Introduction CBD Topicals are products which allow you to put CBD directly onto your skin. Topicals are one of the fastest growing segments in the CBD industry. When I first got into the CBD market, oils that were taken orally seemed like the only game in town. And while CBD oils are still the largest single category, as the entire CBD marketplace has grown dramatically over recent years, it’s really no surprise to see other categories such as topicals, edibles and vapes growing as well. 7 Mountains is bringing out a new CBD topical to complement the two we already offer, so now seems like a good time to take a deeper dive into the topic. CBD and Your Skin The obvious first question is: does CBD work when applied to the skin? It’s a great question; after all, there are many things that don’t have their intended effect when you put them on your skin. A glass of wine can have a pleasant and relaxing feeling, but only if you drink it. The issue is how do our bodies actually use CBD? What needs to happen for CBD to be effectively utilized by our bodies? In an earlier post I talked at length about something called the Endocannabinoid System or “ECS”. The ECS is the system which allows our bodies to “use” cannabinoids, of which CBD is one. Think of our nervous system. It allows us to sense and respond to stimuli in our environment as neurons send and receive neurotransmitters. Just as the nervous system is located throughout our body, so too is the ECS. The ECS works when cannabinoids come into contact with specialized receptors within it. These receptors are called CB1 and CB2. When the CB receptors in the skin are actvivated, they modify the function of the cells in which they are located. Research has shown that both types of receptors are present in nearly every part of our skin including keratinocytes, melanocytes, mast cells, sebocytes, sweat glands and some hair follicles. Importantly, keratinocytes represent 90% of the cells of the epidermis. This is important because topical applications don’t go much further than the epidermis. Responses to CBD in the Skin CB receptors are located in nearly all the various types of cells which make up our skin. Different cell types perform different functions and the ECS system is involved in modulating a range of various functions. For this reason, it’s really not surprising that CBD can have a positive impact on more than just one aspect of our skin and the other bodily functions which are affected by the skin. Here are some of the potential benefits of topical CBD which are supported by research.
- A preclinical study performed in 2020 showed that CBD can help to relieve the pain and damage associated with athletic performance by reducing inflammation which occurs after a workout. CBD caused an increase in anti-inflammatory cytokines and a decrease in pro-inflammatory cytokines.
- The Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology recently said that clinical studies have shown CBD to result in a reduction in pruritus (itching) caused by conditions such as dermatitis, psoriasis and allergic contact dermatitis. The reduction in itching is due to a reduction in the productions and proliferation of the cells involved in the inflammatory response.
- CBD may also assist with skin rejuvenation through interaction with basal cells which are responsible for the production of new skin cells.
- A 2014 study suggested that CBD can prevent sebocytes from over producing sebum, a common cause of acne. The study also suggested that CBD can prevent inflammatory cytokines from activating, which is another cause of acne.
- Another study done in 2014 showed that topically applied CBD reduced pain and inflammation from arthritis in animal subjects.