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Cannabidiol, more commonly known as CBD, is a substance that comes from cannabis. This notorious plant is teeming with cannabinoids. But CBD is one of the more buzzed-about, thanks to its potential health benefits, like improved sleep and decreased pain and anxiety.

CBD’s growing hype has sparked an overflowing market of CBD products: everything from lotions and salves to gummies and bath bombs.

Despite the seemingly endless selection of trendy CBD products, many are simply looking for a reliable, no-frills CBD option for back pain. A high quality oil may be able to help.

While there isn’t necessarily research on CBD for back pain specifically, there are several promising studies on CBD for general pain.

A 2018 review evaluated CBD’s effectiveness in easing chronic pain. The review examined studies performed between 1975 and March 2018 that looked at several forms of pain, including:

Researchers not only found that CBD was useful in overall pain management, but they also reported that it didn’t cause negative side effects.

A 2019 study saw a link between CBD use and decreased chronic pain. In fact, 94 percent of participants saw improvements in their quality of life.

Finally, a smaller 2020 trial on topical CBD suggested that CBD may be helpful in lessening severe pain, sharp pain, and even cold, itchy feelings.

Ingested CBD oil effects may differ from topical effects.

Topical products, like CBD creams, allow you to apply the product directly to the desired area, but they can be a bit messy to apply and travel with.

While topicals are great for quick, concentrated relief to a specific area, oils taken under your tongue have a systemic effect. They take longer to kick in, but may be more effective at managing pain compared to a topical.

If you’re still more interested in topical CBD for back pain, you may consider CBD patches, which are relatively less messy than many other topical options. They also work well on the go.

It’s important to know there’s nothing about one particular CBD oil that makes it more helpful for back pain specifically.

Rather, any high quality CBD oil may have the potential to help alleviate pain.

That said, we chose these products based on criteria we think are good indicators of safety, quality, and transparency. Each product in this article:

  • is made by a company that provides proof of third-party testing by an ISO 17025-compliant lab
  • is made with hemp grown in the United States
  • contains no more than 0.3 percent THC, according to the certificate of analysis (COA)
  • passes tests for pesticides, heavy metals, and molds, according to the COA

We also considered:

  • company certifications and manufacturing processes
  • product potency
  • overall ingredients
  • indicators of user trust and brand reputation, such as:

Pricing guide

  • $ = under $40
  • $$ = $40–$80
  • $$$ = over $80

Lord Jones Royal Oil

  • CBD type: Broad-spectrum
  • CBD potency: 1000 mg per 30-mL bottle
  • COA: Available online

Price: $$$

Lord Jones Royal Oil is made with broad-spectrum, hemp-derived CBD and pure grapeseed oil. It’s unique in that you can use it both topically and orally. If you only want to alleviate pain, you may want to take it orally.

However, if you want added benefits for your skin, you can try it topically. The oil is said to calm and hydrate the skin. If you go this route, you can apply it directly to your desired area or mix it into your favorite moisturizer.

Reviewers are happy overall. Many say they apply it topically after a bath as a nighttime ritual. Others say it’s too pricey, while some note that it’s too oily to apply to their skin.

This oil is vegan and free of sugar, gluten, alcohol, coloring, flavoring, and additives. Since there aren’t added fragrances, it has an earthy aroma famous to the cannabis plant.

Lord Jones offers a 20 percent discount to teachers, medical personnel, and U.S. active-duty military personnel, reservists, and veterans on all products from their website.

They also offer free shipping on all products.

Charlotte’s Web CBD Oil

  • CBD type: Full-spectrum
  • CBD potency: 510 mg per 30-mL bottle
  • COA: Available online

Price: $$–$$$

This oil is the Charlotte’s Web pick for an everyday CBD oil, best for people who haven’t tried CBD yet.

It’s a full-spectrum oil, so it contains a slew of useful compounds, including phytocannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and essential fatty acids.

This oil is available in a range of flavors: mint chocolate, lemon twist, orange blossom, and olive oil. Reviewers are impressed with the quality and seem to love the different flavors.

Charlotte’s Web hemp is grown in Colorado. The company is also transparent about their practices, offering customers an outline of their planting and quality control processes.

