Is Topical CBD Effective?

We know there are a ton of gimmicky, or over the top products out there like CBD pillows, CBD candles, (even CBD condoms).

Sometimes, it’s hard to take this industry seriously when every street corner gas station is putting CBD next to the horny goat weed and energy pills.


There’s no shortage of people using it

bar graph showing a blue arrow pointing up and to the right


In 2019, the Arthritis Foundation published that 79% of the 2,600 arthritis patients surveyed had considered using CBD or had already used it. 29%

percent said they currently used it for arthritis symptoms; among those using CBD, 55% used a topical product applied to the joint.


This means of the 2,000 people using CBD for arthritis, 1,100 of them were using topical CBD.


CBD is also sought after by people suffering from nerve pain (neuropathy), muscle soreness after workouts, or injuries. The search trends on Google for each of these have stayed consistently high over the last 5 years.

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Follow the science:


Researchers from the University of Turin, Italy  founda female scientist working a lab to analyze cbd

“Topical administration is potentially ideal for localized symptoms, such as those found in dermatological conditions and arthritis but also in peripheral neuropathic pain for which capsaicin patches have been proposed as a second line treatment after high quality of evidence was provided”


Dr. Matthew Halpert, an instructor of immunology at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston is quoted as stating the following:

Reliable topical CBD products don’t just mask pain or inflammation as some over-the-counter topical pain relief creams do. They actually can make the pain go away for a certain time period”


There are a large concentration of cannabinoid receptors (areas CBD can affect) on the skin. This is part of a much larger system, the (endocannabinoid system) found in your body.

Looking at it in this way– CBD can work at the skin level, and if enough is placed on the skin, it can penetrate deeper, although it cannot be absorbed into the bloodstream.

The same study from the University of Turin also found that even small amounts are effective in reducing arthritic pain to the local area.

“Results showed that a dose of 6.2 mg/day reduced knee-joint swelling and that increasing the dose to 62 mg/day failed to yield additional improvements.”

a cutaway to show the different layers of skin


Research has also found that adding Boswellia to CBD topically will increase its anti-inflammatory properties (Skalicky et al.)

For the skin:



CBD likes to bind to fats and oils. When placed on the skin, it accumulates in the oil glands by following your hair follicles into your pores. When it stays there, its effects on the oil glands are interesting. Reducing inflammation and excessive oil production means that it has a positive effect on acne and inflammatory conditions of the skin.

This means that a regimen of CBD oil on the skin can possibly help with dermatological issues.

However, using an oil on your skin means that it will not penetrate and cause pain relief. It will just address issues to the skin and nothing else.

So, if you understand what it does, than you can know HOW you need to use it.

This is the case with CBD in general. Using CBD isolate for chronic pain relief from neuralgia is not as effective as using CBD isolate for anti-inflammatory purposes.

Full spectrum CBD has been researched to be more effective for chronic pain relief because of the THC content (however small it may be)


Bottom line on topical CBD’s effectiveness

Yes, CBD does have plenty of research behind its uses on the skin.

If you’re looking for pain relief or reduction in inflammation on the skin itself, a topical oil or ointment may do the trick.

If you’re trying to have systemic effects, like anxiety relief or a better night’s rest, topical CBD isn’t right for you, try an ingestible product like CBD oil.


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Topically, CBD works fairly quickly if it’s a quality product. Shortly after administration, it should start to penetrate the skin. CBD oil, however may be more effective for chronic and long-term pain although it can take hours to kick in

Yes it can. CBD is non comedogenic (won’t clog pores). A quality topical CBD product made for pain will absorb deeper than CBD carried in hempseed oil so that it can help with musculoskeletal pain. Hempseed oil is great for the skin, and so is CBD at reducing inflammation

Yes, but only if you have a product that’s meant to be absorbed through the skin. Rubbing CBD oil on your skin has plenty of benefits for the skin itself, but not for musculo-skeletal or joint pain.

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