11 Best CBD Topicals When You’re So Over Ingesting It

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You’ve likely heard of the magical, anxiety-vanquishing wonders of CBD (aka cannabidiol), but you may not know too much about it, or that it has a variety of uses. Besides calming an anxious mind, CBD can also be applied topically to get CBD benefits in a diff way.

Want to manage a muscle ache? Soothe a skin condition? Calm a creaky joint? Then a topical may be the solution for you. CBD topicals are CBD-infused creams, lotions, balms, oils, salves, etc… basically, anything you can apply directly to your skin.

There are several things to consider when choosing an effective CBD treatment, and we know the world of CBD topicals can be rough waters to navigate. So we’ve made it easy by narrowing down our top picks.

There may not be a CBD topical to soothe what ails 2021 (if only!), but there is likely one (or several) to soothe whatever ails you.

What are CBD topicals?

Cannabidiol, or CBD as it’s more commonly known, is found in the cannabis plant. It’s not the only cannabinoid found in the plant — there’s tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and over a hundred others. But it’s well-known for its ability to provide benefits without getting you high like THC.

CBD products can contain traces of THC, but no more than 0.3 percent, which typically isn’t enough to get you “high” — unless you take high enough doses of it.

CBD can be broken down into three categories:

  • Full-spectrum CBD. It contains all cannabinoids (including THC), flavonoids, and terpenes (both of which have therapeutic benefits of their own) naturally found in the cannabis plant.
  • Broad-spectrum CBD. This one contains all of the cannabinoids, flavonoids, and terpenes found naturally in the cannabis plant — except zero THC.
  • CBD isolate. This is pure CBD that does not contain other cannabinoids (including THC), flavonoids, or terpenes.

Research suggests that CBD and THC may work better together due to something called the entourage effect. Basically, each compound boosts the other, meaning full- and broad-spectrum products may have a leg up on isolates.

Studies also suggest that CBD may help with a bunch of ailments including paininsomnia, and anxiety.

While many CBD products like gummiesoils, tinctures, and capsules are meant to be ingested, you may find yourself looking for a CBD product that can be applied directly to a specific area of your body. Enter topicals.

Benefits of CBD topicals

You should know: Research is still in the early stages when it comes to the benefits of CBD, but so far, the outlook looks good:

  • It improves certain skin conditions. At the American Academy of Dermatology‘s 2018 annual meeting, they suggested the use of topical CBD as a measure to help conditions like eczemapsoriasis, and acne.
  • It helps manage arthritis pain and inflammation. A 2016 animal study uncovered pain and inflammation from arthritis can be managed with the use of topical CBD.
  • Improves pain associated with peripheral neuropathy. Research from 2020 suggests that topical CBD may help thwart sharp pain and uncomfy forms of pain associated with peripheral neuropathy, which is caused by nerve damage.
How we chose the best CBD topicals

So, what’d it take to make it on this list? All of our top choices below are made from U.S.-grown cannabis, are lab tested, and have been vetted by our awesome medical team.

What do we take into account? We look for products that:

  • go through third-party testing by ISO 17025-compliant labs
  • contain CBD made from high quality hemp grown in the US
  • only have trace amounts of THC (less than 0.3 percent) — and the certificate of analysis (COA) confirms this
  • contains passing levels of contaminants like pesticides, molds, or heavy metals

We also consider:

  • whether a company uses any special manufacturing processes or holds certifications
  • potency of a product
  • ingredients (are they organic? does the product contain additional moisturizers or pain-relief ingredients?)
  • whether a brand is trustworthy… things that may point to this include:

Each product gets our stamp of approval by ticking off the boxes of how to choose CBD topicals by checking their potency, quality, and source. They’ve also been carefully evaluated for quality ingredients, overall effectiveness, and positive consumer feedback.

Pricing guide
  • $ = under $50
  • $$ = $50–$75
  • $$$ = over $75
The top CBD topicals

Best CBD topical cream

Aspen Green Muscle Relief Cooling Cream

  • Price: $$$
  • Type: full-spectrum CBD
  • COA: available online
  • Other ingredients: organic mango kernel butter, jojoba seed oil, organic evening primrose oil, organic arnica, organic calendula extract, organic menthol, organic tea tree oil

What’s cooler than being cool? Cooling cream! Hehe.

All jokes aside, Aspen Green Muscle Relief Cooling Cream is at the top of our list for CBD topical creams.

Not only does this full-spectrum topical contain 600 milligrams of CBD per 2-ounce container, but it also boasts the soothing power of other organic ingredients, like menthol, tea tree oil, and arnica flower to help ease aches, pains, and tension.

Many users tout its luxurious texture and ability to moisturize while calming pain. Others say that while it’s effective at soothing aches and pains, its cooling effect is less icy than they hoped.

Use code HEALTHLINE for 20% off.

Best full-spectrum CBD topical

Charlotte’s Web Hemp-Infused Cream with CBD

  • Price: $
  • Type: full-spectrum
  • COA: available online
  • Other ingredients: aloe vera, coconut oil, sea buckthorn oil, oat extract

This CBD Infused cream offers restorative relief for parched skin, while also being vegan and gluten-free. The formula is also free of major allergens, making it a solid pick for people with sensitive skin.

This nourishing lotion not only contains 750 milligrams of CBD in each tube but also contains soothing ingredients like aloe vera and nourishing plant oils.

Consumers say this pleasant-smelling lotion offers fast relief. It can be used all over the body, or as a spot treatment. One person says they wish it was a bit cheaper considering how little product is in the container.

Best CBD topical for sensitive skin

Medterra Manuka Honey Healing Cream

  • Price: $
  • Type: isolate
  • COA: available online
  • Other ingredients: manuka honey 12+, beeswax, arnica, aloe leaf juice, carrot, sunflower seed oil, coconut oil, cacao seed butter, grapefruit seed extract, jojoba seed oil, mango seed butter, sea buckthorn oil, avocado oil

Looking for a CBD topical that won’t mess with your already not-so-happy skin? This just might be it. The fancy formula contains healing honey hailing directly from New Zealand.

