In an effort to live a more healthy lifestyle, I’m always looking for natural alternatives for everyday products. Instead of chemical-laden cleaners, I disinfect my home with lemon essential oil. Instead of harsh eye makeup remover, I melt off my mascara with coconut oil. But when it came to my chronic neck and shoulder pain, I struggled to find a homeopathic remedy that was as effective as pharmaceuticals.

When my good friend asked me if I ever tried cannabidiol (CBD oil), I wasn’t immediately convinced. I had heard all the miraculous stories about CBD oil shrinking tumors and treating childhood epilepsy, but they all seemed too good to be true. I figured CBD oil was just the latest over-crazed health fad that would quickly fizzle away. So you can imagine my surprise when I mixed a few drops of Bluebird Botanicals CBD oil with my usual lotion and felt instant relief for my neck and shoulder pain. It’s true CBD oil is liquid gold.

What is CBD?

CBD is a naturally-occuring chemical powerhouse found in hemp and cannabis plants, not to be confused with THC, which is what causes that couch-melting high. CBD oil is not “medical marijuana”, it’s not illegal, it’s not psychoactive, and it’s not even a new phenomenon, as the use of CBD for medicinal purposes dates back to the 19th century. Recently, scientific studies have found CBD to be an effective treatment for issues like pain, anxiety, inflammation, and neurological disorders. Why? It all has to do with our endocannabinoid system (ECS), a network of neurons that helps regulate things like appetite, sleep, mood, and pain. Our ECS has receptors that bind to cannabinoids such as CBD, which in turn enhances our body’s general state of balance. It’s crazy our bodies are naturally hardwired to receive CBD.

The most common way to reap the benefits of CBD oil is to ingest it orally, which has helped me to sleep better than I have in years. When you consume CBD oil, it permeates throughout your body, interacts with cannabinoid receptors in your brain and nervous system, and eventually enters your bloodstream. Although this can take several hours, ingesting CBD oil can work wonders for conditions like endometriosis, epilepsy, and for me, insomnia. But when you apply CBD oil topically, it bypasses your digestive system and interacts with cannabinoid receptors near the application. The effect is targeted and immediate, making it ideal for people who suffer from sore muscles or skin issues.

Below are just some of the ways I use CBD oil topically every day.

1 – Soothe sore muscles

Between high-impact workouts, sitting at a desk for 9 hours a day, and the inevitable aches and pains that come with getting older, I found myself taking Advil or IP Profin almost every day. Although it seems harmless, taking OTC painkillers on the regular can cause a host of potential issues, such as ulcers and internal bleeding.

Now I simply mix a few drops of CBD oil with organic shea butter and rub onto my sore muscles for instant relief. Sometimes I’ll also add a drop or two of peppermint essential oil for a nice cooling effect.

2 – Cure eczema

I’ve suffered from eczema my entire life and I have unsuccessfully tried every ointment, cream, and DIY treatment out there. A few years ago, my doctor prescribed me one of the most potent topical steroids on the market. It worked, but it also caused unsightly hypopigmentation and made me sensitive to the sun.

I honestly did not expect CBD oil to cure my relentless case of eczema when I dabbed it on a particularly red and itchy patch before I going to sleep one night. When I woke up, I was shocked to find that my eczema had nearly disappeared. Because eczema is essentially an inflammation, it made sense that CBD oil would be my skin’s new best friend. I immediately threw away my steroid cream and haven’t looked back since. Because eczema is notoriously stubborn, I have found that applying pure oil works best, but sometimes I’ll mix it with lotion to make it less messy.

3 – Nourish dry, cracked feet

I live in Southern California and spend a lot of time barefoot at the beach. Combine that with calluses formed from years of ballet and yoga, and my feet were definitely not ready for summer sandals until I discovered this DIY foot cream.

Once a week, I mix organic, cold-pressed coconut oil with CBD oil and apply to my feet before bed, wearing socks to lock in the moisture. Coconut oil adds to CBD’s therapeutic properties because it is ultra-moisturizing and packed with fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals. Overtime, my feet have become distinctly softer, and I plan to use this as a body butter come winter.

4 – Deep condition hair

Like every woman, I am always looking for ways to make my hair longer, softer, and thicker. I am very picky with my hair products and strictly avoid parabens, sulfates, and anything that’s tested on animals. I find it so frustrating that even hair products marketed as “natural” contain chemicals made in a lab.

Because I had so much success with CBD oil softening my skin, I decided to test it on my hair just to see what would happen. I added a few drops to my conditioner, rinsed it out, and once it dried, I could definitely notice a difference. Not only did my hair look smoother and shinier, but it felt healthier.

After a few months of treating my hair with CBD once a week, my hair is growing like crazy. According to Bluebird Botanicals’ website, their oil contains vitamins, fatty acid, and amino acids, in addition to CBD, and I’m guessing that’s what nourishes my scalp and strengthens my hair. I also like to add a few drops of rosemary essential oil which has been proven to stimulate hair growth.

What’s your favorite way to use CBD oil? Share with me in a comment below.