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CBD cream for pain may help relieve aches and tension. Various companies now include CBD as an ingredient in a range of topical products. Some studies suggest CBD can treat physical pain and inflammation, though research is ongoing.

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% THC federally legal. However, CBD products containing more than 0.3% 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.

CBD cream is a topical product that contains CBD oil alongside other ingredients.

CBD comes from the Cannabis sativa (C. sativa) plant. Companies may infuse CBD into a range of products, including:

THC is the compound, or cannabinoid, responsible for the “high” that people associate with cannabis. Some CBD products may contain up to 0.3% of THC in dry weight. Producers can isolate CBD from the THC compound so that CBD cream will not cause a person to feel high.

Medical News Today chooses products that meet the following criteria:

  • Ingredients: MNT chooses products containing safe and high quality, clearly labeled ingredients. They should also confirm they are free from pesticides, heavy metals, and mold.
  • Dosage: MNT chooses products that clearly state the CBD dosage and THC content.
  • Serving size: MNT selects products in which manufacturers recommend a dosage and how to take it.
  • Third-party labs: MNT chooses products that must undergo third-party testing for contaminants by an ISO 17025-compliant laboratory.
  • Available certificate of analysis: MNT chooses companies that demonstrate transparency and share a product’s certificate of analysis (COA) after receiving its third-party lab results.
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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 publication.

Medical News Today follows a strict product selection and vetting process. Learn more here.

The following table compares the CBD creams in this article on key features:

ProductCBD typeKey ingredientsCBD strengthSizeReturn/ refundPrice
CBDfxbroad-spectrumwhite willow bark, caffeine, menthol1,000-3,000 mg50 ml60 days$79.99-$129.99
Level Select CBDbroad-spectrummenthol900-1,800 mg85 g30 days$29.99-$49.99
Lazarus Naturalsfull-spectrummenthol, camphor, capsaicin600-2,000 mg30-100 ml90 days$12-$32
R&R Medicinalsfull-spectrumcalendula flower, jojoba, arnica montana1,000 mg-2,000 mg2.5 fl oz60 days$50-$70
PlusCBDfull-spectrumcamphor, menthol500 mg4 oz90 days$34.99
Joy Organicsbroad-spectrumcamphor, menthol1,000 mg118 ml90 days$49.95
Aspen Greenfull-spectrumorganic jojoba seed oil, arnica extract, tea tree oil1,000 mg60 ml60 days$84.99
CBDistilleryisolatecamphor, sunflower seed oil500 mg1.7 fl oz60 days$35
Cornbread Hempfull-spectrummenthol500 mg2 fl oz30 days$49.99
FAB CBDfull-spectrumaloe vera leaf extract, blood orange oil600 mg2 oz30 days$49

People may wish to consider several factors before purchasing CBD cream, such as:

  • COA: A person should only purchase CBD products from companies with COAs available for their products. These certificates verify that the products’ ingredient lists are correct and that the ingredients are generally not harmful to individuals.
  • Ingredients: CBD creams may have different ingredients, such as camphor for a warming feel or menthol for a cooling effect.
  • Spectrum type: CBD products typically come in full-spectrum and broad-spectrum formulas. Both contain cannabis plant extracts. However, full-spectrum CBD contains up to 0.3% THC, while broad-spectrum products do not contain any THC. A third type, CBD isolate, is pure CBD and contains no other cannabis plant compounds.

People can apply CBD cream to their skin like any other lotion. However, it is important to follow the instructions on the product packaging.

A person should perform a patch test before using a new CBD cream on their skin. If they experience a reaction to the product, they should stop using it and contact a doctor.

If a person experiences any reactions, such as redness or inflammation, they should stop using the product immediately and contact a healthcare professional.

Visit our dedicated hub for more research-backed information and in-depth resources on CBD.

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Researchers have found that certain compounds in the cannabis plant may have beneficial effects, including:

  • alleviating pain
  • relieving anxiety
  • reducing spasms
  • relaxing muscles
  • reducing inflammation

A 2020 review found that CBD helped provide significant pain reduction.

A 2020 review concludes that CBD may have both antioxidative and anti-inflammatory properties. Additionally, a 2016 study looking at arthritis in rats notes that applying a CBD gel alleviated inflammation and pain in rodents.

Another 2020 systematic animal studies and clinical trials review found that CBD may help ease pain symptoms.

