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Topical cbd oil for back pain

Best CBD Creams Of 2022

Lenore Cangeloso is a board-certified acupuncturist and herbal medicine practitioner based in Oregon.

Commissions we earn from partner links on this page do not affect our opinions or evaluations. Our editorial content is based on thorough research and guidance from the Forbes Health Advisory Board.

When it comes to pain, cannabidiol ( CBD ), can potentially help provide some much-needed relief. Clinical studies note topical products containing CBD, such as creams, balms and gels, can help alleviate pain related to conditions like arthritis , nerve damage and muscle aches. If you’re interested in trying a CBD cream, we sifted through the market and rounded up our top picks below.

To choose the best CBD creams, the Forbes Health editorial team analyzed data on more than 50 CBD cream products made from plants grown in the U.S. All have a certificate of analysis (COA), are third-party tested by ISO 17025-compliant laboratories and contain no more than 0.3 percent THC. From price to potency to special effects, see which CBD cream products stand out as our top picks. Note: Prices listed are accurate as of the publication date.

  • Featured Partners
  • Best CBD Creams of 2022
  • Lazarus Naturals CBD Balm
  • Vermont Organic Science Organic CBD Balm
  • Redeem Therapeutics CBD Pain Cream
  • Medjoy Full-Spectrum Hemp Balm
  • RE Botanicals Menthol Muscle Rub with CBD
  • Plant People Soothe+ Body Balm
  • BATCH CBD Original CBD Balm
  • Appalachian Standard Menthol Salve Full Spectrum Hemp Oil
  • Carmen’s Medicinals Full Spectrum CBD Salve
  • Active Botanical Co. Therapeutic Formulation CBD Topical Salve
  • Methodology
  • What Is CBD Cream?
  • Using CBD in the U.S.
  • Using CBD Cream
  • Best CBD Creams Ratings
  • Best Diets
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  • GOLO Diet Review
  • Best OTC Allergy Medications
  • Best Fitness Apps

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Best CBD Creams of 2022

Lazarus Naturals CBD Balm

The Lazarus Naturals Relax + Unwind CBD Balm is a potent topical with plenty of CBD per application. The balm is geared toward relieving localized muscle pain and inflammation. The balm also passes third-party tests for the exclusion of pesticides, heavy metals and molds.

  • Cruelty-free certified by the Leaping Bunny Program
  • All natural ingredients
  • Two sizes available

Cost: A 2.1-ounce container of Lazarus Naturals CBD Balm containing 3,000 milligrams of CBD costs $42.

Vermont Organic Science Organic CBD Balm

Vermont Organic Science bills this CBD balm as a soothing treatment for sore muscles. The balm is infused with menthol for an additional cooling effect. The balm also includes the non-psychoactive compounds cannabigerol (CBG), which is known for its anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antioxidant properties, and cannabichromene (CBC), which can have anti‐inflammatory and antinociceptive (pain-blocking) effects.

  • All natural ingredients
  • Strong potency
  • Includes sweet almond, tangerine, frankincense and lavender essential oils

Cost: A 1-ounce container of Vermont Organic Science Organic CBD Balm containing 1,100 milligrams of CBD costs $35.

Redeem Therapeutics CBD Pain Cream

This affordable CBD cream targets inflammation, especially in joints and muscles, with its addition of menthol, capsicum and arnica extract. The cream also contains aloe, jojoba oil, tea tree oil and vitamin C to aid absorption and further support skin health. The product passes third-party tests for safe levels of pesticides, heavy metals and molds as well.

  • USDA-certified organic hemp
  • Hemp cultivated from a Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) certified farm
  • 100% THC free

Cost: A 3.4-ounce container of Redeem Therapeutics CBD Pain Cream containing 1,500 milligrams of CBD costs $59.99.

Medjoy Full-Spectrum Hemp Balm

Medjoy’s ultra-concentrated full-spectrum hemp balm is packed with all natural ingredients, including beeswax, coconut oil, soothing lavender and cooling menthol.. It’s ideal for use either before or after exercise, according to the company, and it can be applied as often as you like, based on your personal needs and preferences.

  • Cooling menthol aroma
  • Non-GMO
  • Passes third-party tests for safe levels of pesticides, heavy metals and molds
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Cost: A 2-ounce container of Medjoy Full-Spectrum Hemp Balm containing 1,500 milligrams of CBD costs $119.95 .

RE Botanicals Menthol Muscle Rub with CBD

This Menthol Muscle Rub with CBD aims to provide relief from pain and inflammation with the added cooling effect of menthol. The travel-size product is meant to be rolled on for easier application. What’s more, it’s certified by the Detox Project to be free of glyphosate residue, a pesticide chemical that can be harmful in large amounts.

  • USDA-certified organic
  • 1% of RE Botanicals sales donated to support farmer education and regenerative agriculture
  • Passes third-party tests for safe levels of pesticides, heavy metals and molds

Cost: A 3-ounce container of RE Botanicals Menthol Muscle Rub with CBD containing 600 milligrams of CBD costs $34.99.

