The Best CBD Creams for Pain, According to Experts
Pain is a universal experience, one many people are all too familiar with. The search for pain relief is one reason why cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive herbal remedy, is quickly gaining popularity. But with so many options on the market it can be hard to find a quality CBD topical for pain.
In this article, we’ll look at the best CBD creams for pain, which have been medically reviewed by Ashley Jordan Ferira, PhD, RDN.
Our favorite topical CBD products include soothing creams, balms, salves, and lotions, all of which are made from American-grown hemp and have been independently tested by third-party labs for quality and safety purposes.
Our top 5 CBD creams for pain at a glance:
- Strongest CBD Cream: Spruce Full-Spectrum CBD Topical Salve
- Best THC-Free: Medterra CBD Pain Cream
- Best for Recovery: Plant People Relief Balm
- Best Cool Therapy: CBDistillery CBD Cooling Cream
- Best Full Spectrum: FAB CBD Topical Cream
Can CBD cream actually help with pain?
As it turns out, topical CBD products may offer some anti-inflammatory properties to help alleviate pain through cannabinoid receptors within the skin. These receptors are a part of the body’s endocannabinoid system, or ECS, that governs functions such as our ability to process pain, as well as inflammation, mood, and sleep. The cannabis plant contains phytocannabinoids like CBD that interact with our ECS, which is why hemp has therapeutic properties.
CBD has been shown in clinical studies to help with pain-specific medical conditions including chronic pain, peripheral neuropathy, pain and inflammation, arthritis pain, and myofascial pain. Cannabinoids can also help improve pain in patients receiving palliative care. A 2020 cross-sectional study found that nearly 25% of outpatient palliative care patients use CBD, with topical application being the most common form used.
What to look for in a CBD topical
These are some of the most important considerations when selecting most CBD oil products, including topicals like a CBD pain cream.
- Quality control: A brand should display recent third-party lab testing results.
- Hemp source: We recommend you buy brands that make products from US-grown hemp.
- Extraction method: CO2 and ethanol extraction methods are considered robust.
- Brand reputation: Check out CBD brand reviews for specifics. Brand longevity and size can be relevant, but some newer, smaller brands are serious about quality, too.
- Strength/potency: No clinical consensus exists yet to inform dosing, as it depends on your personal needs and pain response. Hemp oil topical products vary in CBD milligrams per ounce.
- Type of hemp extract: Full-spectrum (whole hemp plant extract, contains no more than 0.3% THC); broad-spectrum extract (full spectrum of cannabinoids minus THC); CBD isolate (just CBD).
The best 5 CBD creams for pain
Now that we’ve explored the background on CBD topicals and how they might aid in pain management, let’s dive into our top five product recommendations for the best CBD cream for pain. Continue on to learn more about CBD cream usage and selecting the product right for you.
Strongest CBD Cream: Spruce Full Spectrum Topical CBD Salve
Spruce has tight control and full visibility of its CBD product manufacturing process from the hemp farm to the shelf, and its hemp extracts are designed to deal with muscle and joint pain. If you want a CBD cream for back pain this may be a good hemp cream to try. Its branding is also clean and minimalistic, making the facts easy to find.
- Strength: 1000 mg CBD in 0.87 oz. jar or 2000 mg CBD in 1.7 oz. jar
- Product: This hemp cream is full-spectrum and contains other moisturizing ingredients like olive oil, shea butter, and coconut oil. The salve rubs in smoothly without leaving a shiny finish
- Customer review:“This topical CBD cream out performs any other OTC cream I have tried for arthritic pain. I would not only recommend the product, I also recommend Spruce CBD. They delivered a well packaged product on time with excellent communication along the way. Five stars for both the product and customer service from Spruce CBD!”
Salve available in several jar sizes
Best THC Free: Medterra CBD Pain Cream
Medterra goes above and beyond when it comes to quality standards and transparency. It follows cGMPs for topical manufacturing, and its products are formulated with soothing natural ingredients to alleviate pain sensations. Every Medterra product has a detailed third-party lab report available that breaks down cannabinoid and terpene content, as well as pesticide and heavy-metal testing. This is a great CBD lotion to try if you want to avoid THC.
- Strength: 500 mg or 1,000 mg of CBD in a 1.7 oz. pump
- Product: This brand offers several CBD topical options, but this cream is specifically formulated to aid in pain relief with the help of high-strength CBD isolate, menthol, and arnica.
