Many people swear by CBD for pain relief and a variety of other conditions from sleep, nervousness, and mood—But with so many CBD products on the market, it can be hard to know which one is right for you.
We'll look at some of the best CBD creams for pain relief in this blog post.
By the end of this article, you'll know how they work, what to look for when choosing a cream, and some pros and cons of using CBD cream for muscle and joint pain.
The Key Takeaways:
- CBD or cannabidiol is one of many cannabinoids in the hemp plant that's been found to provide anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving support when used internally or applied topically.
- CBD is a non-intoxicating cannabis compound that interacts with mammals' endocannabinoid system (ECS) to exert its effects in balancing vital systems in the body
- CBD can be applied to the skin as there are ECS receptors found in the skin tissue to regulate the skin organ's function.o
- Topical CBD products have become very popular online and in stores, but you want to make sure that the CBD content is high in the products to experience their effects through the skin.
- Not all topical CBD products are created equal. Ensure you read the entire ingredient list to ensure you're getting the type of product you need for your concern.
What Is CBD?
CBD or cannabidiol is one of the main cannabinoids found in cannabis.
Its impressive potential for anti-inflammatory support, mood, sleep, and pain relief has been studied by working through a very complex system that's tasked with maintaining homeostasis, the endocannabinoid system.
While researchers are still uncovering the extent of the endocannabinoid system's role, it's known to influence the inflammatory response and pain perception .
Unlike THC or delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, CBD is non-psychoactive, meaning it doesn't induce intoxicating effects, making it an ideal compound for use in clinical settings and those with sensitivities to the effects of THC.
Understanding CBD Extract Types
When shopping for any CBD product, you'll come across extract types.
We'll break down the three different types to help you understand the subtle differences and their pros and cons in this section.
Remember, CBD is just one of many active compounds found in the cannabis plant. The extract types refer to the richness of diversity in the hemp extract's contents.
Full Spectrum CBD/ Whole Plant Extract
Full spectrum CBD most closely resembles the hemp plants natural occurring cannabinoids and terpenes, including up to 0.3% THC—the legal threshold before it's considered a marijuana plant. This isn't enough to induce any psychoactive effects, but it is enough considered sufficient to support the benefits of CBD through the entourage effect.
The entourage effect is a concept in plant medicine that describes plant synergy—when active compounds work together to complement and amplify the effects of other compounds.
This is seen in cannabinoids and terpenes. Many experts and experienced CBD users agree that full spectrum CBD extracts work the best for pain relief. You have multiple cannabinoids and terpenes working together to support the endocannabinoid system .
Full spectrum CBD may be more expensive as it takes sophisticated machinery and precision to ensure that the heat and light-sensitive compounds remain after the extraction process.
While they can cost a little more upfront, full spectrum extracts can save you more money in the long term as you don't need as high of doses of full spectrum CBD compared to CBD-only products.
Broad Spectrum CBD
Broad spectrum CBD is the next best option to full spectrum CBD extracts if you're looking for CBD creams that contain zero traces of THC.
Broad spectrum extracts aren't as common because they cost more to produce.
These start as a full spectrum CBD extract but undergo an extra step to isolate and remove all traces of THC. You're left with a hemp extract that's still rich in cannabinoids and terpenes to support the entourage effect.
Since some people are susceptible to the effects of THC or live in states where even trace amounts of THC are still not legal, broad spectrum CBD or isolate products may be the only options for them.
CBD isolate products only contain one active ingredient—CBD.
These are the most accessible because manufacturers can mass-produce pure CBD much more efficiently. They don't need to be as careful and precise during the extraction process.
While these are much more accessible and affordable, they're not always the best option. You'll find you need higher potencies and doses of CBD isolate to reach the same levels of relief towards muscle pain or discomfort than you would with a broad CBD or full spectrum.
Does CBD Cream Help With Pain?
