CBDistillery CBDol Relief Stick 500mg Broad Spectrum Product Review
Topical CBD for Wound Care: Healing with Hemp
CBD has been shown to possess potent anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and antioxidant properties that have been successfully applied to treatment protocols for many diverse conditions, from arthritis to dementia to diabetes to high blood pressure. Research also indicates that CBD may be effective at promoting wound healing, making it a natural choice for wound care applications as well. Topical CBD products can be used to care for wounds like burns, cuts, scrapes, bites, and broken skin, but [not all CBD topicals are created equal].
While CBD itself can be highly beneficial when applied to wounds, those benefits can be reduced (or potentially even negated) by the wrong supporting ingredients. Quality carrier oils and botanicals absolutely have a place in CBD wound care products, but since CBD isn’t regulated by the FDA the way that pharmaceutical medicines are, a few extra precautions are necessary.
There are many balms, salves, ointments, creams, and gels formulated with CBD available, designed to help treat everything from sunburns to cuts to abrasions to fresh tattoos. While many can be used effectively, some may contain questionable ingredients or potential allergens. Your skin works pretty hard to keep you healthy, and a break in the barrier can be a major stressor for the integumentary system. Using inflammatory ingredients can inadvertently add to that stress and prolong healing time.
Here, we’ll dissect the science behind effective wound care and the role CBD topicals can play in staving off infection and promoting healing. Next, we’ll discuss the role of supporting ingredients (beginning with carrier compounds, followed by botanicals and a cursory examination of common additives) individually, noting the potential benefits and risks of each. We’ll close with a couple of notes concerning sanitary practices for wound care and sustainability in wound healing, providing a bit of guidance to help you choose products that reflect your values and ethics.
How Does Wound Healing Work?
Wound healing is a highly intricate and complex process involving collaboration between many different types of cells and different body systems. While it’s impossible to convey every detail of the process here, there are a few key principles to know. Wound healing tends to happen in stages: inflammation, proliferation, and maturation. Each of these phases marks a focus on different cellular activities.
The inflammation phase is the most well-known, as it’s a phase that’s often quite painful. Inflammation is the body’s immediate response to a wound: raising the alarm, heightening sensitivity, sending lots of immune cells to the site of the wound, and setting off frequent (and sometimes intense) pain signals.
After a few days of inflammation, the proliferation phase begins. This is the time when the body begins to close the wound and is usually marked by wound contraction. During this important period, the body is building a matrix of new cells, collagen, and other tissues to replace the damaged or destroyed cells. Blood vessels and nerve connections re-establish themselves at the wound site during this time, making it more likely that [neuropathic pain] will arise during this period (though it may not be permanent).
Finally, when it has closed fully and the supporting tissues have regenerated beneath the new skin, a wound is considered mature. At this point, there may be considerable scarring, but the wound will continue to mature for many weeks after closure. Over time, the scar tissue will soften and become less visible, itching and tingling tend to diminish, and discoloration starts to fade.
The main goal of most wound healing technology is centered around accelerating the healing process, which can be accomplished in a number of ways. Reducing inflammation at the site helps the skin to move from the inflammatory to the proliferation stage more quickly, yielding faster wound closures and improved appearance of scarring. Promoting cellular movement and activity is also key to successful wound healing, as the healing process depends on high levels of oxygen.
Wound care also requires ingredients to keep the area clean and free of harmful bacteria and other microbes. Finally, most topical wound care products also typically include some ingredients intended for pain management, reducing the alarm signals sent by damaged nerves at the site of an injury.
The Role of CBD In Wound Care & Healing
CBD, the common name for cannabidiol, has been shown to have many medical applications across a wide variety of conditions. The compound possesses potent anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and antimicrobial properties (among many others) that make it especially beneficial for wound healing. It acts as a vasodilator, helping to improve oxygen supply to the wound and accelerating healing time. Together, these properties make CBD a promising therapeutic ingredient in wound care and healing products.