Best for treating angry, irritated, and inflamed skin, it contains up to 250 milligrams of CBD per jar, along with a calming blend of 20 botanicals, like arnica, aloe leaf juice, sunflower seed oil, and jojoba oil.

Users say it works equally well as a moisturizer and a soothing cream for aches and pains. It’s also gentle enough to use on your face, but powerful enough to help with skin conditions like eczema. Though some reviewers complain that it’s too greasy.

Best CBD topical balm

Lazarus Naturals Soothing Mint Full Spectrum CBD Balm

  • Price: $
  • Type: full-spectrum
  • COA: available online
  • Other ingredients: organic beeswax, organic jojoba seed oil, organic sunflower seed oil, organic mango seed butter, lanolin, menthol, camphor, sweet basil oil, wintergreen leaf oil, capsicum

This balm contains mango butter and beeswax along with full-spectrum CBD to help soothe aches and stiff muscles.

Customers love the balm’s minty-fresh scent and nongreasy feel, and they’ve found it to be fast-acting and effective on a variety of different areas, including shoulders, arms, legs, hands, and feet.

Note: the manufacturer does suggest talking with your doctor before using this product if you’re allergic to or have been advised against eating grapefruit.

Best CBD topical stick

GoGreen Hemp CBD Relief Stick

  • Price: $$
  • Type: broad-spectrum
  • COA: available online
  • Other ingredients: beeswax, MCT oil

With only three ingredients (CBD, beeswax, and MCT oil), GoGreen Hemp believes in producing a CBD topical that uses CBD oil in its most natural form. This broad-spectrum topical is THC-free and delivers 1,000 milligrams of CBD in every stick.

Its ease of use, portability, and lack of scent make this a popular choice among those looking for discreet and fast-acting pain relief that they can use on-the-go.

Best CBD topical for sore muscles

Naternal Full-Spectrum Rescue CBD Muscle Cream with Menthol & Arnica

  • Price: $
  • Type: broad-spectrum
  • COA: available online
  • Other ingredients: menthol, eucalyptus leaf oil, camphor, organic aloe leaf juice, organic rosemary leaf extract, organic arnica extract

Created to deliver daily preventative care and restore muscles to tip-top shape, this full-spectrum cream was designed to help your muscles max n’ relax all day long. With 1000 milligrams of CBD per bottle, coupled with menthol, camphor, and arnica, this cream works FAST to provide relief.

Users love its cooling sensation, icy scent, and smooth, nongreasy application.

Best CBD topical for anxiety

Calm by Wellness CBD Lavender Lotion

  • Price: $
  • Type: broad-spectrum CBD
  • COA: available online
  • Other ingredients: aloe leaf juice, organic coconut oil, organic jojoba seed oil, vitamin E, witch hazel, sunflower seed oil, rose flower water, organic lavender flower water, organic white willow bark extract

The Calm by Wellness lavender-scented CBD lotion is at the top of our list for CBD topical creams.

The broad-spectrum topical contains 200 milligrams of CBD per bottle, and boasts the soothing power of organic ingredients, like lavender, to help you relax and kick off your shoes. Bonus: the skin-friendly ingredients also nourish your skin!

Users like its watery consistency and love that it goes on smooth and absorbs quickly. One person wishes the lotion was a little thicker but says the smell is great.

Best THC-free CBD topical


  • Price: $$$
  • Type: broad-spectrum
  • COA: available online
  • Other ingredients: arnica, menthol, shea butter, coconut oil, argan oil

This topical is one of the most potent (and priciest) products on this list. But it also happens to be THC-free! But because it’s broad-spectrum, you’ll still get the benefits of multiple cannabinoids along with terpenes and flavonoids.

The 3,000 milligrams of CBD in every bottle is mixed with arnica, aloe, and a variety of essential oils to help moisturize and relieve pain.

While it carries a hefty price tag, fans of this pump-action topical will tell you it’s worth every penny. They hail its fast-acting formula and like the easy-to-use dispenser.

Best CBD topical roll-on

Unoia Muscle Roll-On

  • Price: $
  • Type: broad-spectrum
  • COA: available online
  • Other ingredients: aloe vera, menthol, camphor, tea tree oil, vitamin E, arnica

From joint pain to lower back pain, this super cooling roll-on claims to provide deeply penetrating muscle relief. And its users seem to agree.

This Biofreeze product contains menthol, organic aloe, tea tree oil, and broad-spectrum CBD to help deliver quick relief. It also has vitamin E to help soothe your skin.

Currently, it only has two customer reviews but both are positive and say that the product works fast and has a great texture that absorbs quickly.

Best CBD topical for pain

CBDfx Cream For Muscle & Joint Cooling Formula

  • Price: $$$
  • Type: broad-spectrum
  • COA: available online
  • Other ingredients: menthol, white willow bark extract

When you want that pain to go away and never come back another day, this CBDfx Cream may be able to help. With 1,000 milligrams of broad-spectrum CBD per container, this cruelty-free formula KOs aches and pains.

Users who swear to have been saved by this salve revel in its ability to relieve muscle pain, joint pain, and back pain. Basically, if you’ve got pain, then this may be a contender for your new go-to. Just skip using it for groin pain, the menthol might make things a little bit uncomfortable!

Use code HEALTHLINE for 15% off

Best CBD topical salve

Joy Organics CBD salve

  • Price: $$
  • Type: broad-spectrum
  • THC amount: none
  • COA: results on product page
  • Other ingredients: organic beeswax, organic lavender oil, organic eucalyptus leaf oil

This THC-free salve supports joints and muscles and promotes healthy skin while flooding your senses with the calming scents of lavender and eucalyptus. Its quick absorbing, rich formula contains 500 milligrams of CBD per jar as part of a balanced combo with organic beeswax and essential oils.

