The Rise of CBD Topicals: Why Are They So Effective?

July 19, 2017 5 min read

Hemp extract is emerging as one of the most exciting natural alternatives used to treat a wide range of common conditions, and for good reason. Until recently, it was the psychoactive component of hemp, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), that received all of the attention for its medicinal benefits, as well as its ability to produce mind-altering effects. However, with medical marijuana sweeping the country, researchers have begun to discover the amazing properties of many different cannabinoids found within the hemp plant.

Benefits of Hemp Extract

What makes hemp extract so special? Let’s examine the research: according to the National Institute of Health (NIH), cannabidiol or hemp extract “is the major non-psychoactive component of Cannabis sativa,”1 and it is one of over 80 naturally occurring compounds called cannabinoids found in hemp plants. Hemp extract cannabinoids have anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and antispasmodic properties, and also enhance circulation and promote cellular regeneration2. Due to its wide variety of medical benefits, hemp extract is used to treat a number of common conditions including: chronic pain, inflammation, seizures, insomnia, spasms, multiple sclerosis, and mental disorders such as anxiety and depression. As a topical agent, hemp extract oil can also be directly applied to certain areas of the body as an effective means of relieving pain and soreness, reducing inflammation, and soothing inflammatory skin conditions such as psoriasis, dermatitis, and eczema.

Advantages of Topical Application

Since hemp extract oil is non-psychoactive3, applying it to the skin does not create mind-altering effects in the same manner that ingesting THC does. Therefore, the use of hemp extract in topical form is a useful alternative for those who wish to avoid the psychoactive effects of THC and/or those who would like options besides the over-the-counter, steroid-based creams often used for arthritis, joint pain, and a number of other ailments. This is especially true for aging users, parents, or adults who are concerned about practical matters (like failing drug tests, for example). For these reasons, topical hemp extract products are experiencing a rise in popularity within the U.S.

How Does Hemp Extract Work?

In order to understand just how hemp extract works, we first have to understand the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). The NIH defines the endocannabinoid system as “a recently discovered signaling system comprising the cannabinoid CB1 and CB2 receptors, their intrinsic lipid ligands, endocannabinoids and the associated enzymatic machinery4.” The ECS is responsible for regulating many systems within the body such as mood, metabolism, pain, and immune function in mammals. Endocannabinoids are natural chemical signals in the body which interact with the cannabinoid receptors and help maintain homeostasis. It seems to maintain this homeostasis by monitoring and regulating pain, mood, hunger, memory, and more. If the ECS is affected, or the body is not producing enough endocannabinoids, these functions in the body may become unbalanced. Ingesting natural cannabinoids or applying them topically can help restore this balance.

Hemp extract differs from THC in the sense that THC mimics the natural cannabinoids in the body and binds with the cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2, which are found in abundance within the immune system, the gastrointestinal tract, and in the central and peripheral nervous systems. While THC binds to these receptors, the cannabinoids in hemp extract interacts with an enzyme called FAAH (Fatty Acid Amide Hydoxylase)5. This enzyme is responsible for pulling excess anandamide – which plays a role in our body’s homeostasis – out of circulation. The FAAH enzyme breaks down and disposes of natural endocannabinoids. Hemp extract stops this breakdown and in turn increases the natural endocannabinoids available in our system. Since endocannabinoids have such a balancing and healing effect on the body’s numerous systems and functions, hemp extract’s ability to increase the number of endocannabinoids present in the body may create a bevy of therapeutic and even healing benefits6.

What are Hemp Extract Topicals?

Hemp extract topicals can be used as an effective treatment to alleviate many symptoms. Once applied, they can take anywhere from an hour to 48 hours to provide relief depending on the dose, history and frequency of hemp extract use, and severity of the condition. Most users find that regular application provides an analgesic effect that significantly reduces localized discomfort2. Even though hemp extract is most often taken for pain relief, research is starting to show it may be beneficial in relieving cramps, headaches, and psoriasis as well. Hemp extract’s ability to create therapeutic effects by increasing the natural levels of pain relieving endocannabinoids decreases inflammatory responses and desensitizes one’s pain receptors2.

Hemp extract comes in many forms, including oils, ointments, creams, lotions, patches, balms, and salves. Hemp extract oils and creams readily absorb into the skin and can be applied directly to painful or inflamed areas. We advise that if you choose to try topical application that you begin will smaller doses and increase the amount of hemp extract you use on a gradual basis until the desired result is reached7.

Hemp extract oils can be potent and can either include psychoactive THC or just hemp extract. Oils are also quite versatile, since they can be applied topically as well as ingested. Enliven Essentials offers a hemp extract oil that is low-THC, high-CBD for however you want to incorporate hemp extract into your life. We also offer a pain cream for methods of topical application. Explore all our hemp extract products today and find what works for you!

How Do Medical Experts Feel about Topical Hemp Extract Use?

Official medical research on the effects of hemp extract isn’t as plentiful as it should be thanks to the stigma against marijuana and cannabinoid derivatives, cannabis’ Schedule I classification as an illegal substance, and a lack of FDA approval. However, much of the anecdotal evidence suggests that topical hemp extract’s neuroprotective, analgesic, and anti-inflammatory effects are very promising2. Overall, many within medical community are rapidly building the case that hemp extract can be a powerful relief agent for many conditions and that the health risk is negligible. Enliven Essentials is a New York-based company specializing in hemp extract products for you and your family. Enliven products utilize full-spectrum extract, meaning we use the whole plant complex for all the natural benefits in the plant, and we only use hemp extract derived from industrial hemp that contains less than the U.S. legal limit of THC or none at all. Explore our wide range of products today and check us out on social media! You can find Enliven Essentials on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.



  1. Iuvone, T. et al. (2004). Neuroprotective effect of cannabidiol, a non-psychoactive component from Cannabis sativa, on beta-amyloid-induced toxicity in PC12 cells. National Center for Biotechnology Information.
  2. Russo, E. B. (2008). Cannabinoids in the management of difficult to treat pain. Princeton: National Institute of Health.
  3. Cherney, K. (2017, April 13). Using CBD Oil for Pain Management: Does It Work? Healthline.
  4. Massi, P. (2013). Cannabidiol as potential anticancer drug. National Center for Biotechnology Information.
  5. Harvey, J. (2016). What CBD is and How it Works in the Body. THCU Insider.
  6. The Endocannabinoid Production in the Human Body. (n.d.). CBD Oil Review. 
  7. CBD Oil Dosage - General Advice to Assess How Much CBD to Take. (n.d.). CBD Oil Review.
  8. Burnett, D. M. (2015, January 04). Finding the Optimal Therapeutic Ratio of THC and CBD. Medical Jane.


Enliven does not make any medical claims as we are not doctors/physicians. There is a large amount of scientific research on hemp extract and the ECS system, including journal entries from many different pilot studies done by doctors from around the world over the past four decades. We encourage you to do your research and talk with your physician or health and wellness care practitioner about hemp extract. There are many online sources for information, but please be reminded that the Internet will have a mix of both valid and misleading information. We encourage you to also vet your sources to ensure that they are reputable.