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Cbd oil topical cream for anxiety

Best CBD Creams Of 2022

Lenore Cangeloso is a board-certified acupuncturist and herbal medicine practitioner based in Oregon.

Commissions we earn from partner links on this page do not affect our opinions or evaluations. Our editorial content is based on thorough research and guidance from the Forbes Health Advisory Board.

When it comes to pain, cannabidiol ( CBD ), can potentially help provide some much-needed relief. Clinical studies note topical products containing CBD, such as creams, balms and gels, can help alleviate pain related to conditions like arthritis , nerve damage and muscle aches. If you’re interested in trying a CBD cream, we sifted through the market and rounded up our top picks below.

To choose the best CBD creams, the Forbes Health editorial team analyzed data on more than 50 CBD cream products made from plants grown in the U.S. All have a certificate of analysis (COA), are third-party tested by ISO 17025-compliant laboratories and contain no more than 0.3 percent THC. From price to potency to special effects, see which CBD cream products stand out as our top picks. Note: Prices listed are accurate as of the publication date.

  • Featured Partners
  • Best CBD Creams of 2022
  • Lazarus Naturals CBD Balm
  • Vermont Organic Science Organic CBD Balm
  • Redeem Therapeutics CBD Pain Cream
  • Medjoy Full-Spectrum Hemp Balm
  • RE Botanicals Menthol Muscle Rub with CBD
  • Plant People Soothe+ Body Balm
  • BATCH CBD Original CBD Balm
  • Appalachian Standard Menthol Salve Full Spectrum Hemp Oil
  • Carmen’s Medicinals Full Spectrum CBD Salve
  • Active Botanical Co. Therapeutic Formulation CBD Topical Salve
  • Methodology
  • What Is CBD Cream?
  • Using CBD in the U.S.
  • Using CBD Cream
  • Best CBD Creams Ratings
  • Best Diets
  • Noom Diet Review
  • GOLO Diet Review
  • Best OTC Allergy Medications
  • Best Fitness Apps

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Best CBD Creams of 2022

Lazarus Naturals CBD Balm

The Lazarus Naturals Relax + Unwind CBD Balm is a potent topical with plenty of CBD per application. The balm is geared toward relieving localized muscle pain and inflammation. The balm also passes third-party tests for the exclusion of pesticides, heavy metals and molds.

  • Cruelty-free certified by the Leaping Bunny Program
  • All natural ingredients
  • Two sizes available

Cost: A 2.1-ounce container of Lazarus Naturals CBD Balm containing 3,000 milligrams of CBD costs $42.

Vermont Organic Science Organic CBD Balm

Vermont Organic Science bills this CBD balm as a soothing treatment for sore muscles. The balm is infused with menthol for an additional cooling effect. The balm also includes the non-psychoactive compounds cannabigerol (CBG), which is known for its anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antioxidant properties, and cannabichromene (CBC), which can have anti‐inflammatory and antinociceptive (pain-blocking) effects.

  • All natural ingredients
  • Strong potency
  • Includes sweet almond, tangerine, frankincense and lavender essential oils

Cost: A 1-ounce container of Vermont Organic Science Organic CBD Balm containing 1,100 milligrams of CBD costs $35.

Redeem Therapeutics CBD Pain Cream

This affordable CBD cream targets inflammation, especially in joints and muscles, with its addition of menthol, capsicum and arnica extract. The cream also contains aloe, jojoba oil, tea tree oil and vitamin C to aid absorption and further support skin health. The product passes third-party tests for safe levels of pesticides, heavy metals and molds as well.

  • USDA-certified organic hemp
  • Hemp cultivated from a Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) certified farm
  • 100% THC free

Cost: A 3.4-ounce container of Redeem Therapeutics CBD Pain Cream containing 1,500 milligrams of CBD costs $59.99.

Medjoy Full-Spectrum Hemp Balm

Medjoy’s ultra-concentrated full-spectrum hemp balm is packed with all natural ingredients, including beeswax, coconut oil, soothing lavender and cooling menthol.. It’s ideal for use either before or after exercise, according to the company, and it can be applied as often as you like, based on your personal needs and preferences.

  • Cooling menthol aroma
  • Non-GMO
  • Passes third-party tests for safe levels of pesticides, heavy metals and molds

Cost: A 2-ounce container of Medjoy Full-Spectrum Hemp Balm containing 1,500 milligrams of CBD costs $119.95 .

