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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.
However, CBD is different from tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), 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 symptoms.
The initial research on CBD for joint pain is promising. CBD products may be a viable alternative to other substances, like opioids or medications with side effects (like immunosuppressants), that are used to manage pain.
That being said, more research into the benefits of CBD for joint pain is necessary. At this time, there’s only one CBD product approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA): Epidiolex, a prescription explicitly for epilepsy.
While CBD products are widely available for purchase, they aren’t regulated like other medications. Below, we explore the potential benefits of CBD oil for joint pain.
- Full-spectrum CBD. This contains every cannabinoid in the cannabis plant. Because these products contain the full-spectrum of chemicals, they’re believed to produce the entourage effect, making them more effective.
- Broad-spectrum CBD. This contains all cannabinoids, but no THC.
- Isolate. This is the purified form of CBD that contains no THC and no other cannabinoids.
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 they receive chemical signals, these receptors 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.
We used standards for safety, quality, and transparency to make our selections. Each product selected:
- is made by a company that provides third-party testing by an ISO 17025-compliant lab
- plainly provides evidence of this testing
- is made with hemp grown in the United States
- contains no more than 0.3 percent THC, according to the certificate of analysis (COA)
- is free of heavy metals, pesticides, and molds, according to the COA
Additionally, we considered these factors when selecting the best CBD products for joint pain:
- CBD potency or concentration
- CBD type
- overall ingredient list, including ingredients that may support pain relief
- company certifications and manufacturing processes
- brand reputation, including:
- customer reviews
warning letters from the FDA
- any unsubstantiated health claims for the product or for the CBD in general
Since the FDA doesn’t regulate CBD products in the same way they regulate drugs or dietary supplements, companies sometimes mislabel or misrepresent their products.
That means it’s especially important to do your own research and find a quality product.
Any CBD oil may help relieve joint pain. However, some oils have additional ingredients, like camphor or essential oils, to help reduce pain or produce a sense of calm.
- $ = under $40
- $$ = $40–$70
- $$$ = over $70
- Price: $$$
- CBD type: Full-spectrum
- CBD potency: 1,800 mg per 30-mL bottle
- COA: Available online
This ultra-potent CBD oil is made with U.S. Hemp Authority certified hemp.
The full-spectrum oil contains a host of terpenes, flavonoids, and phytocannabinoids. The oil is available in multiple tasty flavors, including orange blossom and lemon twist.
It’s pricier than other CBD oils, but that’s because it’s so concentrated. Charlotte’s Web offers a veterans discount and a discount for subscriptions.
- Price: $
- CBD type: Full-spectrum
- CBD potency: 500-5,000 mg per 30-mL bottle
- COA: Available upon request
This potent CBD oil from CBDistillery is one of the company’s most popular products.
The no-frills oil only contains MCT oil and full-spectrum CBD hemp extract. Each 1-mL drop is estimated to contain about 17 mg of CBD.
CBDistillery is certified by the U.S. Hemp Authority, and they offer a veterans discount to eligible customers.
- Price: $$
- 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 sure to bring back memories of hot, relaxing summers eating Creamsicles.
The no-frills product contains organic medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil and broad-spectrum CBD, which may help with joint pain, even when not paired with other ingredients.
The tasty product is 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.
The company makes their CBD products with hemp grown in U.S. facilities that are compliant with
- Price: $
- CBD type: Full-spectrum
- CBD potency: 1,500 mg per 30-mL bottle
- COA: Available online
The calming ingredients in this CBD oil may help you fall asleep and relax when joint pain keeps you up at night. LiftMode Hemp’s oil includes terpenes, like linalool, and calming essential oils, like lavender.
Additional ingredients, like chamomile and melatonin, might help you doze off peacefully while the full-spectrum CBD targets pain.
LiftMode Hemp’s parent company, LiftMode is Better Business Bureau accredited and has an A+ rating. Despite being fairly new, the company already has a lot of positive customer feedback.
Here’s what you should look out for when shopping for CBD oil for joint pain.
Not all forms 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.
CBD products aren’t regulated by the FDA — at least not 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.
We included COAs for every product we recommended.
Companies should be transparent about where they grow or source their hemp. If a company doesn’t provide transparent 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.
However, added 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.
To use topical CBD oil, you can rub it directly on the painful joint. It’s important to do a patch test to make sure there are no adverse reactions with your skin.
If you don’t notice any effects after several hours, use more if you can handle it.
Most CBD products, 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.
Some CBD oils, like the CBDMedic Pain Relief Massage Oil, are meant to be applied topically. You can apply these directly to the painful joint.
Other oils, like the rest mentioned in this article, are meant to be ingested. You can add them to food and drinks, or you can place the dose under your tongue and hold it there for a few seconds before swallowing.
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 generally considered
- appetite changes
- weight changes
Topical CBD products may also cause allergic reactions in some people.
Talk with your doctor before using CBD products if you’re using any of the following:
- prescription medication
- over-the-counter drugs
CBD may interact with medications or supplements that have a grapefruit warning.
There’s no guarantee that CBD oil will get rid of your joint pain. However, there’s minimal risk in trying out CBD products.
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 the side effects and habit-forming risks of other medications.
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? 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.
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.