Plant People Soothe+ Body Balm

The Plant People Soothe+ Body Balm is meant for targeted pain, inflammation and stiffness relief on affected areas of your body. In addition to CBD, the balm contains CBG and CBC, as well as California poppy and arnica flower extract.

  • Made by a Certified B Corporation (a business that meets high standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency and legal accountability)
  • USDA-certified organic
  • Levels of pesticides, heavy metals and molds all pass third-party tests

Cost: A 2-ounce container of Plant People Soothe+ Body balm containing 515 milligrams of CBD costs $48.99 .

BATCH CBD Original CBD Balm

Along with CBD, this simple balm contains lavender and tea tree oils to help relieve irritation. It also comes in a twist-up container so you don’t have to get your hands messy while applying it to harder-to-reach areas.

  • Contains jojoba oil for better absorption
  • Non-GMO
  • Paraben-free

Cost: A 2.5-ounce container of BATCH CBD Original CBD Balm containing 1,250 milligrams of CBD costs $49.99.

Appalachian Standard Menthol Salve Full Spectrum Hemp Oil

This menthol salve is meant to relieve sore and tight muscles with several liberal applications daily. The menthol also provides cooling and moisturizing effects alongside the nourishing mango butter base.

  • All natural ingredients
  • Menthol and herbal scent
  • Includes hemp plant terpenes to enhance CBD effects

Cost: A 2-ounce container of Appalachian Standard Menthol Salve Full Spectrum Hemp Oil containing 500 milligrams of CBD costs $40.

Carmen’s Medicinals Full Spectrum CBD Salve

A mix of all-natural essential oils and terpenes, this CBD salve can provide relief for localized aches and pains while also moisturizing the skin. Carmen’s Medicinals recommends use of the salve on your joints, hands and back.

  • USDA-certified organic hemp
  • All natural ingredients
  • Passes tests for safe levels of pesticides, heavy metals and molds

Cost: A 1.7-ounce container of Carmen’s Medicinals Full Spectrum CBD Salve containing 1,000 milligrams of CBD costs $44.95.

Active Botanical Co. Therapeutic Formulation CBD Topical Salve

At the highest price point and with one of the highest potencies on this list, Active Botanical Co.’s Therapeutic Formulation CBD Topical Salve is 99.9% pure CBD isolatecombined with the company’s proprietary terpene profiles to help your body get the most relief from the plant compounds. By using CBD isolate, the salve dilutes the earthy scent often associated with hemp.

  • Strong potency for additional relaxation effects
  • Passes tests for safe levels of pesticides, heavy metals and molds
  • 18-month shelf life

Cost: A 1.35-ounce container of Active Botanical Co. Therapeutic Formulation CBD Topical Salve containing 5,000 milligrams of CBD costs $179.99.

Methodology

To choose the best CBD creams of 2022, the Forbes Health editorial team analyzed data on more than 50 CBD creams products that are:

  • Made from plants grown in the U.S.
  • Have a certificate of analysis (COA)
  • Are third-party tested by ISO 17025-compliant laboratories
  • Are made with all natural ingredients
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We then ranked CBD creams based on price, potency and the inclusion of ingredients that provide additional soothing properties.

We considered a standard application size to be .05 ounce of CBD cream but provided full product pricing in addition to a per-application breakdown to help you determine the best daily value, as well as what works for your budget as a whole.

What Is CBD Cream?

CBD cream, which often includes balms and salves, is a topical application of cannabidiol. This cream offers more localized effects rather than systemic ones that edibles or inhalation can provide.

“When CBD is used topically, it does not reach the bloodstream,” says Robert Milanes M.D., founder of Holistic On Call and a doctor with Heally, an alternative medicine telehealth platform.

This application method makes CBD cream a good choice for people who are new to CBD and less comfortable ingesting it, but still want to benefit from CBD’s potential pain relief abilities.

“Because it’s localized, it’s not the best method of delivery for trying to help yourself sleep or for anxiety,” says Steven Phan, founder of Come Back Daily, a CBD dispensary in New York.

How Does CBD Cream Work?

Compared to ingesting CBD, which can take anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours to take effect, applying CBD topically allows you to feel the localized effects pretty quickly, according to Laura Fuentes, a licensed compound pharmacist and co-founder of Green Roads, a major CBD brand.

This quick uptake, paired with CBD’s inherent benefits, makes CBD cream a great option for pain, inflammation, soreness and tightness relief in specific parts of your body, she says.

One 2018 study with over 300 participants with knee pain from osteoarthritis found a transdermal synthetic CBD gel significantly improved patients’ worst pain score and physical function averages [1] Hunter D, Oldfield G, Tich N, Messenheimer J, Sebree T. Synthetic transdermal cannabidiol for the treatment of knee pain due to osteoarthritis . Osteoarthritis and Cartilage. 2018;26:S26. . These patients were treated with 350 milligrams of CBD gel per day for 12 weeks.

