Topical CBD and Inflammation: Does CBD Have Localized Anti-inflammatory Properties?

Posted by Desiree Jones on

-   How CBD topicals may be able to help with some types of inflammation, according to recent science.

Napoleon’s men saw it as a new alternative to alcohol.

George Washington saw a profitable industrial crop.

Today, cannabis plants are seen as both intoxicants and useful in textiles, but also as a tool for personal wellness.

While vaping CBD continues to be the most popular form of ingestion, topical applications have been quickly rising in popularity.

People love that CBD doesn’t get them high, but the science behind its use might better explain its rising popularity.

How Our Understanding of CBD and Inflammation Has Changed in the Last Decade

In 2009, a paper published in Future Medicinal Chemistry reported on the then-novel assumption that cannabinoids had anti-inflammatory properties.

The authors, Nagarkatti et al., elucidated the fact that the endocannabinoid system is involved in regulating the immune system.

Then, they went on to explain that “cannabinoids suppress inflammatory response and subsequently attenuate disease symptoms” in some cases of inflammation via:

  •       The induction of apoptosis in activated immune cells
  •       The suppression of cytokines and chemokines at inflammatory sites
  •       Upregulation of FoxP3+ regulatory T cells

Nagarkatti et al. specifically mentioned that cannabinoids seemed effective against rheumatoid arthritis.

In 2016, researchers furthered our understanding of the pharmacokinetics of CBD.

Hammell et al., whose paper was published in the European Journal of Pain, indicated that “[CBD] attenuates inflammation and pain without side-effects, but CBD is hydrophobic and has poor oral bioavailability.”

Topical applications of CBD pass the gastrointestinal system. This allows for sustained concentrations in the plasma.

Hammell et al. qualified these ideas by noting that when applied to rats, “transdermal CBD gel significantly reduced joint swelling, limb posture scores as a rating of spontaneous pain, immune cell infiltration and thickening of the synovial membrane in a dose-dependent manner.”

In other words, the transdermal application of CBD appears to help with localized inflammation.

Two years later, a 2018 study indicated that preclinical studies were showing that CBD helps with inflammation and related pain.

They noted the value it has for humans by saying that inflammatory effects can be “modulated via the upregulation of cannabinoid receptor activity...providing an attenuation in joint destruction in preclinical models of inflammatory arthritis that mimic human rheumatoid arthritis.”

Is it safe for human consumption, though?

A 2019 study recently showed that “the topical administration of CBD ointment...is a safe and effective non-invasive alternative [to] improve the quality of life in patients with some skin disorders,” especially those which are inflammatory in nature.

Are CBD Topicals Useful for The Average Consumer?

CBD Lotion

The science shows that CBD does appear to help with some forms of inflammation. The topical application of CBD seems to provide localized relief to surface level inflammatory conditions.

Moreover, it’s a natural plant compound that gives the average consumer a unique option when compared to the unpronounceable list of ingredients of other anti-inflammatory topicals.

If George Washington and Napoleon’s men can find value in cannabis, average consumers can certainly find benefits in CBD topicals, will you please share this post if you found the content useful?

By Nicholas D. 

Professional Cannabis Writer and Content Creator

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