Does Topical CBD Cream Really Work?3 min read
CBD is often marketed as a powerful treatment for conditions ranging from aches and pains to epilepsy or anxiety. CBD is most commonly taken in the form of edibles, oils or tinctures. A lot of people dislike the taste of CBD oil, however, and topical CBD creams are becoming popular with people who want the benefits of CBD without the strong taste.
Topical CBD creams are often used to treat joint or muscle pain. The oil is easily absorbed into the skin, making creams a good way of providing targetted treatment to a sore muscle or an arthritic joint.
How Does CBD Cream Work?
CBD binds with cannabinoid receptors. We have two kinds of these receptors. CB1 receptors are mostly located in the central nervous system, while CB2 receptors are concentrated heavily in the immune system. Both CB1 and CB2 receptors are found in the skin.
CBD is thought to block the effects of the CB1 and CB2 receptors, which means that it regulates the impact of other endocannabinoids on the body. The body produces endocannabinoids to regulate the immune system, modulate the release of hormones, and impact on the metabolism.
What does this mean for pain? Well, CBD is often used to treat chronic joint pain, such as the pain caused by arthritis. Studies conducted on animals show that CBD can produce a clinically significant reduction in the pain that the animal feels.
How Effective is CBD Cream?
While there are many people, including physicians, who swear by CBD today, the evidence for CBD treating pain in humans is limited. On recent meta-analysis, published in JAMA in 2015, looked at the results of 79 different studies into the effectiveness of CBD for various conditions. The majority of those studies examined CBD that was also mixed with the psychoactive substance THC. Four studies focused on CBD without THC, although they were not looking at pain, but other issues instead.
To date, all of the high-quality studies into pain relief have been focused on animals. However, those animal studies show that CBD can reduce inflammation and also reduce pain-related behaviors in animals.
The lack of evidence is not a sign that CBD does not work, however. It is difficult for researchers to conduct studies on humans because of the ethical issues, and the legal issues. There is one clinical trial ongoing which uses a transdermal CBD gel. This gel is designed to penetrate the skin and go into the bloodstream, to reduce the inflammation associated with osteoarthritis. Early tests are promising.
Is CBD Cream Worth It?
Given the questions over the effectiveness, is CBD worth it? Many people would say that it is. Topical CBD creams are generally well tolerated and side-effect free, assuming you are not allergic to any of the other ingredients. This means that there is little risk to trying them if you are suffering from chronic pain. If you can find a reputable seller of high concentration topical CBD gel that is THC-free, then you can see for yourself. There is a lot of anecdotal support for CBD creams, we are just waiting for the research community to catch up with human trials.