As with most CBD science, more research is necessary to determine the exact mechanisms that make CBD a good promoter of healing activity. However, emerging research is sufficiently compelling that many people are opting for CBD over old standbys from the pharmacy. While minor wounds likely do not present a safety concern for most people, more severe injuries may demand special consideration in product choice to avoid inadvertently causing additional inflammation and delaying healing.
If you prefer to use CBD alone (a completely respectable position that may be necessary for people with serious allergies or sensitivities), we recommend using a CBD tincture with no flavorings or additives. You could also dissolve some pure CBD isolate into the carrier oil of your choice (just be sure everything is clean!) to accomplish the same goal: CBD and oil, the end. However, if you are interested in using botanical ingredients and other bioactive compounds to accelerate wound healing, we invite you to consider the ingredients listed below.
Topical CBD Carrier Oils for Wound Care
Carrier oils determine the consistency of the product and help to amplify its skin-protecting properties. We highly recommend opting for ointments, balms, or salves for wound care over roll-on or lotion products. This is for two primary reasons. Firstly, roll-ons and lotions are often formulated with alcohols that can damage the bonds between skin cells — pretty counterproductive when you’re trying to support your skin’s healing processes. Secondly, roll-on products in particular are not possible to use in a sanitary way on broken skin. If you really need something formulated with an alcohol, try to reach for sprays over roll-ons.
One benefit that salve and ointment formulas offer over their high-alcohol counterparts is their ability to create a physical barrier over skin. This helps to keep bacteria and other microscopic irritants out of your bloodstream while also protecting your skin from damage and moisture loss as it works to heal itself. We prefer to use products made with ingredients that specifically confer skin barrier benefits.
These might include beeswax (which possesses antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties), shea or cocoa butter (both yield anti-inflammatory benefits to healing skin), coconut oil (another anti-inflammatory oil popular in CBD formulas), and lanolin (a compound beloved for its skin-protecting properties that may also help promote healing). Olive, safflower, pumpkin seed, and grapeseed oils may also help to promote healing, though they do not offer the same skin barrier benefits as heavier oils and plant butters.
Ointments are sometimes formulated with compounds like petroleum jelly (also called petrolatum), which is derived from fossil fuels. Because petroleum is a nonrenewable resource and its processing has some pretty detrimental effects on the environment, we prefer to steer clear of petroleum-based formulas. That doesn’t mean you have to, of course, but it might be something worth considering.
Supporting Topical CBD Ingredients for Wound Care
Because the skin is broken or damaged in the case of a wound or burn, wound care products have a special potential to contribute to the inflammation they’re meant to fight, especially in people with sensitive skin. If you have any skin sensitivities or allergies, please take special care to avoid ingredients that could cause an adverse reaction. If you aren’t aware of any allergies but find a product causes itching or redness, listen to your body and seek out a gentler alternative.
A few common culprits of inflammation include ingredients like capsaicin, cinnamon oil, and menthol, which can cause pain and discomfort when applied to wounds. Though these compounds all act as anti-inflammatories on the skin’s surface, they behave a bit differently when applied to broken skin. Even seemingly innocuous ingredients like goldenrod or chamomile may trigger a reaction in some people when applied to wounds, so we advise being very picky about your wound care topicals, CBD and otherwise.
- Aloe Vera – Aloe vera (sometimes called aloe barbadensis on product labels) is a desert-dwelling succulent with well-known healing properties. The gel contained within its elongated leaves has been used by many cultures throughout human history to soothe burns and speed skin repair. The plant has been demonstrated to yield antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and analgesic properties that help it to heal skin damage, soothe pain, and reduce inflammation in injured skin. Clinical studies have shown aloe vera to be well-tolerated and hypoallergenic, making it an excellent healing option for many people. It is especially helpful for minor thermal burns and sunburns, reducing pain with a gentle cooling sensation and rehydrating damaged skin.
