What is CBD Cream? A Beginners Guide

by | Nov 30, 2022 | Latest News | 0 comments

In 2021, Americans purchased over 4 billion dollars of cannabidiol (CBD) products.  That includes smokable hemp, vape cartridges, tinctures, and edibles.  But one of the growing alternative health products of interest is CBD creams. 

You can find many over-the-counter creams and remedies at your local Walgreens or CVS pharmacy.  But OTC creams do not work for everyone.  And some people have found that cannabidiol (CBD) creams can relieve various symptoms much better.

If you are interested in trying a cannabidiol (CBD) cream or ointment, here are some tips and frequently asked questions to help get you started.  And to learn whether CBD cream is a natural alternative treatment you may want to try. 


How Do You Use CBD Cream?

Once you have found a cannabidiol cream that you would like to try, applying it is very easy.  If you have purchased a cream, you will want to thoroughly wash your hands before touching the cream to apply it to your body.  That helps prevent bacteria from developing in the cream. Even though cannabidiol has antibacterial properties, it can still happen.

Read the product label carefully for recommendations on how much CBD cream you should apply.  While it is not possible to “overdose” on cannabidiol cream, it can, in some cases, cause skin irritations if used excessively.  

Some people prefer to apply cannabidiol cream directly to the area where they are experiencing pain symptoms. You may also want to apply the CBD cream in the surrounding areas. To help relieve muscle tension. 

For example, if you are experiencing back pain, you may want to apply the cannabidiol cream around your shoulder area or on your glutes. Often, inflammatory pain is caused by muscle tension in other areas of the body, which can be an effective method of reducing pain with CBD cream. 

Another popular method is to apply the cannabidiol cream and then apply a heating pad to the affected area.  Heat can open skin pores and may assist by promoting increased absorption. However, some CBD creams may have extracts like menthol, which may feel uncomfortably warm when heat activated. Particularly for people who have dry, or sensitive skin. 


What is the Difference Between a CBD Cream and an Ointment?

A cannabidiol cream product is usually a medium-thick consistency.  CBD creams tend to appear white because better-quality products do not have artificial coloring.  And that is good news for people who have allergies to cosmetic coloring.

Cannabidiol creams can provide a warming or cooling sensation, depending on the natural extracts.  Many types of CBD creams also have Aloe and other natural moisturizing ingredients that can help relieve dry or cracked skin. 

The consistency of CBD ointments is a little different compared to cannabidiol creams.  They are less thick in consistency and dispense a thin layer of ointment on the skin.  The roller mechanism can also be used to apply light pressure for a massage effect while you are dispensing the roll-on ointment. 

One of the great benefits of a CBD roll-on ointment is that it is literally hands-free. Simply remove the cap from the product, and use the roller to apply the CBD ointment directly to the affected area.  No fuss, and no messy residue on your hands or scent.  And for people who have nerve damage or arthritis in their hands, it is far easier to apply a roll-on ointment. 


Do Broad-Spectrum or Full-Spectrum CBD Creams Work Better?

You might see cannabidiol creams that are advertised as “broad-spectrum” or “full-spectrum” and have no idea what that means.  Product labels can be confusing, and while you assume that full-spectrum cannabinoids can provide better results, most people are not sure why or how that works. 

What is the difference between a CBD cream with broad or full-spectrum cannabinoids versus a standard CBD cream? Some studies have suggested that cannabinoids work in unison (and better) when combined with a small amount of THC. This is called the entourage effect, which is why you will find that many top-end CBD creams contain a bit of THC.  As well as some naturally occurring terpenes that may provide wellness benefits. 

Some people oppose using cannabidiol (CBD) products with THC content.  This is understandable because full-spectrum and broad-spectrum tinctures, edibles, and topical CBD products leave metabolites. Or indications that you have ingested THC, which can appear on a drug test. 

There is not enough THC content in a full-spectrum CBD cream or other product to create impairment or intense psychoactive effects.  Cannabidiol is not like marijuana in that regard. However, if you are concerned because you are in an occupation or situation where you are frequently drug tested, you may want to stay away from full-spectrum CBD products


Are Cannabidiol (CBD) Creams Hypoallergenic?

Most skin creams today are hypoallergenic, and that includes many brands of cannabidiol (CBD) topicals.  However, it depends on the brand and the method of manufacturing.

Look at the ingredient list of any cannabidiol cream for pain or inflammation. Certain extracts may be effective for symptom relief but may cause skin irritation if you have allergies.  Also, consult with the Certificate of Analysis (COA) for any CBD product to confirm the ingredients and any potential for an allergic reaction. 

Can CBD Cream Affect Prescription Medications I am Taking?

Cannabidiol (CBD) can cause drug interactions.  The World Health Organization (WHO) has stated that there is no evidence that CBD is harmful to health.  Based on data from global clinical studies.  And in 2017, the WHO suggested that cannabidiol should not be treated as a controlled substance. 