- Customer review:“I have a chronic ankle pain and it has kept me from running for 2 years. This cream takes the pain away like nothing else has done. Ready to try jogging again!”
Available in 17 oz. pump bottle
Best Topical for Recovery: Plant People Relief Balm
Plant People prides itself in selling high-quality hemp products, which are organic, lab-tested, non-GMO, and gluten free. The brand’s Balm+ Relief topical ingredient list specifically calls out other cannabinoids present, including cannabichromene (CBC) and cannabigerol (CBG). Plant People is also a certified B Corp, making this a pain cream from a top-notch organization.
- Strength: 450 mg of CBD in a 2 oz. container
- Product: This unique balm makes it easier than ever to apply to affected areas, especially when you’re trying to alleviate sore muscles and aching joints after a workout. The hemp is full-spectrum and is accompanied by other plant botanicals like arnica and peppermint extract to promote soothing recovery.
- Customer review:“Product worked to reduce pain immediately. I almost didn’t believe it however results were consistent each time used. Great product!”
Balm available in 2 oz. jar
Best Cool Therapy: CBDistillery Cooling Cream
This pain relief cream expertly combines broad spectrum CBD extract and other beneficial ingredients to promote joint support and reduce inflammation. Each bottle is made from Colorado-grown hemp plant extract, and this cream is also completely THC-free. All CBDistillery products are fully lab tested and made in America, so you can trust that its products are of the highest quality. CBD cream reviews usually include CBDistillery because of the value the brand offers. The brand also makes one of the best CBD oils.
- Strength: 300 mg of CBD in a 1.7 fl.oz. bottle
- Product: This topical cream incorporates menthol to create a soothing, cooling sensation that lasts for hours, among other skin-benefiting ingredients like sunflower seed oil and aloe vera leaf juice
- Customer review:“I use it in the morning and after workouts! Works great and it doesn’t have the strong after smell that other cooling creams have!”
To buy: 300mg CBDistillery Cooling Cream; thecbdistillery.com
Cream available in pump bottle
Best Full Spectrum: FAB CBD Topical CBD Cream
FAB is devoted to providing people with the best quality CBD it can. All of FAB’s CBD products are made from hemp organically grown in Colorado. FAB is community-oriented and regularly collaborates with charity partners. A full spectrum, or “whole plant,” therapy may offer additional benefits when compared to other CBD topicals for pain.
- Strength: 600 mg of CBD in 2 oz. tub
- Product: FAB cream is strong product at a good price, and applies smoothly with the addition of vitamin E and cocoa butter. We really like the addition of blood orange essential oil in this topical, which makes it smell great
- Customer review:“How did I live without this? This product is fabulous. I can walk the stairs, take long walks now and I feel great.”
Available in 2 oz tub
How to use CBD lotions and topicals
Since CBD topicals work on localized pain, the first step is to identify your problem area(s). You’ll then want to carefully clean and dry the area before applying a small amount of the topical on your skin to start.
Cannabinoids have low skin permeability, so you can dose up and apply more of the topical based on how you feel. Spend some time really working it into your skin, massaging gently as you go.
Once you’ve finished applying, you can wash your hands and wait. Most CBD lotions will take a few minutes before they kick in, but can peak one to two hours later. You may need to reapply a few times a day for full effect.
Do topical CBD products have side effects?
While CBD is safe for use, there are a few caveats you’ll want to keep in mind when incorporating a hemp topical into your pain-management regimen.
- Broken skin: Be sure you read the product label thoroughly as not all CBD topicals are designed to be used on broken skin.
- Carrier oils: If you have sensitive skin, allergies, or your skin is prone to irritation, be sure to check the label to see what kind of carrier oil your product contains.
- Facial application: Most CBD topicals formulated for pain relief are designed to be used on the body and not for facial application. Some brands will call this out explicitly.
Is CBD cream right for you?
CBD topicals are a great herbal strategy to help with localized aches and pains, and they are generally considered safe to use. However, the FDA has yet to evaluate mainstream CBD skincare products, which is why you should always do your research and aim to purchase from high-quality companies. If you or your loved one are seeking the best CBD cream for pain, our recommendations are a great place to start.