There are many CBD creams out there on the market—some are better suited for skincare and nourishing the skin than they are for providing any support for sore muscles or chronic pain.
However, some scientific literature shows that CBD itself has some benefits for pain relief [3, 4].
CBD is a unique cannabinoid in that it doesn't bind readily to endocannabinoid receptors.
However, it does help to increase the natural levels of anandamide (an endogenous cannabinoid) and bind to other receptors to suppress inflammation and pain signals .
As a CBD topical, the health effects of CBD are limited as they don't enter the bloodstream to exert broad-ranging effects.
Instead, it focuses its support on where it's applied on the skin, where endocannabinoid receptors are present to help regulate the skin organ's function to support temperature control, inflammation, and pain sensation .
These small-scale preliminary studies suggest that topical CBD creams effectively manage pain. Still, more large-scale research and clinical trials are needed to substantiate the effects of CBD for pain relief.
Currently, there are no FDA-approved topical CBD products designed to manage and mitigate pain, but that hasn't stopped people from using CBD pain relief creams to improve their quality of life.
Let's look at some of the research to support CBD creams for pain.
CBD May Support Nerve Related Pain
In a recent study on 29 patients with symptomatic peripheral neuropathy, the group given CBD cream for pain noticed a significant reduction in their pain symptoms compared to the placebo group .
CBD May Support Arthritis-Related Pain
There's strong evidence to support CBD oil for helping those living with arthritis pain gain comfort and mobility back in their lives.
Multiple studies point to CBD's anti-inflammatory potential through various pathways—not just one—to inhibit painful inflammation .
In higher doses, CBD may have some support for joint and muscle aches through interactions with the vanilloid receptors, which transmit pain signals to the brain .
CBD May Support Muscle Pain
Post-workout muscle soreness can get in the way of maintaining a good exercise routine. CBD has become many people's favorite gym companion, especially after grueling sessions.
The soreness typically comes from microtears to the muscles that will rebuild to withstand the type of pressure and stress exerted.
In the meantime, the microtears leave you feeling tender, sore, and achy for a few days until you fully recover. But we don't always have the luxury of time when juggling other responsibilities or having an upcoming competition.
CBD cream is often used to provide relief to sore muscles and aching joints by supporting a normal inflammatory response where it's applied. Many over-the-counter muscle aches and joint pain creams come with cooling and heating agents to support this process .
Related Article: How Athletes Use CBD For Muscle Recovery
How To Choose A Quality CBD Cream For Pain?
There are a lot of topical CBD products out there—but only a handful will deliver on their promises.
This section will give you a run-down of what to look for in quality CBD topical creams to support sore muscles and joint discomfort.
Unfortunately, the CBD industry is riddled with scammers, and we want to help you get the most out of your experience with CBD and hold brands accountable for the products they put on the market by improving the education of the consumers.
Choose High Potency CBD Creams
One of the most significant issues in CBD topicals is that they don't contain enough CBD to exert any effects.
Many brands will sprinkle the minimum amount of CBD extract into a formula to include the term "CBD topical" in the marketing to charge more money.
This is highly unethical, but it paints the entire CBD industry as a whole as snake oil products when the reality is that CBD has the potential to help many people.
Look for CBD creams with at least 8–10 mg of CBD per ml of the product
You can calculate the concentration by dividing the mg of CBD listed on the container by the number of mg in the bottle. Most of the time, you'll find very dismal concentrations. We've found that the best results had more than 8 mg of CBD.
Opt For Full Sprectrum Or Broad Spectrum CBD Creams
CBD is only one of the active ingredients found in hemp.
To get the most benefits the hemp plant has to offer, choose a CBD cream with an abundance of other phytochemical compounds to balance and extend the effects of CBD.
Check The Third-Party Lab Tests
We can't always take a CBD cream for face value, so we recommend referring to the company's certificate of analysis on all their CBD products.
