There are many ways to consume cannabidiol (CBD), and obviously a topical might be your best bet if you’re hoping to treat skin conditions or aches and pains. But what about using CBD cream for relaxation?
A CBD topical is any lotion, cream, balm, or salve that can be applied directly to the skin and is infused with CBD. Research into CBD and its effects is still in its infancy, but what’s out there is exciting.
A 2016 study in rats found that topical applications of CBD helped manage inflammation and pain from arthritis. And in 2018, the American Academy of Dermatology suggested at their annual meeting that topical CBD products could be used along with other treatments for eczema, acne, and psoriasis.
How effective CBD is, however, can vary from product to product, depending on many factors, including hemp source, dosage, and overall quality.
CBD Cream: Benefits and Side Effects
People who craft CBD creams typically suspend CBD isolate, extract, serum, or oil in a moisturizing base because cannabinoids such as CBD bind with fatty acids. There could be many other terpenes, cannabinoids, or other botanicals in the base, just like there are growing in natural Cannabis sativa plants and other plants, too.
So that’s one reason to use CBD topicals: hemp oil and cream bases are a natural way to suspend and carry cannabinoids. Another is that high-quality CBD products can help nourish the skin. And obviously, for people with skin-related pain or other problems, this is ideal for targeted pain relief.
CBD topicals are also perfect for people who have reasons to avoid consuming CBD in other ways. So if you have gastric issues, or if smoking is a no-no for you (and it probably should be for most of us), or you can’t eat sugar or something that make consuming CBD gummies or other products tricky, getting your CBD topically is easier.
CBD topicals and creams are also inconspicuous and convenient, and the right blend of essential oils and terpenes in a CBD cream is perfect for a relaxed mood.
What to Look for in CBD Cream
Of course, if your CBD skincare product is no good, you’re back to square one. Here’s what the best CBD creams have in common:
CBD Strength, Dosing, and Potency: Personal preference controls, so balance what you like with what you can afford. Usually, topical hemp CBD products differ in how many milligrams of CBD per ounce they contain.
THC Levels: CBD products can be three different ways on THC:
- CBD isolate contains no THC or other cannabinoids, only pure CBD
- Broad-spectrum CBD doesn’t include THC, but contains most other cannabinoids
- Full-spectrum CBD does include THC along with all of the plant’s other cannabinoids
Working together in the body, all of the cannabinoids, terpenes, and other plant phytocompounds interact with the receptors in the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS) to produce the entourage effect. This allows the body to use all of the benefits of the botanicals to experience optimal whole plant benefits. However, no “high” feelings or intoxication can come from even full-spectrum CBD oil products.
If psychoactive properties still concern you, look for a THC-free broad-spectrum CBD lotion or cream or CB topicals made from CBD isolate. In general, products created with broad-spectrum hemp extract are a great compromise, because they both include many cannabinoids and terpenes to boost the effects of CBD and guarantee there are not even trace amounts of THC to, for example, show up on a drug test.
Sourcing Hemp for Topical CBD Cream: United States grown, non-GMO hemp is always the best choice here, with Dutch grown cannabis plants next. Hemp is grown in the US in several places, most notably Kentucky and Colorado. Especially in demand is hemp grown at sustainable, family-owned and operated farms that are safe for workers and the environment.
CBD Extraction Methods: In general, CO2 extraction and ethanol extraction are ideal, especially compared with less-favored methods such as butane extraction.
Other Natural Ingredients: Terpenes can change the quality of a product substantially, so try what you’re thinking about buying if you can. Things like pain relief are more universal than what relaxes people, so choose terpenes and fragrances that relax you. Many CBD creams also contain other ingredients like essential oils and botanicals with anti-inflammatory, uplifting, relaxing, and other qualities, such as arnica, eucalyptus, camphor, peppermint, chamomile, menthol, or tea tree oil. Some CBD products, whether they be salves, creams, balms, ointments, serums, or lotions, contain other ingredients like vitamin E, shea butter, coconut oil, aloe vera, hemp seed oil, or jojoba oil to treat chronic pain or improve skin hydration. Only you know which formula is exactly right to relax your mood.
Other Ingredients, Period: Watch for additives like dyes, parabens, and artificial colors. You don’t need them and neither does your skin!
Quality and Third-Party Testing: Make sure your CBD cream is non-GMO, organic, and free of molds, heavy metals, and pesticides by checking the certificate of analysis or COA. Third-party lab testing results should always be available.
Environmental Impact: Many consumers consider how the hemp plant is grown and whether the plants in their CBD cream have been extracted with harsh chemicals that could leave traces and hurt the environment. Cruelty-free products are right in the zone here.
Cost: Most CBD creams and other CBD topicals cost at least $30 and vary from there, up to $70 or more. Depending on what’s in those CBD creams and how many mg of CBD they contain, it may be worth a lot more—but pay attention to CBD creams priced more than $100. Check first to verify it’s worth it to you before spending the extra money.
Brand Reputation: How big is the company, and how long have they been around? Are they reliable? Always look for real customer reviews.
Other: Is is a roll-on product you can use on your temples when you’re upset? Is it a massage oil that can calm you down while it treats back pain and other aches and complaints? Is it some kind of recovery cream or serum designed to rejuvenate and uplift? Some products are actually created specifically for relaxation—although any high-quality product can support overall wellness.
How to Use CBD Cream for Anxiety
Massage CBD salves and other topicals into your skin, just like you’d use a body butter or even a massage oil. Apply them directly to any affected areas; for example, if you have joint pain, focus your effort there. But if your only goal is to relax, just gently massage the skin. You could feel warming, tingling, or cooling effects depending on what else is in your CBD cream.
Remember, treating anxiety is not a simple thing. If you’re under a doctor’s care, ask them about whether or not you should add CBD supplements to your regimen, including in the form of CBD cream.
Legality of CBD Cream
It is legal at the federal level to use hemp-derived CBD products. Those are made from industrial hemp plants with less than 0.3 percent THC. However, these are still not well-regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In some states they remain illegal, and product accessibility is spotty. Especially in these areas, be vigilant about checking the COA and verifying quality.
It’s a great time to try CBD cream for relaxation. There is very little downside and it’s safe—plus, using these products is a wonderful experience!