Best CBD Creams for Pain Relief: Top Hemp Topicals Review (2021)

CBD Creams with Hemp Leaf Print on it
Written by Nina Julia | Last updated: July 16, 2021

CBD topicals are a natural and safe alternative to conventional painkillers. CBD creams have coined a reputation of very effective products when it comes to easing localized pain — especially when the source is inflammation.

Now you’ve got an answer to why so many people are using CBD creams for pain and chronic conditions such as arthritis or chronic back pain.

According to CDC data, around 70 million Americans will suffer from chronic pain by 2040 — that’s a considerable number

The most common solutions for pain are OTC meds and prescription painkillers. However, these medications only mask the symptoms; they don’t focus on the cause of chronic pain. They also lose efficacy over time, meaning you’ll need to increase the dose over time to get the same type of symptom relief.

Many patients end up addicted to opioid painkillers. Over 100 people die each day from an opioid overdose in the United States.

It’s totally understandable that chronic pain sufferers are looking for a healthier and safer alternative for pain relief — and CBD creams are one of the viable options.

Today, we’ll highlight the best CBD creams for pain relief based on our continuous research. We’ve tested dozens of brands and hundreds of products to select the top 3 companies that make top-of-the-shelf topicals. We’ll also cover the scientific evidence supporting the use of CBD creams for different types of pain on top of a concise buyer’s guide.

What Are the Best CBD Pain Creams in 2021? Our Top 3 Brands

1. Royal CBD (Overall Winner)

RoyalCBD Cream Product on white background

Product Details

Pros Cons
  • Made from locally grown organic hemp
  • Extracted with supercritical CO2
  • Infused with broad-spectrum CBD
  • Both cooling and warming topicals included
  • Very potent – up to 500 mg of total CBD
  • Easy to apply
  • 3rd-party tested for potency and purity
  • Not available in local CBD stores (this may soon change)

Get 15% off all Royal CBD products.  Use code “CFAH” at checkout.

Why Royal CBD Offers the Best CBD Topicals for Pain

Royal CBD is a company from California that sells premium-grade products from Colorado-grown, non-GMO hemp. The brand offers full-spectrum CBD oil, soft gel capsules, THC-free gummies, and two types of CBD topicals for pain — warming cream and menthol roll-on gel.

Both products contain broad-spectrum CBD, so each application provides you with a whole range of non-psychoactive cannabinoids and terpenes but without any traces of THC. This means that users can benefit from the entourage effect to some extent.

The roll-on gel comes with a convenient applicator that doesn’t make your hands greasy when you use it. I like the whole formula of this gel; on top of the broad-spectrum CBD, it contains menthol, which further cools the affected area. I use it after workouts to deal with the post-exercise soreness.

The warming salve is great when you need something more potent to relieve the pain; it’s particularly effective in easing muscle stiffness. The cream’s thickness is spot-on; not too loose but not too greasy. It quickly absorbs into the skin.

2. CBDistillery (Best Value)

cbdistillery salve product on white background

Why We Recommend CBDistillery CBD Creams for Pain

CBDistillery makes full-spectrum CBD creams for pain, as well as for other localized skin problems. The formula has been enriched with all-natural ingredients, which is another benefit for health-conscious consumers.

CBDistillery is the best company if you’re shopping on a low budget. A 1 oz container that packs 500 mg of CBD costs a mere $0.12 per mg. The hemp used by the company is non-GMO and grown locally, but it doesn’t have an organic certification.

However, considering the overall quality of CBDistillery’s products, the above con is just a drop in the ocean of positives.

3. Hemp Bombs (Highest Potency)

hempbomb pain freeze product on white background

Product Details

Pros Cons
  • Sourced from organic hemp
  • Extracted with CO2
  • 0% THC
  • Wide product range
  • Third-party tested for CBD and contaminants
  • Up to 1000 mg of total CBD
  • No synergy from other cannabinoids

Why We Recommend Hemp Bombs CBD Cream for Pain

Hemp Bombs offers a wide range of products that are marketed in a very smart way. The company has maintained its stellar reputation among customers for over 5 years. Hemp Bombs doesn’t play around when it comes to the purpose of its CBD creams; the guys openly state that this is a Pain Freeze cream. The product is available both as a salve and gel, packing 1000 mg of pure CBD.

This means that Hemp Bombs CBD topicals, although undeniably potent, are infused with pure CBD isolate, so there are no other cannabinoids to boost the cannabidiol’s effects.

