What happens when CBD is applied to the skin?

Studies have shown when CBD is applied topically, it results in a meaningful accumulation of cannabinoids in the skin and the underlying muscle. Just as taking CBD orally helps the body build up cannabinoids, transdermal application builds up cannabinoids in the skin! Where are you looking to build up your cannabinoids?

These studies reveal extremely useful knowledge to have, as a person may be able to suppress swelling or soreness before it begins, stop a skin condition before the hands are covered in bumps, or …has anyone else experienced acne at much too old of an age? It is much easier to treat redness, swelling, and soreness by preventing its occurrence in the first place. This is why, after I get hurt, I rub CBD on immediately, before the bruising or whatever damage even forms.


Photo by​ Jessica Felicio​ on​ Unsplash

How does it work and how long does it last?

The skin is a detoxifier and a great way to drive things into the body. Within 15-30 minutes topicals take effect. For ultimate relief, re-apply every 3-4 hours. The CBD will work on healing wherever it is applied for up to 48 hours, but to decrease pain, we recommend re-applying.

CBD is a potent antioxidant and topical application is extremely high in effectiveness due to cannabinoid permeability. This means application through the skin is extremely bioavailable, provides the ability to target specific areas of the body, and serves as support for issues ranging from inflammation, circulation, and dryness. As with other forms of cannabinoid therapy, over time, the dose goes down (instead of going up) as the endocannabinoid system is strengthened. Lastly, it should be stated that CBD topicals are the most highly recommended delivery mechanism for chronic circumstances.

Why recommend a topical rather than an ingestible?  

When I think of a CBD tincture or capsule, I think of disease prevention, hindering disease progression, resolution of sleep issues, focus, stress reduction, and brain health. When a person is dealing with a chronic condition in a specific part of the body, perhaps involving pain or inflammation, transdermal application can promote feeling better through healing. Not only does CBD release endogenous opioids, but it helps heal the area that is inflamed.

Bioavailability is a crucial part of this question. Bioavailability refers to the active effect the cannabinoids will have on the body, or the rate at which they are absorbed by the body. Cannabinoids applied topically have a bioavailability of around 45%, while capsules are around 10-15% and tinctures are around 20%. This is taken even further when we consider products such as CBD patches, which have a bioavailability of 90%. I, personally, would like to know the bioavailability of CBD bath salts—when the skin becomes hot and the pores open—I have never experienced bodily healing from an injury as I have with CBD bath salts.


Photo by​ Eva Gomez​ on​ Unsplash

A Fun Study:
Topical application can reduce addiction behaviors?

In an interesting neuropsychopharmacology study, ​Unique treatment potential of cannabidiol for the prevention of relapse to drug use: preclinical proof of principle ​ by researchers Gustavo Gonzalez-Cuevas, et al. found that CBD applied topically to rodents reduced addiction behaviors.

Rats with alcohol or cocaine addictions, which modeled impulsivity, anxiety, and drug-seeking behaviors, were given CBD at 24 hour intervals for 7 days straight. By the end of the CBD treatment, the rodents did not experience a relapse of drug use for approximately 5 months, despite that the plasma and brain CBD concentrations were only detectable for 3 days. Additionally, anxiety and high impulsivity were blocked for those rats that were alcohol dependent. The researchers concluded, “The results provide proof of principle supporting potential of CBD in relapse prevention along 2 dimensions: beneficial actions across several vulnerability states and long-lasting effects with only brief treatment.” 

Photo by David Gabrić on Unsplash

My Product Recommendations?

My all time favorite product:

  • Moon Mother Hemp Bath Salts !
    • These are nothing short of divine
  • Additionally, we have two more CBD bath salts from a new manufacturer being released this month—stay tuned!

What I would get my grandma:

What I would get my friend with a bunch of weird skin conditions:

For someone prone to acne:

  • Moon Mother’s Dream Balm
    • (This stuff is seriously amazing as someone prone to acne—I use it religiously)
  • We have a whole beauty/skin line being released this month—stay tuned!

What I would get in case I injure myself:

What I would get a gym rat:

For sensual enhancement:

To Zen Out for cheap:


An Article By Evie Louise

Evie Louise is a recent psychology graduate from New York University. She is a certified in International Cannabinoid Clinical Therapy. Evie sees all forms of the cannabis sativa plant as the future of psychiatry, and hopes to use it in her therapy practice as a full spectrum approach to mental health and wellness.

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