These animal studies have shown that CBD may ease neuropathic, inflammatory, and arthritis-related pain. CBD in oral, injectable, or gel form helped reduce inflammation and had analgesic, or pain-relieving, effects.

How does CBD help with pain?

CBD binds to molecules in the body, including:

  • G protein-coupled receptors: CBD blocks several g protein receptors in the brain, including GPR3, GPR6, and GPR12, which may play a role in neuropathic pain development.
  • Transporters: CBD binds to transporters in the endocannabinoid system, such as fatty acid-binding proteins. It also inhibits other transporters, producing anti-inflammatory effects.
  • Enzymes: CBD inhibits certain enzymes and acids that have a role in inflammation.
  • Nuclear factors: CBD interacts with nuclear factors in the body to produce anti-inflammatory effects.
  • Transient receptor potential vanilloids (TRPVs): TRPV receptors play an important role in pain signaling. CBD blocks these receptors, which can lead to pain-relieving effects.

As the inclusion of CBD into health products is a relatively recent development, there is a lack of scientific research examining its long-term risks.

Generally, people tolerate CBD well. However, the FDA warns that CBD can cause some side effects, including:

The FDA also states that CBD use may have negative effects that people cannot notice, including potential liver damage and harm to fetuses.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has only approved one CBD product, Epidiolex, a prescription medication for certain types of seizures.

Anyone taking medicines and considering using a CBD cream should also consult a doctor or qualified CBD clinician. These professionals can advise whether CBD will interact with the medication.

If a person does not want to try a CBD cream for their pain or if they wish to use it alongside other treatments, they may consider the following:

  • Acupuncture involves trained practitioners inserting needles into specific points on the body. A 2021 systematic review concludes that many studies show benefits of acupuncture on lower back pain.
  • Massage: An old case study involving a man with chronic back pain suggests that four massages over 20 days improved chronic back pain. However, more research is necessary to explore the benefits of massage for treating chronic back pain. A 2019 study examining the effects of massage on individuals with lower back pain concludes that a person’s perception of pain reduced after a massage. Massage may be more suitable for individuals with exercise-related back muscle soreness.
  • Spinal manipulation: The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health suggests spinal manipulation may help relieve sciatica, lower back pain, and neck pain.
  • Exercise: According to research, engaging in exercise may reduce risk of lower back pain and other disability. The researchers recommend a combination of strengthening exercises with aerobic or stretching exercises two or three times a week.

Other CBD products, such as oils, lotions, and patches, may help with pain management. Learn more here.

Below, we answer some frequently asked questions about using CBD cream for treating pain:

How long does it take for CBD to relieve pain?

The time it takes to feel CBD’s effects differs between products. For example, sublingual CBD, which people place under the tongue, takes from 15 to 45 minutes to take effect.

The time it takes for CBD cream to relieve pain may also vary between individuals. A person should follow all product instructions carefully when using the cream.

How strong should CBD be to relieve pain?

CBD is available in different strengths. Companies should state how strong the CBD is in the product description. The more CBD in a product — usually in mg measurements — the stronger it is.

However, people should start at a lower strength or use less CBD cream. If necessary, they can gradually increase the strength or amount of CBD over time.

Are CBD products legal?

Individuals should always check state laws where they are residing or traveling to before using CBD products, to ensure that they are not breaking any state laws.

Hemp-derived CBD is legal federally. However, some states may class hemp-derived CBD as an illegal substance.

Cannabis-derived CBD is illegal federally but may be legal under certain state laws.

Does CBD cream heal the pain?

Research suggests that the use of CBD may help to manage chronic pain symptoms in adults. However, CBD products may help to relieve pain rather than eliminate it altogether temporarily.

Does topical CBD reduce inflammation?

Research from 2022 states that topical CBD may help to reduce inflammatory conditions, such as eczema. Further research suggests that CBD has anti-inflammatory benefits, making it potentially beneficial for reducing inflammation.

CBD creams are products that a person applies to their skin. They may reduce pain and inflammation in individuals with pain.

Although CBD creams may provide some pain relief, people should seek guidance from a healthcare professional first to assess the underlying cause of their pain and receive medical treatment, if necessary.

People should also consult a doctor or pharmacist if they intend to use CBD products alongside prescription or nonprescription medications to reduce the risk of drug interactions and side effects.