1 in 5 people suffers from chronic pain in the US. About a third of these sufferers have turned to CBD oil to ease their symptoms. If you’ve tried this strategy to manage back pain or arthritis, your results might have been mixed or inconsistent.
If you’ve never tried this treatment before, it can be overwhelming to sift through the seemingly endless list of product offerings out there and find one that is effective. We’ve looked at hundreds of options and narrowed the field down to a list of the top 5 CBD oils for pain.
You can click here to get to the list of our top choice for back pain or continue reading to learn more about what it is, how it works and what you should be looking for as you shop.
What is CDB?
Cannabidiol (CBD) oil is made from cannabis. It’s classified as a cannabinoid, which is a chemical compound found in the plant. It doesn’t create the psychoactive “high” that cannabis is associated with, however. That feeling of being “stoned” is caused by THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), another cannabinoid.
When used for pain or other conditions, like acne or depression, the cannabinoids are extracted from the plant as either an oil or powder. Then the extracted materials get blended with a gel or cream that can either be rubbed on the skin topically or ingested.
Topical vs. Ingested CBD Oil
Topical ointments derived from cannabinoids don’t enter the bloodstream, and this allows the effects to be concentrated on a singular area, more at the dermal and surface levels of the body. These types of formulations are typically used for stiff muscles, aching joints or skin conditions.
Oral ingestion allows the compounds to enter the bloodstream. The cannabinoids can react with the body’s internal mechanisms, including brain receptors for cannabinoids that interact with the brain, the immune system, and the central nervous system. Though the effects may be slower, they can also be more significant and long-lasting. It’s also the easiest and most convenient delivery method.
Oral ingestion can be through a liquid, capsule, powder or edible. For speed and maximum absorption, we typically recommend liquid with a benign carrier oil, such as the products we’ve listed in our review.
Inhalation is also an option, but for the purpose of this review, we will focus on oral solutions only.
How Does It Work?
The body produces some cannabinoids on its own, which means we are also equipped with receptors for them in the brain. We have two cannabinoid receptors, aptly named CB1 and CB2:
- CB1 influences movement and coordination, pain, mood, memories, thinking, and appetite.
- CB2 is linked to the immune system and affects both pain and inflammation.
It was originally thought that CBD attached to these brain receptors to perform the necessary functions, but new evidence has emerged supporting the theory that instead of attaching to the brain’s receptors, it helps the body produce and utilize more of its naturally occurring cannabinoids.
Choosing the Right CBD Oil For Back Pain
Because this class of products has not gone through the FDA approval processes, they’re not regulated for purity and dosage like medications prescribed by your doctor. This means you should be extra diligent in your selection process and by from companies that are honest, reputable and provide a high-quality product. Some products might have more or less concentrated cannabinoids than what is listed on the label, which can make dosing and monitoring the effectiveness of a treatment more challenging.
There are inconsistencies among any natural product, and CBD is no exception. Still, we recommend shopping around and looking for companies that stand by the quality and accuracy of their products.
How CBD Oil Helps with Back and Arthritis Pain
There is a close link between inflammation and pain, and cannabinoids help to address both. When it comes to arthritis, this connection is even stronger. The reason is that one of the most common forms of arthritis (RA or rheumatoid arthritis) is caused by an attack on the immune system, commonly referred to as an autoimmune disorder. This happens when the immune system begins attacking its own tissues causing an inflammatory response that manifests as a painful sensation.
Because cannabinoids have naturally occurring anti-inflammatory properties, they provide a solution for a safe and effective natural pain reliever.
Pain is also a response to nerve irritation, and these products can help alter the brain’s chemistry and neurological responses to subdue or limit the sensation of discomfort.
CBD has other significant and noticeable effects that further its appeal and has contributed to its popularity as an alternative medical treatment for a variety of ailments:
- It’s a safe alternative to dangerous and highly addictive opioids. The world is undergoing an opioid crisis with addiction and fatalities out of control. The world desperately needs a better option to address chronic pain conditions.
- It has limited side effects. The most commonly reported side effects are nausea, sleeping issues, and mild irritability. Compared to prescription medications, this is a vast improvement.
- It’s also beneficial in treating insomnia, which is a nearly universal complaint among people suffering from painful conditions or diseases.
- Hemp-based items are widely available, relatively inexpensive, and don’t require a doctor’s visit or a prescription.
Choosing the Right CBD Oil
The lack of regulation among this class of goods can create a “buyer beware” scenario. Stories abound of inaccurately labeled products, unprincipled manufacturers, and false claims that sound too good to be true.
As you navigate the diverse landscape of hemp-derived solutions on the internet, you’ll come across a dizzying array of options, so we’ll provide some key features to look for to know that you’re getting a quality product. Or just stick to our list of favorites.
Keep in mind that the products we are discussing do not contain any THC. At the time of publication, CBD derived from cannabis and containing THC is only legal for recreational use in 10 states and the District of Columbia. Even within the “legal” states, there are still restrictions on concentrations that can be legally sold for recreational use. There are 30 states in the US that have passed legislation for using marijuana and THC-based items for medical applications.
