Common topical CBD products include balms, lotions, oils, and salves. They work by binding to CB2 receptors near the skin and activating the endocannabinoid system, without being absorbed into the bloodstream. Human skin absorbs these cannabinoids at a low rate; this is why many cannabis topicals recommend liberal application to the affected area. Topical methods are slower to take effect than other methods (generally more than an hour), but the benefits may be long-lasting (often five or more hours).
Cannabidiol, or CBD for short, is a phyto-cannabinoid found in cannabis plants. However, it does not cause the same psychoactive effects as other naturally occurring cannabinoids (such as tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC). CBD induces feelings of sleepiness and tranquility, making it suitable for insomnia and other sleep disorders; CBD can be used to alleviate symptoms of epilepsy, diabetes, and anxiety disorders, as well. Legality is an issue for some; all 50 states have laws governing the sale, possession, and use of CBD, and they vary significantly (see the table below for a full analysis).
A report from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) published in the journal Pediatrics cautions pregnant women and nursing mothers to avoid marijuana use due to possible adverse developmental effects to their baby. In a study reviewed for the report, short-term exposure to CBD was found to increase the permeability of the placental barrier, potentially placing the fetus at risk from certain substances.