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The Ultimate Guide to Using CBD Salve

Written By Ellese Symons Oct 5th 2023
Table Of Contents
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 Hemp has been highly valued throughout history for its protein-rich seeds and durable fibers. While the revival of domestic cultivation has dramatically increased the availability of hemp fabric, tree-free paper, and many other eco-friendly products (Julia, 2023), it's the health and wellness potential of the plant's CBD that continues to dominate the conversation. 

CBD (cannabidiol) is the most abundant of more than 113 cannabinoids in the oil extracted from the stems, stalks, and flowers of hemp plants. That cannabinoid-rich plant extract is used to make CBD-infused tinctures, softgels, gummies, and more. If you could benefit from a hemp-derived product that offers fast-acting, long-lasting relief after physical activity, consider investing in a CBD salve. 

What Is CBD Salve? 

CBD salves are topical products made with a combination of oils and waxes. Their dense, semi-solid form helps maximize the duration of skin contact with the product's active ingredients. Their consistency makes salves easier to apply than traditional balms (Shutes, 2023). Some CBD brands blend hemp extract with petroleum-based products like paraffin wax and mineral oil; others stick with skin-friendly botanicals and other natural ingredients. 

How Does CBD Salve Work?  

When you indulge in a fruit-flavored CBD gummy, swallow a softgel, or add a serving of CBD to your morning coffee, the cannabinoids are processed through your digestive system. It can take up to two hours before you might notice any effect. Once the CBD is circulating through your system, the cannabinoid interacts with the receptors of the largest regulatory system in your body, your endocannabinoid system (ECS). Cannabis researchers believe supporting ECS function with CBD helps promote homeostasis (balance) (Sallaberry & Astern, 2018). 

When applying a CBD salve, many people report favorable results within 15-20 minutes of application (Ashton, 2022). When you choose a CBD salve made with menthol, peppermint, or eucalyptus, you also benefit from a cooling sensation that can "override" your feelings of discomfort even faster (Pergolizzi et al., 2018).   

How to Apply CBD Salve 

CBD salve can be used on its own or to complement the effects of your favorite tinctures, softgels, or gummies. For best results, apply the product to clean, dry skin. After massaging a liberal amount of CBD salve into your painful joints or tender muscles, wash your hands. Many salves are made with ingredients that could irritate your eyes. Although individual results can vary, numerous reports suggest the effects can last up to six hours. You can reapply as needed. 

Why Are So Many People Using CBD Salve? How Could I Benefit?  

With CBD salve, you get the advantages of using a product specifically formulated for fast-acting, long-lasting, targeted relief where you need it most. Some CBD users apply their salve as part of their nightly routine; others prefer using the product before, during, or after a long day on the job or intense workout. Whether you're intrigued by the possibility of using CBD salve on its own or in addition to a rotation of products you've relied on for years, there are several compelling reasons to consider keeping a jar on hand. 

Easing Pain and Stiffness After Physical Activity  

Pain and stiffness after physical activity have a purpose. The discomfort helps protect injured tissues from further damage. Whether triggered by a strenuous workout or a long day on the job, the message is clear. Your tender joints and muscles need time to heal. Based on the feedback of nearly 2,000 respondents in a 2019 CBDistillery® customer survey, most CBD users (84%) report that CBD helps ease discomfort after physical activity. 

Calming Activity-Induced Inflammation   

Activity-induced damage to muscle fibers triggers an immune system response that helps deliver nutrients to injured tissues. Specialized white blood cells clear cellular debris and initiate repairs. Based on the data obtained through our survey, most respondents (88%) prefer the effects of using CBD for the resulting inflammation over turmeric, a popular supplement with anti-inflammatory potential (Huq, 2022).   

Supporting Post-Workout Recovery 

Pushing through without sufficient time for recovery increases the risk of developing chronic inflammation and permanent injury. Although CBD's mechanisms on exercise-induced muscle damage (EIMD) are not entirely understood, research investigating its impact on discomfort at specific post-workout intervals suggests potential benefits for helping athletes return to pre-EIMD soreness levels faster (Hatchet et al., 2020). 

Promoting Better Sleep  

Sleep experts estimate that nearly 70% of our population struggles to get the rest they need at least one night each week (Dobric, 2021). When the inevitable discomfort of an active lifestyle keeps you awake or disrupts your sleep, try applying CBD salve before turning in for the night. Of our many survey respondents, 89% of CBD users report a positive impact on sleep. 

What Are the Possible Side Effects?  

Hemp-derived CBD is generally well-tolerated, safe for most people, and has an impressively low risk of minor side effects (WHO, 2020). Although swallowing CBD can cause dry mouth, fatigue, nausea, diarrhea, or changes in appetite (Bergamaschi et al., 2011), CBD salve is far less likely to cause digestive disturbances or make you feel tired. However, other side effects are possible. 