To be inclusive of all states and laws, we have therefore limited our list to hemp-derived items, which can be shipped legally to all 50 states.
- Buy American Made or European Products
Hemp that is grown and harvested in the USA have strict regulations that may or may not exist in other countries. A major concern has to do with heavy metals, which can build up in the body and become toxic or disease-inducing. If the hemp crops are grown in an industrialized area or in a nation without regulations for the presence of heavy metals, you run the risk of having these dangerous compounds build up in your system.
We recommend using American-made brands, which have more stringent regulations and safer growing and refining practices. Europe also practices safe practices, and many of this continent’s offerings are grown organically.
- Avoid Brands Making Health Claims
If you see a label that says the product cures a disease, eliminates pain or makes any other type of medical claim, steer clear. These types of claims are illegal, as they haven’t been studied or endorsed by regulatory commissions. If a company is making these claims, they shouldn’t be trusted.
- Steer Clear of Extra IngredientsYou may see additives included in the product, and these can be harmful especially if you’re ingesting them. If you’re consuming it orally, avoid anything flavored and steer clear of thinning agents such as polyethylene glycol and propylene glycol.
- Look for Bioavailability, Particularly Nanotechnology
Like any health solution designed for medical use, there are bound to be innovations and scientific discoveries that make the original version better than ever. Nanotechnology is one of the current buzzwords making the rounds in the medical literature, and its use has now spread to CBD oil.
It works by reducing the size of particles, allowing them to enter the bloodstream. The effect is greater absorption and, therefore, a more pronounced effect. Our number one brand recommendation, Nutracetix, was an early adopter of this technology, and scientists believe that within a few years, most cannabis products will utilize this advancement.
Our Top 5 CBD Oil Recommendations for Back Pain and Arthritis
Nutracetix comes in as our top choice due to its cutting-edge use of nanotechnology to enhance absorption and bioavailability. At the end of the day, a product is only beneficial if the body can actually absorb it.
It’s also fast-acting and naturally derived without synthetics. In addition to helping with pain, it can also potentially improve sleep, and that’s a huge benefit.
- Verified CBD
This brand offers an oil with the same concentration of cannabinoids as Nutracetix, but they have a wider selection of items, including varieties with lower concentrations. If you’re a pet owner, they also make animal treats that can help with stress and anxiety, especially during storms and other loud noises.
Another reason we love this brand is that they publish the lab results from each batch on their website, which allows you to verify the compound’s concentration. They also use ingredients derived from natural plant sources and completely avoid the use of synthetics.
The policy of free shipping both in the USA and around the world is also helpful to reduce the cost of using the product. If you’re looking for a high-value option at a reasonable price point, then this brand is an excellent choice.
- NuLeaf Naturals
This brand is pricier than others on the market, but it does come with an authenticated organic certification. There are lower priced varieties with lower concentrations, but if you’re looking for a pain-based solution, the higher concentrations are going to provide the best results.
The therapeutic hemp plants are all grown in Colorado, which is fast-becoming the cannabis capital of the nation. The plants are from the Cannabis Sativa variety and grown using organic and sustainable farming techniques and principles.
The CBD is extracted using a CO2 extraction system, which allows for the isolation of the compound without using heat or solvents. This allows for the full spectrum of cannabinoids to remain in the product.
NuLeaf’s concentrations are confirmed by a third-party lab called Steep Hill, based in Berkeley, California. However, unlike Verified CBD, their lab results are not readily available on their website. Instead, you have to contact the company directly to see the results from a batch.
As the saying goes, practice makes perfect, and Elixinol has perfected their CBD game. They’ve been in the industry since 1991, leading the way for other entrants. They’ve also had a massive head start, which has allowed them to expand their offering and provide a solution for every possible preference. They even have water-soluble powders if you like to drink your cannabinoids like you would a greens-powdered concoction!
Elixinol also offers some of the highest concentrations on the market, including a 5000mg concentration made exclusively for the Brazil market. There are some additives on their list of ingredients, which is why it’s not on the top of our list but given its awards for purity and reputation for using premium hemp plants, we’re okay with this small tradeoff.
This is another Colorado brand that aims to make CBD oil for pain a more mainstream solution for chronic sufferers. Their products are more affordable given the value and concentrations as well, making CBDistillery a more accessible option, and a great place to start if you haven’t tried this product before.
There are a variety of concentrations to choose from, though the manufacturer recommends the higher spectrum of concentrations for back pain and arthritis. They also readily provide lab results for each batch, which verifies the concentration of each compound while ruling out the presence of THC.
CBD oil offers new hope for chronic pain sufferers. If you’ve been dealing with a condition for months or years, you’ve probably tried everything. This option is a risk-free alternative with limited to no side effects. You may even enjoy a sense of calm and peace after trying these products.