- Chamomile – Chamomile is a staple of soothing teas and aromatherapy products, but studies have demonstrated that it can confer significant benefits for wound healing as well. Chamomile flower extract acts as an anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and antimicrobial when applied to broken or damaged skin. This allows it to help to reduce pain and inflammation while protecting skin and underlying tissues from harmful bacteria and microbes that can hamper the healing process and cause infection. A potential caveat: chamomile is a member of the family Asteraeceae, which includes ragweed and other common allergens, and can cross-react in those with ragweed allergies. However, the benefits likely outweigh the risks for most people without significant ragweed sensitivity.
- Goldenrod – Goldenrod is a bit tricky to discuss, as it’s quite a common allergen and wreaks seasonal havoc on sinuses from coast to coast. This is because it belongs to the same family as ragweed and therefore frequently cross-reacts in people with ragweed allergies. However, in people without ragweed allergies, goldenrod has been shown to promote healing by acting as a powerful anti-inflammatory, reducing pain, swelling, and redness in the wake of an injury. This effect may make goldenrod particularly useful in the first few days of wound healing, when inflammation is at its peak. Goldenrod may also help to reduce pain and soreness as skin heals, including the nerve pain and discomfort that often arises as the healing nerves form new connections.
- Lavender – Lavender carries many different therapeutic applications, inducing relaxation and reducing inflammation throughout the body. These properties also extend to wound care — when applied to broken or damaged skin, lavender reduces inflammation, dulls pain, and improves circulation to the affected area. It also possesses powerful antimicrobial properties that can be especially beneficial for people or wounds prone to infections. While it’s no replacement for a rabies or tetanus vaccine, lavender contains compounds that neutralize many types of bacteria and fungi that can hamper wound healing or cause infection. Lavender may also be applied to wounds in the proliferation stage to help address the pain and tingling that results from mending nerve cells.
- Marigold – Also labeled as calendula, marigold flowers are an autumnal favorite with an abundance of beneficial bioactive compounds. Extracts of the plant and its blooms can contribute to wound healing, acting as an anti-inflammatory agent to soothe damaged skin and reduce pain. The plant also possesses antimicrobial properties that can protect skin from harmful bacteria and other microbes, preventing infection and further damage to the affected tissues. It is generally well-tolerated, but may trigger a reaction in people with an allergy to marigold or calendula.
- Neem – Neem oil is derived from the neem tree (also known colloquially as Indian lilac) and is a popular health and wellness ingredient in much of Southeast Asia. The oil is rich in bioactive compounds, conferring powerful antimicrobial and antifungal benefits. This allows neem to help protect wounds from infection by fending off harmful bacteria and microbes. Neem can also help to alleviate pain at the site of injury. That said, it is a very intense oil and should only ever be applied diluted. Even in its dilute form, neem may cause an adverse reaction in some people, so exercise caution and be mindful when using neem for wound care.
- Yarrow – Yarrow has been used as a supplement and wellness ingredient by many cultures throughout human history. It is shown to act as an anti-inflammatory and analgesic, reducing pain and inflammation when used on broken skin. It may also help to reduce bleeding in wounds, making it especially helpful for cuts and gashes (though it is not a substitute for medical attention in the case of severe injuries).
Sanitary Use of CBD Salves & Balms for Wound Care
While there are a handful of ointments, creams, and other wound care products packaged in tubes, most of our favorite go-tos come in pots or tubs. This presents a bit of a dilemma, as it’s much more difficult to keep these products sanitary during regular use. Many products are sufficiently effective that we don’t mind taking a few extra precautions to use them for wound healing, but we hope to see more variety in packaging to make sanitary application of CBD topicals easier.
