Top 7 CBD Oils for Pain Management
Photo Credit: Devon Gailey
CBD oil for pain management has become a popular natural remedy in recent years. What is CBD? Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a compound derived from the Cannabis sativa plant. CBD is different from another well-known cannabinoid in cannabis, THC, in that it may help ease pain and relax the mind without the psychoactive effects.
Read below to learn more about the best CBD oils for pain management, how CBD may help relieve aches and inflammation, and how to use CBD oil for pain.
Does CBD Help With Pain Management?
CBD may work to reduce pain through the endocannabinoid system, or ECS, which involves CBD binding to certain receptors. In particular, the receptor CB1, found in the central nervous system, helps mediate pain regulation and activation of it can result in inflammation and oxidative stress. On the other hand, the CB2 receptor, found mostly in the tissues and cells outside of the nervous system, can help slow down chronic inflammatory processes in the body.
When CBD binds to these receptors it potentially acts as an anti-inflammatory compound, and reducing inflammation can help relieve pain.
7 Best CBD Oils for Pain Management 2021
Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. You can learn more about our review methodology here. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
- Best Overall – Spruce
- Strongest Full Spectrum – CBDistillery
- Best USDA Organic – Cornbread Hemp
- Best for Inflammation – Plant People
- Best Full Spectrum – NuLeaf Naturals
- Best CBD Capsule – Prima
- Best CBD Cream – Spruce
How We Chose Our List of Oils for Pain Relief
When looking for a CBD product, it’s important to choose a high-quality product you can trust. This is because some CBD products, since they are not regulated by the FDA, may not contain the potency the label states and/or they may contain other ingredients that could cause harmful side effects.
We used the same five criteria to compare each CBD oil product and brand to find the best ones to recommend. Here is how we made our list:
Type of CBD: It’s important to consider the type of hemp extract used in the CBD product you choose. We tried to include a range of options, both full spectrum oils that contain trace amounts of THC and broad spectrum CBD that is THC-free, so that you can select the right type of CBD for you.
Strength: In general, the CBD oils for pain relief we recommend contain higher concentrations of CBD in order to help provide a stronger effect. This may allow the product to better help you manage your pain.
Source: Not only is the type of extract important when it comes to CBD, but it’s also important to consider where the hemp plant was sourced. We prefer hemp from Colorado, Kentucky, and North Carolina, states with robust industrial hemp programs. We always try to support American-grown hemp.
Flavor: The best CBD products should be effective and offer a clean, natural taste. We look for products that are vegan, non-GMO, gluten-free, and contain no artificial sweeteners or preservatives.
Transparency: It’s vital to choose a CBD product that has been independently lab-tested by a third-party to ensure that what you see on the label is what you get in your product. It can also help to choose products that have certification by ISO 9001: 2015 or by places that ensure trusted testing practices like the U.S. Hemp Authority. Tests should include a measure of heavy metals, pesticides, solvents, and bacteria and mold, and brands should make those results easily accessible.
All of these factors went into our list of recommendations below.
Our Top CBD Picks for Pain Management
Best Overall: Spruce Max Potency CBD Oil
Type of CBD: Full Spectrum
Concentration: 80 mg of CBD per dropper
What we like: Comes in a hemp seed oil or coconut MCT oil base; 100% natural; free of pesticides and preservatives; only 0.3% THC; made in U.S.A; vegan; gluten-free.
Why buy: We like this product because it’s free of artificial flavors or sweeteners and contains a dropper to ensure accurate dosing. The high concentration means that this formula is best for people who have been using CBD for a while or require a higher daily dosage.
Strongest Full Spectrum: CBDistillery 2500mg Full Spectrum Tincture
Type of CBD: Full Spectrum
Concentration: 83 mg of CBD per serving (2500 mg per bottle)
What we like: Uses a fractionated MCT coconut oil base; made from U.S. Hemp Authority-certified non-GMO industrial hemp grown in the U.S.A.; supports natural farming practices.
Why buy: We like this product because it uses hemp that has been certified by the U.S. Hemp Authority and contains low levels of THC for potential pain relief without the high. At 83 mg of CBD per serving, this is the strongest oil for pain management on our list and is not recommended for those new to CBD.
