CBD lotions and creams, do they work?

Durable, flexible, and complex, skin is the largest human organ. Laid flat, the skin of the average adult spreads across 18.3 square feet. Multiply that times its several layers, and you have one unique anatomical system.

Skin warns when you near heat or cold. It first feels the pain of cuts, abrasions, and bruises, sending signals to the brain to fight or flee. It provides convenient access to other human systems and expels toxins the body has processed. Still, your skin gets less attention than it should.

With CBD lotions, creams, and other topicals flooding markets, you may wonder if and how they work.

Start with caution!

Confusion, disinformation, and legal prohibitions surrounding cannabis have discouraged the deep scientific research needed to confirm and verify the causation and mechanism of action involved.

Hemp leads the botanical family of Cannabaceae, which includes everything from marijuana to blackberries. Cannabis plants contain hundreds of cannabinoids. The best known are CBD (Cannabidiol) and THC (Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol). The presence of THC distinguishes marijuana from Hemp. While THC triggers brain activity that can reach paranoia levels, CBD functions to calm and soothe body and brain.

Anecdotes and artifacts provide evidence of Hemp's use for thousands of years before the modern era. Marijuana use ties in with religious rites, meditation practices, and recreational escape. Hemp, on the other hand, has provided an inexhaustible source of food and fiber.

Recent changes in U.S. Farm Law have encouraged heavy investment in farming Hemp for the same products long valued by societies and economies around the world. The new interest has also energized interest in health benefits attributed to the plant's CBD content.

Consumers everywhere are trying beverages, edibles, and oils infused with CBD. Moreover, CBD-infused lotions and other topicals now lead customer interest in treating skin conditions, soothing sore muscles, and revitalizing skin cells.

Those same customers need confidence that their choice of products justifies the cost.

How CBD works –

Hemp CBD lotions and creams are legal across the country because they have less than 0.03% THC content. Consequently, they produce no psychoactivity, no psychic trip or cerebral buzz. That leaves space for the chemistry of CBD and other beneficial cannabinoids to do what they do best.

The renowned and much honored Dr. Raphael Mechoulam, Professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, first isolated the chemical structure of cannabinoids in the 1960s. Subsequent research by he and his team has expanded understanding of how these cannabinoids map over to the human Endocannabinoid System (ECS).

The ECS manages much of the brain and body relationship. Composed of neuroreceptors, it functions throughout the human organs, glands, and systems to modulate neural activity. For example, when injuries trigger inflammation, signals warn the brain and deploy body responses. The application or introduction of cannabinoids can rectify or restore the balance considered "healthy."

Scientists are confident they understand the way THC works. It binds with neural receptors to accelerate or reduce their activity. Just enough THC, and the brain-body relationships remain balanced and constant. Too little THC enables anxiety and depression. Too much THC agitates signals that excite brain activity resulting in spatial disorientation and potential paranoia.

CBD presents more of a mystery. It does not bind with neuroreceptors in the same way. Instead, it seems to run interference as antagonists approach the nerve cells. It offers a barrier that allows positive processes to continue. For instance, it reduces the body’s reabsorption of anandamide known as “the human bliss” molecule. It, therefore, encourages the sense of wellbeing.

How to shop for CBD lotions and creams –

  1. Know what you are getting.

The expansion of the Hemp market demand has driven suppliers towards better practices and higher standards, including improved and expanded labeling. These product labels offer an excellent place to start.

Consumers have the right and need to know ingredients. Customers know their respective allergies and sensitivities well. You should look further and favor those products built on organic ingredients. The label should also disclose the presence and percentage of:

  • Pesticides

  • Gluten

  • Preservatives

  • GMO processing

  • Metals

  • Solvents

  • and more.


  1. Consider the power.

CBD products can be expensive, so you want to optimize every dollar spent. Two terms you should grasp are "spectrum" and "content per mg."

  • "Full-spectrum CBD" products contain multiple elements of the whole plant. Full-spectrum products include CBD plus fatty acids, proteins, terpenes, and essential vitamins.

  • Full-spectrum CBD promotes "the entourage effect." It encourages the integration and interaction of the many beneficial properties for an overall positive result.

Also, labels should display the CBD content in terms of milligrams per unit. You can appreciate the price better when you know the content. For example, a CBD lotion with 250mg per ounce gives you a standard to help you measure effects and to pursue comparison shopping.