Fans of this salve love Joy Organics’ top-notch customer service, consistent products, and money-back guarantee.

Is a CBD topical right for you?

CBD might be a good option for you if you want to soothe mild aches and pains. If you’re dealing with severe joint or muscle pain, though, it might be a good idea to talk with your doctor before trying CBD.

Same goes if you want to try CBD to heal specific skin conditions like eczema or psoriasis.

While CBD might help, it won’t work for everyone. And your doctor can let you know if a particular product is safe to use for your condition.

Also, don’t stop your usual treatment or medications without first talking with a doctor!

How to choose the right CBD topical for *YOU*

There’s a lot that goes into choosing the right CBD topical. If you’re left with your head spinning, wondering “But how do I choose?!” here are some key points to consider:

Type of topical

Say that three times fast!

Topicals come in many forms including creams, lotions, salvesbalms, and oils. Some companies even sell CBD massage oils, scrubs, and lip balms.

The type you choose depends on your personal preference. But here are some basics to help guide you:

  • Oils. These little multitaskers can either be taken orally or added to food, drinks, or regular lotions. It’s a good route to go if you already have a fave moisturizer and want to give it a CBD boost.
  • Salves and balms. These are a thicker consistency (often made using ingredients like beeswax). They usually don’t rub in all the way and leave a sort of protective layer on your skin.
  • Creams and lotions. These are exactly what you’re picturing, but the key callout is that they usually rub alll the way in.

Some people prefer a more viscous product like oil, while others like a looser consistency. If you want something that’s easy to apply on the go, opt for a stick or roll-on.

CBD type

Isolate, broad-spectrum, and full-spectrum. While we’ve defined these terms, what do they actually refer to? Let’s break it down.

Essentially, these refer to the way the CBD is extracted, which affects which cannabinoids and other compounds it contains.

For isolates, for instance, the extraction process strips away all other cannabinoids, along with any volatile organic compounds. This provides a great option for those who want to ensure a THC-free product but could potentially reduce CBD’s overall therapeutic benefits.

Extraction for broad-spectrum products allows most of the cannabinoids to stay, and kicks THC to the curb, while full-spectrum products contain the whole kit and caboodle, retaining all cannabinoids, including THC.

However, it’s important to note that the amount of THC in full-spectrum products is minuscule, at only 0.3 percent or less.

Other ingredients

When shopping for CBD topicals, you’ll want to check what kinds of ingredients are included in addition to CBD. Look for products that contain all-natural, organic ingredients. This way, you can reap all of the benefits without any harsh chemicals!

Common added ingredients in CBD topicals include:

  • Menthol or other cooling substances. These provide a nice icy sensation and provide additional pain relief.
  • Red pepper extract. Capsaicin, which comes from spicy hot red peppers delivers a warming sensation that can help reduce pain levels.
  • Arnica. This is another well-known pain-relieving ingredient.
  • Plant and essential oils. Many oils — like coconut oil and aloe — are added to boost the moisturizing abilities of CBD products. Some plant oils also smell nice!


Generally, you’ll see the greatest results from higher potency products, so the first thing you want to check for is the product’s potency.

Because CBD doesn’t absorb easily into the skin, you’ll want to ensure that the topical you choose is potent enough to give results. Potent topicals generally contain at least 200 milligrams of CBD per container, while others will contain as much as 1,000 milligrams.

Quality control

Quality is key for any product, and CBD is no exception. Knowing where your product’s hemp was grown can give you assurance that your product is top notch. Products made from U.S.-grown, certified organic hemp are generally your best bet, as U.S. growers are subject to agricultural regulations.

Look for brands that are transparent about their products and processes. You should be able to easily find info on the product itself, the brand’s website, or by contacting them directly.

Many brands (including all we’ve listed here!) will provide a certificate of analysis (COA), so you can see testing results firsthand. If a product provides limited info and you can’t get more from the company itself, steer clear.

Other ways to take CBD

Topicals are great for providing targeted relief and moisturizing the skin, but they don’t provide full-body effects in the same way ingestible CBD products do.

If you’re looking for CBD to help with sleep or chronic pain, edibles like capsules, tinctures, gummies, or oral sprays may be a better option.

How to use CBD topicals

Using CBD topicals is easy. Simply apply the product to the affected area and… voila!

You should begin to feel its effects within a few moments or a few days, depending on what you’re using it for. You’ll likely notice results pretty quickly if you’re using the product for pain, while it may take a few applications to see results for skin conditions.

Upon application, you may also notice a tingling sensation, or the area may feel warm or cool. This is due to the other ingredients in the product and usually isn’t a cause for concern.

Be sure to carefully read the packaging for any specific instructions or recommendations on using the product

Using topical CBD safely

Just like you’ll want to read your topical’s packaging for any special instructions, you’ll also want to check for any warnings. While most topicals are safe to reapply as often as needed, avoid ingesting them or using them on broken skin. Stop using if your condition becomes worse or you notice any pain or burning.

Look at your product’s storage instructions as well. Depending on the other ingredients or type of carrier oil used, you’ll want to store it in the proper conditions to prevent the product from going bad or being ineffective.

CBD isn’t likely to enter your bloodstream when using topically, but it’s good practice to talk with your doctor before using any CBD products. Research suggests that topical CBD may interact with certain meds. It can also impact your liver enzymes, preventing your liver from breaking down toxins or metabolizing drugs.

CBD is typically safe to use, but there are possible side effects to look out for, which may include:

  • weight changes
  • appetite changes
  • fatigue
  • diarrhea

One thing you won’t have to worry about? Getting high, as CBD is not considered intoxicating.