To ensure that a salve, balm, or other CBD topical packaged in a jar or pot remains free from contaminants during its usable life, we suggest using a cotton swab or other applicator tool to dispense the product, as opposed to a fingertip. Hands are wonderful for many things, but using a single-use applicator (or a recyclable equivalent if you’re about that low-waste life) instead of your hands for wound care helps reduce the chance of something undesirable ending up in your ointment — or in the wound, for that matter.
If your preferred product comes in a jar or pot, we suggest using a sanitary tool like a cotton swab or scoopula (which can be sanitized after use) to remove your desired amount of product from the container. Once you’ve taken what you need, you can apply the product to the wound using your chosen applicator tool and dispose of or sanitize the applicator accordingly after use. You could also apply the product to a sterile bandage or dressing, or — in the case of a sunburn, new tattoo, or thermal burn — distribute the product over the skin using clean fingertips.
Taking care to avoid contaminating your chosen wound care product(s) is important to supporting efficient and healthy wound healing. Salve and balm formulas can be just as effective as tube-packaged ointments, they just need a bit of extra finesse to function at their best from start to finish.
A Note On Sustainability & Supporting Ingredients
While there is a growing consciousness surrounding where the products we use come from, we collectively pay fairly little attention to the sustainability of our purchases. Part of our mission of consumer education includes helping people learn to discern sustainable ingredients that allow them to take control of their health while making buying choices that are better for the planet.
We also acknowledge that “better” doesn’t equate to “perfect,” and we aim to provide information in a way that educates without condescending — or worse, condemning — our readers for their decisions and lifestyles. Making conscious purchases can be difficult for many reasons, and we recognize the highly personal nature of those choices. No one is capable of single-handedly halting climate change or ecological damage by choosing one bottle over another, just as no one is the sole reason for habitat destruction or environmental pollution. Nonetheless, we believe that there is value in selecting sustainably sourced and manufactured products where possible.
We strongly prefer to reach for plant-based ingredients over animal products (and the same is doubly true for formulas made with petroleum products). This has to do with sustainability as well as concern for animal welfare, as sustainably-farmed plant products tend to have less of an environmental impact next to large-scale industrial animal husbandry. Plant-based ingredients are also generally well-tolerated and (with a couple of freaky exceptions like figs) vegan by default.
While we tend to prefer plant-based products, there are some animal-derived ingredients that can be hugely beneficial for therapeutic purposes (things like collagen, honey, beeswax, and lanolin). These ingredients are not vegan, but that does not mean that there aren’t ethical (or at least more ethical) ways to use them. Some people consider these ingredients an important component of their symptom management regimen, and that’s valid. Again, this stuff is very personal, so listen to your gut and do what is right for you.
We’ll close with a brief comment on the word “vegan.” A vegan product is one that is not derived from animal products in any way and includes non-food items like clothing, shoes, and cosmetics. Vegan products are becoming increasingly popular, with many brands choosing to make their entire product lines strictly vegan.
You may notice, however, that the above definition doesn’t include a requirement that the product’s components must be plant-based. This means that decidedly environmentally unfriendly products like plastics, petroleum products, and synthetic fabrics are considered vegan despite a demonstrably negative environmental impact. We don’t mean to imply that looking for vegan formulas is useless, just that it isn’t an automatic guarantee that the product in question is sustainable.
CBD is a promising ingredient for wound healing that can promote regeneration while reducing pain and inflammation in the skin and underlying tissues. However, because wound care products are applied to broken and damaged skin, it’s important to be choosy about the ingredients you incorporate into your medicine cabinet. Be conscious of any allergies or skin sensitivities you may have, use sanitary handling and dressing practices, and feel empowered to reach out to companies with questions before making a purchase. You can also consult with a medical professional about the safety of a particular product if you are unsure — it’s much better to play it safe with wound healing.
