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Menthol To Limonene: A Cool Guide To CBD Gel Ingredients

06/05/2021 14 MIN. READ Alyssha Bal
06/05/2021 14 MIN. READ Alyssha Bal

At VAAY, we know how important looking after the body is- from ensuring that we're exercising regularly to stretching out tense muscles, there's really nothing that makes us feel better than nurturing the body. By 'nurturing the body', we mean taking the time to release and detoxify our muscles before and after a workout. The sad fact is, many of us go our whole lives with tense, cramped, and achy muscles; which leads to chronic pain, joint issues, and inflammation, among other ailments. It goes without saying why that's a shame- our muscles are incredibly important, and are often taken for granted. They are the powerhouses where so many processes which the body occur, the means to our strength, flexibility, and mobility, and they're pretty much involved in every movement we do, from twitch to stride. 


Table Of Contents

  1. What is CBD Gel?
  2. Does CBD Gel Relieve Pain?
  3. Cannabinoids: A Potential Muscle Relaxant
  4. Why Take Care of Our Muscles?
  5. Our CBD Gel Ingredients


Long story short: we need to thank our muscles more… and, luckily for us, nurturing our muscles often leads to the release of endorphins- making us feel good in the process and leaving us relaxed and refreshed in the aftermath of exercise recovery and other trying times for our bodies. There's really no reason not to pay attention to how our physical body is feeling- by elongating, releasing, and massaging tension away from muscles, our body rewards us in the form of improved circulation, the engagement of the parasympathetic nervous system in a relaxation response, not to mention with better flexibility and mobility, the lubrication of the joints, decreased inflammation, and an improvement in lymphatic drainage (which can also improve some inflammation symptoms) and, yes, a cocktail of feel-good endorphins.

So, with all this in mind, we've collated the perfect blend of natural, well-sourced ingredients to make your muscles sing. Our CBD Sport and Active Gel has a specialised and cooling blend of full-spectrum CBD extract, including menthol, limonene, eucalyptus, and concentrated fruit extracts to provide your achy muscles with restoration and release. 

What is CBD gel?

When we discussed CBD's versatility earlier, we weren't lying- CBD's talents lie in many forms, from ingestibles to topicals and suppositories. In topical form, CBD may relieve physical aches and pains, as well as act as a muscle relaxant. This is because CBD is known as a possible reliever of chronic pain, due to its potential to impact the way the endocannabinoid system (ECS) works. 

Since the ECS is crucial in modulating pretty much all pathways in the body, in particular, the central and peripheral nervous systems, the inflammatory response, and pain processing, CBD's potential to manipulate and stimulate the ECS has a vital say in how our physical body responds to pain and discomfort. So, when it comes to our CBD gel, one way it may benefit muscle aches, strains, or pain may be by actually interacting with the pain response perceived by the brain, potentially changing the way the central nervous system operates.

In particular, it's CBD's potential, as a cannabinoid, to work with the ECS, which allows it to have such influence over many significant processes in our system. 

The Endocannabinoid System (ECS)

The ECS is responsible for homeostasis within the body- and it controls most of our processes, from mood and appetite, to immunity and even pain perception. In short, because the ECS must regulate the processes in our body which allow us to function, survive, and thrive, we can also say that it's responsible for maintaining homeostasis in the body.  

The ECS is responsible for controlling the central and peripheral nervous systems, making it responsible for a wealth of processes undergone in the body. Along the body are receptor sites, distinguished as CB1 and CB2 receptors. When a process needs to occur, the ECS releases molecules known as endocannabinoids, which attach to the correct receptor sites (either CB1 or CB2) and trigger modulation. However, because the body isn't always perfect, the ECS, alone, might not always be able to regulate these processes perfectly- which is where cannabinoids (like CBD) come in. In the proper dosage, cannabinoids, and CBD in particular, may help to push homeostasis along, helping the body to modulate itself. Where some cannabinoids, such as THC, have a high affinity for CB1 and CB2 receptors, attaching to them to trigger processes in abundance, CBD operates a little differently. 