Frequently asked questions

How do CBD creams work?

Your body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS) includes receptors called endocannabinoid receptors. They’re found all over your body. Naturally produced endocannabinoids work on these receptors to produce effects like pain relief.

CBD is a cannabinoid similar to naturally-produced endocannabinoids and may produce similar bodily effects.

Your skin also contains receptors, so when you apply CBD to the skin, boom — instant interaction!

Can CBD topicals help with pain?

General CBD research shows that it may help lower pain and inflammation. But topicals also have pain-relieving qualities, too! Recent studies show that topicals specifically can help with certain types of pain.

What’s better: CBD oil or CBD cream?

If you’re applying them topically, there’s not much of a difference. The choice comes down to what kind of consistency you prefer.

Can I use CBD for arthritis?

Possibly. A 2016 animal study found that CBD applied topically helped lower pain levels in rats with arthritis. There are also a ton of anecdotal reports about CBD helping with joint pain.

Can I use CBD for neuropathy?

There’s limited research on CBD for neuropathy but one small study suggests that topical CBD may help.

The bottom line

CBD is a popular buzzword these days and for good reason. While there are still limited studies on the effects of CBD topicals, many people have found them to be useful in managing pain, soothing skin conditions, and providing relaxation.

There are many CBD topicals on the market today, and there’s a lot to consider when finding the best product for you. Be sure to do your research and read the instructions carefully.

Also, chat with your doctor before trying a CBD topical to ensure, as CBD can sometimes interfere with certain medications.

Overwhelmed by 2020? Get your balance back with CBD.

Our doctor-formulated, vegan gummies are made with pure True-Broad Spectrum CBD: all of the naturally calming goodness with zero THC. Whatever your dose, find your chill. Use ‘GREATIST’ for 15% off.

Last medically reviewed on December 16, 2021

 14 sourcesexpanded


No, CBD Is Not a Cure-All — but Here’s What It Might Help

It wasn’t all that long ago that CBD was known as THC’s younger, less glamorous sibling. But those days are long gone. CBD’s It-Girl status has amassed a global following of devoted groupies who swear by it’s ability to curb insomnia, ease pain, treat seizures, and reduce anxiety, among other star qualities.

CBD, or cannabidiol, is one of more than 100 cannabinoids found in cannabis and hemp plants. But unlike THC, CBD won’t give you bloodshot eyes and make you fall in love with a jar of peanut butter. Nope, whether you eat it, drink it, smoke it, drop it under your tongue, or rub it in as a creamCBD won’t get you high at all.

Tips on buying CBD

If you’re in the market for CBD gummies or oils, check out this article and this article, which have extensive advice on how to shop, including brands vetted by our medical team.

While much of the research into what CBD actually does to your body is preclinical and more testing is needed, the early studies point to therapeutic benefits after using it daily for a while (usually around a month).

To help you decide if CBD is something you should consider, here’s what the existing research says. But if you’re serious about treating a condition with CBD, we recommend you speak with a doctor. CBD’s not cheap, and a professional can help you determine if it’s the route you should take.

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CBD for anxiety: What’s up with all the hype?

You’ve probably wondered if the seemingly never-ending stream of anxiety-related CBD products actually do anything. While research is short a definitive yes, a review of 49 small and preclinical studies done on humans found overall that CBD did help manage anxiety.

So, how much should you take and for how long? The answer to that question is still debated but many studies show CBD needs to be taken daily for weeks at a time to take effect. For example, a small 2019 study found 25 milligrams per day over the course of a month did the trick for the majority of participants.

Interested? Take a look at this CBD tonic designed to curb anxiety.

What kind of pain is CBD good for?

When we talk about CBD as a treatment for pain relief, we’re generally talking about chronic pain, meaning you’ve felt it on a daily basis for at least 3 months. While this is more common in older people, common conditions like endometriosis, IBD, and muscular injuries often cause chronic pain in younger folks.

Though in its early stages, research shows taking around 25 milligrams of CBD daily for at least 2 weeks helped many participants ease body and nerve pain. It’s important to note, though, that it was shown to be most effective when taken with 27 milligrams of THC.

The study also showed that same dose remained effective over the long term, so no need to keep increasing the dosage (aka paying more money) to feel the effects.

Can it help me get better and more sleep?

We don’t need to remind you how important sleep is for living your best life. And CBD has gotten a lot of attention for helping in that realm. Research has been mixed but studies have shown it can help REM sleep in particular, may decrease nightmares in people with PTSD, and help people with chronic pain sleep better.

Once again, don’t expect effects to set in right away. In these studies, taking between 25 and 175 milligrams a day for around 3 months was the golden ticket for most participants. (Since this is a rather wide range, start with 25 a day and gradually increase after a week or so if you haven’t felt a change.)

If you’re a DIY enthusiast (or just looking for a new cooking project), check our this CBD recipe specifically for sleep.

The next big thing in skin care?

What happens when you combine overzealous skin care marketing with an hyped ingredient like CBD? A lot of promises without a whole lot of proof. Which isn’t to say CBD doesn’t have potential to help skin, but you may want to look into other less pricey skin care ingredients before you go all in with trendy CBD.

The skin care area with the best CBD research is for acne. In a 2014 study, researchers applied CBD to tissue and cell samples and found that CBD decreased oil production and had anti-inflammatory effects (a major factor in how acne forms). Another study from 2016 backed up this claim that CBD has anti-inflammatory properties could help your skin.

However, it’s important to note neither of these studies applied CBD directly to human skin. Be on the lookout for more relevant studies in the future.

Does it really kill cancer cells?

In test tube and animal studies, yes. The potential ability of CBD to eradicate tumor cells is definitely an exciting realm of this field. But it’s far too soon to claim cannabis’ star compound as a cure for cancer. The research that has been done — like this 2011 study and this 2007 study on CBD and breast cancer — is in its infancy. Much more research is needed.