This article has been medically reviewed by Ashley Jordan Ferira, PhD, RDN, the Senior Editor of Health & Wellness Strategy at Remedy Review, an independent CBD reviews site. Dr. Ferira completed her PhD in Foods & Nutrition at The University of Georgia, where she researched the role of vitamin D in pediatric cardiometabolic disease. The products featured in this article were tested at ProVerde Laboratories in Milford, MA and Avazyme, Inc. in Durham, NC.
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The global burden of pain is massive. Vetted for source and quality, we present the best CBD cream for pain in this buyer’s guide of top hemp topicals.
Best CBD Oil for Pain: The Ultimate Self-Care Guide (2021 Update)
How do you choose the right CBD oil for pain relief? Royal CBD
Finding the best CBD oil for pain can be time-consuming, not to mention the money and hard work involved with classic trial-and-error. If you want to save both time and money on buying CBD oil, you can use our experience and transfer those resources to one of the three brands we recommend.
Top 4 Best CBD Oil Products for Pain Relief
CBD oil can significantly improve your wellbeing as long as you’re using the right product. Whether you’re dealing with pain, anxiety , or sleeplessness , quality is paramount to your experience.
But how do you choose the right CBD oil for pain relief?
We’ll cover that later in the article, but first, let’s introduce you to some of the best CBD oils we’ve ever tried. Each of these products have been carefully reviewed to make sure you find the best CBD oil for your type of pain.
1. Royal CBD: Best Full Spectrum CBD Oil
Royal CBD. Royal CBD
Royal CBD oil is made from organic ingredients. The company uses organic hemp plants and supercritical extraction for its products, resulting in pure and potent extracts.
Even its packaging is processed in a sustainable way, so if you value ethical consumerism, then Royal CBD should be high on your list.
When it comes to the quality of Royal CBD oil, “premium” is the right way to describe it.
The oil is suspended in organic MCT oil for improved absorption and additional benefits for the heart and brain from the oil’s essential fatty acids.
Royal CBD oil is available in four strengths: 250 mg, 500 mg, 1000 mg and 2500 mg. You can choose between the natural, citrus and mint flavors.
This is a full-spectrum extract, so you’re getting the entire range of non-psychoactive cannabinoids, as well as trace levels of THC (below 0.3%), terpenes and other compounds from hemp.
2. Gold Bee – Best Organic CBD Oil
Gold Bee. GoldBee
Similar to Royal CBD, Gold Bee specializes in full-spectrum CBD oil from all-organic ingredients. The company combines two superfoods: CBD-rich plants from Colorado and organic honey from Brazilian Rainforest. The Gold Bee CBD oil is a full-spectrum product, so you’re getting the synergistic effects of all cannabinoids and terpenes from the original plant. The maximum potency here is 1200 mg, which translates to 40 mg in each milliliter.
Full-spectrum extracts are generally considered more effective when it comes to easing physical discomfort due to the aforementioned synergy. Suspension in hemp seed oil makes the CBD more available for the body. If you’re not a fan of natural CBD oils, you can try the Kiwi option, which is flavored with honey. Gold Bee also offers high-potency CBD capsules (up to 40 mg per capsule) and delicious honey sticks — a great product selection for a brand with a Bee in its logo.
3. CBDPure – Runner Up
CBDPure is one of the most transparent brands on the market. The company broadly explains every stage of making its CBD oil and has lab reports for each batch of product.
The golden color of the oil is a good indicator of its quality—it means that someone did a good job while filtering the extract from the excess chlorophyll and plant material.
The oil has an earthy scent, which is typical for full-spectrum hemp extracts, but it tastes surprisingly good for one.
It’s not the most potent oil out there. You can choose between three strengths: 100 mg, 300 mg and 600 mg. The lowest potency offers 3.3 mg of CBD per serving, which may be good for very mild pain, or if you’re using CBD oil for the first time.
CBDPure sells both full-spectrum and pure (THC-free) oil. The pure version is better for those who want to benefit from CBD without any THC in their system. Some people just want to err on the side of caution, whereas others can’t use full-spectrum products because they’re subject to regular drug tests at work.
4. NuLeaf Naturals
NuLeaf Naturals. NuLeaf Naturals
NuLeaf Naturals has been selling premium CBD oil for over five years now, and surprisingly, the company decided not to extend its line of products.
NuLeaf only sells traditional CBD oil drops—and nothing else.
