April 30, 2021
Why Topical CBD? Hear From A Cannabis Nurse

While oral consumption of CBD is what may be traditionally popular, CBD can be highly effective when used as a topical agent also. Newcomers may be a bit more hesitant about the consumption of CBD, but using it as a topical agent may be an avenue for them to explore its beneficial qualities.

It’s one thing to merely “promote” a product, but as a cannabis nurse, it’s extremely important that I not only suggest and advise the use of high-quality products that I trust but there are a few that I have tried and tested myself—and work! I have personally used Equilibria products, i.e. Daily Drops, for a little over a year along with other cannabinoids. I also like to look out for new flavors of the Daily Drops to mix things up whenever possible. What I like the most about Equilibria products is:

  • Real hemp based full-spectrum CBD
  • Excellent lab results
  • Their ingested products taste good & their topical products smell great!

However, while oral consumption of CBD is what may be traditionally popular, CBD can be highly effective when used as a topical agent also. Newcomers may be a bit more hesitant about the consumption of CBD, but using it as a topical agent may be an avenue for them to explore its beneficial qualities. I have had the pleasure of using Equlibria’s Relief Cream and will share how to use CBD as a topical agent (and again why it is so important to make sure you are using a quality product from a reputable dispenser).

As a nurse, I wash my hands a lot, which makes my skin very dry. I have been using the Relief Cream to tackle this issue, and after the first couple of uses, I noticed a substantial decrease in my dry skin. I also use it for muscle discomfort, and the relief was significant and worked much better than over-the-counter pain relief balms such as Icy-Hot.

It is important to mention that CBD has definitely had a rocky past in the topical development arena. In 2018 and early 2019 everyone (I mean literally everyone!) was jumping into the CBD business. It was “added” to all types of food, soda, even pillowcases, and a TON of beauty products. The problem with this was that while companies were placing “CBD” labels on products, there was no actual CBD and it was a marketing gimmick or the product contained poor quality CBD grown under bad conditions. Many products contained your typical mystery beauty product ingredients with a tiny bit of non-THC hemp oil thrown in—nowhere near enough to make any sort of difference. The over-saturation with “sham” products resulted in a slew of negative articles and overall skepticism about whether CBD could actually help with anything at all!

Most of the critiques of CBD in skin creams fall into one of the following:

  • Most studies that we have are only animal studies done on mice
  • There is no proof that CBD works in a topical or transdermal product
  • False claims of anti-aging properties

The critique of “only animal studies” being done is somewhat silly. While, yes, a study done on mice is less directly applicable than human studies, these studies are a very important early step on the way to performing studies with human subjects. Therefore, it is safe to say that while animal studies are not intended to be the end-all of a research’s trajectory, they are also not completely meaningless. Animal studies are often critical junctures in the research process to build on before human studies can proceed. Note: Equilibria does not test any of its products on animals, I am just commenting on how scientists have conducted and published research on the effectiveness of CBD over the years, in general.

The second point regarding “proof of effectiveness” is technically problematic as several of these magazine articles were looking at data from before 2019, before there was substantial, advanced research on CBD. The statement about “no proof regarding CBD working topically” was true back then…but the research on this has since progressed to suggest otherwise. (Just like in 2 years, everything I write today might make me look like a dinosaur!)

In May 2020, the Journal of Dermatology released an article that highlighted how we have endocannabinoid receptors in our skin. Prior to this study, it was assumed that endocannabinoid receptors only exist in our central nervous system and internal organs. The photo below is from a study published in Dec 2020 “Therapeutic Potential of Cannabidiol (CBD) for Skin Health and Disorders.

Several endocannabinoid receptors are seen present in the dermis and epidermis (skin). That is good news for CBD topical product development and the potential of future cannabinoid science.

Regarding the “anti-aging” false claims: while there is no definitive proof that CBD has any anti-aging therapeutic effect on the skin, there have been studies showing neuroprotective properties against neurodegenerative diseases and processes. Therefore, CBD may prevent aging…but of your brain rather than your skin—pending further studies of course. However, this does not mean that the case is closed for skin anti-aging properties with CBD all together; we just don’t know fully yet as research continues to evolve. However, growing proof that our brains may be protected by CBD isn’t the worst news either, in fact, that’s pretty great!

So, as I mentioned above, I have been using the Relief Cream for dry skin, for pulled muscles, and for any acute musculoskeletal discomfort that I’ve felt (being a nurse can get grueling at times) and it worked great for all of those things. So great that I probably would have tried it on my face too, if not for the menthol! My favorite story is when my friend tried it for the first time. Now it is important to note that my friend is a doctor and often skeptical of new products or therapies (I’m sure none of you have ever met a doctor like this!). He was in agony after pulling a muscle in his left shoulder, with nothing helping to relieve the extreme discomfort. It was so bad he was starting to wonder if he was having a heart attack. He tried Motrin, Tylenol, a heating pad, Icy-Hot, rest…nothing worked. Finally, he came to me and said, “Ok, I’ll try this cream, why not.” Well, it worked! I agree that anecdotal stories are not sufficient evidence, but it is nice to see someone feel relief in real-time and it is exciting to think what future research may reveal.

Moving on, I was excited to start using the new Daily Treatment Oil. It was different from the Relief Cream; it was thinner, it had a different texture, and smelled great. So what did I do after noticing these differences? I immediately tried on my face and it felt amazing! It was not heavy or too oily and it did not clog my pores. It is made of only natural oils and CBD with no other added ingredients. What is great (again anecdotal) is that in a few days, my face felt less dry, looked refreshed, and I did not break out. It also smells great and makes the inside of your facemask smell pleasant too. The reason for these effects is likely due to the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, natural oils, and terpenes. You can now try both the Relief Cream and DTO along with the Mineral Bath Soak in Equilibria’s new topical-only Body Box. It’s a great way to introduce yourself to topicals and explore the unique beneficial qualities of each product.

If you are wondering, “So if I start using topicals can I stop using my tinctures and softgels?” No, you should keep using them. Topicals are not typically absorbed into the bloodstream, so you are getting CBD inside your skin cells, but not anywhere else (this is called peripheral tissue activity). To get something into the bloodstream would require a transdermal patch that goes deeper and is systemically absorbed.

Photocredit: Cannify

You should absolutely keep using your edible products. Topicals can often treat various skin ailments, but ingested supplements help too. You will want the systemic endocannabinoids to help with skin inflammation.

Again, only purchase products from reputable companies, and honestly, get your CBD supplements and skin products from CBD specialty companies. A shocking number of “beauty” companies do not use real CBD in their products, and if they do, you do not know how much CBD or what else they added to it. In fact, many higher-level executives in beauty companies openly admit that there is very little, if any, CBD inside their products. In addition, a statistic I like to cite often is that 88% of the CBD market is a fake product. Therefore, it is best to use only products made specifically by hemp or cannabis companies that have public lab reports with good results or to use clinicians or consultants that know how to look up lab results to confirm a healthy plant and product.


This blog originally appeared in Equilibria Women.

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Rebecca Abraham RN, BSN

Acute on Chronic founder and President
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