Topical CBD for Nerve Pain: Managing Neuropathy with CBD Topicals
Anyone who has experience with neuropathy knows that it’s a uniquely unsettling experience. The electric tingling, burning, stinging, and pinprick sensations tend to happen in the extremities, but can occur anywhere in the body. Nerve pain is unique in that it is caused by damage to the nerves themselves (be it from a slipped disc, a compressed nerve, chronic conditions like multiple sclerosis, or damage sustained in an injury) and not the surrounding tissue. Therefore, neuropathic pain is the result of a misfiring of your body’s pain perception system..
Because the damage is done to the nerve cells, the cells your body uses to relay signals to and from the brain, neuropathic pain can produce strange and unnerving sensations that make sleeping, eating, and other day-to-day activities difficult — or even impossible. Nerve damage is notoriously difficult to heal (though much research is devoted to the topic), and many conventional painkillers are of little help.
Cannabidiol, or CBD, has been shown to impart neuroprotective, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, antioxidant, and antispasmodic effects that may be successfully applied to a neuropathic pain management regimen. Derived from hemp and known for its effectiveness without risk of addiction or dependence, CBD can be consumed orally, inhaled, or applied topically for relief from neuropathic pain.
Because of their ability to manipulate sensations in the skin and body, many people find CBD topical products to be particularly helpful at soothing and alleviating neuropathic pain. Topicals offer faster relief than oral dosing methods, as well as a greater degree of customizability. Supporting ingredients like cinnamon, ginger, peppermint, and capsaicin can change the way nerve cells fire, reducing or eliminating nerve pain when applied to the skin.
While these supporting ingredients open many doors for more effective pain relief, they also raise the risk of adverse reactions, especially in people with sensitive or allergy-prone skin. CBD topicals have a place in neuropathic pain management, but the wrong supporting ingredients for your skin type can reduce (or even entirely negate) their benefits.
Here, we’ll illustrate the physiology of neuropathy before discussing the role of topical CBD in alleviating it. Then, we’ll talk about the best carrier and supporting ingredients to soothe neuropathic pain, including how they work, what they’re best for, and any risks associated with them. Finally, we’ll close with a short note on sustainable ingredients.
What Causes Neuropathic Pain?
Your nervous system is made up of a couple of different key players: neurons, myelin, and glial cells. Neurons are like your body’s electrical wiring, carrying signals to and from your brain. They’re long, branching cells that use charged molecules to move signals down the length of the cell before relaying it to the next one.
Some neurons are covered with a substance called myelin, a protective coating that helps accelerate the movement of chemical messages. Cells called glia help to support the nerves and keep them functioning normally. In a healthy nervous system, these different types of cells work together and ionic messengers flow smoothly across synapses (the gaps between neurons that facilitate chemical communication between them).
Neuropathy occurs when any of these nerve cells are damaged. This damage can result from many different causes. While injuries like herniated discs or nerve compression can cause physical strain and injury to neurons, they aren’t the only possible cause. Chronic conditions like multiple sclerosis, diabetes (even pre-diabetes), and cardiovascular disease can lead to nerve cell damage by changing the body’s chemical environment or causing immune cells to mistakenly attack neural tissue.
So, why is nerve damage such a big deal, and why does it cause such strange and severe pain? Think of your nerves and their myelin like an electrical wire coated with rubber. If that rubber coating is damaged, electricity will no longer flow neatly down the wire, but can cause short circuits, sparks, or even stop altogether. Your neurons work very similarly, and a damaged neuron is more likely to send errant pain signals in the absence of a problem; the more severe the damage to your nerves, the more intense neuropathy is likely to become.
How Can CBD Help to Manage Neuropathic Pain?
This may sound a bit bleak so far, but stay with us. It’s true that the science of repairing nerve damage is still a ways out, but that doesn’t mean that relief is out of reach. While the research is still preliminary, current studies suggest that CBD possesses neuroprotective and antispasmodic properties that may help to calm frazzled neurons and ease neuropathic pain.