RE Botanicals Menthol Muscle Rub with CBD

This Menthol Muscle Rub with CBD aims to provide relief from pain and inflammation with the added cooling effect of menthol. The travel-size product is meant to be rolled on for easier application. What’s more, it’s certified by the Detox Project to be free of glyphosate residue, a pesticide chemical that can be harmful in large amounts.

  • USDA-certified organic
  • 1% of RE Botanicals sales donated to support farmer education and regenerative agriculture
  • Passes third-party tests for safe levels of pesticides, heavy metals and molds

Cost: A 3-ounce container of RE Botanicals Menthol Muscle Rub with CBD containing 600 milligrams of CBD costs $34.99.

Plant People Soothe+ Body Balm

The Plant People Soothe+ Body Balm is meant for targeted pain, inflammation and stiffness relief on affected areas of your body. In addition to CBD, the balm contains CBG and CBC, as well as California poppy and arnica flower extract.

  • Made by a Certified B Corporation (a business that meets high standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency and legal accountability)
  • USDA-certified organic
  • Levels of pesticides, heavy metals and molds all pass third-party tests

Cost: A 2-ounce container of Plant People Soothe+ Body balm containing 515 milligrams of CBD costs $48.99 .

BATCH CBD Original CBD Balm

Along with CBD, this simple balm contains lavender and tea tree oils to help relieve irritation. It also comes in a twist-up container so you don’t have to get your hands messy while applying it to harder-to-reach areas.

  • Contains jojoba oil for better absorption
  • Non-GMO
  • Paraben-free

Cost: A 2.5-ounce container of BATCH CBD Original CBD Balm containing 1,250 milligrams of CBD costs $49.99.

Appalachian Standard Menthol Salve Full Spectrum Hemp Oil

This menthol salve is meant to relieve sore and tight muscles with several liberal applications daily. The menthol also provides cooling and moisturizing effects alongside the nourishing mango butter base.

  • All natural ingredients
  • Menthol and herbal scent
  • Includes hemp plant terpenes to enhance CBD effects

Cost: A 2-ounce container of Appalachian Standard Menthol Salve Full Spectrum Hemp Oil containing 500 milligrams of CBD costs $40.

Carmen’s Medicinals Full Spectrum CBD Salve

A mix of all-natural essential oils and terpenes, this CBD salve can provide relief for localized aches and pains while also moisturizing the skin. Carmen’s Medicinals recommends use of the salve on your joints, hands and back.

  • USDA-certified organic hemp
  • All natural ingredients
  • Passes tests for safe levels of pesticides, heavy metals and molds

Cost: A 1.7-ounce container of Carmen’s Medicinals Full Spectrum CBD Salve containing 1,000 milligrams of CBD costs $44.95.

Active Botanical Co. Therapeutic Formulation CBD Topical Salve

At the highest price point and with one of the highest potencies on this list, Active Botanical Co.’s Therapeutic Formulation CBD Topical Salve is 99.9% pure CBD isolatecombined with the company’s proprietary terpene profiles to help your body get the most relief from the plant compounds. By using CBD isolate, the salve dilutes the earthy scent often associated with hemp.

  • Strong potency for additional relaxation effects
  • Passes tests for safe levels of pesticides, heavy metals and molds
  • 18-month shelf life

Cost: A 1.35-ounce container of Active Botanical Co. Therapeutic Formulation CBD Topical Salve containing 5,000 milligrams of CBD costs $179.99.

Methodology

To choose the best CBD creams of 2022, the Forbes Health editorial team analyzed data on more than 50 CBD creams products that are:

  • Made from plants grown in the U.S.
  • Have a certificate of analysis (COA)
  • Are third-party tested by ISO 17025-compliant laboratories
  • Are made with all natural ingredients

We then ranked CBD creams based on price, potency and the inclusion of ingredients that provide additional soothing properties.

We considered a standard application size to be .05 ounce of CBD cream but provided full product pricing in addition to a per-application breakdown to help you determine the best daily value, as well as what works for your budget as a whole.

What Is CBD Cream?

CBD cream, which often includes balms and salves, is a topical application of cannabidiol. This cream offers more localized effects rather than systemic ones that edibles or inhalation can provide.

“When CBD is used topically, it does not reach the bloodstream,” says Robert Milanes M.D., founder of Holistic On Call and a doctor with Heally, an alternative medicine telehealth platform.

This application method makes CBD cream a good choice for people who are new to CBD and less comfortable ingesting it, but still want to benefit from CBD’s potential pain relief abilities.