That being said, medical research has determined that all cannabinoids can interact with prescription medications.  If oral and topical CBD products are used regularly, they can reduce the efficacy of certain prescription medications.  

There are not enough longitudinal (long-term) studies about the effects of hemp-derived cannabidiol creams (with less than 0.30% THC) on human health.  But you should take precautions if you are taking psychotropic medications for schizophrenia, ADHD, or blood thinning medications like Warfarin. And consult with your physician before using any CBD products. 


How Are Cannabidiol Topicals Made?

Industrial hemp is the source of all cannabidiol lotions and ointments.  When manufacturers make CBD cream, they use cannabidiol that has been extracted from hemp plants or seeds. And then, various products, including lotions, patches, creams, and gels, are created for holistic treatments. 

A carrier oil is used to create cannabidiol cream.  One of the most common oils used for both tinctures and topical products is MCT oil.  Coconuts and olives are extracted to create medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) to create a safe carrier oil that is also packed with healthy nutrients. 

Full-spectrum CBD creams may provide a concentrated benefit.  That is because natural terpenes, cannabidiol, THC, and other compounds from hemp are present in full-spectrum CBD oil or topicals. 

Broad-spectrum CBD will contain all the hemp compounds but with no THC content.  Or in some cases, the amount of naturally occurring THC is minimal.  However, full-spectrum CBD creams will contain a number of balanced cannabinoids, including THC.  But products must still fall under the 0.30% THC content per federal regulations. 

What Do CBD Creams and Ointments Smell Like?

One of the biggest concerns that some people have regarding cannabidiol (CBD) topicals is the scent.  Consumers may worry that they will smell like Delta 9 cannabis (marijuana) if they apply a CBD cream.

Hemp plants contain more cannabidiol than marijuana plants.  And standard cannabis plants have more THC than hemp plants. But more than thirty (30) cannabinoids have been identified by researchers in hemp seed oil. 

The scent of cannabidiol creams can vary if artificial perfumes or aromatherapeutic extracts are added.  But the majority of products do not have a scent at all, while some have an earthy or woody outdoor scent.  It all depends on the CBD cream you buy. 

Salves, on the other hand, may be the most highly scented CBD products on the market. Because during the distillation process, the cannabidiol and terpenes are condensed.  The thick cream is ideal for targeting pain, and some have a hot or cooling sensation when applied to the skin.


Are There Terpenes in CBD Cream? 

Cannabinoid topics that are labeled as broad-spectrum or full-spectrum will have terpene content.  That is why they are believed to work better because cannabidiol, THC (less than 0.30% content), and natural terpenes are more potent when combined. And can provide more anti-inflammatory, pain, and symptom relief. 

Full-spectrum CBD creams contain THC, terpenes, and other phytochemicals derived from natural extracts. But there are also naturally occurring terpenes present in cannabidiol which can be manufactured into a medicinal topical cream or ointment.

Some of the most common terpenes found in cannabidiol include:

  • Limonene
  • Pinene
  • Myrcene
  • Linalool
  • Beta-Caryophyllene
  • Bisabolol
  • Terpineol
  • Trans-nerolidol

While standard cannabidiol creams will not have much of a scent, there is a mild scent you may detect from full-spectrum CBD products.  Don’t worry; it doesn’t smell like marijuana! But you may detect earthy or fresh grass scents. 

Every plant on the planet has naturally occurring terpenes.  Check your product ingredient list.  If the cannabidiol cream is labeled “full-spectrum,” the Certificate of Analysis (COA) will indicate the content of other cannabinoids and terpenes. 

Remember that product advertising can sometimes be misleading.  And the content promised on the label of your favorite CBD cream may not match what is inside the bottle.  Always do your research to understand exactly what you are buying. 


Can CBD Cream Help With Osteoarthritis?

Managing inflammation and discomfort matter most for people living with the painful symptoms of osteoarthritis.  Like any other chronic pain condition, patients may try a variety of different prescription medications to manage symptoms.  And over time, they can also build up a resistance to common NSAIDs and opioid pain medications. 

Many people with osteoarthritis have shared that cannabidiol (CBD) creams or ointments can effectively relieve pain.  But don’t take our word for it.  The American Arthritis Foundation confirms that CBD supplements and topicals can help. 


Can I Use CBD Cream On My Feet if I Have Diabetes?

There isn’t a lot of clinical research regarding CBD topicals as a treatment or relief for diabetic neuropathy.  Patients with diabetes may experience peripheral neuropathy in the extremities, such as feet, toes, legs, and hands. 

Diabetic neuropathy is a painful condition. Regarding symptoms, neuropathy can feel like a cold and numbing sensation.  At other times, the area that has sustained nerve damage may be inflamed, and patients can experience uncomfortable “pins and needles” sensations. 

There have been a few clinical studies that suggest topical CBD oil or cream may help reduce discomfort.  Certain cannabidiol foot creams may be formulated with moisturizing extracts, which can also help condition the skin on the feet, hands, and legs. And prevent cracking and increased risk of infection. 

