The Rise of CBD Topicals: Why are they so Effective?

CBD is emerging as one of the most exciting natural alternatives used to
treat a wide-range of common conditions, and for good reason. Up until
recently, it was the psychoactive component of cannabis, THC
(tetrahydrocannabinol) 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 cannabinoids found within
the cannabis plant. But what makes CBD so special? Let’s examine:
According to the National Institute of Health (NIH) Cannabidiol or CBD
“is the major non-psychoactive component of Cannabis sativa,” (Society,
2013) and it is one of over 80 natural occurring compounds, called
cannabinoids found in cannabis plants. CBD cannabinoids contain the
following properties: anti-inflammation, analgesic, anti-spasmodic,
enhanced circulation and regenerated cellular activity (Russo, 2008).
Due to its wide variety of medical benefits, 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, CBD oil can 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.
Since CBD oil is non-psychoactive (Cherney, 2017), applying it to the
skin does not create mind-altering effects in the same manner that THC
ingestion does. Therefore, the use of CBD 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 CBD products are experiencing a
rise in popularity within the U.S.

       How does CBD work?

In order to understand just how CBD 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 machinery.”
(Society, 2013) 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 do this by detecting 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. If the body is not producing or regulating
endocannabinoids properly, ingesting natural cannabinoids or applying
them topically can restore this balance.
CBD 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, CBD interacts with an enzyme
called FAAH (Fatty Acid Amide Hydoxylase) (What CBD is and How it
Works in the Body, 2016). This enzyme is responsible for pulling excess
anandamide (which plays a role in our homeostasis), out of circulation.
FAAH enzyme breaks-down and gets rid of natural endocannabinoids.
CBD 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, CBD’s ability to increase the number of
endocannabinoids present in the body may create a bevy of therapeutic
and even healing benefits (The Endocannabinoid Production in the
Human Body).

What are CBD topicals?

CBD comes in oil form, ointments, creams and lotions, patches, balms
and salves. CBD readily absorbs into the skin and is can be applied
directly to affected areas. It is advised that topical users should begin will
smaller doses and increase the amount used on a gradual basis until the
desired result is reached (CBD Oil Dosage - General Advice to Assess
How Much CBD to Take). CBD oils can be potent and can either include
psychoactive THC or just CBD. Oils are also quite versatile, since they
can be applied topically as well as be ingested.
CBD 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, frequency of use and
severity of the condition. Most users find that regular application
provides an analgesic effect that significantly reduces localized
discomfort (Russo, 2008). Even though CBD is most often taken for pain
relief, research is starting to show it may be beneficial in relieving,
cramps, headaches, psoriasis as well. CBD’s ability to create therapeutic
effects by increasing the natural levels of pain relieving
endocannabinoids, decreases inflammatory responses and desensitizes
one’s pain receptors (Russo, 2008).

How do medical experts feel about topical CBD use?

Given the degree to which marijuana and cannabinoid derivative use has
been stigmatized in the past, and cannabis’ Schedule I classification as
an illegal substance, and lack of FDA approval, official medical research
on the effects of CBD isn’t as plentiful as it should be. However, much of
the anecdotal evidence suggests that CBD’s neuroprotective, analgesic
and anti-inflammatory effects with regards to topical application is very
promising (Russo, 2008).
Overall, many within medical community are rapidly building the case
that CBD can be a powerful relief agent for many conditions that poses a
negligible health risk.
Enliven Essentials is a New York based company specializing in hemp-
derived CBD products for you and your family. Enliven only uses CBD
derived from industrial hemp and contains none or less than the legal
limit of THC by U.S. law. Enliven products are produced using
phytocannabinoids, meaning using the whole plant complex for all the
natural benefits in the plant. phytocannabinoids (phyto = plant in Greek),
are characterized by their ability to act on the cannabinoid receptors that
are part of our endocannabinoid system.
Enliven does not make any medical claims as we are not doctors /
physicians. There is a large amount of scientific research on CBD and
the ECS system as well as 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 CBD. 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
Burnett, D. M. (2015, January 04). Finding the Optima Therapeutic
Rationof THC and CBD. MedicalJane.
CBD Oil Dosage - General Advice to Assess How Much CBD to Take.
(n.d.). CBD Review.
Cherney, K. (2017, April 13). Using CBD Oil for Pain Management: Does
it work? Healthline.
Russo, E. B. (2008). Cannabinoids in the management of difficult to treat
pain. Princeton: National Institute of Health.
Society, B. P. (2013). Cannabidiol as potential anticancer drug. London:
National Institute of Health. The Endocannabinoid Production in the
Human Body. (n.d.). CBD Oil Review. What CBD is and How it Works in
the Body. (2016). THCU Insider.