“Because it’s localized, it’s not the best method of delivery for trying to help yourself sleep or for anxiety,” says Steven Phan, founder of Come Back Daily, a CBD dispensary in New York.

How Does CBD Cream Work?

Compared to ingesting CBD, which can take anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours to take effect, applying CBD topically allows you to feel the localized effects pretty quickly, according to Laura Fuentes, a licensed compound pharmacist and co-founder of Green Roads, a major CBD brand.

This quick uptake, paired with CBD’s inherent benefits, makes CBD cream a great option for pain, inflammation, soreness and tightness relief in specific parts of your body, she says.

One 2018 study with over 300 participants with knee pain from osteoarthritis found a transdermal synthetic CBD gel significantly improved patients’ worst pain score and physical function averages [1] Hunter D, Oldfield G, Tich N, Messenheimer J, Sebree T. Synthetic transdermal cannabidiol for the treatment of knee pain due to osteoarthritis . Osteoarthritis and Cartilage. 2018;26:S26. . These patients were treated with 350 milligrams of CBD gel per day for 12 weeks.

Additional research shows topical application of CBD to have significantly reduced pain in some patients with peripheral neuropathy—a set of conditions damaging the peripheral nervous system—and myofascial pain (localized muscle and tissue pain) in respective studies [2] Xu DH, Cullen BD, Tang M, Fang Y. The Effectiveness of Topical Cannabidiol Oil in Symptomatic Relief of Peripheral Neuropathy of the Lower Extremities. Curr Pharm Biotechnol. 2020;21(5):390-402. [3] Nitecka-Buchta A, Nowak-Wachol A, Wachol K, et al. Myorelaxant Effect of Transdermal Cannabidiol Application in Patients with TMD: A Randomized, Double-Blind Trial . J Clin Med. 2019;8(11):1886. .

Using CBD in the U.S.

CBD creams are a popular way to use CBD in the U.S., according to a recent Forbes Health survey of 2,000 U.S. adults conducted by OnePoll. In fact, 53% of respondents who reported having tried CBD used it in lotion form, and 42% used it in a serum or other topical form.

CBD use in general is increasingly common—60% of U.S. adults have tried a CBD product before. Better yet, 60% believe it has medicinal benefits. The same survey reports that the majority of people use CBD in a variety of forms to help relieve pain.

Using CBD Cream

To apply a CBD cream, you rub it into the affected area, such as an achy knee or sore neck. “The cream is absorbed into the skin and then binds to the numerous cannabinoid receptors located in the different layers of the skin,” says Fuentes.

Each topical CBD product may have unique directions, however. Some may instruct you to use a small amount while others encourage using a liberal amount.

Balms and salves have a thicker consistency and often need to be warmed in your hands before applying them to the target area. And some products don’t require getting your hands dirty at all, thanks to roll-on and stick applicators.

Potential Side Effects of CBD Topicals

CBD itself is safe and well tolerated, and it has no risks of abuse or dependence, according to the World Health Organization.

“Additionally, using CBD topically reduces the likelihood of experiencing side effects typically associated with CBD use, such as drowsiness, fatigue and diarrhea,” says Dr. Milanes.

Milanes and Fuentes warn that while CBD itself might be safe, there is a chance you might be allergic or sensitive to another ingredient in a CBD topical, which could cause adverse effects. To avoid unpleasant reactions, they suggest reading ingredient lists carefully.

Phan also recommends talking to your doctor before using CBD if you’re on any medications— especially blood pressure medications because CBD can also lower blood pressure.

I Took CBD Oil Every Day for My Anxiety—Here’s What Went Down

Dana Myers, LCSW is a licensed clinical social worker and life coach based in Philadelphia. She has a special interest in how race, sex, gender, ethnicity, social status and competencies impact those in marginalized communities and aims to help her clients find purpose and peace in life.

Michelle Regalado is a seasoned editor, fact-checker, and content strategist with expertise in women’s lifestyle news.

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When I first learned about CBD oil, I’ll admit I was a bit skeptical. My mind immediately turned to weed and the unnerving experiences I’d had with heightened anxiety in college. For me, a person who’s already predisposed to overthinking, marijuana, no matter what the form, would typically put my mind into overdrive and result in a common yet dreaded side effect: Paranoia. But, let’s back up a bit. What even is CBD?

What is CBD?