CBD is not water-soluble. Lotions and creams must have a fatty base such as essential oils or coconut cream. Labeling should reveal the content and suggest the benefits offered by the specific blend of CBD and fatty base.

  1. Check the THC.

Universally available Hemp CBD products must have less than 0.3% THC. However, that must be confirmed by independent, third-party laboratories. Any label should reveal the origin of the testing and its full results. This report should also show the presence and percentage of undesirable elements.

  1. Buyer be cautious.

The market for Hemp CBD products has expanded rapidly as more states legalize medical and recreational marijuana. However, because Hemp CBD products lack THC, they are readily available independent of the marijuana industry. Nonetheless, the heightened demand has empowered some claims worth examining.

Research has not shown that CBD cures any medical condition. The FDA treats it as a “food supplement.” Nonetheless, increasing research and anecdotal history show it relieves symptoms of scores of health problems.

  • A small 2019 study directed patients to treat psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, and the subsequent scars with twice-daily applications of a CBD-enriched topical. Skin tests, photographs, and clinical assessments show improvement in symptoms.

  • An earlier research initiative confirmed CBD helps reduce acne breakouts in women by modulating oil production within skin glands.

  • An extensive 2015 study using rats concluded that CBD applied through the skin reduced joint swelling, improved limb posture, and offered a robust alternative to arthritic therapies with documented adverse side effects.

  • Other researchers treated patients troubled with dry, itchy skin accompanying end-stage renal failure. The application of CBD cream produced significant positive therapeutic results when used twice daily for three weeks.

  • Finally, a 2020 scientific literature review explored the research work on the benefits of Hemp's omega-3 fatty acids and protein-rich seeds. Allowing for the need for additional research, this research review concludes, "the therapeutic potential of CBD for acne, seborrhea, eczema/dermatitis, and skin barrier function is promising."

Additional research has produced positive results. However, the stigma attached to the perceived marijuana connection has limited the extensive blind studies necessary to confirm theories. You can, however, still draw some conclusions.

Some reasonable conclusions.

Lotions, creams, and other topicals developed from Hemp have >0.3% THC. The absence of THC effectively increases the CBD potency. The natural CBD properties have proven medical effects. CBD has demonstrated anti-spastic, anti-inflammatory, and anti-emetic. Research indicates CBD relieves arthritis, reduces acne, and improves sleep.

CBD will not trigger the cerebral high associated with marijuana. However, it does soothe and calm effectively. When applied to the skin, CBD lotions and creams deliver transdermal CBD benefits to affect smooth muscle, inflamed joints, and subdermal health. While consumers differ individually, most report noted improvement from daily applications. CBD lotions and creams can work well for you!

Works Cited


Barbieri, J., J.K., C., Mitra, N., & Margolis, D. (2018, June). Frequency of Treatment Switching for Spironolactone Compared to Oral Tetracycline-Class Antibiotics for Women With Acne: A Retrospective Cohort Study 2010-2016. Journal of Dermatological Drugs, 17(6), 632-638. Retrieved from https://jddonline.com/articles/dermatology/S1545961618P0632X%E2%80%8B

Baswan, S., Klosner, A., Glynn, K., Rajgopal, R., Malik, K., Yim, S., & Stern, N. (2020, December 9). Therapeutic Potential of Cannabidiol (CBD) for Skin Health and Disorders. Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology, 13, 927–942. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7736837/

Hammell, D., Zhang, L., Ma, F., Abshire, S., McIlwrath, S., Stinchcomb, A., & Westlund, K. (2015, October 30). Transdermal cannabidiol reduces inflammation and pain-related behaviours in a rat model of arthritis. European Journal of Pain. Retrieved from https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/ejp.818

Palmieri, B., Laurino, C., & Vadala, M. (2019, March - April). A therapeutic effect of cbd-enriched ointment in inflammatory skin diseases and cutaneous scars. la Clinica terapeutica, 170(2), e93 - e99. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30993303/

Szepietowski, J., Szepietowski, T., & Reich, A. (2005). Efficacy and tolerance of the cream containing structured physiological lipids with endocannabinoids in the treatment of uremic pruritus: a preliminary study. Acta dermatovenerologica croatica, 13(2), 97-103. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16324422/




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