What CBD is best at treating: Seizures

You may be wondering if we’ve found anything definitive about CBD and the answer is yes. CBD — specifically the medication Epidiolex, a nasal spray with nearly equal parts CBD and THC — is FDA-approved to treat seizures. A 2019 study found Epidiolex significantly reduced seizures in the majority of people.

If you’re interested in treating seizures with CBD (or know someone who is), it’s important to talk to a doctor. Many regimens include pairing CBD with other medications for the best result.

Is it legal?

For every CBD story out there, there’s a looming question thanks to CBD’s connection to cannabis: Is it legal? The answer, it turns out, is complicated.

Long story short: CBD, defined as having less than 0.3 percent THC, is legal federally, but many states still prohibit it. So if you happen to live in one of the 12 states (we’re counting Washington D.C. in that) where recreational cannabis is legal, you’ll be able to buy CBD from any store that sells it no problem.

If you’re not sure what your states laws are, we recommend checking out this website which details each state’s specific CBD laws.

And on the subject of legality, keep in mind that though rare, it’s possible taking CBD will cause you to test positive for THC on a drug test. That’s because cross contamination is common and due to shotty regulation, you can’t always trust the dosage or potency listed on the label.

How safe is it?

Based on the research that’s been done, it’s very difficult to overdo it with CBD. For example, this study found 1500 milligrams a day was the safe limit for humans, far above any recommended dosage in this article.

There are possible negative side effects, like fatigue, diarrhea, and a shift in appetite. And the FDA recommends staying away from CBD altogether if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, since there isn’t enough research to determine it’s safe.

If you’re concerned about how much CBD to take, check out our article all about dosage.

Nickolaus Hines is a Denver-based freelance writer and editor who covers cannabis, food, and travel.

Overwhelmed by 2020? Get your balance back with CBD.

Our doctor-formulated, vegan gummies are made with pure True-Broad Spectrum CBD: all of the naturally calming goodness with zero THC. Whatever your dose, find your chill. Use ‘GREATIST’ for 15% off.

Last medically reviewed on July 10, 2020

 12 sourcesexpanded

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  • Treede R, et al. (2015). A classification of chronic pain for ICD-11. DOI:

So, Does CBD Actually Get You High?

CBD is quickly becoming the Taylor Swift of the wellness world — catchy, healing, and a little too omnipresent in everyday life.

With so many touted benefits (pain relief! reduced anxiety! better sleep!) and so many formats to try (oil! gummies! lube!), it’s no wonder everyone is jumping on the CBD train. And just like “Lover” or “Back to December” gets you higher than a kite, you might be wondering if CBD can do the same.

The short answer: CBD won’t get you high. Even though CBD comes from cannabis (the same plant species that brings us marijuana), CBD products contain little to no THC — the psychoactive chemical that creates a high, euphoric effect.

It may, however, provide a host of other benefits. Here’s everything you need to know about the effects of CBD and how it differs from a THC-induced high. *Cue “Wildest Dreams”*

What exactly is CBD?

Here’s the deal: CBD is one of more than 100 natural compounds called cannabinoids that come from the cannabis sativa plant (aka a marijuana or hemp plant).

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is a popular cannabinoid known for its psychoactive effects. But don’t confuse THC with CBD — these two might come from the same place, but that doesn’t mean they do the same things.

As we mentioned earlier, THC makes you feel the high that’s often associated with smoking marijuana — and CBD does not. But CBD and THC do share a few side effects (more on those in a minute).

CBD might help you feel more relaxed and calm and less anxious, and it may even help you fall asleep. It has the soothing qualities of THC without the high or “stoned” effect.

All the types of CBD, explained

CBD comes in many forms, and while they all have similar effects, each one is slightly different.

Oils and tinctures

Oils infused with CBD are popular because they’re easy to take and they get absorbed into your body very quickly, meaning you’ll feel the effects quickly.

CBD oils are typically placed under your tongue using a dropper. They’re great for anyone who doesn’t want to take pills but wants to try CBD.

Capsules and pills

There are CBD capsules and pills that may help with a variety of issues, including sleep deprivation, digestive problems, and seizure disorders. You take them just as you would any other pill.

The main difference between a pill and an oil is that the pill takes longer to be absorbed by your body, so you may not feel the effects quite as quickly.

Creams and lotions

Some CBD-infused lotions and creams are meant to relieve muscle and joint pain. Others claim to be beneficial for various skin problems, such as eczema or acne, although there isn’t much scientific evidence to back that up. You might even find CBD in some skin care products.


While CBD gummies are really popular, you can also find CBD in candy, chocolates, cookies, and even beer and wine.


The fastest way to experience the effects of CBD is to inhale vaporized CBD oil, which you can do with an e-cigarette. Vaping CBD oil sends it into your bloodstream, so it’s absorbed really quickly.

But the safety of vaping is being very seriously questioned, so it’s not something to take lightly.

A CBD chill vs. a THC high

Both CBD and THC have an impact on the cannabinoid type 1 receptors (CB1) in your brain, but they kinda have opposite effects. THC binds with those receptors, activating them and causing a feeling of euphoria or high.

But CBD is different: It barely binds with CB1 receptors. In fact, it can actually block any high from happening at all. If you were to take CBD with THC, you might find that you didn’t feel as high as you would if you’d consumed only THC.

So, what do you feel when you take CBD?

Research on CBD is relatively new, but some studies suggest CBD is relaxing and calming. It could reduce inflammation and pain, it may help you sleep better, and it’s often used to ease symptoms of anxiety and depression.

CBD is considered safe and well-tolerated in general. But everyone may react slightly differently to it, so what someone else feels may not match up with your experience.

