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Cannabis plants contain a bunch of naturally occurring chemicals called cannabinoids. Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of those chemicals — and it’s cropping up everywhere in the wellness world lately.

But CBD is different from tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). That’s because it’s much less likely to produce the “high” feeling often associated with cannabis.

Using CBD products, like CBD oil, can help some people manage chronic joint pain. It may be a viable alternative to other substances used to manage pain, like opioids or immunosuppressants.

That being said, it’s important to talk with your doctor before replacing any medication with CBD. Keep in mind that more research is necessary before we can definitively say that CBD helps joint pain.

Additionally, know that while CBD products are widely available for purchase, they aren’t regulated in the same way as other medications. Epidiolex, a prescription medication for epilepsy, is the only CBD product approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Other CBD products you see for sale are not FDA approved.

Below, we explore the potential benefits of CBD oil for joint pain.

Everyone has a cell-signaling system called the endocannabinoid system (ECS). Some researchers believe that CBD affects the ECS receptors in your body — and, in particular, the immune system.

When ECS receptors receive chemical signals, they enable your cells to respond to the stimuli, producing an anti-inflammatory effect that reduces swelling and pain. This process means that CBD products, like CBD oil, may help you deal with acute or chronic joint pain.

That said, studies on CBD for joint pain have primarily been done on animals.

A 2016 study found that a daily dose of 6.2 mg of CBD gel helped decrease joint pain and inflammation in rats with arthritis. Larger amounts, up to 62.3 mg per day, produced the same results but didn’t further reduce pain or produce more side effects.

While there are anecdotal reports from people who claim that CBD helps to treat joint pain, like rheumatoid arthritis, more human studies are needed to understand the benefits of CBD for joint pain.

We used standards for safety, quality, and transparency to make our selections. Each product selected:

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

We also consider the following when making our product picks:

  • company certifications and manufacturing processes
  • CBD potency
  • ingredients
  • indicators of user trust and brand reputation, like:
    • customer reviews
    • whether the company has been subject to an FDA warning letter
    • whether the company makes any unsupported health claims

Keep in mind that any CBD oil may help relieve joint pain. But some oils have additional ingredients, like camphor or essential oils, to help reduce pain or produce a sense of calm.

Pricing guide

  • $ = under $40
  • $$ = $40–$70
  • $$$ = over $70

Best overall CBD oil for joint pain

Charlotte’s Web CBD Oil

  • Price: $$$
  • CBD type: full-spectrum
  • CBD potency: 1,800 mg per 30-mL bottle
  • COA: available online

This ultra-potent CBD oil is made with organic help certified by the U.S. Hemp Authority.

The full-spectrum oil contains a host of terpenes, flavonoids, and phytocannabinoids. The oil is available in three flavors: orange blossom, mint chocolate, and lemon twist.

It’s pricier than other CBD oils, but that’s because it’s so concentrated. Charlotte’s Web offers a veterans discount and a discount for subscriptions.

Best broad-spectrum CBD oil for joint pain

FOCL Premium CBD Drops

  • Price: $$
  • CBD type: broad-spectrum
  • CBD potency: 1,000 mg per 30-mL bottle
  • COA: available on product page

The orange cream flavor of this CBD oil is reminiscent of a Creamsicle. It also comes in several other flavors, plus an unflavored version if that’s more your style.

The no-frills product is made with organic medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil and broad-spectrum CBD, plus organic flavorings.

Vegan and verified non-GMO, it’s available in a high or low-dose format. You can score a discount if you subscribe to receive regular shipments.

FOCL makes their CBD products with hemp grown in United States facilities that are compliant with good manufacturing processes (GMP).

Best multipurpose CBD oil

Lord Jones Royal Oil

You can take this multipurpose oil by mouth or apply it directly to your skin. The carrier oil, grapeseed oil, gives the product a neutral taste and delivers a dose of moisture if applied topically. Since grapeseed oil and CBD are the only ingredients, this is a good choice if you’re looking for a basic product.

Each dropperful contains about 20 mg of CBD that you can rub onto sore spots or place under your tongue for full-body effects.

Lord Jones offers a subscription plan that lets you save 15% off on all your purchases.

Best full-spectrum CBD oil for joint pain

CBDistillery Relief + Relax CBD Oil

  • Price: $$
  • CBD type: full-spectrum
  • CBD potency: 500 mg per 30-mL bottle
  • COA: available on product page

This potent CBD oil from CBDistillery is one of the company’s most popular products.

The no-frills oil only contains MCT oil and full-spectrum CBD. Each 1-mL drop is estimated to contain about 17 mg of CBD.

CBDistillery is certified by the U.S. Hemp Authority, and they offer a discount to veterans, military members, firefighters, police officers, and emergency medical technicians.

Best CBD isolate oil for joint pain

LiftMode Hemp Hemp Extract Oil, Purified Mint

  • Price: $
  • CBD type: isolate
  • CBD potency: 1,500 mg per 30-mL bottle
  • COA: available online

If you prefer to steer clear of THC, this THC-free isolate oil may be right for you. It has a minty flavor and a handy dropper that makes it easy to dose accurately.

