When you’re suffering from muscle and joint pain, you want the most effective relief possible as soon as you can get it. CBD oil from a dropper or a capsule does a fantastic job of easing inflammation and activating your endocannabinoid system –– but you have to wait for your body to metabolize it.
Enter CBD-infused topical treatments. Easy to carry and even easier to apply, topical CBD creams and ointments offer targeted relief where and when you need it most. A growing body of research shows that they’re a great way to treat occasional and chronic pain without the dangerous side effects of opioids and other prescription medications.
But how do they work, exactly?
Let’s get technical for a minute. Your skin cells contain receptors, called CB1 and CB2, that fire off pain-dampening signals to your endocanabinoid system as soon as you start to feel discomfort. Topically applied CBD balms bypass the CB1 and CB2 receptors and head right for a kind of neurotransmitting middleman that blocks pain by working in tandem with compounds called anandamide and 2-AG. By sidestepping the CB1 and CB2 receptors, CBD can ease pain without the “high” sensation usually associated with THC.
As with CBD oil you ingest orally, the effectiveness of cream or ointment you apply topically can vary according to amount and frequency of use. Start small. Massaging a topical treatment into achy muscles helps stimulate circulation and reduce inflammation immediately, and most CBD-infused topicals are formulated with soothing, easily absorbed ingredients, like menthol, that also get to work right away. You can always increase the amount you apply if you find you need more relief.
Talk to your doctor about possible medication interactions before you start using a topical CBD treatment for chronic pain or other serious conditions. If you’re looking for fast, plant-based pain relief with no risk of addiction or gastrointestinal upset, a CBD topical could be just right.