CBD has been legal to the United States for a little more than a year, and during that time, it has seen massive growth. Some estimates say that its user base is expected to more than double every year for the next three years. This growth has occurred for many reasons, including a slew of anecdotal stories and a large chunk of scientific evidence that notes CBD may have many applications to help people. One of the reasons CBD is so popular is also its versatility. CBD is available in a wide range of formats, including edibles, tinctures, vaping juices, capsules, and topicals. Topicals are particularly interesting, as they claim to be able to give users all the benefits of CBD, but in a targeted form. Can CBD topicals actually deliver on this promise? Let's take a look. What is a CBD topical, and how does it work? In general, CBD works by altering the time in which your body's naturally produced cannabinoids bind with the cannabinoid receptors that are found throughout your body. This, in turn, alters the functioning of your Endocannabinoid System. Your Endocannabinoid System has an impact on the regulation of a variety of bodily functions, including pain, appetite, fatigue, and more. A CBD topical is one of the many methods in which you can use CBD. It is CBD that has been mixed in with another balm or cream into a form that you can then rub into the skin. Fortunately for users, there is no shortage of places to go to purchase a high-quality topical. Pros and Cons of CBD Topicals Like all methods of CBD consumption, there are pros and cons associated with using a CBD topical. On the plus side, a CBD topical absolutely allows you the most targeted relief. Rather than consuming CBD and waiting for it to hit the bloodstream, topicals allow you to massage CBD directly into the problematic area. Remember, CBD receptors are everywhere in your body, including in your muscles, organs, and skin. This means that CBD topicals can make their impact felt anywhere on your body. As a result, CBD topicals are perfect when you are looking to deal with a specific problematic area (like sore muscles or skin problems). Furthermore, since CBD topicals have a hard time reaching your bloodstream (they would have to travel through your skin, fat layers and muscles to do so), you are less likely to feel any of the limited CBD side effects that have been reported by some users. However, the same benefits may also create problems for CBD topical users. You will not get the same "general" benefit of using a CBD topical than you would another method that you ingested precisely because CBD doesn't really make it to your bloodstream. Furthermore, it may take a long time for CBD topicals to work - potentially as long as a couple of hours. This is the longest that it takes any CBD method to work. Research on CBD Topicals Research has indicated that CBD topicals can work in a variety of ways, including: Skincare: Studies have found that CBD topicals can provide a variety of skincare benefits. For example, some studies have found that, when rubbed into the skin, CBD topicals can reduce acne and scarring. The internet is replete with anecdotal stories of people saying that CBD topicals helped restore their skin's healthy glow, and other studies have found that CBD topicals can help reduce the negative impacts of a variety of skin disorders, such as rosacea, psoriasis, and eczema. Pain: Studies have found that CBD topicals can reduce pain. Fortunately, this applies to numerous types of pain, including chronic pain, arthritis, pain caused by cancer treatment and multiple sclerosis spasticity. Inflammation: It appears possible that CBD topicals can help reduce joint inflammation. One study found that when CBD was applied to joints of arthritic rats, the rats showed less swelling and reduced pain. Other reviews have come to similar conclusions. Best practices for using CBD topicals One of the greatest challenges with CBD topicals is that it can be hard to determine an appropriate dose. While it's not possible to overdose on CBD, you also don't want to use too much, as this can potentially cause a problem with side effects or cause you to build a tolerance to the compound. To that end, start with a small dosage. Use a small amount and rub firmly into the area of concern. Let the CBD soak into your skin. From there, wait a few hours, and judge your experience. How do you feel? Does the area in question feel better? How does it feel later in the day? Try the current dosage for a few days. If you aren't achieving the desired results, give it a few days at the same dosage, and try again at an increased amount. Some CBD Warnings CBD is generally regarded as safe, but that's not to say it is without any potential for medical problems. For example, there are many CBD vendors who don't care too much about consumer safety. As a result, they produce subpar CBD products that have the potential to hurt you, the consumer. A 2017 study, conducted by the University of Pennsylvania, examined 81 CBD products. It found that nearly 70% of the CBD products it tested were actually mislabeled for a variety of ingredients, including THC. Of course, this presents a major problem to consumers who have food allergies, cannot consume THC or just want to trust that the CBD they are consuming is accurately labeled. To that end, only purchase CBD if you can view the Certificate of Analysis. The Certificate of Analysis is essentially test results that have been conducted by an independent laboratory. It will state what ingredients are in the CBD. Furthermore, though CBD's side effects are usually relatively minor, there are concerns about CBD's interactions with certain drugs. As such, always check with your doctor before trying CBD. They will know if anything you are taking has any interaction risk for CBD. There's no question that more research into CBD is needed. However, initial indications are positive. Some studies and personal stories indicate that CBD topicals have the ability to help people who are suffering. If you follow the steps above, you are far more likely to have a pleasant experience when trying to a CBD topical.