When using a CBD salve for the first time, apply a small amount to your skin, then wait at least 24 hours before applying the product again. Sensitivity (or allergic reaction) to any of the ingredients in your salve could cause itching, irritation, dry skin, discoloration, hives, or blistering. If you experience adverse effects, wash the affected area with soap and water and discontinue use. Consult your healthcare provider if you have questions or concerns. 

Factors to Consider When Choosing a CBD Salve  

The best CBD salves are made with plant extracts sourced from naturally farmed crops. Every product is batch-tested to ensure purity, potency, and consistent quality. As you're comparing your options, look for a certificate of analysis (COA) to verify that you're choosing a product that's been screened for heavy metals, pesticides, extraction residue, and microbial contamination. 

You can also use that documentation to verify the total amount of CBD in your salve, a number that should be specified in milligrams (mg) per jar. Once you're reasonably sure you've found a CBD brand offering high-quality hemp-derived products, you may also want to take another look at the label. Some CBD salves are made with full spectrum hemp extract, others are not. 

What is Full Spectrum Hemp Extract?  

Full spectrum hemp extract contains all the additional cannabinoids, terpenes, amino acids, vitamins, and minerals nature intended, including a small amount of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) (Jenkins, 2018). When you choose a salve made with full spectrum hemp extract, you benefit from the potency-maximizing potential of the combined impact of the plant's additional cannabinoids and terpenes, a property cannabis researchers call an "entourage" effect (Nahler et al., 2019). 

CBDistillery® CBDol™ CBD Balm is a salve made with full spectrum CBD oil suspended in a base of shea butter, coconut oil, and beeswax. You'll also find a proprietary blend of essential oils and additional ingredients selected for their cooling and warming sensations and soothing aromas. You get 500mg of CBD in every jar. If you're uncomfortable with the small amount of THC in full spectrum CBD products, consider trying one of our 0% THC CBD Isolate Topicals

Could You Benefit from the Cooling and Warming Sensation of CBDol™ CBD Salve?   

CBDistillery® CBDol™ CBD Balm is a salve made with full spectrum hemp extract and an expertly selected blend of botanicals and other natural ingredients. Although numerous studies suggest the cannabinoids in CBD topicals are not absorbed into the bloodstream, our full spectrum salve may not be right for everyone. 

If you're intrigued by some of the many potential benefits of applying CBD topically but not quite sure where to start, visit CBDistillery® to take our 3-minute CBD Quiz or schedule a personal consultation. Our products are quality assured, rigorously tested, and backed by a 60-day satisfaction guarantee. 


Ashton, L. (2022) How Long Does It Take for CBD Oil to Work? CFAH. 

Bergamaschi M, Mateus R, et al. (2011) Safety and Side Effect of Cannabidiol, a Cannabis Sativa Constituent. 6(4) Curr Drug Saf 237-49. https://doi.org/10.2174/157488611798280924 

Dobric, M. (2021) 48 Surprising Sleep Statistics & Facts to Know In 2022. MedAlertHelp.org 

Hatchet A, Armstrong K, et al. (2020) The Influence of Cannabidiol on Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. 7(2) Int J Phys Ed, Sports and Health 89-94. https://www.kheljournal.com/archives/2020/vol7issue2/PartB/7-2-4-412.pdf 

Huq, E. (2022) Turmeric for Sore Muscles and Inflammation: 16 Benefits. Post Workout Recovery. 

Jenkins, B. (2018) Is Full Spectrum CBD Really Better? Terpenes and Testing Magazine. 

Julia, N. (2022) 75 Incredible Real-Life Products Made from Hemp. CFAH. 

Nahler, G, Jones T, et al. (2019) Cannabidiol and Contributions of Major Hemp Phytocompounds to the "Entourage Effect"; Possible Mechanisms. J Altern Complement Integr Med 70(5) PDF download 

Pergolizzi J, Taylor R, et al. (2018) The Role and Mechanisms of Action of Menthol in Topical Analgesic Products. 43(3) J Clin Pharm Ther 313-19. https://doi.org/10.1111/jcpt.12679 

Sallaberry C, Astern L. (2018) The Endocannabinoid System, Our Universal Regulator. 34(6) JYI 48-55. https://www.jyi.org/2018-june/2018/6/1/the-endocannabinoid-system-our-universal-regulator 

Shutes, J. (2023) Butters, Balms, and Salves – What's the Difference? The School for Aromatic Studies. 

World Health Organization. (2020) Cannabidiol (CBD) Critical Review Report. PDF https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/controlled-substances/whocbdreportmay2018-2.pdf?sfvrsn=f78db177_2