The 5 Best CBD Creams for Pain in 2021

Andrew Ward
September 28, 2021

The information is provided for informational purposes only and does not relieve readers of their obligation to obtain qualified medical, legal or other professional advice.

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People are turning to CBD cream for pain treatment in growing numbers. CBD topicals, ointments, salves, balms, and other creams are in such demand that the global market could exceed $3.4 billion by 2026. The booming market is supported by an increasing number of lab studies showing promise in CBD treatment. 

This guide will delve into some of the critical points about CBD ointments while offering up several top picks for 2021 that consumers may want to consider.

Does CBD cream actually provide pain relief? 

A growing number of studies suggest that CBD, in this case topicals, does provide pain relief for several medical conditions. The use of CBD cream for pain relief is on the rise, with consumers seeking out the best CBD cream for arthritis pain, as well as skin conditions, body pains, and a myriad of other conditions.  

The relief is believed to be brought on by CBD's anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic properties, which can dull or kill pains while improving circulation and regenerating cellular activity in some users. 

Through either anecdote or lab study, CBD has shown promise in the following conditions:

  • Chronic pain
  • Earaches
  • Faster healing of wounds, cuts, scrapes, and bruises.
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Body pain, including joint pain, arthritis, inflammation, muscle soreness, sprains and other mild injuries.
  • Menstrual cramps
  • Mental disorders such as anxiety, depression and PTSD
  • Migraines
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Muscle spasms
  • Nerve pain/sciatica
  • Seizures
  • Skin conditions: eczema, dermatitis, psoriasis, rashes, fungal infections, dry skin, blisters, and others

2021's best CBD creams for pain relie

Each person's preferred choices vary based on their unique needs. While someone may be looking for the best CBD cream for arthritis pain, the next person needs the perfect CBD cream for back pain. Each case will be different depending on their preference and the guidance of their medical professional.

If you don't know where to start, consider the list of top picks for 2021 to get you started:

  1. CBDistillery's 300mg Broad Spectrum CBD Warming Cream
  2. Level Select's Level 3: 1200mg Sports Cream
  3. Medterra's CBD Pain Relief Cream 
  4. Naternal's Rescue CBD Muscle Cream 1000mg
  5. Papa & Barkley 3:1 CBD Rich Balm (Topical)

More about these top CBD topical picks down below. But first, we'll explore other important information about CBD topicals. 

How to choose the best CBD cream for your pain relief

There's more to CBD pain relief cream than the results. While they're essential, other production-related factors could ultimately sway your decision regarding your ideal CBD cream for pain relief.

The FDA and third party testing

While CBD is now federally legal thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill, the feds still have an often confusing relationship with all things cannabis. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is one of the leading governmental authorities on cannabis regulations. In January 2021, the FDA released its CBD product regulations, which helped further establish CBD's effectiveness and standing in America. 

That said, the FDA still does not guarantee the efficacy of CBD products. With many options on the market mislabeled, it's your job to verify before buying. Look for lab results either on the company's website or on a QR code that should confirm the oil contents. If you can't find the results and the company won't help, consider buying another product. 

Know your CBD types: isolate, full-spectrum, and broad-spectrum

Not every CBD pain relief cream carries the same ingredients, including its plant profile. Each strain has its unique makeup, and some producers opt against using the whole plant experience for various reasons. Instead, they focus on just some of the plant's compounds. And in some cases, a singular compound is all that's used. 


Full-spectrum represents the entire plant profile, with producers aiming to retain as much of the plant's compounds as possible. Whether used as a topical, smoked, or otherwise, full-spectrum proponents believe that consumers receive the optimal benefits of the plant when consuming all its compounds. This is sometimes referred to as "The Entourage Effect."


Some products contain a singular compound rather than the complete plant profile, be it THC, CBD, or otherwise. Isolate consumers tend to prefer the "purity" of a single compound or don't want to run the risk of running into a mislabeled product with an uncertain profile.

Isolate products come in a white powder substance when sold on their own. People can make their own topicals by combining isolate with their favorite creams. However, CBD topical producers will do the mixing for you as part of the production process. 

Broad Spectrum

Broad-spectrum offers similar effects to the full-plant experience, but with one significant difference: No THC. While CBD products can contain up to .3% THC in the U.S., a broad spectrum removes any traces of the cannabinoid. Like isolate consumers, broad-spectrum users are likely to choose this type of CBD topical because it essentially eliminates any chance of THC reaching the bloodstream. 

Check the ingredients

Go beyond the plant profile and its lab results when looking over the product. Every ingredient can affect you. Picking up the wrong product could hurt you, and it'll undoubtedly harm your wallet in the process. Don't let it happen to you in either case. 

Like any other topical, verify that your CBD ointment is free of any ingredients that could cause body insensitivity or spark an allergic reaction. Consider this a necessary step alongside reading the product's lab results. 

Look for beneficial ingredients as well. Those experiencing body pain may find additional benefits from a topical with a cooling or warming effect. 

