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The Best CBD Creams for Pain, According to Experts

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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.

Can CBD oil relieve arthritis pain?

Some studies suggest that cannabidiol (CBD) oil could play a role in relieving arthritis. What are the benefits of CBD oil, and are there any side effects that people should be aware of before using it?

CBD oil contains extracts from cannabis plants. Some people use CBD oil to relieve pain associated with chronic conditions, such as arthritis.

This article looks at the scientific evidence behind the benefits, uses, and side effects of CBD oil. It will also discuss whether or not it may be an effective treatment for arthritis and chronic pain.

An older woman wearing a pink shirt holding a bottle and a dropper of CBD oil

CBD oil is an oil that derives from the cannabis plant. Unlike other cannabinoids — such as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) — CBD does not produce a euphoric “high.” This is because CBD does not affect the same receptors as THC.

There are many CBD oil products available, and the amount of CBD in them may vary.

As many people use cannabis as a recreational drug, there is some controversy surrounding the medicinal use of products containing ingredients from cannabis plants.

Cannabis is sometimes known as hemp, depending on its level of THC. Hemp plants, which lawmakers legalized under the Farm Bill, must contain less than 0.3% THC.

Some people use CBD oil to relieve pain and reduce inflammation. Some research suggests that CBD oil may be useful for pain relief and other conditions.

Arthritis is the leading cause of disability in the United States, affecting around 54.4 million people.

Two of the most common types of arthritis are rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition wherein a person’s immune system attacks their joints, causing inflammation. It commonly affects the hands and feet and leads to painful, swollen, and stiff joints.

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative condition that affects joint cartilage and bones, causing pain and stiffness. It often affects the hip, knee, and thumb joints.

According to the Arthritis Foundation, there is anecdotal evidence to suggest that some people with arthritis who use CBD report noticeable pain relief, improved sleep, or reduced anxiety.

That said, they also state that there have been “no rigorous clinical studies” in humans with arthritis to confirm this. The organization have urged the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to study and regulate CBD products.

Some studies in animals suggest that CBD could help treat arthritis and relieve the associated inflammatory pain. For example:

  • A 2017 study found that CBD might be a safe and useful treatment option for joint pain associated with osteoarthritis.
  • A 2016 study found that the topical application of CBD had the potential to relieve pain and inflammation associated with arthritis.
  • A 2014 review of the existing body of research on animals concluded that CBD may be an effective treatment for osteoarthritis.
  • A 2011 study found that CBD helped reduce inflammatory pain in rats by affecting the way that pain receptors respond to stimuli.

However, to date, there is a lack of scientific evidence to prove conclusively that CBD is an effective arthritis treatment for humans.

A 2006 study found that a cannabis-based mouth spray called Sativex helped relieve arthritis pain. However, the cannabis plant extracts that the company uses to make the spray contain both CBD and THC.

Although findings so far have been encouraging, more research is necessary to confirm that CBD oil is an effective treatment for arthritis pain.

For more information and resources on CBD and CBD products, please visit our dedicated hub.

Cannabidiol (CBD) oil is an extract from the cannabis plant. Studies suggest that CBD oil could play a role in relieving arthritis. Learn more here.