This step isn't mandatory industry practice, but it's become the best practice. Companies will send a sample of their CBD cream extract to an independent lab for quality assurance.
The report will read the cannabinoid content and potency and the presence of potentially harmful contaminants that could be irritating to the skin.
Read The Other Skin Care Ingredients
Not all CBD creams are designed for pain relief.
Ingredients such as arnica, chamomile, and lavender can help with anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory support alongside CBD, and ingredients like menthol and capsicum may provide cooling and healing sensations that can help to distract the mind from pain and offer additional anti-inflammatory support.
However, because these other ingredients are active and have a set of effects on the skin, they may be more prone to irritation. It's crucial that before massaging a large amount of the product to an affected area, you patch test the product on the skin to ensure you don't develop an allergic reaction.
Value For Your Money
CBD product prices are all over the map—ensuring you find value for your money spent is always a consideration in any product research.
Expensive isn't always better when it comes to CBD, but at the same time, if you find a too-good-to-be-true price point, be skeptical.
High-quality CBD extracts cost a lot of money to produce because of sustainable farming practices, careful extraction methods, testing, and licensing.
Large companies can get away with selling CBD oil for a better value because they can produce the volume and have the demand for it. Shopping with a well-established CBD brand may give you more value for your dollar, especially if you're looking for high potency CBD topicals.
The best way to determine the value of a product is to consider the price per mg of CBD in the formula. Of course, this isn't going to be an accurate indicator of how much the product is worth, but it does give a better idea for comparing one brand's CBD cream for pain from another.
On average, the price for CBD cream ranges between $0.03–0.10 per mg of CBD in the product. You also want to consider the quality of the added ingredients and the extract type. CBD isolates tend to be cheaper overall.
At Neurogan, our price per mg of CBD is around $0.02—that's because we've created a highly efficient supercritical extraction method to yield high levels of CBD from our crops, and we work with local farmers to reduce the transporting cost.
As a larger, family-run CBD manufacturer, we also have the infrastructure to pass the savings on to our customers from large-scale orders.
Neurogan CBD Creams & Lotions For Pain Support
Neurogan is proud to offer the best CBD cream to support muscle and joint discomfort made from premium hemp extracts formulated with care.
All our products are third-party lab tested for purity and potency to have the peace of mind you're getting a quality product—plus, we offer a money-back satisfaction guarantee. Hence, you never have to feel like you've wasted money on a product that doesn't work for you.
Let's introduce some of our customers' top-selling products to support pain and discomfort.
CBD Cooling Muscle Rub | 2000-16000MG | 2oz
The CBD Cooling Rub is our top-selling CBD topical for supporting joints and muscle discomfort.
This formula has 33.33 mg of CBD per ml of product, one of the strongest topicals.
The cream itself is buttery and creamy without being greasy, making it easy to massage into the skin and adding moisturizing benefits. It contains peppermint essential oil and methanol to provide a gentle cooling sensation to support inflammatory support.
The following product might be better suited for your skin type for those who are sensitive to cooling or heating ingredients.
CBD Balm | 2000-4000MG | 1-2oz
Our CBD Balm features our top-selling formula that's non-greasy, and lightweight, while still providing intense moisturizing benefits to the skin.
It has a light lavender scent to help with mental and physical relaxation as you massage the formula into the skin. It's even gentle enough to use on your face.
CBD Freeze Roll-On | 4000MG | 2oz
The Freeze Roll-On applicator is designed for addressing discomfort on the go.
It allows you to rub high-potency CBD skin oil into the skin with a rollerball applicator for a mess-free way to massage CBD into the affected area.
CBD Massage Oil | 4000-32000MG | 8-16oz
The CBD Massage Oil is a great way to kickstart muscle recovery between tough workout sessions or for days you need some self-care.
Massage helps to improve blood circulation and lymphatic drainage to the area and supports joint and muscle mobility. In contrast, CBD helps keep the endocannabinoid system the skin's job in managing the inflammatory response.