Use code “HEALTH15” for 15% off.

Zion Medicinals Spagyric Hemp Oil

  • CBD type: Full-spectrum
  • CBD potency: 250, 500, 750, or 1,500 mg per 30-mL bottle
  • COA: Available online

Price: $$–$$$

Reviews for this oil from Zion Medicinals seem to only be found on the company’s website, but they reflect both satisfied and neutral feedback.

Some reviewers swear by the product, while others say they don’t notice an effect. For these customers, the company usually suggests increasing potency.

To make this product, Zion Medicinals uses an ​ethanol extraction method, which the company says pulls out more cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and oils than CO2 extraction.

Social CBD Drops, Cinnamon Leaf

  • CBD type: Broad-spectrum
  • CBD potency: 375, 750, or 1,500 mg per 30-mL bottle
  • COA: Available online

Price: $–$$$

This cinnamon-flavored oil can be placed under your tongue or splashed into your coffee for a shot of sweet and spicy flavor. It’s vegan, cruelty-free, and free of soy, sugar, gluten, and dairy.

Reviewers are satisfied with the flavoring and say they’re happy it’s not overwhelming.

While Social CBD isn’t certified organic, they say their farms apply natural growing practices.

The company extends a 20 percent discount to veterans and first responders.

Discounts are also available through product subscriptions.

Papa & Barkley Releaf Drops

  • CBD type: Full-spectrum
  • CBD potency: 450 mg per 15-mL bottle or 900 mg per 30-mL bottle
  • COA: Available on product page

Price: $–$$

Papa & Barkley, a California-based company, grows their hemp on farms in California, Oregon, and Vermont. They’re a pretty transparent company that offers a thorough account of their process.

This CBD product has only two ingredients: medium chain triglyceride (MCT) oil and hemp-derived CBD.

MCT oil (fractionated coconut oil) is a known carrier oil that’s metabolized rapidly, making it a good choice for faster absorption.

Many reviewers point out the oil’s natural and earthy flavors. Even those who mention the rough taste still seem to enjoy the product.

It’s also available in a lemongrass ginger flavor that may help ease the intensity.

Lazarus Naturals RSO CBD Oil

  • CBD type: Full-spectrum
  • CBD potency: 1,000 or 5,000 mg per syringe
  • COA: Available on product page

Price: $–$$$

RSO is short for Rick Simpson Oil — the medical cannabis activist who initially created it.

While RSO usually has high THC levels, this product has full-spectrum hemp that has just 2.2 mg of THC per 1 mL.

This oil is considered a high potency CBD oil, at 100 mg of CBD per 1 mL.

According to Lazarus Naturals, you can take this oil under the tongue, or you can use it to make your own edibles.

Lazarus Naturals is based in Portland with the bulk of their hemp coming from a company-owned farm in Oregon.

The company offers 60 percent off to veterans, those on long-term disability, and those from low-income households.

Kanibi Isolate CBD Oil Tincture

  • CBD type: Isolate
  • CBD potency: 750 or 1,500 mg per 30-mL bottle
  • COA: Available on product page

Price: $$–$$$

This oil boasts just two ingredients: MCT oil and natural flavors. This means it’s free of artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives.

The company website only has a handful of reviews for this oil right now, but they are all positive.

This pick is available in three flavors: unflavored, cinnamon, and Skittles.

Harmonious CBD Hemp CBD Oil Pure Isolate

  • CBD type: Isolate
  • CBD potency: 2,000 mg per 30-mL bottle
  • COA: Available on product page

Price: $$$

This high-potency oil uses just two ingredients: CBD isolate and organic coconut oil. It’s also vegan, gluten-free, sugar-free, and non-GMO.

It may be a good option if you’re looking for a THC-free oil that doesn’t include any extra ingredients or flavorings.

However, keep in mind that any CBD product, isolates included, may contain trace amounts of THC.

Harmonious CBD recommends taking two to three drops of this oil twice daily. Each drop gives you about 3.38 mg of CBD.

This Nevada-based company uses hemp from organic farms in Colorado.

