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For everyone from pro athletes to stiff middle-aged couch potatoes (yours truly), CBD creams and balms have become some of the most relied upon products to help with workout recovery, muscle pain, joint stiffness, inflammation, and other types of relief.
Since CBD seems to be more ubiquitous than coffee these days, it makes sense that CBD topicals would make a splash. But, do hemp creams work? If you’re accustomed to ingesting CBD, it might seem strange to massage it into your skin.
Today, we’ll take a look at our favorite CBD creams for pain and along the way we’ll examine how they work and what to look for in a quality product.
The Best CBD Creams for Pain in 2022
Okay, before we get too into the weeds on how CBD works, let’s get to the good stuff. Here are our top recommended CBD creams and CBD balms for pain.
- CBDfx CBD Muscle & Joint Cream for Pain
- CBDfx CBD Muscle & Joint Balm Stick for Pain
- Nightingale Remedies CBD Relief Cream
- cbdMD CBD Recover Inflammation Cream
- Koi CBD Pain Relieving Roll-On Gel
Meet the Winners: This Year’s Top CBD Creams for Pain
We have strict criteria for the products we recommend. We look for CBD topicals made from CBD sourced from organically grown, non-GMO hemp. We also examine the extraction processes used for getting the CBD and other cannabis compounds out of the hemp plant, and we always read reports supplied by third-party laboratories to verify the purity and potency of the products.
While those are our criteria for purity, potency and safety, we also consider supporting natural ingredients, CBD spectrum (more on that below), and brand reputation. Here are our favorite pain cream products for 2022.
CBDfx has been an industry leader since they hit the scene in 2014. They use only organically grown, pesticide- and GMO-free hemp, and then extract CBD and other cannabinoids through a safe, clean CO2 extraction process. Also, they provide reports from third-party laboratories for all of their products, so you always know what is (and what isn’t) in your CBD cream, CBD gummies, CBD oil tinctures, and other products.
Why does this topical top our pain cream list? It’s effective, available in three strengths to give you versatility, and its broad spectrum CBD is supported by natural pain relievers and anti-inflammatories, including menthol, white willow bark, and caffeine. CBDfx’s CBD pain cream has a fresh, bracing scent, and you can feel the benefits nearly immediately as you massage this water-based cream into aching muscles and joints.
Use code “OBSERVER” for 25% off.
This CBD balm is an ultra-handy source of muscle and joint relief, perfect for keeping in your gym bag or carry-on. Mess-free and effective, this CBD balm stick is made with broad spectrum CBD oil, as well as camphor oil to warm and loosen muscles, and peppermint and wintergreen oils to cool and soothe pain. CBDfx’s CBD Muscle and Joint Balm Stick is available in two strengths, 750mg and 3000mg, and is ideal for those moments when you need relief fast.
Use code “OBSERVER” for 25% off.
Another powerful and fast-acting cream for pain relief, this entry from Nightingale Remedies is made with 250mg of CBD, as well as effective natural supplements like turmeric, MSM, and boswellia serrata to fight inflammation and glucosamine to protect joints. Like our CBDfx entries, this pharmacist-formulated cream is backed by a third-party lab report, so you can rely on its purity.
Use code “OBSERVER” for 25% off.
One of our favorite features of this CBD cream from cbdMD is that it’s available in multiple sizes and strengths to suit nearly any need. From a 2oz tub to a 4oz squeeze bottle, there’s an option to fit your medicine cabinet or gym bag. This potent cream is made with broad spectrum CBD, as well as arnica, vitamin B6, and MSM to stimulate your white blood cells, fight inflammation, and improve flexibility.
Use code “OBSERVER” for 25% off.
This handy, hemp infused roll-on from Koi CBD delivers fast, cooling pain relief on the go. Menthol provides a cool rush, and CBD attends to discomfort. Formulated with 19 essential oils, including aloe, camphor, black pepper, lemongrass, and many more, this topical gel is a great option for powerful relief and ease of use.
Use code “OBSERVER” for 25% off.
Because of CBD’s interaction with the body’s endocannabinoid system, it helps the body to maintain homeostasis, or balance, in a number of vital systems and organs, producing a wide variety of wellness benefits. It’s because of these many benefits that so many popular CBD oil products are now available, including CBD for dogs (that’s CBD for dogs and not delta-9 THC, which is toxic to pooches!), CBD gummies (CBD gummies being, perhaps, the most popular of all CBD edibles), CBD pain creams, CBD oil capsules, CBD vape oil products, CBD oil tinctures, delta-9 THC oil products (such as THC Gummies), and even CBD mushroom products!
Why Choose a CBD Cream for Pain?
Let’s kick off this discussion on CBD topical products for pain with a disclaimer. The FDA prohibits anyone from making claims that CBD treats chronic illnesses or conditions. Although CBD shows incredible potential in scientific studies for applications including epilepsy, cancer, chronic pain, and more, all of these studies are still ongoing. And so, we cannot and will not make any medical claims about hemp or CBD.
But, we can rely on the science of what CBD does — how it interacts with organs, tissues, and systems in our bodies — and the anecdotal evidence from thousands of years of cannabis as a holistic medicine.
We know this: people look to CBD creams and balms to help them soothe pain and inflammation, and they find results. There are multitudes of scientific studies examining CBD’s potential as an anti-inflammatory, and people who use CBD creams for pain find that it does indeed address inflammation, discomfort, and more.
How Does CBD Cream Work?
The primary ingredient in CBD topicals (you guessed it, CBD) is the star of the show, but not the only major player, as we’ll soon see.
CBD is short for cannabidiol, which is a kind of naturally occurring molecular compound known as a cannabinoid. Cannabinoids are found in the cannabis plant, and CBD is far from being the only one. In fact, there are hundreds of cannabinoids found in hemp, and they have their own distinct individual properties.
