More and more arthritis sufferers are turning to cannabidiol (CBD) as a natural way to support pain relief. CBD arthritis creams and lotions can be applied topically to specific areas to help reduce inflammation, swelling, and pain. What are the best CBD arthritis creams? In this article, we explain the science behind CBD and arthritis and recommend the top CBD creams to try.
CBD is a naturally occurring compound found in the hemp plant. Like THC, it is a cannabinoid that interacts with our body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). Unlike THC, however, it does not contain psychoactive or intoxicating properties. Instead, CBD is used primarily for its health and wellness benefits, including its apparent ability to promote a sense of calm, regulate mood, improve sleep, and reduce inflammation and pain.
Early research makes CBD cream for arthritis a promising option to help those suffering from arthritis and joint pain. Since CBD and industrial hemp were only made available for study after the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, long term and large group studies are still in the works. While more definitive research is needed before it can be prescribed as a treatment, CBD for joint pain may certainly play a role in supplementing current treatment options with a low risk of side effects. As with any CBD product, be sure to consult with your doctor before taking CBD to make sure that it won’t interact with any of your existing medications or treatments.
Why Would You Try CBD Cream?
CBD is a compound found in cannabis plants that has gained much attention for its apparent ability to aid in inflammation, stress, and many other issues. This compound can be infused into creams, lotions, and salves as a way to apply CBD topically for a variety of benefits, including skin nourishment and pain alleviation.
CBD creams differ from other products, like oil tinctures or CBD capsules, in that they allow you to apply CBD directly to painful areas on the body, like knees, shoulders, hands, or wrists. The CBD is then absorbed through the skin to help treat the affected area more quickly than CBD that is taken orally and must be absorbed into the bloodstream. CBD lotions for arthritis also provide an alternative to ingesting or inhaling CBD, which can benefit those with sensitive digestive systems or pallets.
With a CBD cream, you can typically find much higher concentrations of CBD in each product, allowing you the potential to enjoy stronger relief. The best CBD arthritis creams also contain natural ingredients like menthol, eucalyptus, peppermint, California poppy, shea butter, and beeswax to help sooth aching joints and nourish skin.
Does CBD Help with Arthritis?
While research into the effectiveness of CBD to treat arthritis is still in its early stages, there are a number of promising studies. Take this study that concluded that topical CBD has potential as an effective treatment of arthritic pain. Researchers believe the administration of CBD could also have long-lasting therapeutic effects.
Animal studies have shown that transdermal, or topical, application of CBD does have therapeutic potential for relieving arthritis pain and inflammation. Another study using rats found that atypical receptors beyond just CB2 might be beneficial in treating inflammatory pain with cannabinoids. Recent research published in the Journal of Opioid Management concluded that CBD transdermal cream provided “significant symptom and pain relief” for patients suffering from severe back pain.
CBD is an immunosuppressive, and most often binds with the body’s CB2 receptor, which directly influences our immune system. This allows it to help inhibit the production of certain inflammatory processes in the body, which could help to reduce arthritis and joint pain.
As a reminder, CBD is one of more than 100 cannabinoids that occur naturally in the cannabis plant. These plant compounds, along with terpenes and flavonoids, work through a process known as the entourage effect to promote homeostasis within the body.
Top-Rated CBD Creams, Lotions, and Salves for Joint Pain Relief
How We Chose These Topicals
To choose the best CBD creams for arthritis, we compared a number of different factors. Some of the things we looked for in each product included:
- Source — Where is the company’s hemp grown and how do they extract the CBD?
- Strength — How much CBD does the cream contain? Is it full spectrum, broad spectrum, or CBD isolate?
- Organic — Does the company use organic hemp and natural ingredients?
- Ingredients — Does the CBD salve contain additional botanicals or ingredients, like menthol or lidocaine?
- Testing — Is the product tested by an independent third-party lab, and can you access the results?
- Price — Is the CBD lotion offer a good value for the amount of CBD included?