If you’re looking for a wider product selection, we suggest that you stick with Royal CBD, but if you’re aiming for a full-spectrum CBD oil formulated to perfection, then this company is one of the most reputable manufacturers in the industry.
NuLeaf Naturals offers its CBD oil in five bottle sizes:
- 5 mL — 240 mg of CBD;
- 15 mL — 725 mg of CBD;
- 30 mL — 1450 mg of CBD;
- 50 mL — 2425 mg of CBD; and
- 100 mL — 4850 mg of CBD.
The potency of this oil doesn’t change with the bottle’s size, so it’s a good option for people who know their effective dosage and are looking for several months worth of supply.
The only downside about NuLeaf Naturals—aside from the limited product lineup—is that these oils are priced higher than other brands in this ranking while offering similar quality.
What Is CBD Oil?
CBD oil is a natural alternative to over-the-counter supplements—and a modern panacea for a wide range of health concerns. Some people use it to relax and ease their mind after a tense day, whereas others take CBD oil for chronic conditions involving inflammation, pain and poor mood.
CBD is extracted from the flowers of mature cannabis flowers and then processed into an oily extract. The extraction process, as well as the solvents involved, can heavily impact the quality of the end product.
The way CBD produces its effects is still unclear to scientists. However, most experts agree that CBD modulates the endocannabinoid system (ECS), without directly stimulating cannabinoid receptors, in a similar way that THC does.
THC binds to cannabinoid receptors in the brain, mimicking the actions of a similarly built chemical produced by the brain (anandamide), hence the psychoactive effects.
CBD, on the other hand, affects dozens of pathways throughout the human body. It may change the way we experience anxiety, inflammation and pain.
Most Notable Studies on CBD and Pain
CBD oil has a plethora of health benefits, and you can probably name a few right away. It’s considered to be one of the most beneficial cannabinoids in the cannabis plant. Let’s see what studies say about using CBD oil for pain management.
A 2008 review of the existing studies on CBD in relieving chronic pain concluded that CBD was effective in managing pain without causing unwanted reactions.
In 2007, a double-blind controlled study found that CBD can assist patients suffering from neuropathic pain.
Finally, a 2016 study showed positive correlation between the use of CBD and reduced inflammation in arthritis patients. In this study, the researchers applied CBD topical to rats for four consecutive days.
The study concluded that rats who were given CBD showed lower levels of pain and inflammation in the affected areas.
How to Use CBD Oil for Pain
Full-spectrum CBD oil is considered to be the most effective form because it features all compounds that are naturally found in the plant. These include not only cannabinoids, bu also terpenes and essential oils. Studies have found full-spectrum extracts to be more effective at treating pain and inflammation than their single-molecule counterparts.
You can buy CBD oil in a bottle with a dropper. The dropper allows you to measure just the right amount of oil and transfer it under the tongue, where you have to hold it for about 60 seconds before swallowing.
The effects of CBD oil should come within 20 minutes, with benefits lasting for four to six hours, depending on your dosage and metabolism.
There are no strict dosage guidelines to follow when it comes to using CBD oil for pain. That’s because everyone reacts differently to CBD oil.
For starters, we suggest that you determine the severity of pain.
Decide what kind of pain is “manageable” for you, and try to level it down to that point.
For low pain, it’s a good idea to start with 5–10 mg of CBD per day. For medium to high pain, the dosage ranges between 20–100 mg. For more convenient usage, you can also consider choosing high potency CBD edibles .
Why should you go low and slow?
Because some people are very sensitive to cannabis compounds. There are individuals who benefit from ridiculously low doses. Lower increments allow for more accurate dosing, making sure you won’t experience any side effects aside from its benefits.
CBD Oil or CBD Cream: Which One Should I Use for Pain?
Having pain on your leg may lead you to think that applying CBD cream on the affected area will yield better results than swallowing CBD oil.
Well, this isn’t actually the case.
Using CBD topicals on painful areas is a good option if the pain is shallow. Using CBD topicals on painful areas is a good option if the pain is shallow. CBD topical creams only work on anatomical structures that are located up to one-centimeter under the skin.
And when you struggle with joint inflammation or muscle soreness, the problem is probably more complex than that.
CBD topicals generally call for a liberal splash over the affected area. If you have a generous hand with creams, there’s a chance that some of it will penetrate the skin down to your muscles.
It doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t use topicals at all. In fact, they make for a great addition to CBD oil because they approach the problem from a slightly different angle.