What I like about Hemp Bombs CBD Pain Freeze is how it interacts with the skin. It leaves a “cooling burn” on the surface that gets more gentle over time, effectively easing physical discomfort.

What Is CBD Cream?

The name “CBD cream” refers to a topical product that you use directly on the skin. Creams are only one type of product; you can also find topicals such as salves, roll-ons, and lotions. They all serve one purpose, though, which is to relieve pain and other types of discomfort.

People commonly apply CBD creams to the neck, shoulders, elbows, knees, feet, and other joints.

CBD topicals have potent anti-inflammatory effects on the body. They can also block the pain signals sent to the brain by the firing neurons. According to cannabis experts, deficiencies in our naturally produced cannabinoids (endocannabinoids) may give rise to a range of many medical conditions. Researchers believe that CBD helps the body restore its internal balance (homeostasis) through the signaling of the endocannabinoid system (ECS).

The ECS is a complex neurochemical network that helps maintain the aforementioned balance. The ECS is responsible for the way we remember things, process our emotions, learn new things, perceive pain and other sensations, and more. When you apply CBD cream to reduce pain, the CBD interacts with the cannabinoid receptors in your skin, producing a wide range of effects, including relief from inflammation and physical discomfort.

Benefits of CBD Cream for Pain

CBD can target pain from many different angles.

A 2018 study published in Frontiers in Pharmacology reviewed several studies from the past on the effects of cannabinoids on pain. In their review, the authors of the study mentioned the painkilling properties of CBD, focusing on the role of the CB receptors in pain transmission (1). They also added that cannabinoids inhibit the release of neuropeptides and neurotransmitters on the presynaptic site of the nerve end.

The reviewers underlined that there is “a moderate amount of evidence that cannabis and cannabinoids exhibit analgesic activity. The research on the benefits of using CBD creams for pain is limited due to complicated regulations around cannabis. Fortunately, the situation is changing dynamically in the favor of the legalization proponents. This, in turn, will open the door to extensive research on CBD and pain.

The authors of the study concluded that CBD helps alleviate neuropathic pain and fibromyalgia without health-threatening side effects.

Another study conducted one year earlier suggested that CBD can relieve pain and inflammation in rodents (2). The researchers investigated the osteoarthritis model of male Wistar rats. They found that the application of CBD cream reduced pain associated with osteoarthritis. They further reported that CBD could potentially become a safe and effective treatment for the condition.

Scientists have yet to verify whether the same effect can be achieved with humans, but animal studies regarding cannabinoids are highly relevant in relation to human models because all animals, except for insects, have the same endocannabinoid system that interacts with plant-derived cannabinoids.

CBD Cream for Arthritis Pain

Arthritis is one of the main causes of disability in the United States. Over 50 million Americans have this condition according to statistics.

Some studies suggest that CBD could help treat arthritis and alleviate the associated inflammatory pain:

  • In a 2011 study, CBD was shown to help reduce inflammatory pain in rats by changing the response of the pain receptors to stimuli (3).
  • A 2014 review of the existing studies on animals concluded that CBD may effectively treat osteoarthritis (OA) (4).
  • A 2016 study found that CBD creams had the potential to reduce pain and inflammation related to arthritis (5).
  • In a 2017 study, the authors found that CBD might be a safe and effective treatment for joint pain (6).

However, we still need more clinical trials to support the preclinical findings of CBD’s potential to relieve arthritis pain in humans.

A 2006 study examined the safety and efficacy of a cannabis-based oral solution called Sativex for arthritis (7). However, the oral spray used in the study includes equal ratios of CBD and THC. While the findings from this study have been encouraging, more research is needed to confirm that CBD oil alone could provide similar benefits.

CBD Cream for Back Pain

CBD engages with specialized receptors in a person’s brain and immune system.

The ECS consists of two sets of cannabinoid receptors. One of them, known as the CB2 receptor, modulates the functioning of the immune system, including inflammatory responses.

Researchers found that when CBD enters the bloodstream, it may interact with CB2 receptors, causing the body to produce natural cannabinoids that bind to them. This interaction results in mitigated pain signals, thus reducing experienced inflammation and pain.

In a 2008 review of research into CBD and its analgesic properties, the authors suggested that CBD could be used in chronic pain management (8).

Where to Buy CBD Cream for Pain Near Me

Having read about all those benefits of using CBD cream for pain, you must be wondering where you can find a decent CBD product near you.

There are two options: you can shop for CBD locally or look for a reputable supplier online.

While shopping for CBD near you may sound like a convenient option, there are limitations to it. First off, you rely solely on the store owner’s definition of “high quality.” Many local stores include CBD products in their selection only for the sake of reaping the benefits from a booming market. It takes time and effort to compare different products and companies locally.