- Customer experience — What do customer reviews say about the product and how it helped them?
Using these categories, we identified the best CBD for joint pain creams, balms, and slaves. Check out our choices below to find the right one for your needs.
Our Full Reviews
Best Organic: Cornbread Hemp CBD Lotion + Menthol
Cornbread Hemp Full Spectrum CBD Lotion is a great organic option for arthritis pain or sore muscles. It’s made with 500 mg of pure hemp flower CBD extract, which means their CBD doesn’t come from seeds or stems for a cleaner product. This cream is also packed with tons of organic botanicals like menthol, lemongrass, jojoba, peppermint, tea tree, rosemary, and eucalyptus, but it’s paraben and preservative-free.
- CBD – Full Spectrum
- Strength – 500 mg per container
- Added Ingredients – Organic menthol, lemongrass, jojoba, peppermint, tea tree, rosemary, eucalyptus, beeswax, +
Why buy: We love that this CBD for joint pain cream is USDA organic and contains so many beneficial botanicals and natural ingredients. It’s great for sore knees, shoulders, elbows, hands, and muscles.
Best for Neck Pain: Spruce CBD Salve
This full spectrum Spruce CBD salve is fast absorbing with a smooth consistency that offers targeted relief when applied to the skin. Made with organic hemp extract, shea butter, olive oil, beeswax, and coconut oil, this salve is packed with phytocannabinoids that may help with muscle and joint pain. Spruce is known for strong products packed with quality CBD extract, and their CBD salve is no exception.
- CBD – Full Spectrum
- Strength – 1,000 mg or 2,000 mg per container
- Added ingredients – Shea Butter, Olive Oil, Beeswax, Coconut Oil
Why buy: Available in 1,000 mg and 2,000 mg strengths, Spruce CBD salve offers extra strength topical relief for sore joints and muscles. We recommend it to those looking for higher concentrations of full spectrum hemp extract to help them manage discomfort.
Best Menthol-Free: R+R Medicinals CBD Cream
R+R Medicinals CBD Cream is one of the strongest full spectrum creams available. It contains 1000 mg of CBD for joint pain from arthritis or other causes, but it is free from fragrances, dyes, and menthol. This makes it an excellent option for those with sensitive skin or allergies. It does include natural ingredients like MSM, arnica, calendula flower, jojoba oil, and over 4 mg of minor cannabinoids to provide powerful plant-based relief.
- CBD – Full Spectrum
- Strength – 1000 mg per container
- Added Ingredients – MSM, Arnica, Calendula Flower, Jojoba Oil
Why buy: We love this CBD cream from R+R Medicinals because it provides a strong dose of full spectrum CBD for pain without menthol, dyes, or artificial fragrances. This makes it perfect for those who are sensitive to traditional pain creams.
Best Roll On: CBDistillery CBD Relief Stick
Made with Colorado-grown hemp, CBDistillery makes full spectrum and CBD isolate products that are certified by the U.S. Hemp Authority. This CBD Relief Stick contains 1000 mg of CBD isolate to provide a powerful dose of CBD with no THC. It also features shea butter, arnica, menthol, and peppermint for a cooling sensation on sore muscles and joints that also moisturizes skin.
- CBD – CBD Isolate
- Strength – 1000 mg per container
- Added Ingredients – Shea Butter, Arnica, Menthol, Peppermint
Why buy: We love the CBD Relief Stick from CBDistillery because it provides an easy, no-mess way to apply CBD exactly where you need it. It’s perfect for travel or the gym, and is a great choice for those who want a THC-free option.
Simplest Ingredients: NuLeaf Naturals Full Spectrum CBD Balm
We already recommend NuLeaf Naturals for their CBD oils made from organically-grown Colorado hemp, and now they offer a potent CBD balm that we love for its simplicity. It contains just two ingredients: concentrated full spectrum CBD hemp extract and organic shea butter. Available in strengths of 300 mg, 600 mg, and 900 mg, NuLeaf Naturals Full Spectrum CBD Balm is strong and straightforward.
