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Hemp pain relief creams or cannabis lotions claim to offer muscle relief for your tired body, but what do experts have to say?

Science has shown that cannabis is an effective pain reliever, reinforced in a massive new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. But there's a big difference between ingesting cannabis or its individual chemicals orally and absorbing it topically through your skin.

What Is Hemp Pain Relief Cream?

The other issue? Topical hemp pain relief products and cannabis creams will treat anatomical structures within 1 centimeter of the skin—and the muscle where your actual soreness is located is going to be deeper than that, explains Ricardo Colberg, M.D., a physician at Andrews Sports Medicine and Orthopaedic Center in Birmingham, AL. (The good news: Since it doesn't need to be absorbed deeply, CBD and cannabis could do amazing things as a skincare ingredient.)

Even still, cannabis creams could still reduce your acute pain or muscle soreness. That's because pretty much all of these hemp pain relief creams on the market right now have other scientifically-proven analgesic compounds, such as menthol, camphor, and capsaicin which are also found in other, non-CBD topical pain relievers. "Any cream with a heating or cooling sensation desensitizes the nerves to pain by distracting them with stimuli on top," explains Dr. Colberg. Plus you're often massaging the area as you apply, which improves circulation and reduces muscle spasms, he adds. (Get the best of both worlds by trying a CBD massage.)

A study analysis in the Journal of Pain Research confirms that topical use of certain cannabinoid topicals can reduce pain in animals with inflammation or neuropathic pain. And science has found topical creams with THC and CBD help relieve pain for conditions like multiple sclerosis. But for the vast majority of chronic pain — and most certainly for acute pain like post-workout — the scientific jury is 100 percent still out. "There's a little bit of data in support of CBD for pain relief, but to go from animal to human is a giant leap," says Sexton.

But as with any CBD product, there’s no skeleton key that unlocks relief for everyone—you have to find what works for your body. And you certainly have to experiment with different products, brands, and dosages—it’s the only way for you to see which ones really work.

Baskin has a lower–dose formula that clocks in at 150mg CBD that costs $20 less. But I say, Go big or go home. Invest in the higher dose if you want real relief all over: It’s meant to be used all over the body versus its cousin, which was specifically created for smaller targeted areas. Beyond that, you can always use the 400mg cream the way you see fit: Nobody is going to stop you if you want to use it only in specific pain points.

WILDFLOWER CBD COOL STICK (300MG; $60)

This high–dose balm seems to be a crowd favorite, certainly in my household. The jar itself contains two ounces of product. It doesn’t seem like much—But because the consistency of the cream is particularly smooth and spreadable, it glides easily onto the skin and covers more real estate. In terms of relief, you can expect gradual relaxation of the muscles—especially if you’re prone to spasms or simply incredibly tight.

“CBD is extremely anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective. A normal person may use it to prevent conditions such as arthritis or even topically to prevent acne breakouts,” Dr. Shivani Amin, a physician and cannabis expert who is a member of the AMMPA (American Medical Marijuana Physicians Association), says. “I think CBD shows great promise for the future. It all boils down to educating the public about the correct usage and understanding the plant better.”

Now this is where we change course. Serious athletes and people suffering from chronic pain will benefit from this lotion. And yes, it’s in a jar but it rubs on like an incredibly light lotion—not at all like a heavy body butter. The main difference is that it contains both THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) in addition to CBD. And that’s a good thing. Both cannabinoids work synergistically together: THC will open up your receptors, enabling your body to absorb and metabolize more CBD. Beyond that, Glow is applied somewhat differently than the rest of the products on this list. Apply a minuscule amount to your pulse points, the insides of your elbows, and the backs of your knees—areas where the skin is at its thinnest. The reasoning: Because of its formula and consistency, your body will absorb the product so that it reaches your bloodstream—unlike many other topicals.

If it’s your first time using a CBD topical, follow the directions on the label, or apply a tiny bit to an inconspicuous test spot before fully diving in. How much product you need depends on how you feel; start with a small amount and increase the amount little by little as you get used to the product. You can keep applying more until you’ve achieved the desired feeling.

It may be tempting to write off CBD topicals as another beauty trend, but the emerging science showcases why CBD is a perfect fit for skincare and other topical products.

You’re far from the first person to ask this question. In fact, it’s not uncommon for some to try out a CBD oil tincture, which is designed for ingestion, as a topical or a spot treatment. Theoretically, there’s nothing wrong with putting a tincture on your skin. However, CBD tinctures simply aren’t formulated to address the challenges that stand between you and radiant skin. However, topicals can be used to help support dry and dehydrated skin, total body relaxation and recovery, and enhance the appearance of dewy, healthy, and radiant skin when they incorporate other beneficial skin ingredients that are amplified by the skin benefits of CBD.

How are CBD topicals used?

CBD topicals are used no differently than any other lotion or body balm. Take a small amount and apply it directly to the body part of your choice. Its effect is experienced locally at the site of application.

Here, we’ll review the purpose of CBD oil tinctures, CBD topicals, and why you’ll see the best results for your skin from a product that’s designed for topical use.

Ultra-rich body butter for dry, dehydrated skin

While the amount of THC in full spectrum hemp extract is so miniscule that the psychoactive effects are not typically felt – by U.S. law, hemp cannot contain more than 0.3 percent THC – you may not want to consume any THC at all. If that’s the case, broad spectrum is the right fit for you. Broad spectrum hemp extract retains all cannabinoids, terpenes, and other desirable compounds, but attempts to further remove the trace amounts of THC. At Prima, all our CBD products are made from broad spectrum phytocannabinoid-rich hemp extract.