Perhaps the most famous cannabinoid is THC, which is the psychoactive compound that causes a high. CBD itself is not psychoactive, nor are the other cannabinoids in the products we recommend. In other words, you don’t have to worry about massaging a CBD cream into your sore shoulder and getting high.
When we ingest cannabinoids like CBD, they interact with receptors in a cell-signaling system in our bodies known as the endocannabinoid system. This is closely integrated with our central and peripheral nervous systems, as well as systems that regulate sleep, digestion, mood, immune response, and more. When ingested CBD interacts with these receptors, it passes on its soothing effects.
CBD topicals, like creams and balms, work a little differently. CBD creams are, of course, not ingested (no, really, don’t eat it). Instead, topical CBD products are absorbed through the skin. CBD creams and balms skip endocannabinoid receptors and go directly to the neurotransmitter that blocks pain signals. They do this by working in tandem with endocannabinoids our bodies naturally produce.
Discover Magazine has an in-depth article on how CBD creams for pain work, and they state “researchers have confirmed that CBD works against pain and inflammation.”
How to Shop for a CBD Topical
Now that you’ve seen our picks for the best topical hemp products for pain, let’s talk a little about the criteria we used. With the info below, you can shop for CBD products with confidence.
CBD products are available basically everywhere now, from the convenience store to the darkest corners of the web. Your grandmother probably has some sort of hemp product in her medicine cabinet at this point. So, how do you know what to look for? Here are some tips for selecting a safe and effective CBD product.
Hemp vs. Marijuana: What’s the Difference?
What separates a legal CBD product from a regulated marijuana product? That THC that we mentioned above is the psychoactive compound that causes a high. In the eyes of the law, there are two forms of cannabis plant: cannabis hemp (or industrial hemp), and cannabis marijuana.
Cannabis marijuana contains a large amount of THC and causes a high.
Cannabis hemp is used for CBD products. It contains only a tiny trace amount of THC (less than 0.3%, in accordance with the 2018 Farm Bill). Hemp is the plant used for the CBD creams and balms we’re discussing.
You know now that CBD and THC are molecular compounds called cannabinoids. But, they’re not the only ones … not by a longshot. Cannabis actually contains over a hundred cannabinoids, including CBG, CBN, CBC, and many others. Each of these compounds has a therapeutic application, and they all work well independently and in tandem.
There are three types of hemp-derived CBD oil: full spectrum CBD oil, broad spectrum CBD oil, and CBD isolate. What does this mean?
Full spectrum CBD oil contains all of the cannabinoids that naturally occur in cannabis hemp, including CBD and those trace amounts of THC, as well as CBG, CBN, CBC, terpenes, and flavonoids. Many people prefer full spectrum CBD for its efficacy in creating the Entourage Effect — a synergistic effect in which all the different compounds work together to modify one another’s effects while also enhancing the overall experience.
Broad spectrum CBD oil filters out those remaining amounts of THC. This is the type of CBD you want to look for if you’re trying to avoid all THC. It still contains the other cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids, and still creates the Entourage Effect to a slightly lesser amount.
CBD isolate is purely CBD with no other cannabinoids or hemp compounds. This form of CBD is typically used in vaping or bath products and isn’t likely to be the ingredient in a hemp cream for pain unless it’s chosen for a specific purpose.
When shopping for a hemp cream for pain, the first thing to look for is how the cannabis plant it comes from was cultivated. Cannabis is a potent phytoremediator — which means it very thoroughly and efficiently cleans the soil it grows in of any toxins or chemicals. The soil gets clean, but then the hemp plant is packed with those toxins and chemicals. That includes pesticides, heavy metals, and other chemicals. Your CBD balm or cream should always come from organically grown, pesticide-free cannabis hemp.
Cheaper hemp products often use unsafe methods for extracting CBD from the plant. These methods can include submerging the hemp plant in solvents containing harsh and dangerous chemicals, like acetone and butane. While it’s a cheap method of CBD oil extraction, it can lead to products containing dangerous additives and chemicals. CO2 extraction is considered by the CBD industry to be the most efficient and cleanest method of extracting CBD oil from hemp.
The safest way to know exactly what is (and isn’t) in your CBD topical is through a report provided by an independent, third-party lab. This report will tell you the exact percentages of CBD and other cannabinoids in your topical cream, as well as any other chemicals that may be present.
Terpenes and Flavonoids
Cannabinoids aren’t the only useful ingredients in hemp. Terpenes and flavonoids are not exclusive to cannabis, but they occur in it in high amounts and they’re amazingly beneficial.
Terpenes give plants their scent. They’re abundant in pungent plants like cannabis, tea, herbs, and citrus fruits. In addition to giving plants their unique smell, they possess a host of beneficial properties, from fighting inflammation to fighting anxiety.
While common sense might make you assume that flavonoids give plants their flavor, they don’t. They give plants their color. They’re also phytonutrients. Flavonoids can help our bodies fight off bacteria and illness, soothe inflammation, and boost our overall wellness.
As you saw with some of our favorite CBD topicals for pain, CBD products are often formulated for a specific use, like helping with sleep or muscle recovery, or enhancing wellness with vitamins and minerals. Keep an eye out for natural ingredients that will help this product do what it says. While CBD possesses the properties necessary to treat nearly all the uses it’s marketed for, natural supplements help it work more effectively. That’s why you find menthol, camphor, glucosamine and more in CBD topical cream and balm for pain relief.
Get Your Massage On
Now that you’re armed with some good info and a list of our top CBD topical products for pain in 2022, you have the perfect excuse for a relaxing, restorative massage! So, pick up one of a chart-topping cream, and see for yourself how soothing, therapeutic, and beneficial a quality CBD cream for pain relief can really be.