- CBD – Full Spectrum
- Strength – 300 mg, 600 mg, 900 mg of CBD per container
- Added Ingredients – Organic Shea Butter
Why buy: This unscented CBD balm is ideal for those with sensitive skin or allergies. Made to absorb quickly, it may help relieve discomfort in joints and muscles while also moisturizing skin. We recommend the 900 mg strength for arthritis pain.
Choosing High-Quality CBD Products
Whether you’re shopping for CBD for knee pain or a CBD lotion for arthritis, you want to make sure that you select a high-quality CBD product. There are two main things to consider when comparing CBD creams and balms, independent third-party testing and the source of the hemp.
Making sure that any CBD product you purchase has been thoroughly tested by an independent third-party lab is extremely important. This allows you to know for certain that the product is safe to use, free from pesticides and heavy metals, and that it contains the appropriate amount of cannabinoids like CBD. The best brands offer easy access to the lab test results for all of their products, typically through a QR code on their packaging or online. If you see a CBD product that doesn’t mention lab testing and doesn’t give you access to the results, don’t buy it.
It’s also important to know where a CBD brands gets its hemp. This can help assure that the products are made with natural hemp extract from safely grown hemp plants. We typically recommend choosing products that use hemp grown in the U.S.A., and whenever possible organically grown hemp. This is an easy way to make sure that whatever product you choose contains pure CBD and natural plant compounds without any harmful chemicals or contaminants. The best CBD oil and cream brands are very transparent about how their products are made.
How to Use
CBD creams and lotions are relatively easy to use. Simply apply the suggested amount onto any painful areas, such as knees, shoulders, hands, or the back, like you would any other topical ointment. The CBD in the product will be absorbed through the skin to help provide relief to that specific area of the body. You should avoid contact with your eyes and never ingest a CBD topical.
Cannabinoids like CBD may be able to offer relief through the endocannabinoid system, which helps us maintain balance for a variety of bodily functions. The human body has internal cannabinoid receptors that allow natural compounds like CBD and terpenes to indirectly interact with our sensory receptors, which can effectively diminish our pain sensation. These cannabinoid receptors are located throughout the skin, meaning that CBD topical products help alleviate localized pain and inflammation when applied to the affected area.
One study published by the European Journal of Pain also noted, “[the] use of topical CBD has potential as effective treatment of arthritic symptomatology” after conducting tests using a rat model of arthritis pain. Additionally, there are minimal side effects associated with CBD, especially when applied topically.
Safety and Side Effects
You should always avoid contact with your eyes and never ingest a CBD topical.
While it is generally safe to use, CBD can cause certain mild side effects. These sometimes include:
- Dry mouth
- Reduced appetite
These are more often associated with CBD edibles and oil tinctures. For CBD arthritis creams and balms, you will want to make certain that you are not allergic or sensitive to any of the ingredients before use. You can also test a small amount on an area of the skin to be sure it does not irritate your skin before using more generally.
We always suggest you have a conversation with your doctor about using CBD to discuss your goals, any existing medications you’re taking, and whether it could interact with any of those prescriptions.
There are a number of additional self-care and non-surgical treatments for arthritis that you can attempt as well. Many arthritis sufferers benefit from things like hydrotherapy, yoga, massage treatments, stretching, and acupuncture. Applying heating pads and ice packs, as well as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can also help.
While CBD lotions and balms may potentially help alleviate arthritis pain, it’s important to note that it is not intended to cure the condition or replace your existing treatment options. If you suffer from serious osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis, you should always seek treatment from your doctor first.
Melena Gurganus is passionate health and wellness and her writing aims to help others find products they can trust. Her work has been featured in publications such as Health, Shape, Huffington Post, Cannabis Business Times, and Bustle.
Medically Reviewed By:
PharmD Scientific Advisor, Medical Reviewer, and Clinical Pharmacist
Adjunct Faculty, UMKC School of Pharmacy
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