Instead of binding to ECS receptors, CBD is responsible for manipulating the ECS in a more indirect way. With higher levels of CBD in the bloodstream, studies have found that test subjects may experience a greater sense of pain relief, loss of tension and tightness in the muscles and, as a whole, greater feelings of wellbeing.

CBD Gel Relieve Pain?

CBD interacts with the ECS, but does so indirectly- which is essential, as, unlike THC, CBD isn't psychotropic. This is because the presence of CBD is thought to potentially allow natural endocannabinoids (cannabinoids produced by the body) to work at greater levels, fuelling the ECS to work at its best without entirely flooding the system and offsetting the precarious balance that the body works so hard to maintain. When taken topically, CBD may be even better at reducing pain symptoms in localised areas, because it can absorb directly into the skin and interact with the ECS receptors on the muscle site. 

CBD: A Potential Reliever of Pain

Certain studies have found that, in the presence of CBD, higher levels of the 'bliss molecule’ anandamide are present in the bloodstream. This means that, when CBD is absorbed into the skin, it may result in higher levels of anandamide (since CBD may be responsible for denaturing the protein responsible for getting rid of anandamide, essentially meaning that concentrations of the ‘bliss molecule’ remain in the body for longer). In turn, this has the potential to directly influence how the body perceives pain and reduces inflammation, all while promoting wellbeing from the outside in. 

In fact, topicals are considered the best course of action for pain relief. This is because a topical is often absorbed straight into the pores of the skin, bypassing any CB1 and CB2 receptors and quickly stimulating the production of anandamide- and 2-AG, a neurotransmitter responsible for relieving pain. Both anandamide and 2-AG actually block pain receptors. The quicker they’re produced, the better for achy muscles to recover. But how does anandamide actually work in the body?

CBD: A Possible Promoter of 2-AG, Anandamide and Adenosine

Well, according to studies, anandamide is crucial for pain relief because of how it interacts with CB1 receptors. When it comes to perceiving pain, CB1 receptors are the main culprit. This is because CB1 receptors tend to be located in the brain- which is the organ that perceives pain. 

Pain is registered and organised by the brain- particularly the thalamus, somatosensory cortex, frontal cortex, and limbic system. Although signals that travel up to the brain are orchestrated by the peripheral nervous system, it is the central nervous system (which runs along the spinal column) that issues perception and a response. Common examples of this are an inflammatory response, or the ‘knee-jerk’ reaction that happens when you quickly pull your hand away from the burning heat of a candle. 

When the body senses any pain sparking, anandamide is quick to bind to CB1 receptors and, essentially, nullify the pain- which means that our pain perception dulls significantly with higher levels of this endocannabinoid in the system. 

Now, we’ve already talked about how higher levels of CBD result in higher levels of anandamide in the body, but how does this process work? According to many anecdotal reports, CBD may be highly useful when it comes to keeping pain relief at an optimal level. According to some studies, CBD may be responsible for killing the enzyme which reuptakes (essentially removes or re-absorbs) anandamide- also known as FAAH (fatty acid amide hydrolase). CBD’s potential to eliminate FAAH is monumental in the realm of pain relief- as iterated in the Scripps Research Institute blog

According to Benjamin Cravett, assistant professor of cell biology at Skaggs Institute, ‘If you could manipulate this enzyme [FAAH], then you have a good shot at manipulating the endogenous system and get the outcome of a selective effect [of decreased sensitivity to pain]”. 

Long story short, FAAH has got to go in order for pain sensitivity (or the perception of pain in the body) to decrease- which is vital information when we consider that CBD may be able to achieve this, according to some preliminary research!

Studies have also implied that higher levels of CBD, when absorbed topically, may lead to higher levels of the neurotransmitter adenosine- which is partially responsible for relieving pain. Much like anandamide, adenosine is responsible for blocking CB1 receptors in the brain and within the spinal column, preventing those unpleasant signals from being perceived by the brain. 