The exact mechanisms of this action are still being studied, but what we do know is that CBD has a positive regulatory effect on many of the body’s systems, including the nervous system. This means that CBD can help to reduce the frequency and intensity of neuropathic pain signals by quieting overexcited neurons and reducing inflammation and pain often associated with them. It may also reduce the tingling, burning, stabbing, and prickling sensations common in neuropathy, as well as spasms and involuntary contractions often associated with the condition.
Ongoing research suggests that topical CBD may more effectively manage neuropathy than traditional therapies, including opioid pain relievers. Because of the higher number of supporting ingredients relative to oral CBD, however, topicals carry a relatively higher risk of adverse or allergic reaction. Their effects can also vary substantially from product to product depending on the carrier and supporting ingredients it contains.
Topical CBD Carrier Oils for Nerve Pain
Carrier oils and other base ingredients have a significant impact on the overall effect of the finished product, and especially its sensory effects. Because sensation is so important to effectively addressing and calming neuropathic pain, we feel that a bit of education around carrier ingredients can help our readers more easily navigate the baffling variety of topical CBD products available and find the best formula for their needs.
Because CBD is a nonpolar molecule, it doesn’t dissolve in water, a polar molecule. This makes it hard for our bodies to absorb and metabolize — we are over 70% water, after all, and it’s the solute for many of our biological processes. While it isn’t readily soluble in water, CBD does bond well to lipids like oils, fats, and plant butters. When it’s attached to these compounds, CBD is much more readily absorbed by the body, improving its effectiveness drastically. This applies to both topical and oral CBD products. Because of their oily composition and emollient properties, these ingredients tend to support soothing and warming sensations best.
Lipids aren’t the only type of molecule that can help make your CBD dose more bioavailable, though; other molecules with a relatively weak polar charge can also be effective. These compounds might include things like aloe vera gel, different types of alcohol, or glycerol. In contrast to the heavy, oily feel of lipid products, these “polar lite” molecules tend to evaporate more readily, making them ideal for supporting cooling, tingling, or numbing effects.
If your nerve pain tends to feel like burning, stinging, or pinpricks, a cooling product might help to regulate the firing of the damaged nerves, reducing pain. We suggest choosing products made with aloe vera, glycerol, or cetyl alcohol where possible. This is because other alcohols, such as isopropyl, stearyl, or ethyl, can cause damage to the bonds between skin cells over time, increasing dryness and triggering discomfort. Cetyl alcohol, by contrast, is a fatty alcohol derived from coconut that may be less damaging (though it should be avoided by those allergic to coconut).
If you desire something with more warming, relaxing properties to help ease spasms, we recommend opting for products formulated with oils, waxes, or plant butters. Oils from plants like olive, avocado, safflower, argan, jojoba, grapeseed, almond, and coconut can be used alongside plant butters like shea, cocoa, and mango for creamy formulas, while carnauba or beeswax can lend a firmer, more salve-like consistency. We find that more emollient formulas keep warming ingredients like ginger, cinnamon, and capsaicin active for longer periods, extending symptom relief.
If you prefer to refrain from using products that manipulate your sensation and perception, that’s okay! There are plenty of helpful CBD topicals out there that produce no thermal sensation whatsoever. We suggest selecting a carrier based on your skin type and avoiding ingredients that tend to produce changes in tactile sensation. These tend to be things like menthol, capsaicin, cinnamon, and ginger, but can sometimes include milder extracts like lavender or arnica, so listen to your body on this one.
If you want to try topical CBD for nerve pain but have very sensitive skin that balks at most mainstream ingredients, don’t lose hope just yet. Instead of reaching for a topical formula with a lengthy ingredient list, try using an unflavored CBD tincture made with only CBD and a suitable carrier oil. You can apply it safely to your skin without worrying about hidden allergies while still reaping the analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and antispasmodic benefits of topical CBD. If you decide to try a topical formula, we suggest a salve or balm, which tend to contain fewer common allergens than cream, lotion, or roll-on formulas.
