CBD topicals are on the rise as the next alternative to conventional solutions for pain-related problems. CBD creams can be very effective at targeting localized pain, especially when it stems from inflammation.
That’s why so many people are using them for joint pain and chronic conditions such as arthritis.
CDC data reports that approximately 70 million Americans will have chronic pain by 2040 — this is a huge figure. The most common treatment options for pain are opioid painkillers and OTC meds. However, these medications don’t fight the cause of pain, only masking their symptoms. They also become less effective over time, meaning you’ll need a higher dose to get the same type of relief as before.
Eventually, many patients become addicted to opioids. Over 100 individuals die each day from an opioid overdose only in the United States.
It’s no wonder that people are looking for healthier alternatives for pain relief — and CBD topicals are becoming a viable one.
In this article, we’ll provide you with a list of the best CBD topicals and creams for pain relief, based on our experience with over 40 products from popular brands. We’ll also cover the scientific research on CBD, inflammation, and pain relief, along with a brief buyer’s guide.
Off we go!
What Are the Best CBD Pain Creams in 2021? Our Top 3 Picks
A good CBD cream should leave no mess on your hands, be easy to apply, and contain a decent dose of CBD. There’s an abundance of mediocre products on the market, so if you don’t want to spend time researching different companies, we’ve already done it for you.
After testing dozens of creams and roll-ons for pain relief, we have selected the top 5 topicals that really make a difference.
All of these products come from companies that use organic hemp and are third-party tested for potency and purity.
1. Royal CBD (Best Overall)
|Available products||Warming Salve, Cooling Roll-on Gel|
|Potency||350 mg – 500 mg|
Why Royal CBD Offers the Best CBD Topicals for Pain
Royal CBD is a California-based company that focuses on making premium-grade products from organic hemp. The guys at Royal CBD offer full-spectrum CBD oil, softgel capsules, THC-free gummies, and two types of CBD topicals — warming salve (cream) and pain relief roll-on gel.
Both products contain broad-spectrum CBD, so each application provides you with a whole range of non-psychoactive cannabinoids and terpenes but without any traces of THC. This means that users can benefit from the entourage effect to some extent.
The roll-on gel has a handy applicator that makes the whole process mess-free. I like the formula of this product; aside from the broad-spectrum CBD, it contains menthol, which adds an extra cooling effect. I use it after exercising when some parts of my body feel sore and the effects act pretty fast, usually within minutes after application.
The warming salve is great when you need more CBD to get relief from your ailments; it’s particularly effective in easing muscle tension and stiffness. The cream is thick and full-bodied but not greasy, quickly absorbing into the skin.
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2. CBDistillery (Best Value)
|Available products||CBD Salve|
|Cannabinoid spectrum||Full-spectrum CBD|
CBDistillery offers full-spectrum CBD topicals designed to potentially provide localized relief from aches and pains, as well as soothing bothersome skin issues. Aside from the full-spectrum CBD, this product is formulated with all-natural ingredients, which is another benefit for health-conscious consumers.
CBDistillery sells one of the most affordable products on the market. A 1 oz container that packs 500 mg of CBD costs a mere $0.12 per mg. The only problem I have with CBDistillery is that you can’t verify the source of their hemp. The company claims that its hemp is non-GMO and pesticide-free, but there’s no indication as to where specifically the plants are grown. We only know they’re processed in Colorado.
But then again, considering the overall quality of ingredients and the cannabinoid spectrum used in the formula, these are some of the best CBD topicals for pain in this price range.
3. Hemp Bombs (Highest Potency)
|Available products||CBD Pain Rub, CBD Roll-On Pain Rub|
|Cannabinoid spectrum||CBD isolate|
|Potency||100 mg – 1000 mg|
About Hemp Bombs
Hemp Bombs combines a wide range of products with savvy marketing, maintaining its place at the top of the CBD ladder for over 5 years. While other companies are cautious about the purpose of their topicals, Hemp Bombs is not, leaving the user in no doubt as to how this cream should be used.