For those who suffer from muscle pain- be it from general day-to-day strain, sleeping the wrong way, or micro-tears and lactic acid build up in the small fibres of the muscles from too much exercise, a relief from pain probably sounds like… well, a relief! So, it’s only natural that we have paired the therapeutic potential of CBD with the healing warmth of a hot bath- muscle restoration manifested in the form of our fragrant and fizzy CBD bath bomb. Amongst the hot, welcoming water of your bath, our bath bomb has real lavender flowers to ease your mind and treat your senses to an aromatic experience like no other, as well as (of course), CBD to potentially unwind and soothe your tense muscles, and shea butter to nourish your skin. We have you (and your skin) completely covered, so you can lay back and relax.

A Potential Muscle Relaxant

Studies have since found that CBD gel might do more than relieve pain. Aside from its analgesic purposes, many have found that CBD may have the potential to relax the muscles, reduce inflammation (this one is because of anandamide, 2-AG and adenosine. These are transmitted at higher levels potentially due to the presence of CBD, and which prevent inflammation from occurring by blocking signals from the brain to the site of ‘pain’) and calm down muscle tightness. One study has found that CBD may have the potential to be effective when it comes to MS-induced spasticity in muscles- purportedly helping to relieve the uncomfortable convulsions suffered from by those with MS. However, for those of us who don’t experience muscle convulsions, the study tells us that the positive effects that CBD may have on calming down muscle spasticity operates on the same level as relaxing and relieving tight or tense muscles. In other words: CBD may play a role in relaxing the muscles of the body and promote release of tension- much in the way of yoga, or a hot bath (although without the added potential benefits of increased blood circulation- unless you massage the CBD gel into your muscles, which we highly recommend). 

But how might CBD relax the muscles? Since both anandamide and 2-AG are great at binding to CB1 receptors, not only does this block the pain perception pathway, it also limits the release of the excitatory glutamatergic and inhibitory GABAergic neurotransmitters- which significantly reduces muscle spasms, tension, convulsion, and pain. Reducing the level of these neurotransmitters has been confirmed to produce an antispasmodic effect on the body. With CBD’s potential to do exactly this, it makes sense that CBD gel may be able to relax our muscles.

When discussing the possible benefits of our smooth, cool CBD gel, we can’t forget that we, at VAAY, have specially formulated a full-spectrum product; which means the gel contains 0.2% THC. Not only does this make the CBD and terpenes present a lot stronger, so that all the cannabinoids and cannabis-derived products may work synergistically towards a more robust, effective product, but the THC itself is a vital and integral part of the gel. 

This is because THC, even in small amounts, may act as a muscle relaxant. According to some studies, when absorbed by the skin as a topical, THC is even more beneficial, because it acts quickly and efficiently to impact muscle tension or pain (without a chance of causing psychoactivity- but rest-assured, even if these trace amounts of THC could cause a psychotropic reaction, the looming presence of CBD in the gel would offset any chance of a ‘high’ immediately). THC may work by binding to the CB1 receptors, which run down the CNS at specific glutamatergic synapses, preventing high levels of excitatory glutamate, which potentially causes a reaction to affect any spastic, tense, and painful muscles where you have applied the CBD gel.

Why Take Care of Our Muscles?

For those of you who tend to have pretty healthy muscles, we hear you asking: why do I need this gel? Well, trust us when we say that, even for those with ‘normal’ muscle density and little to no aches and pains, you still need to look after your muscles- and we promise this isn’t just because we’re jealous of your effortless nimbleness (well, not that jealous!)