Topical CBD Supporting Ingredients for Nerve Pain
- Capsaicin – The chemical that gives chili peppers their signature spice (and pepper spray its notorious burn), capsaicin certainly has the potential to cause inflammation. However, in small doses, the fiery compound can actually act as an anti-inflammatory, encouraging circulation and reducing pain and swelling. It also causes a warming sensation when applied to the skin (again, well-diluted) that may be beneficial in alleviating some types of nerve pain. Researchers believe that this analgesic effect may be due in part to this sensation, which helps to desensitize the skin and, therefore, the sensation of pain. Capsaicin is used in very tiny doses in topical CBD pain relief products and is generally well-tolerated. However, those with an allergy to peppers should take care to avoid it.
- Clove – While it may not be as effective for deep-seated neuropathy in the fascia, clove oil works very well to soothe the sensation of neuropathic pain in the skin and superficial tissues. Clove is a small but mighty spice with surprisingly powerful analgesic properties. Clove oil has been demonstrated to be as effective as benzocaine at relieving pain when applied topically. There is also some evidence to suggest that clove may have a positive regulatory effect on nerves, helping to regulate their firing and, potentially, reducing the intensity and sensation of pain. Clove has an autumnal, spicy scent and is generally well-tolerated, but should be avoided by those with a clove allergy.
- Eucalyptus – Eucalyptus is widely used for its analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties (and its ability to clear stuffy noses). The extract of the fragrant tree native to Australia, eucalyptus may have a role to play in alleviating neuropathic pain. While the precise mechanism is not yet understood, two factors appear to be at work. Eucalyptus shows analgesic properties when applied topically and may help to reduce the sensitivity of damaged nerves, regulating their firing. Second, the aroma of eucalyptus may have an effect on the central nervous system’s processing of pain signals, reducing pain perception. Those with asthma should be advised that eucalyptus can trigger attacks in some people (though it may be helpful to others).
- Feverfew – The name of this plant comes from its traditional use in treating pain and inflammation. Also known as bachelor’s button, feverfew leaves and flowers produce compounds that reduce muscle spasms and the burning, tingling, pins-and-needles feeling associated with neuropathic pain. It has been demonstrated to possess analgesic and antispasmodic properties when applied to the skin, though it isn’t fully understood how these effects are produced. Emerging research suggests that this may be due to the terpenes, flavonoids, and other bioactive compounds within feverfew extract. If that is the case, these terpenes and other phytochemicals could help to support the dose of CBD in a topical pain reliever.
- Ginger – A piquant favorite in cuisine, ginger’s use as an anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and antiemetic has been well-documented throughout history. Extract from the root of the plant may help to alleviate neuropathic pain and soothe inflamed nerves when applied topically. It can also induce a gentle warming, tingling sensation in the skin, which may help to numb neuropathic pain while desensitizing damaged nerves, regulating their firing. These benefits are also apparent when ginger is consumed (though a separate supplement should be used), indicating that it may be beneficial to the diets of people struggling with neuropathy as well. Those with a ginger allergy or certain sensory integration issues should exercise caution before using topical CBD products made with ginger.
- Lavender – A perennial favorite in aromatherapy and home fragrance, lavender has long been understood to possess anxiolytic, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and hypnotic properties. When applied to the skin, it acts as an antifungal and antibacterial as well as an analgesic, making it a potentially good option for [recovering from injury]. Research indicates that lavender can help to reduce migraine pain and may work to alleviate the severity and intensity of neuropathic pain. The calming effects of aromatherapeutic lavender may also help to dull pain perception in the central nervous system. Those allergic to lavender should be cautious, as it is a popular component of many topical CBD products targeted at pain relief.
