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:
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!"
To buy: 1000mg CBD Salve; takespruce.com
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!"
To buy: Medterra CBD Pain Cream; medterracbd.com
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!"
To buy: Plant People Balm+ Relief; plantpeople.co
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
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."
To buy: 600mg CBD Cream; fabcbd.com
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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