Most CBD creams, lotions, salves and balms are formulated to provide localized relief. That is, they only work on the area where the topical is applied because the CBD does not enter the bloodstream.
A topic of discussion in our Facebook group has been whether mixing CBD with emu oil can be an effective way to make the CBD penetrate through the skin and absorb into the bloodstream. If so, then it could be an alternative way of taking CBD for those who dislike the “hempy” flavor of traditional CBD oil tinctures.
But does combining emu oil with CBD really make the mixture transdermal? Based on our research, there’s little evidence to back up those claims.
What is Emu Oil?
Emu oil is derived from the fat of the emu bird. It is rich in fatty acids and has long been used in aboriginal culture to treat skin conditions, inflammation, and even pain. The oil is most commonly purchased online. But some local health food stores have started carrying the pure emu oil as well as lotions formulated with it, such as Blue-Emu.
Is CBD Transdermal or Topical?
CBD on its own is not transdermal. When applied topically it does not penetrate through the top 3 layers of the skin. A transdermal needs permeation and permeability enhancers to allow it to penetrate through the skin.
By absorbing completely through the skin, it is allowed into the bloodstream for systemic effect. Various transdermal CBD products containing these enhancers are already available for purchase, such as the CBD creams from Myaderm.
Does Emu Oil Make CBD Transdermal?
We have found little to no evidence to support the claims of emu oil making CBD transdermal. Most of these claims are anecdotal in nature and not backed by research studies.
The few studies we found involving emu oil as a possible transdermal permeability enhancer involved extra solvents, ethoxylated oils, and emulgel preparations, which already exhibit transdermal properties.
For some studies there was a marked increase in blood concentrations when emu oil was included, but emu oil was not tested on its own without other enhancers.
Our intention is not to state that emu oil definitely isn’t a viable transdermal carrier for CBD. Nor is it to state that emu oil shouldn’t be used in CBD products. Rather, we wanted to share the results of our research that found very limited evidence to back up some of the claims being made.
If studies do exist, they are not easily accessible or publicly available. Our worry is that consumers may be wasting perfectly good CBD trying to treat internal conditions with external applications. Given the highly competitive nature of the CBD industry, it’s always best to take claims with a grain of salt. And this is especially true if they come from sellers of a particular product.
If you do decide to give it a try and it works for you, please let us know in the comments below.