Cannabidiol supplements such as edibles and tinctures may also help patients with diabetic neuropathy in other ways.  Neuropathy can also cause digestive problems and nausea, and a cannabidiol tincture may help soothe gastrointestinal inflammation. 

There is some good news regarding the safety of using cannabidiol (CBD) products for people with diabetes. The American Diabetes Association states that there is no evidence to suggest cannabidiol internal supplements or topical applications affect blood glucose levels.  Which may make CBD a safe choice for diabetes symptom management. 


Chemotherapy Treatments Cancer: Are CBD Topicals Safe?

When someone is undergoing cancer treatments, there are a host of debilitating symptoms they can experience—both from cancer and also from the effect of ongoing prescription drugs and radiation therapies. 

Some of the most common symptoms experienced during cancer treatment include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting 
  • Dry or itchy skin 
  • Hyperpigmentation and redness of the skin 
  • Depression and anxiety 
  • Appetite loss 
  • Photosensitivity (more susceptible to sunburns)
  • Dry, cracking nails and cuticles
  • Insomnia 

Some clinical studies have suggested that patients undergoing chemotherapy may benefit from cannabidiol (CBD) topicals.  That is because the minor rashes or inflammation caused by chemotherapy may be soothed by CBD cream.

When an individual undergoing cancer treatment must have surgery, wound healing can be compromised.  Some cancer treatments can weaken the immune system, and that makes patients more prone to bacterial infections (including candida and sepsis).  And surgical wounds can take a very long time to heal. 

A study from the University of Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil provided some insights into cannabidiol and wound healing.  The clinical research on mice revealed that CBD lotions and creams could reduce inflammation and accelerate the healing process for wounds.

While more research is needed and human studies, cannabidiol may be “prescribed” by physicians in the future for outpatient care.  And as an alternative method to reduce post-surgical infection rates.


Can I Use CBD Cream If I Am Taking Statins and Cholesterol Medication?

Statin medications are metabolized by the liver.  Specifically, the Cytochrome P450 liver isoenzymes (CYP3A4), (CYP3A5), (CYP2C9), and (CYP2C19).  Some clinical studies have shown that cannabidiol can inhibit enzymes.  And lower the blood statin “clearance” rate. 

Some of the common statin medications patients take to control cholesterol include:

  • Atorvastatin (Lipitor)
  • Fluvastatin (Lescol)
  • Lovastatin (Altoprev)
  • Pitavastatin (Livalo)
  • Pravastatin (Pravachol)
  • Rosuvastatin (Crestor) 
  • Simvastatin (Zocor)

Even if you have stopped taking cholesterol medications, statins can take almost four days to leave your system.  Always talk to your physician if you are concerned about drug interactions with any supplements or CBD products you plan to use. 


Is It Safe to Use CBD Cream on a Child?

In the United States, it is illegal to sell cannabidiol products (including CBD cream) to anyone under the age of eighteen (18) years.  That is because there have been some clinical studies that suggest cannabinoids can impact the health and development of children. 

Some children with painful skin conditions such as atopic dermatitis may be prescribed an anti-inflammatory cream that contains cannabidiol (CBD).  There are other rare health conditions where a physician may approve using CBD cream for a minor.

Cannabidiol cream may be recommended by a pediatrician for the treatment of:

  • Moderate to severe eczema 
  • Psoriasis
  • Contact dermatitis
  • Severe acne 
  • Skin irritation due to chemotherapy or radiation treatments 

While there are many human studies and clinical trials providing evidence of the wellness benefits of CBD products, there is not enough data yet to determine safety. Particularly with regard to the long-term use of any cannabidiol product on a minor. 


Legal Considerations When Administering Cannabidiol Cream for a Minor 

There are some cases where your pediatrician may recommend cannabidiol products for your child.  But administering CBD to a minor can also have unexpected legal implications that parents should be aware of.  This applies to CBD supplements (like tinctures) and any product containing even low levels of THC. 

Before administering any CBD product to a minor, you should have the guidance and approval of your pediatrician or primary care provider (PCP).  And if you purchase a cannabidiol cream for a minor (with physician approval), ensure that your product does not exceed the federal limit of 0.30% THC. 

Parents should be aware that frequent use of a cannabidiol cream (or oral supplement) can result in a positive THC result if drug testing is required.  And this can create significant legal risks for parents and guardians, including charges of child endangerment, depending on the scope of state laws regarding CBD and minors. 

In some states with medical cannabis programs, caregivers (designated guardians) may administer low-THC or clinical-grade cannabinoid (CBD) products.  But only if approved by the state cannabis regulatory agency.  Check your local governance and department of health (DOH) website for more information. 


Is CBD Cream Right for You?

Now that you have read through the “Beginners Guide to CBD Cream,” it may be time to talk to your doctor.  If your current treatment plan for symptom management is not working, talk to your doctor. Physicians are there to help patients. 


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