If you can't find the answers yourself, contact the company or ask a salesperson if you're shopping in a store. Asking helps you best understand the product before making a purchase. Do yourself a favor and take a few extra minutes to verify what's best for you. 

CBD cream potency

It's a real punch in the gut when you buy a CBD cream for pain that falls short of its expected results. One of the main reasons this happens is choosing the wrong potency for your needs. Be sure to check each topicals' dosage per bottle and per application, if using a product with a pump-type applicator. 

Ask your doctor if you aren't sure what dosage is best. If that isn't possible, defer to the start low, go slow method. Start with a 2.5 to 5mg application. Monitor how you feel over the next 30 minutes to an hour. If more is needed, reapply and follow the steps until reaching your ideal dosage. 

Are CBD creams legal in the US?

CBD is legal in the U.S. under the Farm Bill of 2018. However, a few states still prohibit or limit potencies to just low-dose CBD in more restrictive medical cannabis programs. With regulations still being determined in some respects to the law, be aware of the following: 

CBD cream and drug testing

As discussed above, some CBD topicals do contain less than .3% THC under the law. Still, for a variety of reasons, .3% is too much for some consumers. From personal preferences to generating a positive drug test, a slew of consumers would prefer to steer clear of THC altogether. For these individuals, isolates and broad-spectrum products are the way to go. Either option should allow them to consume cannabis without the risk of THC. 

Safe use and side effects

Using a CBD topical comes with the same safe use and side effect warnings as most non-infused options. In general, you'll want to limit use to external use. Don't apply topicals to the eyes or any broken and bleeding skin. Nor should you ever consume a topical--that's what CBD edibles are for. 

And once again, do yourself a favor and consult with a physician before using a topical. While the risk is relatively low, it's always wise to speak with a professional who understands your medical needs before trying new treatments. As the old saying goes: It's better to be safe than sorry. 

The 5 Best CBD Creams/Ointments for Pain in 2021

CBDistillery's 300mg Broad Spectrum CBD Warming Cream

CBDistillery CBD Warming Cream 300mg

Potency: 300 mg per bottle 

Does it contain THC?: Yes. Products contain less than .05% THC

Price: $25.00

Product description:

CBDistillery aims to help combat some of life's daily pains, from travel to working out, with its 300mg broad-spectrum warming cream. Keep in mind that while it touts itself as having 0% THC, the company site notes its products are third-party lab tested to ensure that THC levels are undetectable--which may result in trace THC amounts in this CBD ointment. 

Level Select’s Level 3: 1200mg Sports Cream

Level 3 select 1200m CBD cream

Potency: 1200mg per container 

Is there THC?: No THC included

Price: $89.99 per container 

Product description:

Backed by a bevy of top-flight American athletes, Level Select is billed as a topical made to meet the demands of high-performing sports stars as well as everyday individuals. The company offers lower doses as well, with Level 1 containing 300mg of CBD and Level 2 with 600mg. 


Medterra's CBD Pain Relief Cream 

Medterra 1000mg CBD pain relief cream

Potency: 1000mg

Is there THC?: No

Price: $54.99

Product description:

As the logo suggests, Medterra is proud to call itself one of the top consumer products of 2021. The company touts itself as a CBD topical that can aid with sore backs, stiff necks, arthritis, and joint pain. Lower doses are available in 500mg bottles. 

Naternal's Rescue CBD Muscle Cream 1000mg

Naternal 1000mg CBD Muscle Cream

Potency: 1000mg per container 

Is there THC?: Yes, it contains less than .3% THC

Price: $40 per container 

Product description:

Naternal uses CBD in conjunction with ingredients like menthol, camphor, eucalyptus, and arnica to provide fast-acting daily pain care that they say helps restore muscles to their "harmonious state." Those in need of a more substantial dose can pick up a 2000mg container for an additional $20. 

Papa & Barkley 3:1 CBD Rich Balm (Topical)

Papa & Barkley CBD Releaf Balm 3:1

Potency: 155mg/50ml

Is there THC?: Yes

Price: $62.99 per container 

Product description:

Papa & Barkley is a premier name in both CBD and THC products. The company has stacked up the awards over the years, creating crowd-pleasing options. Their 3:1 CBD:THC balm comes in 50 and 15ml sizes, with both aimed at providing relief without entering the bloodstream. 

That's the slightest tip of the massive and growing iceberg that is CBD creams for pain and other needs. Be sure to consult with your physician, then find the option that suits you best. And if you'd like to talk to a physician about whether CBD is a good option for you, NuggMD's state-licensed medical marijuana doctors are always happy to help. Just drop by anytime between 8 AM and 10 PM daily, including weekends!

Andrew Ward
Andrew is a Brooklyn, New York-based writer with a degree in Creative Writing from Montclair State University in New Jersey. After years of working in freelance and offices, he embraced the future of work and re-entered the independent workforce. Today, he provides creative solutions to Nugg and other respected cannabis companies.

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