- Peppermint – Peppermint (and other members of the mentha genus like spearmint) contains menthol, a popular ingredient in topical pain products for the cooling sensation it produces when applied to the skin. Some people may find menthol in particular to be helpful in managing their neuropathic pain. This may be due to menthol’s effect on receptors in the skin, sensitizing them to cold sensations and, therefore, potentially alleviating burning or stinging types of pain. Limonene and carvacrol, two other primary components of peppermint extract, have also been shown to help relieve pain and inflammation when used externally. To receive the full therapeutic benefit, look for products that list peppermint extract rather than just menthol among their ingredients — and keep any substance containing peppermint or menthol far away from mucous membranes. Exercise caution with peppermint (and other mints) if you are allergic or have especially sensitive skin.
- Rosemary – A culinary darling popular in cuisine traditions across the globe, rosemary is a shrubby herb rich in terpenes, flavonoids, and other phytochemicals that may be effective against neuropathy. The plant has historically been used against pain, fever, and seizures, and current research suggests that it may possess antispasmodic properties. One study showed rosemary to be effective at relaxing smooth muscles (the muscles you don’t have conscious control over; they contract involuntarily and can cause debilitating pain due to their proximity to organs and bones). This characteristic may make rosemary a soothing antispasmodic addition to topical CBD products for neuropathic pain.
- Turmeric – A brightly-colored root popular in Southeast Asian cuisine, turmeric is exceedingly high in a compound called curcumin. Curcumin has been utilized to combat pain, fever, and inflammation, and research suggests it may be helpful against neuropathic pain as well. While further study is needed, curcumin acts on receptors that can help block neuropathic pain signaling, relieving pain. When applied topically, curcumin may be able to regulate the activity of damaged neurons, reducing the frequency and intensity of neuropathic pain. It’s generally well-tolerated, but should be avoided by those with a turmeric allergy.
A Note On Sustainability
Our goal at Key to Cannabis is to help our readers find CBD products that support their health and wellness goals, largely through consumer education. This includes not just the science behind CBD products, but their environmental impact as well. As our society grows more conscious of our relationship with (and dependence on) our planet and the ecosystems it supports, sustainability of ingredients is increasingly important to many people (ourselves included).
We recognize that, while there is value in making better buying decisions, “better” doesn’t really ever mean “perfect.” Our intent is not to shame anyone for making the decisions that they feel are best for them (in fact, those are exactly the decisions we want to support), but to encourage conscious consumption where possible. What that looks like to you is fully up to you, and we always want to empower you to define that for yourself.
Wherever possible, we prefer to select plant-based ingredients for CBD topicals, particularly over petroleum products. This is for two primary reasons: first, petroleum is a finite resource with a massive environmental impact at every stage, from extraction to refining to transportation to consumption. Second, a connection has been established between long-term use of some topical petroleum products and cancer later in life.
We also prefer plant products to those derived from animals, though we recognize that not everyone feels the same way. Some animal products, like beeswax, lanolin, and gelatin, are important components in the wellness lifestyles of many of our readers, and that’s valid. While it’s true that there are vegan alternatives to these ingredients, they aren’t viable options for everyone. Also, there’s some nuance to the label “vegan.”
The vegan description on a product label indicates that the product contains no animal products. However, it doesn’t necessarily denote a more sustainable product. Microplastics, pleather, plastic fur, polyester, and petroleum products are considered “vegan,” but aren’t exactly more environmentally friendly than their animal-derived counterparts. We don’t mean to imply that the vegan label is meaningless, but we are suggesting that it isn’t the sole criterion by which to measure a product’s sustainability.
Neuropathic pain is notoriously difficult to treat, but CBD may be able to provide relief where other treatments have failed. Topical CBD may be especially beneficial for peripheral neuropathy, soothing the tingling, burning, stabbing pain often associated with nerve damage. While CBD has strong therapeutic potential for neuropathic pain, the right ingredients can make a world of difference to your wellness experience. We encourage you to be choosy about what’s on the label of your go-to CBD topicals — when in doubt, reach out to the manufacturer with any questions or concerns.