A bit of online digging led me to realize that the active ingredient in Charlotte’s Web Everyday Plus Hemp Oil, the product I’d been offered to test, was the chemical compound CBD, which stands for cannabidiol. Unlike THC, the other crucial compound in hemp and marijuana plants, CBD (when derived from the hemp plant) does not produce the psychoactive effects that make you feel “high”; instead, emerging science has hinted that CBD may actually ease anxiety, and therefore, makes you less likely to freak out.  

For example, one study comparing the effects of THC and CBD found that, while THC increased anxiety by activating the neurotransmitters involved in the “fight or flight” response, CBD actually repressed autonomic arousal—or the nervous system response associated with sudden increases in heart rate or respiration.   In other words, CBD may be ideal for people looking to relax and unwind.

While the science behind CBD’s effectiveness for treating anxiety, pain, and insomnia is still in its infancy,   Charlotte Figi’s inspiring story sounds promising. Figi, a 6-year-old girl diagnosed with a rare and resistant form of epilepsy known as Dravet syndrome, was placed on hospice care and given a “do not resuscitate” order when her parents, desperate and frustrated with pharmaceutical medication, considered medical marijuana; specifically, a strain low in THC and high in CBD. Charlotte is now nearly seizure-free since she began supplementing with Charlotte Web’s CBD oil, which the brand named after Figi.

Legal and Safety Things To Know About CBD

The current CBD industry is like the internet’s early years. the Wild West. Legally, speaking, a Harvard Medical School blog post reads, “All 50 states have laws legalizing CBD with varying degrees of restriction, and while the federal government still considers CBD in the same class as marijuana, it doesn’t habitually enforce against it.”   With heightened interest around CBD, it’s important to note that because CBD is currently unregulated, it’s difficult to know what you’re getting (whether that’s a tincture—commonly referred to as CBD oil, which is often combined with a carrier oil like coconut oil—topical products like creams and balms, sprays, or capsules), despite product labels and brand promises, the blog post further reads. It’s also important to note that people experience CBD differently. For the most part, the National Institute of Medicine says that while most people can tolerate CBD, side effects do exist. They might include dry mouth, drowsiness, and reduced appetite, among others.  

That said, those interested in exploring the potential benefits of CBD should consult with their doctor (especially if you are pregnant, nursing, or currently taking medication) and be mindful of your dosage, writes Consumer Reports. And before you buy, Megan Villa, co-founder of the hemp-focused website and shop Svn Space, told Shape magazine to seek out a certificate of analysis. “Ask for a COA for the batch number of the product you have, since these products are made in batches,” she said. “You need to match the batch number to the COA that pertains to it.” Then, scan the report for potency (i.e. does the number of milligrams of CBD that the product label touts match the lab report?), contaminants and pesticides, and mold (which should live under the “Microbiological Testing” part of the report). Go a step further and note whether the testing lab is GMP (Good Manufacturing Principles) certified, and whether the lab is registered with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Shape magazine also suggests purchasing CBD products made from domestically-grown hemp, and reading up on the difference between full- and broad-spectrum and CBD isolate.

With that, I threw caution to the wind and asked for a sample. Here’s what happened—including what it feels like—when I took one full dropper of Charlotte’s Web’s Everyday Plus Hemp Oil in the mint chocolate flavor every morning for seven days.

My First Impression

It was actually a bad bout of jet lag after a trip to California that inspired me to finally test out the CBD oil (I’ll admit that my weed-based reservations kept me from trying it for the first few months). Knowing that the oil had also helped people with sleep issues, I squeezed one full dropper of the Everyday Plus oil onto my tongue, per the instructions, and waited.

Thirty minutes later, I was surprised by how subtle the effect was. While I expected a hazy nodding-off effect similar to melatonin’s, the oil simply relaxed my body ever so slightly—my heart stopped pounding against my chest, my legs stopped kicking beneath my sheets, my mind stopped racing. I wasn’t sure if it was the oil or the late hour, but eventually, physical relaxation gave way to mental relaxation, and I drifted off to sleep.

Reflecting the next morning, I was most surprised by the fact that I never felt “high” in any way—there was never a moment of It’s kicking in; I can feel it now like with pain medications or even anti-anxiety drugs. Considering it takes time, consistency, and the right dosage to experience the full effect, I continued taking the oil once a day for the next six days. Here’s what went down.

It Made Me Less Anxious and Edgy

Rather than overthinking a sternly worded email or analyzing a social interaction, I found it easier to recognize the irrationality of these thoughts and actually let them go.

