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Can I use CBD cream for discomfort?

Can I use CBD cream for discomfort?


Can I use CBD cream for discomfort or pain?

Written by James Baumgartner, PhD​

The number one reason why people seek medical help or visit the emergency room is due to pain.  Any discomfort, whether small or severe, can effect or limit activity reducing quality of life.  While acute pain may be treated with over the counter analgesics, many people are not able to take these products due to gastrointestinal effects.  For those with chronic pain, or very strong pain types, there are limited options available for physicians to prescribe. Opiates are typically used for chronic pain with many non-desirable side effects, including a large potential for addiction.  Gabapentin, a pain medication that is non-addictive, is not as effective as opiates and at efficacious doses acts as a sedative. 

One potential alternative for treating discomfort or pain is cannabidiol (CBD).  Although CBD’s analgesic activity has not been clinically proven, preclinical studies and anecdotal reports indicate this cannabinoid may be a great alternative for those with chronic pain or unable to take OTC analgesics.   Products containing CBD come in a wide array of formulations from oral tinctures, tablets, edibles and soft gels.  CBD is also prevalent in a wide range of topical formulations.  Topical application is interesting as this allows site-specific application to treat pain in an affected joint or area

What is CBD cream? 

Most CBD creams are simply a moisturizer base that has CBD extract or pure CBD incorporated.  Each of the inactive ingredients in a cream are meant to help with the texture and applicability of the cream as well as absorption of the moisturizer into the skin.  While many of the ingredients may have chemical-sounding names, these ingredients are important for the “structure” of the cream to keep the lotion from separating and to maintain pliability. There may be additional active components used in creams that may enhance analgesic activity such as arnica oil, menthol, or capsaicin.  Some cream manufacturers will use only organic oils and ingredients, whereas other manufacturers focus on cream performance without the organic requirement.

Advantages of CBD cream for discomfort? 

The major advantage of  a CBD cream or salve is the ability to apply the product directly to the affected area.  CBD topicals may be rubbed into areas where soreness or pain is experienced from the lower back, fingers, elbows, thener muscles, essentially anywhere relief is needed.  Many CBD creams designated for lessening aches and pains will incorporate additional aromatic oils to provide additional relaxation effects, such as lavender oil.  Reaching the right combination of CBD with essential oils will produce enhanced effects at alleviating discomfort, help with exercise recovery and simply accelerate healing. 

CBD is also in the process of being researched for efficacy on additional skin conditions such as acne, rosacea, eczema and psoriasis.  Inflammation is the root cause of  many skin health conditions as well as pain.  CBD’s anti-inflammatory activity may help address underlying the inflammatory component of these conditions as well as direct effects on specific condition mechanisms.

Types of CBD creams for discomfort 

It is quite clear that CBD creams may do wonder for skin issues and discomfort. But it is to keep in mind that a doctor's consultation is highly recommended before adding any CBD product to a daily health regimen. Currently there are three major types of CBD topicals that are available for consumers: 

  • CBD ointments
  • CBD topical balms
  • CBD cream

How do CBD creams work?

CBD creams are simply applied directly to the skin on the area where there is inflammation, swelling, pain or stiffness.  Once applied, these creams penetrate through the sub-dermal and dermal layers of your skin to potentially help your skin heal and reduce the discomfort.  Every cell type in the skin has receptors that interact with CBD to effect that skin cell function.  Nerve endings in the skin that trigger pain and inflammation responses have receptors that bind to CBD and lessen the nerve cell response to reduce pain signaling and inflammation.  All mammals have an endocannabinoid system that interacts with cannabinoids to help properly regulate responses to injury.  Mammals synthesize endogenous cannabinoids naturally.  Externally applied cananbinoids from the hemp plant (called phytocannabinoids), can help boost the ECS response to ensure that there is a proper response to injury but not so strong that collateral damage occurs.  The ECS is a collection of over 80 receptors and enzymes that influence almost all physiological responses from mental health to inflammation.   

Dosage of CBD cream

The dosage of CBD will vary dramatically from manufacturer to manufacturer.  Some companies will put in just enough CBD to make a market claim, others will infuse hemp seed oil instead of CBD hemp oil.  Hemp seed oil does not have any cannabinoids and is a less expensive oil additive.  Manufacturers will also utilize hemp seed oil in products to allow commercialization on Amazon and other big box retailers  This is misleading as consumers think they are buying CBD creams and then wonder why they do not work as stated.

In order to be effective in skin health and discomfort the CBD level should be no less than 100 mg CBD per ounce of cream.   This concentration has been determined from multiple preclinical and clinical studies.  In many cases higher doses of CBD may be more effective, but more studies need to be conducted that include dose ranging to make conclusions.  Topicals have an advantage in that creams may be applied to the desired location as needed to increase dose and effect.

When beginning a CBD treatment, start with a small amount to ensure there is good tolerability.  The amount and frequency of application can then be increased until the desired effects are obtained.  Note that CBD itself has not demonstrated skin allergic effects, but there may be other ingredients in the cream of salve that may irritate the skin which is why it is advised to start slowly with CBD products.  Pana Beauty's facial cream, although originally designed as a cosmetic, is a hypoallergenic base that may serve as a replacement for soothe if there are any skin irritations caused by essential oils present in Soothe. 

It is very important that any purchased CBD product have appropriate third party testing performed. A recent survey of 80 hemp products available for sale in Kentucky demonstrated that only 7% of companies have appropriate testing to ensure potency and purity standards are met.  Improper testing and quality control may mean that products do not contain the concentration of CBD stated on the label and may have unhealthy contaminants. 

How to apply CBD cream?

The application of CBD cream is pretty straightforward; a small amount of the cream or salve is rubbed into the skin with fingers.  The cream or  salve can be applied to dry skin that needs moisturizing, to a joint that is stiff and causing discomfort, or onto muscles that are sore after an intense workout.  Ideally the CBD product is massaged into the skin until fully absorbed to ensure full benefit.   

Are CBD creams safe?

CBD creams are one of the safest CBD products as the ingredients stay in the dermis.  CBD oral products are also very safe until a dose of over 10 mg/kg body weight is achieved where minor adverse events are observed.  CBD applied topically, unless in a specific type of formulation, will not enter the blood stream which minimizes the possibility fo any side effects.  As mentioned above, it is possible that other ingredients in products may produce an allergic reaction   

Where to buy CBD cream

You can find many different types of CBD creams and ointments that have different formulations (e.g. lotion, cream, salve, ointment) that have different strengths of CBD.  Most topical products will be available for online purchase with an increasing number of retail outlets offering CBD products in beauty or pharmacy sections.  It is important to note that CBD products are banned from being sold on, so any hemp product advertised on this site is either being sold in violation of Amazon’s current policy or contains hemp seed oil instead of CBD hemp oil.  Regardless of where the CBD products is advertised, it is recommended to do a bit of research on the company and product to ensure the CBD concentration is greater than 100 mg per ounce and has batch release testing records to ensure potency and purity standards are met.  At AltaVidarx we offer an excellent and expanding line up of topicals CBD products that will address a wide range of skin issues.  The topical line is being expanded to match specific products for desired skin health outcomes that will be backed by clinical testing.  For example, the skin clearing gel was formulated for minimizing blemishes and to reduce the occurrence of acne.  This products will enter clinical testing later this year to demonstrate efficacy.  Each and every product is extensively tested with transparent batch release reports to ensure product efficacy. 

To sum up

CBD creams will help improve many aspect of skin health including reduction of inflammation, swelling, and discomfort. Make sure any purchased CBD creams are made and sold by a reputable party and use the cream appropriately, as suggested by a healthcare expert.  


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