Best USDA Organic: Cornbread Hemp Whole Flower CBD Oil
Type of CBD: Full Spectrum
Concentration: 25 mg or 50 mg of CBD per serving
What we like: These are whole flower hemp extracts, meaning they are made without leaves or stems for a very full spectrum oil with a high CBD-to-THC ratio of 22:1. Made from USDA certified organic hemp, they also contain organic MCT coconut oil.
Why buy: We love Cornbread Hemp CBD for its strength and full plant experience, as these oils contain the highest amount of THC allowed. This CBD oil is best for use in the evening or before bed and may help relieve pain for a better night’s sleep.
Best for Inflammation: Plant People Drops+ Mind + Body
Type of CBD: Full Spectrum
Concentration: 10.5, 21, or 50mg of CBD per serving (315, 630, 1500 mg per bottle)
What we like: We like that this doctor-formulated full spectrum oil is vegan, gluten-free, non-GMO, USDA organic, and keto approved.
Why buy: Plant People CBD is full of a variety of secondary cannabinoids, including CBG and CBL. The full spectrum CBD is carried by coconut MCT and hempseed oil, for a natural flavor. We recommend this oil for its potential to help with inflammation.
Best Full Spectrum Oil: NuLeaf Naturals 1800mg CBD Oil
Type of CBD: Full Spectrum
Concentration: 30 mg of CBD per serving
What we like: We like that this full spectrum hemp extract is made with organic hemp processed using CO2 extraction that helps retain a complete range of cannabinoids, terpenes, essential oils, and other beneficial phytonutrients.
Why buy: NuLeaf Naturals offers a strong, whole plant extract that may help you manage pain. They also make measuring the correct dose easy by offering a single concentration of 30 mg per serving across all of their products.
Best CBD Softgel – Prima Daily Capsule
Type of CBD: Broad Spectrum
Concentration: 15 mg of CBD per vegan softgel
What we like: We love these Prima CBD softgels because they are made with organically-grown hemp and include other plant compounds, like CBC, CBG, CBL, terpenes, and flavonoids, but no THC. They also contain turmeric to help with inflammation.
Why buy: These capsules make a great option for people who don’t enjoy the taste of CBD oils. They allow you to get the potential benefits of a THC-free CBD oil for pain in an easy-to-take and portable form.
Best CBD Cream – Spruce Full Spectrum Topical Cream
Type of CBD: Full Spectrum
Potency: 300 mg of CBD in a 2 fl oz. jar
What we like: We like this lab-grade CBD cream because it is made in the USA using 100% natural hemp raised without pesticides to deliver a powerful dose of full spectrum cannabinoids directly to painful areas like knees, shoulders, and hands.
Why buy: Spruce is a brand we recommend because of the quality of their CBD products and the thousands of customer reviews on their website. This topical cream may help with joint and muscle pain, including arthritis pain.
Using CBD for Pain: What the Research Says
There are many different types of pain that someone can experience. Common forms of pain include:
- Nociceptive pain: Occurs after exposure to certain stimuli like heat, cold, chemical irritants, or force. Chronic back pain may be a form of this type of pain, depending on the cause.
- Inflammatory pain: Occurs because of activation of the immune system by an injury or infection.
- Pathological pain: Includes neuropathic pain, or damage to the nervous system, as well as dysfunctional pain, which is pain occurring with no damage or inflammation. Examples of dysfunctional pain are the types of pain people experience with fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, and tension type headaches.
As noted earlier, CBD may help to reduce pain through its potential anti-inflammatory characteristics for certain types of pain, especially chronic pain and arthritis pain.
A 2017 study also states that cannabis-based medicines like CBD may benefit those with chronic pain, especially those with neuropathic pain like people with MS.
A 2018 study shows that people with multiple sclerosis (MS) may benefit from CBD use since it may help reduce fatigue, spasticity, and pain, which in turn may improve mobility.
CBD oil may also be helpful to those with arthritis pain. A 2020 study review reports that in animal studies cannabinoids show potential to lessen the pain associated with rheumatic diseases like rheumatoid arthritis. More clinical trials are needed to confirm such positive findings in humans, but CBD potentially has a role to play in natural pain relief.
There is limited research on the most effective dosage of CBD for pain. However, a 2019 study shows that a dose of 2.4 milligrams of CBD per kilogram of body weight per day may be too low to provide a significant benefit to pain relief.
