Pulse Points: the One Weird Trick for Applying CBD Oil

Pulse points on skin for CBD oil.

Application location could impact CBD’s effectiveness.Image Credit: By Velveteye on shutterstock.

If you’ve made the decision to invest in a vial of CBD oil, you might be wondering: how exactly am I supposed to use it? Since these products tend to be quite expensive, it’s an important question to answer — nobody wants to waste $100 on a product that doesn’t seem to do anything. And while CBD has developed a reputation as a miracle cure for everything from acne to arthritis, it still needs to be applied correctly to have the desired results.

In fact, how (and where) you apply CBD oil “can make the product more effective,” as Abigail James, a pro facialist and global treatments ambassador for Liz Earl, told Birchbox. She’s one of many skin care experts who believes that how we apply our products matters more than we might think. 

However, application matters for more than just skin care — it could also impact CBD’s effectiveness against anxiety, pain, and other conditions. That’s why some experts, like health writer and yoga instructor Sam Bailey, suggest applying CBD oil to what are known as “pulse points” on the face and arms. 

Sometimes called “pressure points,” these are specific areas where your pulse can be felt more easily through the surface of your skin. The facial pulse points are located along the jawline, cheekbones, brow bone, and under the inner corner of the eyes. Other notable pulse points can be found in the wrists and elbows. 

But does dabbing a few drops of CBD oil on these spots actually make the oil work better? It might sound bizarre, but there’s reason to believe it might. 

Does Applying CBD to Your Pulse Points Actually Make It Work Better?

At pulse points, the blood vessels are closer to the surface of the skin than they are elsewhere in the body. This means that transdermal absorption is more effective in these areas. Aromatherapists have long applied essential oils to pulse points for this very reason. 

Transdermal application of CBD is also a common practice, with specialized products like skin patches being used as an alternative treatment for common complaints like menstrual cramps. However, the majority of these are designed to be applied to larger areas, such as the abdomen or lower back. To target pulse points, the most typical methods involve CBD roll-ons — some brands, like Birchrose + Co., have even developed rollers specifically designed to be applied to pulse points — or old-fashioned massage using infused oils.

While no scientific studies have investigated the effectiveness of this technique, anecdotal reports suggest that (in some cases at least) it can be quite useful. As Jodi Chapin, director of nursing at the GreenNurse Group, a non-profit that provides education on medical cannabis, told The Bump, “I have seen doulas use CBD-infused products as they massage the woman’s … pulse points. It assists with pain relief as well as relaxation.”

However, despite the potential efficacy of applying CBD to pulse points, there’s another major question that so far has gone unanswered — how much are you supposed to use? This is an issue common to many applications of CBD, and unfortunately there’s no easy answer. Choosing the right CBD dose depends on many factors, such as your metabolism and severity of symptoms, and there’s still no scientific consensus on how much is needed to achieve the desired results. 

Figuring out what works for you will likely involve a bit of trial-and-error, which might not be the most reassuring guidance you can get after forking over a fistful of bills for your CBD oil. On the bright side, there are few potential side effects from experimenting, even if you end up using much more than needed.

Sarah Tyrrell
Sarah Tyrrell
Sarah Tyrrell is a health, wellness, and lifestyle writer based in Ireland whose work has appeared in The Irish Times and The Independent, among others. In 2017, she founded the lifestyle brand “Self Love and Sarah” to promote healthy self image and body positivity for women.

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