This massage oil is rich in plant botanicals, and it has a luxurious slip feeling with some grip to allow the hands to glide with enough tension to manipulate the soft tissue.
Will CBD Creams Get You High?
You will not get high from CBD creams.
CBD topicals don't enter the bloodstream—but they also don't contain enough psychoactive compounds to get you high in the first place.
Instead, CBD topicals interact with endocannabinoid receptors in the skin to exert their effects to support healthy inflammatory support and pain sensation.
Safety & Side Effects Of CBD Cream For Pain
High-quality CBD creams are safe for use for most people.
However, creams should be used for external purposes only, as they may contain other ingredients that can irritate the digestive system. Applying CBD oils to open wounds should also be avoided unless the manufacturer does stipulate that it's safe to do so.
CBD products aren't very likely to induce intoxication. However, some people may experience some adverse side effects when ingesting high doses of CBD, such as:
- Changes in appetite
- Upset stomach
That being said, topical CBD cream doesn't enter the bloodstream to lead to this cascade of effects.
Most of the things you should look out for in topical CBD creams for pain have to do with skin irritation. You should always patch test the product on your skin before using a considerable amount to avoid a full-blown allergic reaction.
Many People Use CBD Cream With Internal Supplements For Chronic Pain
Some people swear by using CBD cream and internal supplementation such as CBD oils, tinctures, gummies, or smokables for pain relief.
While CBD topicals may help with localized pain, some people say that internal CBD products help with mood, sleep, and relaxation that complement the benefits of their CBD pain cream.
When CBD is taken internally, it interacts with the endocannabinoid system and other receptors that affect mood, altering one's perception of pain.
CBD has been shown to improve the brain's capacity to use serotonin, which supports one's mood, and sense of contentment and can shift one's outlook on pain and discomfort .
CBD may also have a role in mitigating the stress response by increasing GABA activity in the brain. GABA is a neurotransmitter that counteracts the stress response, which may help the body relax physically and mentally to offer better support towards pain and discomfort .
The Takeaway: CBD Cream For Pain Relief
The CBD world is constantly providing innovative ways to incorporate the benefits of the hemp plant into our daily lives. Research has shown that CBD is not only a safe and well-tolerated compound, but it's incredibly versatile, offering health benefits when applied topically and internally too.
One of the most popular uses for CBD is as a topical cream to relieve pain from sore joints, tired muscles, and nerve pain. While more research is needed to understand the effects of topical CBD cream for chronic pain conditions, there's no denying that it has helped many people feel a sense of comfort and improved wellness.
When shopping for the best CBD creams for pain, refer to the third-party lab tests to verify the cannabinoid profile, potency, and contaminant safety report. Not all CBD creams and lotions will provide the same set of effects. To use CBD cream for pain, it should have a high concentration of CBD in the formula (upwards of 8-10 mg/mL).
For more support, you may want to look at additional ingredients such as cooling agents (peppermint and methol) or heating agents (capsaicin), which can help address inflammation and pain for added comfort.
Always patch test the product on a small area before applying it directly to the affected area to ensure you don't have any allergies to the product.
For more resources on shopping for quality CBD and incorporating it into a regular wellness routine, you can read our blog and subscribe to our Insider Scoop, with exclusive offers on our CBD products sent straight to your inbox.
What is CBD?
CBD, often known as cannabidiol, is one of the most common cannabinoids present in cannabis. Its amazing potential for anti-inflammatory support, mood, sleep, and pain relief has been researched via functioning through the endocannabinoid system, a very complex system tasked with maintaining homeostasis. CBD, unlike THC or delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, is non-psychoactive, which means it does not cause intoxication, making it a perfect compound for usage in clinical settings and by persons who are sensitive to the effects of THC.
Does CBD Cream help with pain?