Additional research shows topical application of CBD to have significantly reduced pain in some patients with peripheral neuropathy—a set of conditions damaging the peripheral nervous system—and myofascial pain (localized muscle and tissue pain) in respective studies [2] Xu DH, Cullen BD, Tang M, Fang Y. The Effectiveness of Topical Cannabidiol Oil in Symptomatic Relief of Peripheral Neuropathy of the Lower Extremities. Curr Pharm Biotechnol. 2020;21(5):390-402. [3] Nitecka-Buchta A, Nowak-Wachol A, Wachol K, et al. Myorelaxant Effect of Transdermal Cannabidiol Application in Patients with TMD: A Randomized, Double-Blind Trial . J Clin Med. 2019;8(11):1886. .

Using CBD in the U.S.

CBD creams are a popular way to use CBD in the U.S., according to a recent Forbes Health survey of 2,000 U.S. adults conducted by OnePoll. In fact, 53% of respondents who reported having tried CBD used it in lotion form, and 42% used it in a serum or other topical form.

CBD use in general is increasingly common—60% of U.S. adults have tried a CBD product before. Better yet, 60% believe it has medicinal benefits. The same survey reports that the majority of people use CBD in a variety of forms to help relieve pain.

Using CBD Cream

To apply a CBD cream, you rub it into the affected area, such as an achy knee or sore neck. “The cream is absorbed into the skin and then binds to the numerous cannabinoid receptors located in the different layers of the skin,” says Fuentes.

Each topical CBD product may have unique directions, however. Some may instruct you to use a small amount while others encourage using a liberal amount.

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Balms and salves have a thicker consistency and often need to be warmed in your hands before applying them to the target area. And some products don’t require getting your hands dirty at all, thanks to roll-on and stick applicators.

Potential Side Effects of CBD Topicals

CBD itself is safe and well tolerated, and it has no risks of abuse or dependence, according to the World Health Organization.

“Additionally, using CBD topically reduces the likelihood of experiencing side effects typically associated with CBD use, such as drowsiness, fatigue and diarrhea,” says Dr. Milanes.

Milanes and Fuentes warn that while CBD itself might be safe, there is a chance you might be allergic or sensitive to another ingredient in a CBD topical, which could cause adverse effects. To avoid unpleasant reactions, they suggest reading ingredient lists carefully.

Phan also recommends talking to your doctor before using CBD if you’re on any medications— especially blood pressure medications because CBD can also lower blood pressure.

Understanding CBD (Cannabidiol) for Back Pain

Cannabidiol, commonly referred to as CBD, is a new and relatively understudied treatment for pain, including back pain. Studies suggest it may help relieve inflammation, which is often a factor in chronic back pain. 1

CBD is available in many forms; topical creams and gels have shown promising results for inflammation and neuropathy, which may make them a good option for back and neck pain. 2

CBD requires more research in order to prove and explain its effectiveness as well as to better understand potential side effects (especially long-term) and potential drug interactions.

What Is CBD?

CBD oil is derived from a plant called cannabis sativa. The plant has over 100 chemical compounds, called cannabinoids, that have a range of effects, including anti-inflammatory and analgesic (pain relieving) qualities.

The cannabis sativa plant has two main varieties that are grown for specific purposes:

  • THC content. THC is the compound associated with the “high” feeling of marijuana use.
  • Industrial (non-drug) uses. This form of the plant contains trace amounts of THC (less than .03%) and can be used to make paper, clothing, and some building material. This variation of the cannabis plant is called hemp.

While CBD is present in both varieties, many of the CBD products available to consumers are from the hemp plant. CBD does not come with the high or psychogenic effects of marijuana.

Ways CBD Treats Back Pain

Research indicates that CBD may reduce back pain by:

  • Reducing inflammation 3
  • Combating anxiety, often associated with long-lasting or chronic back pain 4
  • Helping with sleep and improving overall state of relaxation 5

Some studies suggest that CBD can have an effect on how an individual perceives pain, but more robust research is needed. CBD is generally considered a full-body treatment, which means that it does not target back pain specifically—except in the case of topical products—but contributes to an overall feeling of relaxation and pain relief.

Advocates of CBD believe it can be used to treat a range of conditions in addition to back pain, such as anxiety-related disorders. 5

Potential Risks and Side Effects of CBD

Cannabidiol, even in high amounts, is generally safe. Side effects from CBD may include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Low blood pressure

More severe side effects, while rare, include:

  • Mental confusion
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

As with other natural products, there is potential for adverse reactions when taken with other medications, especially those that come with grapefruit warnings, such as certain blood thinners. These warnings indicate that certain medications should not be taken with products containing grapefruit.

CBD use prior to surgery

Before having surgery, all cannabis use, including CBD and marijuana, should be disclosed to the surgeon or anesthesiologist. A recent study suggests that cannabis use may have an effect on medications used to sedate patients. 6