How to Determine a High Quality CBD Oil
If you’re trying a new product for your well-being or symptoms for the first time, you want to make sure it’s the highest quality possible.
Here are the most important buying criteria:
The source of CBD is paramount to the quality of the end product. Hemp plants are bioaccumulators, meaning they absorb every substance from the soil they were planted in—including both the bad and the good substances.
When grown in fertile soil, without using pesticides and other toxic chemicals, hemp will be high in CBD and nutrients. It will also be free of contaminants. That’s why it’s important to choose companies that make their products from organic hemp.
This is the second-most important factor to consider when buying CBD oil for pain. Potency tells you how much CBD there is in the bottle, as well as in each milliliter of the oil.
Look for brands that sell CBD oil in a wide range of concentrations. That way, you’ll be able to choose the most efficient option, both in terms of the effects and your budget.
Please remember that higher potency doesn’t mean the oil will work better for you. As noted, some people benefit from low doses, so if a 250 mg bottle does the trick for your pain, there’s no need to look for stronger options.
Extraction means pulling CBD and other compounds from the plant material using some kind of solvent. The golden standard for making CBD products is CO2 extraction.
CO2 is used as a solvent that changes its state from gas to liquid, penetrating the plant and extracting cannabinoids from it. Eventually, the CO2 will dissipate, leaving behind an oily, viscous extract.
Alternative extraction methods include olive oil or alcohol (tinctures). Steer clear of CBD oil that was made with butane, as this solvent is difficult to work with and may leave toxic residue at the bottom of your oil if handled improperly.
CBD companies can send samples of their products for content analysis to independent laboratories.
These laboratories check the potency of CBD and look for common contaminants in the end products. Before CBD oil makes it on the shelves, the company should ensure that there are no inconsistencies in the CBD concentration and purity levels.
Third-party testing is the only way to confirm that you’re getting exactly what you’re buying. Most reputable companies display lab reports on their websites.
Where to Buy CBD Oil
It’s quite easy to find CBD oil for sale these days because the market is growing and new CBD companies are popping up each month. You can either get your CBD oil online or buy it from one of the local dispensaries in your state.
We don’t recommend head shops, food stores or other brick-and-mortar stores, as they usually carry overpriced products whose quality leaves a lot to be desired.
Buying CBD oil online gives you access to a wider range of products, attractive seasonal deals and other perks for registered customers
You can easily verify the credibility of your potential vendor by simply reading how they manufacture their products, checking the Certificates of Analysis, or looking at reviews from other customers and ratings at CBD-dedicated websites.
Potential Side Effects of CBD Oil
Your safety should be your top priority, so it’s important that you understand the possible risk of taking CBD oil.
The good thing is that CBD oil doesn’t really have serious side effects. The World Health Organization has acknowledged it as a safe product that doesn’t cause dependency.
The most common reaction to CBD oil is the sensation of dryness in the mouth. This is typical to all cannabis products and results from the effect of cannabinoids on salivation. You can avoid this side effect by staying well hydrated after applying CBD oil.
Experiencing dizziness due to lowered blood pressure is also common among CBD users. At extremely high doses, CBD can cause diarrhea and nausea. It happens when you take more than your body can handle, so you simply flush the excess oil out of your system.
Having a dry mouth can also temporarily suppress your appetite, but these effects should pass over time.
Last but not least, there are a couple of medications that can negatively interact with CBD.
For example, CBD is a blood-thinning agent. By lowering your blood pressure, CBD oil can result in harmful levels of hypotension.
If you take any prescription drugs, it’s best to consult with a doctor prior to buying any CBD product.
Final Thoughts on Using CBD Oil for Pain
CBD oil comes with a myriad of health benefits, including relief from different types and levels of pain. The lion’s share of these benefits result from CBD’s interaction with our endocannabinoid system.
By altering pain transmission from nerves to the brain, CBD can help people manage pain and improve their quality of life in a safe and natural way. However, it’s important that you only use high-quality products that come from reputable manufacturers. Only then will you be able to get the most out of CBD’s analgesic properties.
We hope that this guide has helped you get a better understanding of CBD products. Feel free to use our recommendations and let us know how CBD oil helped you with your pain!
What’s the best CBD oil for dealing with different types of pain? How does using CBD oil for pain compare to traditional remedies? Find these out and more in our ultimate buying guide.