CBD Topical Creams vs. Oral Supplements

Question: I have seen advertisements for CBD cream that you can rub onto sore muscles and joints but then I also have seen advertisements for CBD oil that you put under your tongue? Are they the same thing or do I use them both at the same time? Can you explain the difference?

— Ray N., NFM by way of MN

A: Ray I know there is still a lot of confusion regarding CBD and the best way to use it so let’s see if I can shed some light on it for you.

The two primary forms of CBD being marketed to the public currently are pain relieving cream/ointments that get applied to the skin (topicals) and CBD oil tinctures that get absorbed under the tongue (oral). Both contain cannabidiol, AKA CBD, and are extracted from the hemp leaf. It is also true that neither contain more than .3% THC, the psychotropic chemical found in marijuana that causes a “buzzed” feeling.


The topical pain relieving cream is best when applied directly to the skin over areas of pain and/or inflammation. The CBD oil in the cream/ointment gets directly absorbed through the skin to help reduce localized inflammation and promotes pain reduction. In our office it is a very popular treatment for use on sore knees and shoulders, foot pain due to neuropathy, and arthritic hand pain.

The oral CBD supplements are best used for generalized or widespread inflammatory processes in the body that are harder to pinpoint and treat. Typically conditions that have any type of inflammatory component (especially autoimmune diseases) can be positively impacted through oral CBD applications. The CBD oil tinctures are administered through a dropper under the tongue. This method allows the oil to be absorbed rapidly into the bloodstream and travels through the bloodstream, binding to multiple endocannabinoid receptors located throughout the body. The CBD receptors responsible for inflammation bind with the oil, causing a generalized reduction in the body’s inflammatory processes and reduced pain perception. In our office we offer two forms of oral CBD options. The first is the oil tinctures used under the tongue as previously discussed, but we also offer a tasty edible version in the form of gummy bears/worms. The gummy bears are great for more specific dosing that can be challenging with under the tongue drops as well as providing easy portability at airports and regular travel.


Now, to answer your question about which form of CBD is the best to take? My recommendation to my patients is to layer it where you can. That means for sure introduce CBD oral supplements of some kind into your daily routine. Take it in the morning… every morning… just like you would a vitamin. It takes approximately 2 to 3 weeks for it to build up in the system to really notice a difference. You MUST be consistent in taking it or else you will not receive the full benefit of the CBD oil. Secondly, if you have areas of complaint, areas of muscle or joint pain, then keep some of the CBD pain relieving cream on hand to use as needed.


Dr. Misty Green is a local Chiropractor serving the Cape Coral/North Fort Myers, Florida area for over 20 years. She can be reached at (239) 772-5777 to schedule an appointment. Check out our website at AskDrMisty.com for short and sweet video health tips.

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