CBD does have some possible side effects, including:

  • diarrhea
  • changes in appetite and weight
  • fatigue
  • mild nausea
  • dry mouth
  • dizziness

CBD can also interact with some medications, so be sure to talk to your healthcare provider before starting a CBD regimen.

How does THC make you feel?

Smoking or ingesting THC is going to cause that feeling of being high. The possible short-term side effects of THC are:

  • increased heart rate
  • coordination issues
  • dry mouth
  • red eyes
  • slower reaction times
  • memory loss

The high from THC can leave you feeling euphoric, relaxed, focused, amused, giggly, creative, hungry, and more sensitive to smell, taste, touch, sight, and sound.

Other than relaxing, what is CBD used for?

CBD has lots of possible benefits that have made it a good choice for people who deal with a variety of conditions. But CBD is still being studied, so new research is published often. The details on CBD could change as scientists learn more!

Easing anxiety and depression

CBD oil is a promising treatment for people who live with anxiety and depression and don’t want to turn to pharmaceutical drugs. Some research suggests that specific doses of CBD are very effective at reducing anxiety before a test.

And it’s not just for adults: According to a 2016 study, CBD oil can be safely used to relieve anxiety and insomnia in children experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Some studies have also shown that CBD can have antidepressant-like effects and can affect how your brain responds to serotonin. A 2018 review of studies found that CBD can also have anti-stress effects, so it might reduce depression that’s related to stress.

Helping with insomnia

Some people take CBD to help them sleep better. In a 2019 study, 66.7 percent of participants reported better sleep after taking CBD.

Scientists don’t totally understand why CBD might help people sleep better, but it could be because CBD can ease anxiety, depression, and stress.

Relieving pain and inflammation

CBD could be one of the reasons marijuana is known for relieving pain. Research on animals has shown that CBD may reduce chronic pain by reducing inflammation and could also ease pain from surgical incisions and sciatic nerve pain.

When combined with THC, CBD may be effective in easing pain caused by multiple sclerosis and arthritis.

Alleviating cancer-related symptoms

CBD may be useful for relieving some cancer-related pain and side effects of chemotherapy such as nausea and vomiting. Research has found a significant reduction in pain when THC and CBD are combined for this type of use.

Reducing acne

CBD reduces inflammation, which in turn might help reduce acne. A 2014 study found that CBD oil can prevent sebaceous gland cells from releasing too much sebum (which can cause acne) and can prevent the activation of agents that cause acne.

More research needs to be done, but it’s possible that CBD could help with other skin issues too.

Helping with seizures and neurological disorders

More research is needed, but CBD might help ease symptoms related to epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, and Parkinson’s disease.

Some studies have found reduced seizure activity in children and young adults after they took CBD oil. And in 2018, the FDA approved a CBD product called Epidiolex to treat two seizure disorders, Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome.

Other studies have shown that CBD may improve quality of life and sleep quality for people with Parkinson’s disease.

And some animal and test-tube studies have even shown promising results with Alzheimer’s disease: CBD may decrease inflammation and help prevent the neurodegeneration that goes along with the disease.

Boosting heart health

2017 study showed that CBD might even benefit the heart and circulatory system by lowering high blood pressure, thus preventing health problems such as stroke, heart attack, and metabolic syndrome. This could be because CBD can relieve stress and anxiety, which in turn lowers blood pressure.

2010 study on rats also suggested that CBD might help reduce inflammation and cell death associated with heart disease.

Helping with schizophrenia

Some research suggests CBD might benefit people with schizophrenia and similar conditions by reducing symptoms of psychosis.

Aiding in treatment of substance use disorder

CBD might even be useful in treatment for substance use disorder. Research suggests it can change circuits in the brain related to drug dependence. A 2015 review of studies found that CBD reduced morphine dependence and heroin-seeking behavior in rats.

How to make sure you’re taking the good stuff

Because CBD is a big trend right now, it’s not hard to find — but it can be hard to find really good quality CBD, which absolutely makes a difference. You want to find a brand that makes great CBD you can trust.

Look for full-spectrum CBD oil

When you’re looking for CBD oil, go for full-spectrum instead of an isolate. Full-spectrum CBD oils include a variety of cannabinoids and original compounds found in the hemp plant, and these can increase the benefits of CBD.

Compounds found in full-spectrum CBD oils include proteins, fatty acids, chlorophyll, fiber, flavonoids, and terpenes.

Do your research

Don’t buy just any product. Because most CBD products haven’t been approved by the FDA, they may not be accurately labeled. A reputable company you can trust will be transparent about its lab results from third-party testing. A quick Google search is worth it.

Experiment a bit

Remember: CBD doesn’t affect everyone the same way, and one product may make you feel completely different than another does. You might need to try a few different kinds before settling on what makes you feel best.

Legalize it: CBD and the law

If you want to get your hands on CBD, you’re in luck. It’s legal in all 50 states, which happened after the Hemp Farming Act of 2018 bill was passed.

The bill removed hemp and cannabis containing less than 0.3 percent THC from the list of Schedule I controlled substances. This effectively made CBD legal all over the country (as long as it contains less than 0.3 percent THC).

Still, you can and should check the specific laws in your state regarding CBD. There may be slight differences you should be aware of, especially depending on the ingredients in the CBD products.

Overwhelmed by 2020? Get your balance back with CBD.

Our doctor-formulated, vegan gummies are made with pure True-Broad Spectrum CBD: all of the naturally calming goodness with zero THC. Whatever your dose, find your chill. Use ‘GREATIST’ for 15% off.

Last medically reviewed on March 27, 2020

 25 sourcesexpanded

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New to CBD? This Is How Much to Take the First Time

CBD — perhaps you’ve heard of it? JK, you’ve definitely heard of it. You probably can’t go anywhere these days without seeing cannabidiol — commonly called CBD — products all over the shelves.

