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Is CBD legal?The 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp from the legal definition of marijuana in the Controlled Substances Act. This made some hemp-derived CBD products with less than 0.3 percent THC federally legal. However, CBD products containing more than 0.3 percent THC still fall under the legal definition of marijuana, making them federally illegal but legal under some state laws. Be sure to check state laws, especially when traveling. Also, keep in mind that the FDA has not approved nonprescription CBD products, and some products may be inaccurately labeled.

Cannabidiol (CBD) is becoming an increasingly popular ingredient in a variety of products due to its numerous potential health benefits. Because CBD may benefit the skin, many manufacturers create balms that contain CBD.

A quick look at the best CBD balms

CBD is one of many cannabinoids, or chemicals, present in the Cannabis sativa (C. sativa) plant that may help treat some health conditions.

CBD does not have any psychoactive properties, unlike delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is another cannabinoid in the C. sativa plant. THC is the chemical responsible for the “high” that many people associate with cannabis.

This article discusses CBD balm, its benefits, and how to use it. It also lists four CBD balms to consider.

Learn about the differences between THC and CBD here.

A CBD balm is a balm containing CBD oil.

To create CBD oil, producers extract CBD from the C. sativa plant and then mix it with a carrier oil. Manufacturers can extract CBD from the plant using various methods, such as the supercritical carbon dioxide method. They can then add the CBD oil to a balm.

A balm is a topical skin care product usually containing butter, waxes, oils, and active ingredients. Balms are similar to creams, but they do not contain water. Popular ingredients in balms include shea butter and beeswax.

Learn more about carrier oils here.

People should follow all packaging instructions when using CBD products and not exceed the recommended dose.

When applying a CBD balm to the skin, people typically place a small amount of balm on their hands and rub them together. This will help warm and soften the product, making it easier to apply. A person can then gently massage the balm into the required area.

Avoid applying balm to areas with broken skin.

Individuals new to CBD products might consider starting with the lowest possible dosage. Once they understand how their body reacts to CBD, they can slowly increase the dose.

Always perform a patch test before using the product to ensure it will not irritate their skin.

Learn more about allergy testing here.

Currently, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate CBD products, and a 2017 study suggests labels may not detail all of a product’s ingredients.

Therefore, a person should look for CBD balms that:

  • contain no more than 0.3% THC, per the Agriculture Improvement Act
  • have proof of third-party testing by an ISO/IEC 17025-accredited laboratory
  • have a current and valid certificate of analysis
  • pass tests for pesticides, heavy metals, mold, and microbes
  • pass product potency evaluations and safety testing
  • are not subject to an FDA warning letter

Additionally, people may also wish to consider the product’s scent, application method, and price.

Researching manufacturer and retailer reputations, including customer reviews, may also help guide a person’s decision.

Read our complete buyer’s guide to CBD here.

Below are some advantages and disadvantages for a person to consider.

Pros

  • Products have the potential to work as an anti-inflammatory and pain reliever.
  • CBD balms could benefit common skin conditions.
  • There is a low risk of side effects with short-term use.
  • There is a wide range of products available.

Cons

  • The FDA does not regulate CBD products.
  • There is limited scientific research into safety and benefits.
  • Long-term use may cause side effects.
  • Some ingredients may interact with certain medications.
  • Some of the ingredients may irritate the skin.

Medical News Today carefully vets CBD products to ensure they do not pose health risks to individuals. These include:

  • Ingredients: Products must contain safe and high quality ingredients, and their labels must state all ingredients clearly. They should also confirm they are free from pesticides, heavy metals, and mold.
  • Dosage: Products must clearly state the CBD dosage.
  • Serving size: Manufacturers must suggest a safe serving size.
  • Third-party labs: Products must undergo third-party testing for contaminants by an ISO 17025-compliant laboratory.
  • Available certificate of analysis: The company must demonstrate transparency and share a product’s certificate of analysis (COA) following receipt of its third-party lab results.

Learn more about MNT’s product selection and vetting process here.

There are many CBD balms available on the market. Below, we list four products for consideration.

Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these products. All information presented is purely research-based and correct at the time of publishing.

Best soothing: Lazarus Naturals Relax + Unwind Full Spectrum CBD Balm

Cost$16 and $42
CBD typefull spectrum
CBD amount1,000 and 3,000 milligrams (mg)
Quantity20 and 60 gram (g)

Lazarus Naturals Relax + Unwind Full Spectrum CBD Balm combines lavender and chamomile that the company claims promote a sense of calm. Other ingredients include mango seed butter, jojoba seed oil, beeswax, and full-spectrum CBD hemp extract.

Some reviews mention the product’s fragrance is soothing and that it also eased some people’s inflamed joints and workout soreness.

However, other reviews state that the packaging for this product is too small, making it difficult to access the required amount and that the company’s customer service team is unhelpful.

