Cannabis infused products are all the rage now, and if you are in the space, you must be aware of the wonders of CBD Balm. But is it all hype? Does hemp have all the medicinal benefits ascribed to it and how does this work?
What is CBD Balm?
CBD is an abbreviation of cannabidiol which is one of the many cannabinoids identified in the cannabis sativa plant. Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and CBD are the most abundant and known of cannabinoids found in the plant, and they have been shown to have great therapeutic properties.
Unlike THC, CBD is non-psychoactive which simply means it does not give the euphoric feeling commonly associated with cannabis. This also endears CBD as the “cannabinoid of choice” for medicinal purposes, most patients are not as eager to get stoned as recreational users.
Coming to “balm,” Vocabulary.com describes a balm as “a soothing substance with a consistency somewhere between solid and liquid.” Synonyms for balm include ointment, salve, unction or unguent.
In simpler terms, a balm is a drug infused concoction applied directly to the skin to exert healing effects. Therefore, CBD balm is a drug concoction derived from the cannabis plant and mixed in an oil base.
It can also be infused with other naturally occurring herbs for maximum therapeutic benefits.
This may include arnica, lemongrass, peppermint, menthol, willow bark, and other therapeutic herbs. Using naturally occurring herbs makes the balm very safe to use on the skin.
Cream vs. Balm: What’s The Difference?
Is a balm the same as a cream? Not quite, though many people erroneously use the terms interchangeably. Creams or lotions are immersed in water and other moisturizing agents while a balm is mixed in oil or a wax base with no water added to it.
The difference will show in the textures of the two, creams will have a lighter texture as compared to balms.
CBD Balm: What Does The Research Say?
In the past, a lot that was believed about medicinal cannabis was based on speculation, but thankfully there is now plenty of anecdotal evidence to back the beliefs.
A 2015 study conducted by researchers from the University of Kentucky, College of Pharmacy, showed that CBD salves are effective against arthritic joint pain and inflammation.
Results from this study indicated that:
“Topical CBD application has therapeutic potential for relief of arthritis pain-related behaviors and inflammation, without evident side-effects.”
An earlier study conducted in 2006 by researchers from the University of Nottingham showed that cannabinoids are effective in the treatment of psoriasis and other skin infections and general muscle soreness.
How Is CBD Balm Made?
With all there is in terms of evidence, how do you come about CBD balm? You will be surprised to find out that it is pretty straight forward to make this healing concoction. The basic steps of making balms involve three key ingredients:
- A natural wax such as beeswax
- An oil base such as seed oil which serves as a carrier for the CBD
- The medicinal or therapeutic compound such as CBD hemp extract and other medicinal herbs
Note: Beeswax is a dense material that needs to be melted first. A vegetable wax such as candelilla wax from the candelilla plant is an alternative to beeswax. Go for Candellila wax when you need to make the product purely vegan.
As much as different oils can be used, coconut oil is an excellent carrier oil as it is dense with fatty acids which increase its carrying capacity.
The CBD is ground to fine particles and then steeped for several hours in the CBD oil at a temperature of 200+ degrees Fahrenheit. The heat serves to breakdown the cannabidiol into its active form that can be absorbed into the body.
After this process, you can mix the oil with the melted wax and your preferred herbs such as willow bark or essential oils such as vitamin E.
You can also opt to buy a readymade salve, just make sure to check for the ingredients used such as the wax, oil and any other additives. Be careful with the terpenes and scents added as some may be irritating to the skin. Also, check for the amount of CBD in the formulation.
This is How CBD Balm Functions
The skin is by far the largest organ in the body, it also happens to be richly endowed with cannabinoid receptors. When you apply the CBD balm onto your skin, the cannabinoid-oils are transported across the skin cell membranes, into the surrounding cells and tissues.
You will begin feeling the effect almost immediately, and this makes it more advantageous than ingestion methods where you will have to wait for the CBD to go through the digestive tract before you can begin feeling the effects.