How’d it suddenly get so popular? Well, it’s been reported to have a ton of health and wellness benefits (anxiety relief and better sleep, anyone?). CBD products are cannabis-based, but because they contain little to no THC, they don’t get you high.

If you’re new to CBD, understanding the available products and their dosages can be overwhelming. You may have no idea where to start, what to buy, or how to find your ideal dose of CBD.

Don’t worry — we’ve got you covered! Here’s everything you need to know about taking CBD for the first time.

Eat, vape, smoke, and slather: Choose your CBD

There are lots of ways you can get CBD into your system, so the first thing you’ll need to decide is how you’ll consume it.


Inhalation is the quickest way to get CBD into your bloodstream. If your state has legalized cannabis or has CBD-only dispensaries, you may be able to find CBD flower or “bud” with little to no THC.


If smoking isn’t your jam, CBD vapes are also fast-acting and offer a legit advantage in convenience and discretion. However! Be super-duper diligent about buying vaping products from a legal dispensary.

Black market vapes have been found to contain stuff you shouldn’t be inhaling, like vitamin E acetate. (And let us be clear: Vaping is still bad for your lungs.)

Oils and tinctures

If you thought oils and tinctures were the same thing, guess again:

  • Oils tend to be more concentrated with CBD (i.e., more potent) and may have a weedy taste.
  • Tinctures are alcohol-based, less potent, and the better-tasting of the two. They may be mixed with other herbs and flavorings.

Both products work by sublingual absorption (sub-what?). That means if you hold the liquid under your tongue for a bit before swallowing, some CBD will absorb through the membranes in your mouth. That makes it enter your bloodstream more quickly.

Edibles, candies, and drinks

The vast array of CBD capsules, CBD edibles, and CBD-infused drinks (hello, CBD coffee!) work similarly. They travel through your digestive system and start getting absorbed 30 minutes to 2 hours after you’ve swallowed them.

Creams, lotions, bath bombs, and lube

Yep, you read that right — lube! Topical CBD refers to creams, ointments, and lotions. These may be a good choice for localized pain and inflammation, while transdermal patches may deliver more of a sustained, long-term release.

Bath bombs are trending right now, with plenty of happy bathers claiming that soaking in a tub infused with CBD kick-starts a deep, full-body relaxation. And there are even CBD lubes that may help ease pain and get you in the mood.

How much CBD should I take?

Here’s the most important rule when it comes to cannabis: Start low and go slow.

If you’re smoking or vaping CBD, it’s hard to measure your intake in milligrams. But the nice thing about inhalation is that you get pretty instantaneous feedback. If a couple puffs on a CBD vape leaves you feeling relaxed but not too relaxed, that’s probably your happy spot.

Everyone responds to CBD differently. “There’s no such thing as a standard dose of CBD, given that it’s being used… by many people for many different conditions,” says Martin A. Lee, founder of Project CBD.

The different varieties of CBD may also require different dosages. For instance, you may need to take more of a CBD-only isolate compared to a full-spectrum product. If your stuff is CBD-only, Lee recommends 25 milligrams to start. You can always go up or down from there.

If you’re lucky enough to live somewhere with full cannabis access, you can get your feet wet with a lower dose of a full-spectrum CBD. Try 5 milligrams and titrate up (that is, adjust) by 5 more milligrams every couple of days.

Here’s a quickie suggestion guide for the two different types of CBD you may be taking — but remember that everyone is different.

Find the right dosage of CBD isolate

Note: The below dosages are general guidelines for first-time use. You should consult with your healthcare provider before starting a CBD regimen to determine the appropriate dosage for your specific needs.

Day 1: 25 mg

Day 2: Reduce to 10 mg if yesterday’s effects were too strong; otherwise, stay with 25 mg.

Day 3: Same as Day 2

Day 4: Increase to anywhere between 35 and 50 mg if you haven’t yet reached your desired effect.

Day 5: Reduce to 25 mg if a higher dose is too strong; otherwise, stay in the range of 35 to 50 mg for the next few days.

Increase your dose every few days and continue observing the effects. Many adults report finding their sweet spot in the range of 25 to 75 mg of a CBD-only product.

Dosages for full-spectrum CBD

Day 1: 5 mg

Day 2: 5 mg

Day 3: 10 mg (if you haven’t yet reached your desired effect)

Day 4: 10 mg

Day 5: 15 mg (if you haven’t yet reached your desired effect)

Day 6: 15 mg

Day 7: 20 mg (if you haven’t yet reached your desired effect)

Day 8: 20 mg

Day 9: 25 mg (if you haven’t yet reached your desired effect)

Continue increasing your dose until you get the maximum benefit. If you notice any unwanted response to CBD (such as dizziness), reduce your intake.

What you’re shooting for is a minimum effective dose — the sweet spot on the bell curve where you’re taking the most helpful quantity without overdoing it or breaking the bank. (Seriously, have you checked the price tags on high quality CBD products lately?)

It takes a little trial and error to find your ideal dose. But the good news is that most people tolerate CBD well, even in large quantities. Side effects of CBD, if any, tend to be diarrhea, appetite changes, and too much sedation (i.e., the inspiration for those very exaggerated PSAs from middle school).

How will I know when the CBD is working?

If your anxiety quiets down, you’re sleeping better, or you’re experiencing less pain, that’s a win!

The time it takes for CBD to work varies based on how you consume it. It could range from a few moments (with vaping/smoking) to several weeks (like when you’re slowly increasing your CBD oil dose for therapeutic effects).

CBD isn’t psychoactive, so you won’t feel stoned. But some people report getting a fairly quick response where stress melts away and their mood is ever-so-slightly lifted.

If you’re taking CBD for therapeutic effects (like for sleep, anxiety, or inflammation), you’ll probably have to take it for a longer time before reaping all the benefits.

Remind me: What can CBD be used for?