Best for painful muscles: Go Green Hemp CBD Balm Salve

Cost$29.99–179.99
CBD typebroad spectrum
CBD amount500, 1,000, 2,000 and 4,000 mg
Quantity1 and 4 ounces (oz)

Go Green Hemp CBD Balm Salve is available in varying strengths with additional ingredients, including beeswax and medium-chain triglyceride oils.

The balm comes with a scent of eucalyptus and lavender that may provide an aromatic and soothing experience with essential oils. However, some individuals may find that this product irritates essential oil allergies.

The manufacturer suggests applying the balm to aching areas and painful muscles.

The company backs its products with third-party lab results that people can download and access for free.

Additionally, this product is THC-free, non-GMO, and manufactured in the United States.

Best for aches: Plant People Soothe+ Restorative Body Balm

Cost$48.99–132.27
CBD typeFull spectrum
CBD amount515 mg
Quantity2 oz

Plant People markets this body balm as a small spot treatment for aching areas, such as the knees, knuckles, or back.

The ingredients include shea butter, coconut oil, beeswax, and lavender. The balm also contains cooling peppermint warming camphor.

This doctor-designed product is vegan friendly, carries a USDA organic certification, and is free from parabens and sulfates.

The manufacturer claims the combination of CBD, peppermint, and camphor extracts may improve circulation and promote sprain, bruise, and muscle healing.

Some reviews state the product aids post-workout recovery and reduces back pain and pain from plantar fasciitis.

Individuals may not find the product cost-effective. However, the company offers a subscription that includes a 10% discount for packs of three.

Plant People Soothe+ Restorative Body Balm is available for purchase online.

Best skin-softening: Lord Jones High CBD Formula Heavy Duty Chill Balm

Cost$55
CBD typeBroad spectrum
CBD amount200 mg
Quantity1.4 oz

The company claims this balm softens skin and produces a calming effect.

The ingredients include organic jojoba oil, shea butter, extra virgin olive oil, fruit oil, and fragrance.

Reviews state this balm aids relaxation, with just a little amount of the product going a long way.

The balm is cruelty-free, and a third-party lab regularly tests its purity and consistency. It does not contain sulfates, synthetic dyes, or formaldehyde.

Lord Jones High CBD Formula Heavy Duty Chill Balm is available for purchase online.

Best for a budget: Plus CBD Extra Strength Balm

Cost$29.99
CBD typeFull spectrum
CBD amount100 mg
Quantity1.3 oz

The company combines CBD with tocopherol — a vitamin E derivative, oils, and herbal ingredients.

It contains sweet almond oil, beeswax, industry-standard glycerin, and green tea leaf extract.

This balm also contains willow bark extract. According to the manufacturer, this may provide an anti-inflammatory effect.

However, this product contains peppermint oil, which some individuals may find irritating or sensitizing.

The brand formulates this balm without gluten, GMOs, sulfates, or pesticides. Third-party labs test each batch for CBD purity, salmonella, heavy metals, and other contaminants. Individuals can easily access the test certificates on the company website.

Plus CBD Extra Strength Balm is available for purchase online.

Use code “MNT20” for 20% off.

Best for sensitive skin: NuLeaf Naturals Full Spectrum CBD Balm

Cost$23.99–60.20
CBD typefull spectrum
CBD amount300, 600, and 900 mg
Quantity0.5 oz, 1 oz, 1.5 oz

This heavy moisturizer’s base ingredient is organic shea butter, which may suit those with skin sensitivities.

Most reviews state this balm helped relieve pain in arthritic joints and sprained wrists.

The brand uses third-party labs that confirm its products are free from pesticides, herbicides, mold, fungi, heavy metals, and mycotoxins. Individuals can easily access and read the lab reports.

As this balm only contains shea butter, some people may find it too thick. Some reviews report warming the balm prior to use as this can make it smoother to apply.

NuLeaf Naturals Full Spectrum CBD Balm is available for purchase online.

Best fragranced: Koi Naturals Hemp Extract CBD Balm

Cost$19.99–69.99
CBD typebroad spectrum
CBD amount150, 500, and 1,000 mg
Quantity0.5 oz and 1.7 oz

The company states this balm melts on contact and provides an immediate soothing sensation with a tranquil scent. It contains grapeseed oil and aloe vera.

The manufacturer advises that individuals can use this product up to four times daily and that the effects last for hours.

However, some customer reviews disagree, claiming the effects only lasted for around 30 minutes. They also reported that the balm has a very strong smell.

Positive reviews claim the product makes the skin feel smoother and reduces some pain.

This product may not suit those with sensitive skin or allergies as it contains many essential oils and fragrances.

Koi Naturals Hemp Extract CBD Balm is available for purchase online.

The following table provides a comparison of the above products.