Each bottle contains 1,500 mg of CBD — good for experienced CBD users looking to increase their dosage. A full dropper contains roughly 50 mg of CBD.

In addition to sourcing all its ingredients from the United States, LiftMode Hemp products are vegan and GMO-free.

Here’s what you to look out for when shopping for CBD oil for joint pain.

CBD type

Not all types of CBD produce the same effects.

Some research suggests that CBD and THC together produce the “entourage effect.” This means that, when the two cannabinoids are used together, they may be more effective than using either THC or CBD alone.

In other words, CBD products that are full-spectrum may be more effective for joint pain than CBD isolate, which only contains CBD.

Third-party testing

CBD products aren’t regulated by the FDA in the same way as pharmaceutical drugs. The FDA can issue warning letters to companies making wild health claims, but despite this, companies can still mislabel and misrepresent their products.

You’ll have to do your own research to make sure a company is selling quality products. Check that the products come with an up-to-date, comprehensive COA from a reputable third-party lab.

Ingredients

Companies should be transparent about where they grow or source their hemp. If a company doesn’t provide information about how and where they make their products, that’s a red flag.

If you’re specifically looking for CBD oil to help with joint pain, any quality CBD product may help.

But for topical products, ingredients like arnica and essential oils, may provide additional pain relief. Warming or cooling ingredients, like menthol, may provide an added sensation that may help dull pain.

Always read the label on your CBD oil before using the product. Some oils are meant to be applied topically, while others are meant to be ingested. Some oils can be taken either way.

To use topical CBD oil, you can generally rub it directly on the painful joint. But it’s important to do a patch test first to make sure there are no adverse reactions with your skin. Also, be sure not to put the oil on broken skin.

To take an ingestible oil, place it under your tongue and hold it there for up to a minute before swallowing. Alternatively, add the oil to your food or drinks.

Dosage

Most CBD products, whether topical or ingestible, have recommended dose information on the bottle or packaging.

Dosage is pretty personal, though. An amount that works for someone else might be too much (or too little) for you. When in doubt, start with the smallest dose and work your way up.

If you don’t notice any effects right away, don’t immediately take more. It can take time to feel the effects of CBD.

Both human and animal studies suggest that CBD doesn’t produce ill effects in most people. Topical CBD products are even less likely to cause adverse reactions because they don’t typically enter the bloodstream.

While CBD is considered safe by the World Health Organization, it’s not unusual to experience some side effects, including:

  • appetite changes
  • diarrhea
  • weight changes
  • fatigue

Topical CBD products may also cause allergic reactions in some people.

Talk with your doctor before using CBD products if you take any of the following:

  • prescription medication
  • supplements
  • over-the-counter medication

CBD may interact with medications or supplements that have a grapefruit warning.

Can CBD help arthritis?

Maybe. Animal research suggests that CBD may help reduce inflammation and pain due to arthritis, but human trials are needed to better understand the role of CBD in treating joint pain. Anecdotally, though, some people swear by CBD for chronic pain.

What type of CBD is best for joint pain?

Ultimately, it comes down to your preference. Some people just don’t love swallowing earthy-tasting CBD. If that’s you, you might want to try a flavored oil or a topical product.

Keep in mind that if you have joint pain in a specific area, applying a topical product right where it hurts may deliver better results. But people with chronic, full-body pain may find they get more relief from ingesting CBD.

Is CBD oil or cream better for joint pain?

They deliver the same results. Which one you choose depends on the consistency you prefer. Keep in mind, though, that you can’t eat CBD cream. Many CBD oils can be ingested and applied topically.

Is CBD oil safe for older adults?

More research is needed to definitively answer this question. But it’s also true that CBD is unlikely to cause serious side effects. Regardless of your age, be sure to talk with your doctor before trying out CBD.

There’s no guarantee that CBD oil will get rid of your joint pain. But there’s minimal risk in trying out CBD products, so long as you choose a high-quality product and talk with your doctor before you take it.

More research is needed to confirm the link between CBD and pain relief, but what we know so far is promising. CBD may help relieve joint pain without serious side effects and habit-forming risks.

Before you try CBD for joint pain, talk with your doctor. They can let you know about potential drug interactions and help you determine the right dosage for you.

Is CBD legal?The 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp from the legal definition of marijuana in the Controlled Substances Act. This made some hemp-derived CBD products with less than 0.3 percent THC federally legal. However, CBD products containing more than 0.3 percent THC still fall under the legal definition of marijuana, making them federally illegal but legal under some state laws. Be sure to check state laws, especially when traveling. Also, keep in mind that the FDA has not approved nonprescription CBD products, and some products may be inaccurately labeled.


Steph Coelho is a freelance writer with chronic migraine who has a particular interest in health and wellness. When she’s not click-clacking away on her keyboard, she’s probably nose-deep in a good book.