According to research, our muscles are more than simply protein fibres which provide us with strength, mobility, and flexibility (although we do thank them for that); our muscles, as it turns out, aren’t just physical. By this, we mean that the muscles of the body actually tend to respond to emotions- and they tend to hold onto those emotions way after we forget what we were feeling in the first place. With more research being undertaken on the relationship between the mind and body, as well as a deeper understanding of what exactly ‘muscle memory’ is, we can safely say that muscles, fascia, tissues, and tendons hold a lot of tension- and when we’ve had a stressful or emotionally taxing day, our muscles can absorb these negativities and tense up. 

This makes more sense than we might initially believe. Think about the last time you were upset: your shoulders probably tensed, your jaw might have clenched, and, whether you felt this or not, your hips most definitely squeezed to tighten. This is what we mean by the mind-body connection. It’s pretty simple, and relies on pure logic: the body tends to echo how the mind is feeling. When we feel stressed or upset, the body tenses, getting ready to fight or flight, as a consequence of the cocktail of hormones the brain tends to release as a result (like adrenaline and cortisol and other such stress-oriented neurotransmitters). Because of a little thing called ‘muscle memory’, a proven phenomenon in which our muscles ‘remember’ the actions our body undertakes on the regular, the mind-body connection has never been more evident. Our mind tells us that we’re angry, tense, upset, or stressed, our muscles clench in response- and then they pretty much ‘remember’, due to the blessing (or curse, in this case) that is ‘muscle memory’, to stay clenched until we consciously release them. 

This also provides ample evidence for why we tend to store emotions in our muscles- because our muscles tend to remember how we respond when we feel a certain way. The next time we’re upset, our muscles ‘remember’ to tense, hunch, or cramp up. We store ‘unprocessed trauma’ unconsciously in the body, which can be detrimental to our health. If we don’t regularly massage, release, and unwind our muscles, we could find ourselves losing mobility, flexibility, and manifesting aches and pains, which could eventually lead to chronic pain, inflammation or worse. In truth, there’s no way to escape tight or tense muscles. Day to day, we tend to experience a wealth of emotions we can’t escape from. What we can do, however, is unwind from these emotions, release them in any way we can, and truly nurture and restore our body back into a relaxed state.

It might come as no surprise, but a happy body can be a positive step towards a happy mind. So, yes, our muscles are way more important than we might have initially imagined!

Our CBD Gel Ingredients

At VAAY, if there’s one ethos we can wholeheartedly subscribe to, it's using CBD supplements, in all their creative versatility, to restore, relax, and revitalise the body and mind. But alongside this ethos comes another: CBD, alone, can’t quite carry the burden of your health all on its own. This is why we’ve added a bunch of other all-natural and helpful ingredients into our CBD gel, to really give your skin that full-spectrum feeling. So, without further ado, here are some of the major players that make our gel the gel it is today:

Full Spectrum Hemp Extract

We might have mentioned before, but our gel contains CBD oil containing a legal amount of THC at 0.2%- just in trace amounts, to make the product full-spectrum. What does this mean? Well, according to a wealth of research out there, a full-spectrum CBD product is the strongest type of CBD product, because it best mimics the concentration and ratio of cannabinoids, flavonoids and terpenes naturally found in the cannabis Sativa plant. So, a full-spectrum CBD product includes THC (like ours, in trace amounts to fit with the legal standard!) CBD (we didn’t forget to add that in, we promise), terpenes (we have limonene and menthol in abundance, with a little eucalyptus added to boot- to really refresh and invigorate your senses), flavonoids, and other phytocannabinoids (these are present and thriving within the naturally-sourced, low THC, concentrated hemp extract we use in the gel).

Since full-spectrum products best emulate the cannabis Sativa plant, you can’t really get any better than that! This is because the 'entourage effect’ is simulated. This effect is where all the products in a plant work together for their potential impact to become stronger and, as a result, more effective at getting your muscles to relax and unwind. Essentially, the ‘entourage effect’ works to make a plant product more therapeutic and synergistic- especially if that plant product is derived from cannabis. The ingredients work on a natural, symbiotic, and synergistic level. The higher the abundance and ratio of cannabinoids to the original plant they were sourced from, the more influential the product is- bringing said product as close as possible to its natural healing power. If we think of all the cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids working within our CBD gel as members of a team who are used to working together in order to thrive, all striving to make the product as therapeutic, healing, and healthy as possible, you could say: the more, the merrier!


