Cannabinoids have low skin permeability, so you can dose up and apply more of the topical based on how you feel. Spend some time really working it into your skin, massaging gently as you go.
While CBD is safe for use, there are a few caveats you'll want to keep in mind when incorporating a hemp topical into your pain-management regimen.
Medterra goes above and beyond when it comes to quality standards and transparency. It follows cGMPs for topical manufacturing, and its products are formulated with soothing natural ingredients to alleviate pain sensations. Every Medterra product has a detailed third-party lab report available that breaks down cannabinoid and terpene content, as well as pesticide and heavy-metal testing. This is a great CBD lotion to try if you want to avoid THC.
Best Full Spectrum: FAB CBD Topical CBD Cream
Available in 2 oz tub
Once you've finished applying, you can wash your hands and wait. Most CBD lotions will take a few minutes before they kick in, but can peak one to two hours later. You may need to reapply a few times a day for full effect.
In this article, we'll look at the best CBD creams for pain, which have been medically reviewed by Ashley Jordan Ferira, PhD, RDN.
Spruce has tight control and full visibility of its CBD product manufacturing process from the hemp farm to the shelf, and its hemp extracts are designed to deal with muscle and joint pain. If you want a CBD cream for back pain this may be a good hemp cream to try. Its branding is also clean and minimalistic, making the facts easy to find.
What exactly happens as a result of this unlocking remains a matter of discussion in medical circles. It’s logical to think that reduced pain can result from activating the same cannabinoid receptors that contribute to a runner’s high. There’s also a theoretical basis for CBD lowering inflammation by inhibiting the same enzymes targeted by popular nonnarcotic pain medications such as ibuprofen and naproxen.
Anecdotally, CBD topicals seem to work best in managing flare-ups of the chronic low-grade problems most endurance athletes live with. Aggravated iliotibial band from running on slanted roads? Check. Shoulder strain from too much time riding an indoor trainer? Check. Torn ACL or ruptured Achilles? Not so check.
Placebos are grounded in belief, not deception. There’s ample evidence that physiological changes can happen if the person receiving a treatment believes it will help. Take, for example, the effectiveness of rinsing and spitting with a sports drink. The practice shouldn’t work, because no fuel enters your bloodstream, yet it has consistently been shown to improve performance, most likely because your brain thinks sugar is on the way. Or consider the many athletes who have a performance breakthrough soon after joining a new team or getting a new coach: barring doping, those athletes are unlikely to be physically different than they were two weeks before, but it’s the belief in the new setup that underlies their improvement.
So What About CBD?
But there are indications of effectiveness independent of belief. A University of Kentucky study induced a simulation of arthritis in rats. Half of the rats then received topical CBD treatment at the site of their inflammation for four days. After treatment, the CBD-treated rats appeared to be in less pain than the other rats—they withdrew their paws when touched only about as often as before they were injured. The CBD rats also had significantly reduced inflammation, including joint swelling and immune-cell activity in the injured area. Granted, this was an animal study, which comes with the usual caveats. On the other hand, the placebo effect presumably doesn’t exist in rats.
Clinical evidence to support these claims probably won’t exist in the near future. Most of the current research on CBD focuses on specific disease conditions, such as the number of epileptic seizures someone suffers per day or the degree of tremors from Parkinson’s. Studies on, say, whether a CBD balm eases the rusty-coil sensation in your left hamstring insertion aren’t a public-health priority. Industry-funded research on such usage is unlikely, for two main (related) reasons. A robust clinical trial can cost millions, which is beyond the budget of almost all CBD brands. Even so, if they had the resources to fund such a trial, a given brand probably lacks the incentive. And the CBD molecule is a natural substance considered to be in the public domain, so it can’t be patented. Any positive results from the study could therefore be used by all CBD brands in their marketing.
In surveys of CBD users, pain management is always one of the top reasons given for using nonintoxicating cannabis products. So it makes sense that nearly all brands, especially those targeting athletes, now offer topical solutions meant to be applied directly to achy areas. Are these balms, salves, creams, lotions, roll-ons, patches, and sprays an intriguing advance in sports medicine? Or are they mostly an expensive but ineffective throwback to the Bengay locker-room aromas of decades ago?
And when we ask if topicals really “do anything,” that depends on what you mean. These products usually impart scents (lavender and mint are common) and sensations (cooling menthol, warming camphor) that can distract you enough to change the woe-is-me narrative. This phenomenon is akin to positive self-talk shifting your attention during a race or a hard workout—you’re not really changing anything physiologically, but you’re not as constrained by your duress.