Have you noticed a new section of cannabidiol (CBD) lotions in your local drugstore as of late? You can thank the 2018 Farm Bill; new changes to the legislation removed hemp-derived CBD from the federal list of controlled substances, paving the way for these health and wellness products to appear on store shelves across the country.
While the ever-growing expansion of cannabis legalization has provided consumers with more and more choices, it remains a murky legal area. The Farm Bill does not make all forms of CBD legal, and some states have additional restrictions beyond federal legislation. To be safe, you’ll want to review your state’s policy.
What Is CBD?
CBD is one of around 100 cannabinoids found in the Cannabis sativa plant. Cannabis plants containing less than 0.3% of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are considered hemp; plants with more than 0.3% are considered marijuana and are therefore regulated differently. THC, also a cannabinoid, is the primary psychoactive compound in cannabis, but unlike THC, CBD is considered non-psychoactive — it doesn’t cause a “high” because it doesn’t bind with certain receptors in the brain.
If you want a full rundown on CBD, here’s our beginners guide.
Does CBD Have Any Proven Benefits?
The emerging research on using CBD to treat a variety of ailments is promising, however, for many conditions, clinical research is still lacking. Here’s what the science says:
CBD and seizures
There is a solid base of research showing that CBD can help reduce epileptic seizures. One study found a 40% reduction in the number of seizures in both kids and adults.
CBD and anxiety/depression
CBD and sleep
Again, the research in this area is promising but still in the early stages — more studies are needed. A review of the current research on CBD and sleep suggests that CBD might help reduce drowsiness during the day and help you get more rapid eye movement (REM) sleep at night. However, CBD at lower doses can actually have a stimulating effect — the last thing you want when you’re trying to fall asleep.
CBD and pain (back pain, arthritis, and other chronic pain)
Reducing pain — whether from cancer, arthritis, or other chronic issues like back pain — is another common claim of CBD. Unfortunately, the science just isn’t there, yet. A 2017 review paper found that CBD is ineffective in relieving pain from issues like cancer, GI disorders, or rheumatoid conditions; limited evidence did find relief from neuropathic pain.
The Benefits of CBD Lotion
So based on what we know about the body of science supporting CBD in general at this point in time, are there any proven benefits to applying CBD to your skin?
While more human studies are underway, the current body of research on topical CBD is scant. A 2015 animal study found that applying CBD topically helped reduce inflammation and arthritis-related pain.
When it comes to medical skin conditions like psoriasis and dermatitis, a recent, small human study found that applying CBD ointment over the course of three months improved the condition of the skin and overall quality of life of the patients.
But we’ve all heard the anecdotal stories or testimonies from friends and family raving about CBD ointments and lotions. So what gives? The truth probably lies somewhere between, a placebo effect, “we just haven’t figured out the science yet,” and the fact there are typically other feel-good ingredients in topical CBD products contributing to any effect. Peppermint oil, arnica, and camphor are commonly added to CBD lotions which can soothe and cool an affected area. Even the massage used to apply the lotion can help relax users and contribute to overall pain relief.
So if you’re interested in trying a CBD lotion to see if it may offer you some relief, here are our favorites.
The 10 Best CBD Lotions You Can Buy
A great entry-level (and travel size!) CBD product, Beeza’s broad spectrum formula combines the power of CBD with other cooling essential oils to help with pain relief.
- .65 oz tube
- 5 mg CBD
- Around $20
Papa and Barkley Essentials gets a gold star for presenting the data behind their products. Their Certificate of Analysis makes this all-natural formula a top choice.
- .15 ml container
- 15 mg CBD
- Around $30
This lightweight, non-greasy formula boasts the hydrating properties of argan and safflower seed oils alongside the cooling properties of menthol and peppermint.
- Available in 2-oz. and 4-oz. bottles
- 25 mg and 50 mg CBD, respectively
- Around $20–$35
This celeb favorite is designed to cool your skin upon contact. Lord Jones High’s broad spectrum formula is available with their signature fragrance as well as non-scented.
- 1.7 oz. measured dose pump (each pump dispenses 1 ml of lotion with 2 mg of CBD)
- 100 mg CBD
- Around $60
Well-priced for its CBD content, this salve also contains a host of essential oils including wintergreen, eucalyptus, peppermint, lavender, and ginger.
- .88 oz container
- 125 mg CBD
- Around $24
LEEF is the only company on this list to use whole plant extract, preserving the integrity of the CBD.
- 2-oz. container
- 134 mg CBD
- Around $30
This high potency blend includes vitamin B5, aloe, coconut oil, arnica, and shea butter to help moisturize your skin. Both scented and unscented versions are available.
- 2.5-oz. tube
- 300 mg CBD
- Around $50
Vegan, non-GMO, organic, and sustainably sourced, this full spectrum, high potency balm is a top pick for helping with aches, pains, and stiffness.
- 2 oz container
- 400 mg CBD
- Around $50
Wildflower’s unique applicator stands out among its peers. Infused with arnica and peppermint, this highly concentrated formula cools and soothes.
- Available in 1 oz and 2.5 oz sticks
- 160 mg and 500 mg CBD, respectively
- Around $30-$75
The heaviest duty CBD lotion on this list, CBDol’s full spectrum salve also contains moisturizing hemp, olive, and coconut oils as well as soothing aloe and arnica.
- 1 oz container
- 500mg CBD
- Around $50