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How Do CBD Topicals Work on the Body?

CBD topicals are one of the most common types of CBD products available at the moment, with more varieties than you could probably imagine.

Whereas CBD oil and CBD vapes come in only a few different variations, CBD topicals have a myriad of subtypes based on what you want to use them for. From CBD balms to CBD bath bombs, each type is designed to treat different ailments and issues.

The only fundamental problem with this is that not a lot of people understand how they work. What makes CBD topicals different, and how do they work on the body?

What Are CBD Topicals?

To understand the way CBD topicals work on the body, we first need to investigate what CBD they are, to begin with.

CBD topicals are, essentially, anything that contains CBD that you use by applying it to your body. It means any product that you rub onto your skin to help conditions and injuries, rather than taking it orally or smoking it.

Most of the time, brands make CBD topicals by combining CBD oil with a topical product, such as is the case with CBD shampoos. You are essentially getting a regular product that you’d apply to your skin or hair, with the added benefit of extra CBD as well.

The big reason for choosing CBD topicals over other CBD types is how incredibly easy they are to use. Instead of having to deal with the irritating, fiddly nature of a CBD oil dropper, or the oil’s unpleasant taste, you can rub the CBD onto your skin. It also makes it super easy to incorporate CBD into your daily routine without taking the time out of your hectic day to do so.

However, while CBD oils and vapes are pretty easy to understand, CBD topicals have a bit more mystery around them. Is there any difference between CBD topicals and CBD oil? How do CBD topicals work?

What Do the Scientists Say About How CBD Topicals Work on the Body?

CBD topicals are one of those products that are typically sold with an inherent assumption that they work with no problems. However, when you compare them to regular CBD products, they start to get a little confusing.

After all, regular CBD oil is ingested and broken down in the body, eventually interacting with the endocannabinoid system and triggering its effects. But how does it work with CBD topicals, considering you just rub them on your skin?

A study conducted in the European Journal of Pain by Hammell et al. found that applying CBD to the skin soothed pain-related behaviors more effectively. This was in addition to treating inflammation, primarily when that inflammation was as a result of arthritis.

By applying the CBD directly to the affected area, the CBD could administer its effects much more effectively and at a higher rate of bioavailability, compared to when taken orally. But how can this be the case?

While research is still ongoing, the current thought is that CBD oil might interact with and affect many more parts of the body than just the endocannabinoid system. A study by Bruni et al. for the Journal of Synthetic Chemistry found that CBD might affect serotonin and adenosine receptors independently from the endocannabinoid system.

This means that CBD seems to bond with these receptors without needing to go through the endocannabinoid system first. However, these effects were a lot more pronounced and noticeable when CBD topicals were explicitly applied to injured areas or areas with an easier connection to the bloodstream.

In other words, CBD topicals might be more effective if they can more readily access the bloodstream, rather than just staying on the surface of the skin.

Unfortunately, until more research is done, we won’t know more. Other than the fact that it does seem to work, we do not completely understand why.   

Final Thoughts: How Do CBD Topicals Work on the Body?

CBD topicals are definitely among the more confusing ways to imbibe CBD, not in the least because of how many different variations there are.

While the research currently points towards CBD topicals being effective at treating all manner of different conditions, we don’t completely understand everything about it.

If you find you are curious to try them out yourself, you can find a myriad of different CBD topical products available at online retailers like PureKana. While we may not understand them in their entirety, CBD topicals can still be a great way to get some CBD and treat specific, localized injuries.

Plus, they usually smell and feel pretty great, too.


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