How to Choose a CBD Oil for Pain Relief
When looking for CBD oil for pain management, you should look for several important factors to make sure that you get a high-quality and safe CBD product. Here are the main things to look for.
CBD comes in three different forms that vary by the amount of additional cannabinoids and plant compounds present in the hemp extract.
First, there is full spectrum CBD, which contains all the natural compounds of the cannabis plant, including CBD, trace cannabinoids including THC, aromatic oils known as terpenes, and flavonoids. Each of the compounds from this type of extract may enhance the benefits of the CBD. This is called the entourage effect. Full spectrum oils must contain less than 0.3% THC.
Broad spectrum CBD extracts contain all of the compounds found in full spectrum extract, minus the THC. This allows users to still enjoy the many of the benefits of whole plant extract without the risk of failing a drug test.
Finally, CBD isolate is about 99-percent pure CBD with no other cannabis plant compounds. This option is normally found in topical CBD products.
CBD products come in varying concentrations, usually measured in milligrams of CBD per milliliter or per container. For help managing pain, we recommend a stronger concentration of full spectrum CBD where possible to provide the maximum potential benefit. This will typically mean choosing products with servings of 25 mg of CBD or more per dose.
CBD Oil vs. CBD Topical
The type of CBD oil product you should choose will depend on the type of pain you experience. For example, if you have isolated muscle or joint pain, it may help to use a lotions or balms. On the other hand, if you have systemic pain, or chronic back pain, then a capsule or oil you ingest orally may be more effective as it allows the CBD to reach more areas of the body.
How to Read Labels
With any CBD for pain relief product, it’s important to read the label and to understand what information it includes. When comparing CBD product labels, be sure to look for the following:
- Hemp Source – The label should tell you where brand raises or sources the hemp used in their CBD extract. We recommend choosing brands that use hemp grown in the U.S.A. using organic or natural farming practices.
- Dosage Guide – Most brands include a guide on the bottle or on the packaging to help you measure the appropriate amount of CBD per serving. This is also important in helping you make sure that it contains the proper strength or concentration.
- Certifications – Look for seals of approval or certifications from industry organizations and groups like USDA organic, U.S. Hemp Authority, the Non-GMO Project, and B-Corp.
- Lab Testing – Always make sure that any CBD product you use has undergone independent third-party lab testing. Many brands include a link on the label for you to access the lab results directly to check that it is safe and contains the right concentration.
How To Use
To get the most potential benefit out of any CBD for pain product, consistency is key. CBD works best as it builds up in your system over time, so while it may not provide immediate relief, it may help you better manage chronic pain when taken regularly. If you are using a CBD oil tincture or capsule, you will simply ingest the recommended dosage either once or twice a day. Some CBD oils work better at night to help you sleep, while others may be more effective when taken in the morning to last throughout the day. You can always adjust your CBD routine to suit you once you know how it will affect you.
If you are using a CBD topical or lotion, you can apply it to painful areas on the body to allow your skin to absorb the CBD and other ingredients. Note that you should never ingest a CBD topical and avoid getting it in your eyes.
Safety & Side Effects
Overall, the most common side effects linked with the use of CBD oil include:
- Dry mouth
- Reduced appetite
CBD can also interact with certain prescription medicines like blood thinners and sedatives like benzodiazepines and opioids. Be sure to talk with your healthcare provider and pharmacist before starting to take any CBD product.
If you live with pain in any form, it can limit what you can do daily and impact your quality of life. And with concerns of the addictive properties of certain pain medications like opioids and benzodiazepines, a natural pain reliever may help treat chronic pain without these serious adverse effects.
However, since most CBD oil products are not FDA-approved, you will still want to talk with your healthcare provider before starting CBD oil for pain. You should also never stop any prescribed method of treatment for pain management without first talking to your doctor.
Josh Hurst is a journalist, critic, copywriter, and essayist. He lives in Knoxville, TN, with his wife and three sons. As a writer an independent reviewer of CBD products, Josh covers the relationship between cannabis-based products and the human body. His writing has appeared in Health, Shape, and Remedy Review.
Medically Reviewed By:
PharmD Scientific Advisor, Medical Reviewer, and Clinical Pharmacist
Adjunct Faculty, UMKC School of Pharmacy
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