Lazarus Naturals Full Spectrum CBD BalmGo Green Hemp CBD Balm SalvePlant People Soothe+ Restorative Body BalmLord Jones High CBD Formula Heavy Duty Chill BalmPlus CBD Extra Strength BalmNuLeaf Naturals Full Spectrum CBD BalmKoi Naturals Hemp Extract CBD Balm
Total CBD per product1,000 mg, 3,000 mg500 mg, 1,000 mg, 2,000 mg, 4,000 mg515 mg200 mg100 mg300 mg, 600 mg, 900 mg150 mg, 500 mg, 1,000 mg
Third-party lab testsyesyesyesyesyesyesyes
Contains fragrances or essential oilsyesyesyesyesyesnoyes
Volume20 g, 60 g1 oz, 4 oz2 oz1.4 oz1.3 oz0.5 oz, 1 oz, 1.5 oz0.5 oz, 1.7 oz
Price$16, $42$29.99$48.99–132.27$55$29.99$23.99–63.20$19.99–69.99

Scientific research exploring the effects and health benefits of topical CBD is still at a relatively early stage. However, there is increasing evidence that CBD may have many potential medicinal properties.

Evidence notes that the human body contains a complex network of neurotransmitters and cannabinoid receptors known as the endocannabinoid receptor system (ECS). The signaling of the ECS receptors may help reduce depressive symptoms in people with schizophrenia.

Research also indicates that the ECS may contain multiple promising therapeutic targets and that the skin has many cannabinoid receptors. Therefore, topical CBD products may be a useful way for people to benefit from the potential of CBD.

While research is still in its early stages, some evidence suggests that topical CBD may have some benefit in treating muscle soreness. A 2018 review notes the potential of CBD for pain and inflammation.

A 2019 research article and a 2020 randomized controlled trial also highlight the pain relief properties of topical CBD, while a 2015 review emphasizes its potential as an anti-inflammatory.

Other research also notes that topical CBD may help treat certain skin disorders. A 2019 study suggests that CBD ointment is a safe and effective treatment for inflammatory skin conditions and may help improve skin hydration and elasticity.

The American Academy of Dermatology also suggests that topical CBD may help treat acne, psoriasis, and eczema due to its anti-inflammatory properties.

Learn more about CBD for skin here.

CBD may interact with certain medications. People who take prescription medications should speak with their doctor before using any CBD products.

However, the World Health Organization (WHO) reports that, in its pure state, cannabidiol does not appear to have abuse potential or cause harm.

Most of the known CBD side effects relate to consumable products. According to the FDA, side effects can include diarrhea, mood changes, drowsiness, and sometimes liver damage.

Researchers know less about topically applied CBD and which doses may result in side effects. However, when someone applies a balm topically, there is a much lower risk of CBD entering the bloodstream.

Research suggests that short-term CBD use is unlikely to result in side effects, but long-term use may have mild adverse effects.

A 2018 paper raises questions about the possible side effects of using CBD long term, although researchers should continue to investigate this.

Learn more about CBD dosage here.

The following are common questions about CBD balms.

Does CBD balm work?

According to current research, CBD balm may help reduce inflammation, pain, and discomfort that people experience due to certain skin conditions.

However, knowledge about the medicinal effects of CBD is still developing.

The FDA reports that individuals should avoid products that make broad health claims, including claims that CBD can prevent, treat, or cure serious illnesses such as cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, and mental health conditions.

How does CBD pain balm work?

Some research suggests that CBD interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system. This stops the endocannabinoids from breaking down and prolongs their effect on the body.

Research shows there are endocannabinoid receptors throughout the skin, which may help improve the effectiveness of CBD skin balms, oils, and creams.

CBD balms may reduce pain by reducing inflammation, as suggested by a 2016 animal study involving rats with arthritis.

A more recent 2019 study found that CBD worked as a muscle relaxer, which improved symptoms in people with jaw pain.

Is CBD absorbed through the skin?

Yes, the skin can absorb CBD.

A 2020 study into how well the skin absorbed CBD concluded that paraffin oil ointments and hydrophilic gels provided the best absorption, along with a mixture of water and propylene glycol.

Does CBD balm have side effects?

CBD may interact with some medications. A person should talk with a doctor before using CBD if they are currently taking medications to check that it is safe for them.

Reported side effects mainly involve oral CBD products and rarely relate to topical balms and creams.

Research to answer questions about the effects of long-term CBD use and whether using topical CBD can cause harmful side effects should continue.

Scientists do not know if CBD is safe for people who are pregnant or breastfeeding, and the FDA strongly advises against its use in these cases.

Is CBD balm good for nerve pain?

The research regarding the benefits of CBD balms on nerve pain is limited.

A 2018 review found a small benefit in using CBD to treat chronic, non-cancer-related pain. However, it also noted that side effects were more common in those taking CBD than placebos. Ultimately, the study did not find CBD to be a likely highly effective treatment for chronic, non-cancer-related pain.

A 2020 study into topical CBD oil for peripheral neuropathy concluded that CBD oil could significantly improve pain for people with this condition.

CBD balms may help moisturize skin and relieve soreness, inflammation, and discomfort. If people wish to use CBD products, there are a variety of other topical products available and other forms of CBD that they can ingest.

Before purchasing a CBD product, people should ensure it is from a reputable company and passes safety tests. It is also advisable to consult their doctor before using any CBD products.

For more information and resources on CBD and CBD products, please visit our dedicated hub.