There are currently no FDA-approved topical CBD medicines meant to manage and alleviate pain, but that hasn't stopped people from utilizing CBD pain management creams to improve their quality of life. However, there has been some study that suggests CBD Creams may help with nerve pain, arthritis pain, and muscle pain.
Will CBD Creams get you high?
CBD topicals do not reach the bloodstream, but they also do not contain enough psychoactive ingredients to get you high in the first place. CBD topicals, on the other hand, interact with endocannabinoid receptors in the skin to maintain good inflammatory support and pain sensation.
Is CBD Cream safe?
Most people can safely use high-quality CBD lotions. Creams, on the other hand, should only be used externally because they may contain additional substances that irritate the digestive system. Applying CBD oils to open wounds should also be avoided unless the manufacturer specifies otherwise. The majority of the things to look for in topical CBD creams for pain have to do with skin irritation. To avoid a full-blown allergic response, always patch test the product on your skin before applying a significant amount.
- Huang, W. J., Chen, W. W., & Zhang, X. (2016). Endocannabinoid system: Role in depression, reward and pain control. Molecular medicine reports, 14(4), 2899-2903.
- Anand, U., Pacchetti, B., Anand, P., & Sodergren, M. H. (2021). Cannabis-based medicines and pain: a review of potential synergistic and entourage effects. Pain Management, 11(4), 395-403.
- Eskander, J. P., Spall, J., Spall, A., Shah, R. V., & Kaye, A. D. (2020). Cannabidiol (CBD) as a treatment of acute and chronic back pain: A case series and literature review. J Opioid Manag, 16(3), 215-8.
- Boyaji, S., Merkow, J., Elman, R. N. M., Kaye, A. D., Yong, R. J., & Urman, R. D. (2020). The role of cannabidiol (CBD) in chronic pain management: an assessment of current evidence. Current pain and headache reports, 24(2), 1-6.Chicago
- Lu, J., Fan, S., Zou, G., Hou, Y., Pan, T., Guo, W., ... & Xiong, W. (2018). Involvement of glycine receptor α1 subunits in cannabinoid-induced analgesia. Neuropharmacology, 133, 224-232.
- Osafo, N., Yeboah, O. K., & Antwi, A. O. (2021). Endocannabinoid system and its modulation of brain, gut, joint, and skin inflammation. Molecular Biology Reports, 48(4), 3665-3680.
- Xu, D. H., Cullen, B. D., Tang, M., & Fang, Y. (2020). The effectiveness of topical cannabidiol oil in symptomatic relief of peripheral neuropathy of the lower extremities. Current pharmaceutical biotechnology, 21(5), 390-402.
- Ruhaak, L. R., Felth, J., Karlsson, P. C., Rafter, J. J., Verpoorte, R., & Bohlin, L. (2011). Evaluation of the cyclooxygenase inhibiting effects of six major cannabinoids isolated from Cannabis sativa. Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin, 34(5), 774-778.
- Costa, B., Giagnoni, G., Franke, C., Trovato, A. E., & Colleoni, M. (2004). Vanilloid TRPV1 receptor mediates the antihyperalgesic effect of the non-psychoactive cannabinoid, cannabidiol, in a rat model of acute inflammation. British journal of pharmacology, 143(2), 247-250.Chicago
- Ashworth, C. (2021). The Effectiveness of Topical Application of Cannabinoidon DOMS in Collegiate Athletes Measured by Neuropathic Pain Scale.
- Sales, A. J., Crestani, C. C., Guimarães, F. S., & Joca, S. R. (2018). Antidepressant-like effect induced by Cannabidiol is dependent on brain serotonin levels. Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry, 86, 255-261.
- Bakas, T., Van Nieuwenhuijzen, P. S., Devenish, S. O., McGregor, I. S., Arnold, J. C., & Chebib, M. (2017). The direct actions of cannabidiol and 2-arachidonoyl glycerol at GABAA receptors. Pharmacological research, 119, 358-370.