The Hemp Bombs CBD Pain Freeze is available both as a salve and a roll-on gel, containing from 100 mg to a whopping 1000 mg of CBD per container. It’s a great product if you need high doses of CBD to help with pain management.
But on the other hand, Hemp Bombs CBD topicals are infused with pure CBD isolate, so there are no other cannabinoids to boost the cannabidiol’s effects.
What I like about Hemp Bombs CBD Pain Freeze is how it absorbs into the skin. It gives a soothing “burning” sensation to the affected area, which is particularly useful for stiff joints.
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What Are CBD Topicals and Creams?
CBD topicals are products that you apply directly to the skin. They are available in different forms, including creams, salves, lotions, and roll-ons. Ultimately, all of the CBD topicals serve one purpose — to bring relief from physical discomfort.
Common areas of application include the elbows, knees, neck, shoulders, feet, and other joints.
CBD topical creams have remarkable anti-inflammatory properties. They can also alter the way the body processes pain signals. According to experts in the field of cannabinoids, a lack of sufficient endocannabinoid production can trigger the symptoms of many medical conditions. CBD is believed to help restore your body to a state of biological balance known as homeostasis.
CBD interacts with the human endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is responsible for maintaining the aforementioned balance. When you apply topical CBD creams to your body, CBD signals the ECS to produce more of its endocannabinoids. It also extends their lifespan by blocking an enzyme that breaks them down. This interaction results in a wide range of health benefits, such as reduced inflammation and a soothing sensation.
The Benefits of CBD Creams for Arthritis Pain
Let’s elaborate on the relationship between CBD and the endocannabinoid system.
CBD is a non-intoxicating compound found in cannabis plants (hemp and marijuana). It may help in the management of a variety of symptoms through the above interaction with the ECS.
The ECS consists of two main receptors — CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptors are found mostly in the brain and central nervous system, while CB2 receptors occur in the peripheral nervous system, all human organs, as well as in the blood and immune cells.
Simply put, cannabinoid receptors are like a “lock” and cannabinoids are the “key”. When cannabinoids enter the bloodstream, they start seeking their receptors and bind to them, hence their therapeutic effects.
On top of “stimulating” the production of endocannabinoids and allowing them to stay longer in the body, CBD also increases the amount of anandamide in the brain, which is referred to as the ‘bliss molecule.’ As you may guess, anandamide is an important factor in generating pleasure, but it’s also responsible for how resistant we are to pain.
When you use CBD topical creams, none of the CBD enters the bloodstream, so it doesn’t interact with the CB1 receptor. Instead, it reaches the CB2 receptors that are located deeper under the skin, providing relief from localized problems such as inflamed joints, painful spots on the body, and headaches.
Research About Using CBD Topicals and Creams for Pain
In a 2018 study published in Frontiers in Pharmacology, the research team reviewed dozens of studies from 1975 which investigated the effects of cannabinoids on pain. In the review, the scientists underlined the analgesic properties of CBD, focusing on the importance of the CB receptors. They also said that cannabinoids block the release of neuropeptides and neurotransmitters on the presynaptic side of nerve endings.
According to the reviewers, there is “a moderate amount of evidence that cannabis/cannabinoids exhibit analgesic activity.” The main reason why research on the painkilling effects of CBD topical creams is limited is due to the complicated laws surrounding cannabis. Fortunately, this will soon change as more countries are legalizing the plant.
Overall, the scientists concluded that CBD can help ease neuropathic pain and fibromyalgia without causing serious side effects.
In another study published in 2017, CBD was shown to relieve pain and inflammation in mice. The researchers focused on osteoarthritis in male Wistar rats. The team found that the topical administration of CBD reduced OA pain. They also concluded that the compound has the potential to become a safe and effective treatment for treating osteoarthritis.
Whether it would have the same effect on humans is yet to be checked, but animal studies relating to cannabinoids show a high degree of relevance when it comes to human objects because all vertebrae have the same endocannabinoid system that responds to the same cannabinoids.
How to Choose the Best CBD Topicals & Creams Online?
As previously mentioned, there’s a large degree of difference when it comes to the quality of CBD products. There are brands that go above and beyond in delivering top-notch quality to the market, but the industry is also full of sketchy companies looking to make a quick buck on poorly informed customers.