We firmly believe that a cooling gel is pretty much null and void without the cooling feel and fragrance of menthol- and because we believe in natural products only, you better believe that menthol present in our gel is 100% natural. Not only is menthol a terpene with a presence that only enhances the full-spectrum nature of the gel (making all the products more effective), but its purported anti-inflammatory effects just touch the tip of the iceberg- menthol has a myriad of possible benefits which make it a beneficial ingredient to try for muscle pain and tension. Menthol is thought to relax and relieve the muscles, keep blood flow circulating, not to mention alleviate and distract from physical symptoms of pain with its soothing, cooling sensation, and even potentially protects the skin from bacterial infection. 

In addition to this, menthol is a terpene- which means it smells great when you apply the CBD gel to your skin! According to research, menthol may have significant cognitive and mood effects, particularly when inhaling menthol; it may stimulate cognitive resilience and promote overall wellbeing. 

If we look at the mind-body connection, synergistically, the promotion of wellbeing, by the inhalation of menthol, may also promote the relaxation of muscles by proxy. This comes from the widely-held belief that feelings of joy, positivity and happiness can be extremely beneficial for the physical body- stimulating oxygenation and increased blood flow for the muscles, releasing and relieving tension in the body, and even activating detoxification by stimulating the lymph nodes into action.


Another terpene to really solidify the ‘entourage effect’ in our CBD gel and make all the ingredients more effective and powerful- limonene’s scent is just as uplifting and calming as menthol’s, if not more. Associated with fresh lemons and oranges, limonene is thought to reduce inflammation by lowering nitric oxide levels in the system (a molecule that plays a significant role in the body’s inflammatory pathways). It is a strong antioxidant (which is excellent for healthy skin- antioxidants get rid of the damaging molecules known as free radicals, which have a tendency to cause oxidative stress, leading to cell damage, disease, and the degeneration of the cells). 

Some claim that limonene’s potential to curb stress and anxiety makes it a useful aromatherapeutic oil. Indeed, with more up and coming research telling us that sniffing citrus oils, which contain limonene, has some serious beneficial neuropsychological effects on the brain. 

One study, which conducted tests on 97 participants, involved inhaling citrusy scents. Within this study, it was confirmed that participants who inhaled the citrusy scents containing limonene experienced reduced anxiety symptoms, uplifted mood, and lower levels of ‘helplessness’ in fabricated stressful situations than those who didn’t inhale limonene. While the study elaborates that this might well be due to the sheer pleasantness of the odour, many other studies seem to show that participants who inhale limonene, in particular, seem to feel happier and more positive than those who don’t. Another study, conducted on mice, stresses that the mice who inhaled lemon oil seemed to stimulate the 5-HTnergic pathway in the brain (which is the pathway involved in serotonin release, the feel-good neurotransmitter), concluding that sniffing limonene may significantly reduce anxiety and depression-like symptoms. As we stressed above, this is incredibly useful when it comes to releasing tension in the muscles and enhancing the mind-body connection: as we’ve come to realise, an uplifted mood ties in very closely with an uplifted body. You can’t seem to have one without the other.


Whether you’re sore from lifting weights, tired from a long day of sitting in cramped conditions, or simply in need of some CBD-infused, terpene-laden goodness, let our CBD Sport and Active Gel be the self-care, restoration, and comfort that you need. Trust us when we say, you deserve to feel relaxed and calm- and with more and more understanding, we’ve learned that pampering the body and mind, with a little THC, a moderate array of terpenes, and a healthy dose of CBD, has got to be the way forward. 

So, what are you waiting for? Loosen up a little!
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