While normally I’d be slightly tripped up by little things like an overly crowded subway car or a full inbox at work, the CBD oil seems to have taken the edge off of my anxiety a bit. Rather than overthinking a sternly worded email or analyzing a social interaction, I found it easier to recognize the irrationality of these thoughts and actually let them go. In some ways, I feel more like myself. With that said, I’ve still experienced some social anxiety when meeting new groups of people—I’d be interested to see what taking the full recommended dose would do.

I’m More Focused At Work

I work well under pressure, but being extremely busy at work has almost made me less productive—I’m constantly distracted by email, Slack, and the people around me, to the point where getting my work done becomes difficult. This week, however, I’ve found it easier to put my blinders on, block out all distractions (especially social distractions), and focus on one task at a time. I think this is partly related to the lessened anxiety—I feel more frazzled and off task when my anxiety is running high. It almost feels like a newfound sense of clarity and calm that enables me to focus.

I’m Falling Asleep Faster

I assume this is also a side effect of feeling less anxious, but I seem to fall asleep faster; within the 20-30-minute range rather than my normal 45 minutes to one hour (or longer). Not only do I seem to be skipping or at least shortening the whole tossing-and-turning phase of my sleep cycle, but I’m able to snap out of the overthinking that often keeps me up at night. Of course, there’s no telling whether a big life event would disrupt this newfound bliss, but I’d like to think it’s helped on a day-to-day basis.

My Experience With CBD

Would I say that CBD oil has fundamentally changed my life? No. But per the Charlotte’s Web website, this is the typical first experience. “Anyone who has ever started a new vitamin or supplement routine knows the short answer to how long it takes to kick in is—’it depends.’ For many newcomers, they’re not sure what to imagine, or some anticipate a huge change right away. For most of us, though, dietary supplements take time.”

With that said, I’m definitely intrigued enough by the subtle effects to continue taking the oil and to possibly up the dosage to the recommended two full droppers of the 30mL bottle per day. Plus, I take comfort in knowing that it’s an all-natural product that’s responsibly grown on family farms in Colorado. Something that’s safe, legal, requires no prescription, and makes me less anxious, less scatterbrained, and more focused? I’m definitely on board.

Explore the World of CBD

Looking to learn more about CBD? These are some of my favorite products to help get you started.

For those new to CBD, Charlotte’s Web recommends this hemp oil. Containing 17mg of CBD per 1mL serving, this CBD oil is also U.S. Hemp Authority Certified. Choose from four different flavors including Lemon Twist, Mint Chocolate, Orange Blossom, and Olive Oil.

Go deep on the subject of CBD with this book that includes case studies, interviews with doctors, an overview of the latest cannabis research, and how scientists are exploring cannabis for various medical uses. There is also an explainer about the difference between CBD products made from industrial hemp versus in a lab, and products made from the whole marijuana plant.

Charlotte’s Web inaugural CBD oil product comes in two flavors; Olive Oil and Mint Chocolate. It’s also its most potent. According to its website, its Original Formula Hemp Extract Oil comes with 50mg CBD per mL.

Gretchen Lidicker puts a lifestyle spin on the world of CBD as the author draws on the “knowledge of leaders in the health and wellness world” to explain why CBD has become a top beauty and wellness trend for top athletes and celebrities. The book also includes recipes and recommendations for how to choose a top-quality CBD product.

This travel-friendly roll-on is packed with CBD and fragrant essential oils, including lavender, bergamot, and chamomile, for an easy de-stress quick fix. The result? “That elusive feeling of wakeful calm,” reads the Sagely Naturals website.

With this book, CBD is explained from A to Z and breaks down the good, bad, and ugly of a fledgling industry that is poised for rapid growth. CBD: 101 Things You Need to Know About CBD Oil covers what it is, why people take it, who it’s for (and who it isn’t for), its myriad forms, and more.

Lord Jones’ High CBD Formula Body Oil combines CBD with organic avocado, jojoba and safflower oils for smooth, hydrated skin. Each bottle has 100mg of CBD.

Charlotte’s Web’s Extra Strength Capsules feature 25 mg of CBD per capsule. The website offers capsules as a convenient and precise way to take CBD—on the go, stash them in your gym bag, pocket, etc.

Byrdie takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.

Blessing EM, Steenkamp MM, Manzanares J, Marmar CR. Cannabidiol as a potential treatment for anxiety disorders. Neurotherapeutics. 2015;12(4):825-836. doi:10.1007/s13311-015-0387-1

Shannon S, Lewis N, Lee H, Hughes S. Cannabidiol in anxiety and sleep: A large case series. Perm J. 2019;23:18-041. doi:10.7812/TPP/18-041