You don’t want to be a poorly informed customer.
Here’s what you should check before purchasing CBD topicals for pain.
Hemp plants are bioaccumulators. They absorb everything from the environment they grow in. Farmers opting for healthy, CBD-rich crops should grow their plants in fertile soil and using organic methods, without pesticides or growth boosters. We recommend choosing companies that source their hemp from domestic, local farms.
The Quality of Other Ingredients
The main problem of many companies is that they try to leverage the prices of regular skincare products by infusing them with CBD. Needles to say, the quality of the other ingredients often leaves a lot to be desired. What’s the point of buying a CBD cream for pain when its additional ingredients are far from healthy?
Full-spectrum CBD vs Isolate
Full-spectrum extracts contain the whole range of phytocannabinoids, terpenes, and other beneficial compounds naturally occurring in hemp, whereas isolate is just pure CBD.
When these compounds are together, they enter a synergy known as the entourage effect. In other words, the entourage effect means that cannabinoids are more efficient together than in isolation.
That’s why full-spectrum CBD creams are the preferred option for those using topicals for inflammation and pain.
Third-Party Lab Reports
Buying CBD topicals and creams online makes it easier to research your potential supplier. Every company has an option to send a sample of their products to a third-party laboratory, where the lab workers analyze it’s content and run tests for contaminants. Once the product has passed the test, the lab issues a Certificate of Analysis, with potency and purity levels listed in the file. Most reputable companies display those certificates on their websites.
How to Use CBD Creams for Pain Relief?
When you open your CBD cream for pain, apply it directly to the skin and wait until it absorbs. CBD will penetrate the skin, interacting with localized cannabinoid receptors. CBD topicals are more effective than their THC-infused counterparts because CBD shows ten times higher permeability.
How Long Does it Take for CBD Topicals and Creams to Work?
Most users report first effects after approximately 10–15 minutes, but in some cases, CBD topical creams may take more time to kick in, even up to 90 minutes. This depends on a plethora of factors.
What’s the Bioavailability of CBD Topicals and Creams?
It’s difficult to determine the bioavailability of CBD topical creams due to a different route of administration. Bioavailability refers to the amount of CBD that reaches the bloodstream upon ingestion. For example, the bioavailability of CBD oil drops is measured at between 30–35%; for vaporizers, this figure can reach 56%. The bioavailability of oral products is around 6%, which is about 2 times less than rectally applied products. If we use that definition for CBD topicals, their bioavailability will show ZERO because none of the CBD enters the bloodstream when applied topically.
The Pros & Cons of CBD Topicals & Creams
- They are the best for localized relief
- Many users claim they work within minutes
- Some CBD topicals and creams for pain include extra ingredients that make them also beneficial for skin
- It’s a good alternative to CBD oil, edibles, or vapes
- CBD topicals are easy to apply and absorb easily
- CBD topicals aren’t particularly potent
- They may not have a high bioavailability rate
- Some CBD topicals can get messy due to greasy residue left on the hands
- Premium CBD creams for pain are costly
- Not all CBD topicals are made with natural ingredients (it’s a common problem among skincare products)
Now that we’ve highlighted the best brands and explained why CBD creams are particularly good for pain, let’s focus on the dos and don’ts of buying topical products.
Summary: What are the Best CBD Topicals and Creams for Pain?
CBD has made big headlines in the world of modern medicine due to its analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties. The next best thing to using CBD oil for general pain is to apply CBD locally in the form of creams and gels. When administered this way, CBD quickly absorbs into the body, interacting with CB2 receptors and easing pain as well as inflammation. From stiff joints to minor aches and chronic pain, CBD can relieve physical discomfort in a natural and safe way.
At WeedNews, we consider Royal CBD the best topicals for pain relief because they combine a broad spectrum of cannabinoids with high potency and additional ingredients that effectively boost their formulas. These products are a real bargain considering their quality.
If you have any other questions about using CBD topicals and creams for pain, let us know in the comments below and we’ll be happy to answer!