CBD is able to interact with the endocannabinoid system through binding to the skin receptors where it triggers physiologic responses. This interaction will alter factors such as:
- Immune response
- Skin sensitivity
Dr. Tamas Biro, the director of immunology at the University of Debrecen in Hungary, asserts that
“…most, if not all, skin functions are controlled to a certain extent by the local skin endocannabinoid system.”
The skin is also endowed with receptors called TrpV1 that regulate body temperature. When inflammation occurs, CBD interacts with these receptors and is able to reduce inflammation by downregulating temperature and pain-sensing nerve endings.
CBD Balm and CBD Oil: Different Uses
Do not mistake CBD salves for CBD oils. The general difference comes in the mode of intake. As CBD oils are administered orally (usually under the tongue with a dropper bottle), balms are administered topically by rubbing the ointment onto affected skin areas.
Consequently, this also affects their mode of action or absorption. Balms work faster than oils because they are applied directly to the affected area. When you need instant relief especially for localized skin conditions, go for a CBD balm as opposed to CBD oil.
CBD Balm Uses
CBD Balm has numerous similarities in the therapeutic properties that they possess.
Relieve Rashes and Skin Irritation
CBD balm, unlike the oil, is mostly used to treat skin conditions and sore muscles.
A 2017 review conducted by researchers from the University of Colorado and the University of Massachusets observed that topical cannabinoids play a role in combating itching in people with lichen simplex and pruritus.
Another 2017 study conducted by researchers from Dalhousie University, Canada showed that CBD is both safe and useful in the treatment of joint pain.
Neck and Back Pain
In an earlier article published in JAMA network in 2015, it was confirmed that marijuana is effective in the treatment of chronic pain.
Dermatitis, Eczema, and Psoriasis
These three skin conditions can be a nuisance because of how conspicuous they are and they are equally difficult to treat. When they affect teenagers, they greatly diminish their self-esteem as they easily define a person’s physical identity; after all, the skin is the largest and most conspicuous organ in the body.
However, CBD balms seem to be offering a glimmer of hope. In 2007, a study conducted by the University of Nottingham found that the CBD and other cannabinoids can slow the growth of keratinocytes and as a result help in treating psoriasis.
Another article published in the National Eczema Association in 2017 showed that cannabis provides relief for atopic dermatitis. The article quotes Dr. Henry Granger Piffard, MD (1842-1910) in his book “The first textbook of dermatologic therapeutics”
“A pill of cannabis indica at bedtime has at my hands sometimes afforded relief to the intolerable itching of eczema.”
CBD Balm and Arthritis
A 2016 study conducted by researchers from the University of Kentucky showed that topical CBD could indeed relieve pain and inflammation caused by arthritis.
Benefits of CBD Balm
CBD balm has a myriad of uses as mentioned above. Even though most results are preliminary, the anecdotal evidence serves as a good pointer towards the multiple benefits of CBD balm.
In addition, most CBD balms are infused with natural herbs that have therapeutic properties. Menthol is soothing on the skin and arnica provides pain relief.
CBD Balm Side Effects
What about side effects? CBD Balm is an all natural product; unlike pharma drugs, it does not contain chemical additives, artificial dyes or preservatives. This will definitely save you from a handful of side effects.
And CBD which is derived from hemp does not contain any THC, so you cannot get the “high”, especially not from a topical application.
CBD Balm Dosage
If you buy the balm from a licensed seller, then the product will have the recommended dosage stated on the package. This may be something like thrice a day application, taking a generous scoop of the balm and rubbing onto the affected area.
The key is to buy from a licensed seller where you can be sure that the product has been third-party lab tested for purity and potency. Once this is confirmed you should be good to go.
The risk for overdosing on topical cannabis is close to nonexistent, even when you are taking oral cannabis the risk for a toxic overdose is still close to zilch.
So, Should You Try CBD Balm?
By all means try it, if you are suffering from any of the above-listed conditions. As mentioned earlier, the risk for overdose as well as extreme side effects is minimal. Considering the numerous patient testimonials regarding this product you have nothing to lose by trying.
The anecdotal evidence is promising and since many skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis have no definite cure as such, the CBD balm is one product that may offer you relief and possible healing.
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