Buying CBD oil online lets you compare hundreds of products without leaving your home, which is the first advantage.

The second perk of finding a reputable online vendor is the abundance of different CBD formats. Online companies sell CBD in oils, capsules, edibles, creams, vapes, and even pet products. Local stores usually have one or two types on the shelves.

Finally, online stores cut out the middleman, so they can offer better prices. You can take advantage of discounts, bulk pricing, reward programs, and coupon codes to save money on your favorite products.

How to Use CBD Cream for Pain

Woman applying cbd cream, top view

When you open the jar of your CBD cream for pain, use it directly on the skin and wait until it absorbs. CBD will pass through the skin, interacting with local cannabinoid receptors. CBD creams are more effective than THC-infused topicals because CBD has ten times higher permeability.

Most users report first signs of pain relief after around 10–15 minutes, but for some individuals, CBD creams may take more time to act, even up to 120 minutes, depending on a variety of factors.

It’s difficult to tell how much CBD exactly absorbs into the skin. With other formats such as oils, capsules, or vapes, it’s easier to measure the bioavailability of CBD. For example, the bioavailability of capsules is around 6%; the bioavailability of CBD oil has been measured at 35%, while for vaporizers, this number can be as high as 56%.

When we measure the bioavailability of CBD creams for pain, the figure is ZERO, as none of the CBD enters the bloodstream. However, this is not the point when using topical products, as they interact with the ECS through the skin.

Final Thoughts on the Best CBD Creams for Pain

CBD has many potential therapeutic applications. Researchers are fascinated by the remarkable anti-inflammatory and painkilling effects. Experts suggest that the best thing you can do to combat pain in a natural way is to combine CBD oil for general pain and CBD creams for localized discomfort.

When applied this way, CBD can interact with CB2 receptors and relieve inflammation as well as different types of pain. CBD has been shown to alleviate stiff joints, minor aches, and chronic pain — all without dangerous side effects.

If you’re looking for the best CBD cream for pain, we highly recommend Royal CBD warming cream because it combines a broad spectrum of cannabinoids with high concentrations of CBD and a cayenne pepper extract for a warming effect.

Do you use CBD creams for pain? Share your stories in the comment section!


  1. Vučković, Sonja et al. “Cannabinoids and Pain: New Insights From Old Molecules.” Frontiers in pharmacology vol. 9 1259. 13 Nov. 2018, doi:10.3389/fphar.2018.01259
  2. Philpott, Holly T et al. “Attenuation of early phase inflammation by cannabidiol prevents pain and nerve damage in rat osteoarthritis.” Pain vol. 158,12 (2017): 2442-2451. doi:10.1097/j.pain.0000000000001052
  3. Schuelert, Niklas, and Jason J McDougall. “The abnormal cannabidiol analogue O-1602 reduces nociception in a rat model of acute arthritis via the putative cannabinoid receptor GPR55.” Neuroscience letters vol. 500,1 (2011): 72-6. doi:10.1016/j.neulet.2011.06.004
  4. La Porta C, Bura SA, Negrete R, Maldonado R. Involvement of the endocannabinoid system in osteoarthritis pain. Eur J Neurosci. 2014 Feb;39(3):485-500. doi: 10.1111/ejn.12468. PMID: 24494687.
  5. Hammell, D C et al. “Transdermal cannabidiol reduces inflammation and pain-related behaviours in a rat model of arthritis.” European journal of pain (London, England) vol. 20,6 (2016): 936-48. doi:10.1002/ejp.818
  6. Philpott, Holly T et al. “Attenuation of early phase inflammation by cannabidiol prevents pain and nerve damage in rat osteoarthritis.” Pain vol. 158,12 (2017): 2442-2451. doi:10.1097/j.pain.0000000000001052
  7. Blake, D R et al. “Preliminary assessment of the efficacy, tolerability and safety of a cannabis-based medicine (Sativex) in the treatment of pain caused by rheumatoid arthritis.” Rheumatology (Oxford, England) vol. 45,1 (2006): 50-2. doi:10.1093/rheumatology/kei183
  8. Russo, Ethan B. “Cannabinoids in the management of difficult to treat pain.” Therapeutics and clinical risk management vol. 4,1 (2008): 245-59. doi:10.2147/tcrm.s1928

Nina created following the birth of her second child. She was a science and math teacher for 6 years prior to becoming a parent — teaching in schools in White Plains, New York and later in Paterson, New Jersey.

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