Can Anti-inflammatory Creams Come From Cannabis?

Jessica McKeil April 16, 2019 0 comments

Anecdotal reports of relief and skin healing using cannabin therapy in this DIY cannabis anti inflammatory cream.

Curious about using cannabis therapeutically but unsure of where to start? Topical cannabis products are some of the most accessible points of entry into the world of medicinal cannabis. Topicals containing CBD, THC, or some combination of the two are non-intoxicating, so they’re friendly even to those who have no experience with the plant. Anti inflammatory cream and lotion with hemp sourced cannabidiol (CBD) is popping up everywhere these days. So, it’s worth finding out a little more about the possible benefits of these anti-inflammatory creams.

Why CBD Works so Well in Topical Applications

Cannabinoids, including CBD, have a high-lipophilicity. This is a medical term referring to the ability of a compound to dissolve in fats and oils. It’s the reason that cannabinoids don’t mix well with water (and why CBD-water is likely a scam). These compounds blend better with fatty substances.

Lucky for us, our skin loves oils. Yes, it can sometimes produce a little too much (leading to acne), but more often our skin doesn’t provide enough. Oils absorb easily through the pores of our skin, and when combined with medicinal ingredients, it’s the perfect carrier substance.  It’s why the primary ingredient in any healthy lotion is oil, like coconut, jojoba, argan, and others. In other words, combining CBD into a topical cream, lotion, or salve is the perfect way to reap the benefits of this therapeutically powerful cannabinoid.

The Therapeutic Potential of Topical CBD

As with many areas of CBD research, what we know so far about the possible medicinal applications of topical cannabinoids are restricted to early phase studies. There are, however, many anti-inflammatory cream patents under review that contain CBD, and one clinical trial by Zynerba Pharmaceuticals for epilepsy, osteoarthritis, and a few other medical applications. Based on the discoveries from animal studies, there is a strong case to make for using CBD and other cannabinoids topically.

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There are two areas of particular interest so far for creams and salves containing CBD: muscle and joint pain, and skin irritations. A study published in 2016, in the European Journal of Pain, explored how transdermal CBD could effectively reduce joint pain in lab rats. After applying CBD transdermally, they discovered that the rat’s behavior returned to almost normal levels. This indicated the rats felt reduced pain.

The other area where CBD may prove medicinally beneficial is for minor skin irritations including psoriasis, wounds, and acne. Anecdotally speaking, there are many people already reporting benefits from topical applications of CBD to reduce the signs and symptoms of psoriasis, dermatitis, and other challenging skin diseases.

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Making Anti-inflammatory Creams, Salves, and Lotions at Home

If you can whip up a batch of cookies, you can make CBD salves and lotions at home. The hardest step, which isn’t that hard at all, is sourcing a few of the ingredients. Many natural pharmacies and health food stores will carry everything you need, or you can purchase online through sources like Mountain Rose Herbs. Making anti-inflammatory creams at home gives you complete control over what products you use on your body. It also lets you experiment with essential oils you love. This is particularly useful for people with sensitive skin or multiple allergies.

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Easy-Peasy CBD Salve

Inspired by CBD School


  • 1 cup coconut oil
  • 1 oz. soy wax, or beeswax
  • 3000 mg CBD oil (or 3 grams CBD isolate)
  • 10 drops essential oil (lavender and clary sage are particularly soothing)


  1. In a double boiler on medium-high heat, add coconut oil and soy wax/beeswax. Stir regularly until fully melted.
  2. Add CBD oil (or isolate), reduce heat to low, and stir until well combined.
  3. Remove from heat and allow to cool until it begins to solidify.
  4. Add essential oils just before the mixture solidifies.
  5. Spoon into a glass storage container with an airtight lid.

anti-inflammatory cream being applied to face

Soothing CBD Face Lotion


  • ½ cup coconut oil
  • ¼ cup beeswax
  • 2 tbsp jojoba Oil
  • 1 cup aloe vera
  • 100 mg CBD Oil
  • Optional: 5 drops of frankincense or other favorite essential oil


  1. In a double boiler on medium-high heat, add coconut oil, beeswax, and jojoba oil. Stir until fully melted.
  2. Remove from heat and cream together with a hand mixer.
  3. Allow to cool for at least 30 minutes to an hour (until thick, but not solid).
  4. Add in the aloe vera, and cream using hand mixers until fluffy.
  5. Gradually blend in CBD oil and essential oils (if desired).
  6. Store in an airtight glass jar.

Can You Add CBD to Any Common Anti-inflammatory Cream?

If making CBD creams at home isn’t an option, you may wonder if you can combine a few drops of CBD oil into a store-bought cream. You may already have a tube of Bengay in your medicine cabinet ready to go. But though we know cannabidiol is safe to use topically, we don’t know yet for certain about its efficacy when combined with other ingredients.  Will the hot-cold cream deactivate the anti-inflammatory properties of the CBD? Will the CBD trigger another unwanted reaction? It’s hard to say until it’s been studied in more detail.

If you’d prefer to avoid the mess of making a CBD topical cream in your kitchen, it’s best to source a ready-made option. It’s likely you can find CBD-infused salves in your area, at a natural pharmacy or through a medical cannabis dispensary.

Whether you decide to make your own CBD cream, add CBD to an over-the-counter salve you already have, or purchase a commercially available CBD topical, you are well on your way to relief. There are already so many patents underway for anti-inflammatory cream containing CBD, these products will very likely start appearing on pharmacy shelves in short order.

For many people new to cannabis, non-intoxicating topical formulas are a much more approachable and familiar way to reap the benefits. 

Author avatar

Jessica McKeil

Jessica McKeil is a freelance writer focused on the medical marijuana industry, from production methods to medicinal applications. She is lucky enough to live in beautiful British Columbia, Canada where the cannabis industry is exploding. When not writing, she spends much of her time exploring in the coastal forests.

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