those who are suffering from arthritis and other minor chronic pain conditions. 

Some CBD creams have a calming effect due to their lovely scents, and can help to melt away stress, leaving you feeling relaxed and rejuvenated. Despite the small amounts of THC found in both full-spectrum or broad-spectrum creams, no high will occur as a result of their use – so if it’s something that has concerned you about using CBD topicals, you can rest assured that it won’t be an issue.

CBD is also used for a plethora of other reasons, and has been found to be effective in improving sleep, because the endocannabinoid system can help to regulate your circadian rhythm. The decrease in anxiety, tension, depression, and stress this brings means that it can also help with improving mental health – as well as boosting concentration and alleviating brain fog.

The popularity of CBD oil as a medicinal product has skyrocketed over the past 12 months. Image credit: Jonathan Weiss/

Final thoughts on CBD topicals

CBD topical cream is often infused with a number of botanical extracts and herbs, as well as other oils. Most commonly, these include avocado oil, coconut oil, shea butter, or apricot oil, to name a few. They also contain relaxing and calming botanicals such as lavender, eucalyptus, and menthol – so it pays to read the ingredients and work out what holds the most benefit for you before you make your choice.

Companies have gotten pretty crafty in coming up with the most therapeutic and nourishing ingredients to incorporate into their CBD creams. As the selection of CBD brands like Provacan increases across the market, more and more brands are coming up with creative and innovative products containing many niche and unique ingredients, often making them doubly effective in treating issues such as stress, anxiety and poor sleep.

A CBD topical may be best for you if you are looking for a more targeted approach to pain. Although CBD is the prime ingredient in both topicals and creams, the effects can differ somewhat depending on the method of administration. Sublingual drops or ingestible CBD product are better for a more all-over approach, but topicals work to target specific areas with higher potency and efficacy. If you have been curious about trying CBD topical cream, then it is now more readily available than even, and is largely considered less harmful than many prescription and pharmaceutical drugs.

All in all, it comes down to personal choice – but with a legion of loyal fans professing its benefits for a wealth of different conditions, there are no signs of CBD oil leaving the limelight behind any time soon.