Zatural Broad Spectrum CBD Oil Drops

  • CBD type: Broad-spectrum
  • CBD potency: 300, 600, or 1,200 mg per 30-mL bottle
  • COA: Available on product page

Price: $–$$$

This broad-spectrum CBD oil is made with only two ingredients: CBD oil and hempseed oil.

It’s available in a natural flavor, or a slew of others, like natural sweet, coffee, lemon-lime, cinnamon, spearmint, or peppermint. The flavors come from stevia and essential oils.

This product has hundreds of reviews on the company website, with many happy customers saying this oil helps them manage their pain.

Zatural offers military and senior discounts. Use code “healthline20” for 20% off. One use per customer.

Before reaching into your wallet, keep in mind that not all CBD is created equal.

It’s always best to look for a product that comes with an up-to-date, comprehensive COA from a reputable third-party lab.

Here’s what to check the COA for:

  • Consistency. Check out the potency of CBD and THC. Does the information match what’s on the product page and label? While a little variation is typical, if what you’re seeing is off by more than 10 to 20 percent, it may be best to move onto another brand.
  • Currency. Is the COA up to date, preferably within the last year?
  • Contaminants. Has the CBD item undergone testing for molds, heavy metals, and pesticides?

It’s also a good idea to only shop from companies with a positive brand reputation. A reliable and trustworthy brand is transparent about where they grow their hemp and how their products are made.

A quick online search can usually show you if the brand has been involved in any lawsuits and if it’s received a warning letter from the FDA.

Online reviews can also be a good indicator of quality and customer service. However, keep in mind that reviews on the company’s website may be filtered to display only happy customers, so dig around on third-party sites too if you can.

If you’re taking CBD under your tongue, here’s what to do:

  • Shake it. Give the bottle a good shake before using it. That way, you’ll get the best consistency.
  • Place it. Using the dropper (most oils come with one), place the proper dose under your tongue. Try to keep the dropper from touching your mouth. This will help keep bacterial contamination at bay and maintain the oil’s quality.
  • Hold it. For the strongest absorption, keep the oil under your tongue anywhere from 30 seconds to a few minutes before ingesting.

If you don’t like the taste of CBD oil under your tongue, consider mixing it into food or drinks, although this may affect absorption rates.

Keep your CBD oils stored safely (cap closed tightly) in a dry, cool place out of direct heat and sunlight.

It’s always a good idea to start out with a small dose and increase it over time until you find what works best for you.

If you’re not sure where to start, check the label or talk with a healthcare professional or knowledgeable cannabis clinician.

Suitable serving sizes for CBD vary widely depending on individual factors, like:

  • body weight
  • body chemistry
  • intended use
  • metabolism

Generally, doses can be taken at any time of day, at least 4 to 6 hours apart.

Effects typically happen within 30 to 90 minutes, but long-term results may take a number of weeks to accomplish.

While CBD is generally considered to be safe, some people may experience side effects, including:

  • fatigue
  • diarrhea
  • changes in appetite
  • changes in weight

It’s a good idea to talk with your doctor before trying CBD, especially if you’re taking any medications. CBD may interact with some medications.

Use caution when consuming CBD products by mouth alongside high-fat meals. High-fat meals can dramatically increase CBD blood concentrations, which can increase the risk of side effects.

CBD products, like oils, are celebrated for a slew of therapeutic benefits, including helping to manage conditions, like back pain.

CBD oils are generally administered by using the dropper to place the dose under your tongue, or by mixing it into your food or drink.

Remember to pay attention to the labeling, dosing, and quality of the brands you shop from. Always talk with your doctor before trying CBD.

Is CBD Legal? Hemp-derived CBD products (with less than 0.3 percent THC) are legal on the federal level, but are still illegal under some state laws. Marijuana-derived CBD products are illegal on the federal level, but are legal under some state laws. Check your state’s laws and those of anywhere you travel. Keep in mind that nonprescription CBD products are not FDA-approved, and may be inaccurately labeled.

Breanna Mona is a writer based in Cleveland, OH. She holds a master’s degree in media and journalism and writes about health, lifestyle, and entertainment.