In terms of rigorously researched uses, CBD for epilepsy is the blockbuster here. In 2018, the FDA approved Epidiolex to treat two rare seizure disorders, Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome.

But even without clinical approval, people are using CBD to address a wide variety of conditions. Lee tells us that an extensive survey of CBD users showed anxiety, depression, and pain as the top-reported uses. Some people are also using CBD alongside conventional cancer treatments, he says.

Here’s what some of the research says about potential uses:

  • Anxiety: A study from 2019 found that 79 percent of people with anxiety showed improvement when taking 25 to 75 milligrams of CBD daily.
  • Insomnia: More research is needed, but a 2017 review of existing studies found that CBD “may have therapeutic potential for the treatment of insomnia.”
  • Depression: A 2010 study on mice found that CBD could have antidepressant effects. These results haven’t yet been fully replicated in people, but nevertheless, plenty of people report symptom relief.
  • Pain and inflammation: A 2017 study on rats found that CBD may be effective in reducing pain. Once again, human studies still need to be done on this.
  • PTSD and nightmares: A small 2019 study found that 10 out of 11 participants with PTSD found some relief with CBD. Some also reported relief from nightmares associated with PTSD.
  • Nausea: THC is better known for helping with nausea, such as from chemotherapy. But CBD may have some benefits too. Many people report an improvement in nausea symptoms with CBD, and a 2010 study seems to back that up
CBD in hemp vs. CBD in marijuana

CBD can be derived from hemp plants, which contain 0.3 percent or less THC, or from marijuana plants, which contain a higher concentration of THC.

If THC is legal in your state, consider buying a product with mostly CBD and a wee bit of THC. Research suggests these two cannabinoids may work better together than apart.

A word of caution, though: The CBD market isn’t well-regulated yet. For real — a 2017 study found that the dosages of a majority of consumer CBD products were actually mislabeled.

That means you can find top-tier products for sale alongside brands of low or questionable quality. Do your research before shopping!

How do I read a product label?

When you buy a CBD product, three things should be clearly stated on the label:

  • the total milligrams of CBD and THC (if applicable)
  • whether the product is lab-tested
  • the batch number

You can check the brand’s website for specifics about when and where they test products. Reputable companies have batch numbers listed on the label that correspond to real data.

If your state allows it, opt for full-spectrum CBD, which contains all the naturally occurring compounds in a cannabis plant, including THC. As we mentioned before, CBD + THC may provide more benefit than CBD isolate (CBD-only) products.

Lee says full-spectrum CBD tends to be more effective than isolate “in the same way that drinking freshly squeezed orange juice is better for you than taking an ascorbic acid supplement.”

If you’re still not comfortable with THC (which shows up in drug tests), try broad-spectrum CBD. It contains all the naturally occurring compounds in a cannabis plant except THC.

What else should I know about CBD?
  • CBD may interfere with certain prescription meds, so check with your healthcare provider before using it.
  • It’s a good idea to try CBD for the first time when you don’t have anywhere to be. That way, if you just don’t feel like yourself, you can sleep it off.
  • If you’re specifically looking for help with sleep, try taking your CBD about a half-hour before bed.
  • If anxiety is kicking you around, try taking your dose earlier — like before the day really ramps up.
  • While some people like a little CBD in their cocktails, skip the alcohol when you’re first trying CBD so you can really zero in on the effects.
  • If you’ve titrated up to a large dose of CBD (like 50 milligrams or more daily), you’ll probably want to space out your doses a bit to avoid any GI issues.
  • You can vape, smoke, swallow (in capsule form), eat, or drink CBD. You can also rub it on your skin, put it under your tongue, or add it to a bath.
  • CBD is not yet well-regulated in the United States, so quality varies wildly. A CBD product’s packaging should include a batch number and mention whether the product has been lab-tested.
  • More research needs to be done, but many people swear by CBD for relieving anxiety, insomnia, pain, nausea, and inflammation.
  • Start low and go slow to find your minimum effective dose.
  • If you’re taking a CBD-only product (CBD isolate), 25 milligrams is a good beginning dose. Stay there for a few days, and then gradually increase your dose until you get your desired effects.
  • If you’re taking full-spectrum CBD, start with 5 milligrams and titrate up every few days.


Overwhelmed by 2020? Get your balance back with CBD.

Our doctor-formulated, vegan gummies are made with pure True-Broad Spectrum CBD: all of the naturally calming goodness with zero THC. Whatever your dose, find your chill. Use ‘GREATIST’ for 15% off.

Last medically reviewed on March 24, 2020

 11 sourcesexpanded


These 7 Best Full-Spectrum CBD Products Are the Total Package

We include products we think are useful for our readers. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission. Here’s our process.

If you follow wellness trends, you’ve probably heard about CBD. It’s showing some promising benefits — including reducing symptoms of anxiety, improving sleep, and managing pain.

But there are a bunch of different ways to add CBD into your self-care routine. Not only are there different ways to take it — like oilscapsulestincturestopicals, and gummies — but there are different types of CBD too: full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, and isolate. It’s a lot, we know.

Full-spectrum CBD has its own special advantages and disadvantages that make it a unique player in the CBD game. If you’re looking to add a little CBD into your life, it’s a great option — but there are def some things to know before diving in.

We dug into all the latest research about full-spectrum CBD and vetted the most popular brands to find you the highest quality full-spectrum CBD products out there. Let’s get started, shall we?

What is full-spectrum CBD?

Let’s back up. To help you understand what full-spectrum CBD is, it’s helpful to know the following:

  • There are more than 100 cannabinoids in cannabis and hemp plants. The two most researched are CBD and THC. THC is the one that makes you feel “high,” while CBD won’t give you the same psychoactive effect.
  • Another major player in the game is terpenes. These aromatic compounds are known for having therapeutic benefits of their own. These are found in other places in nature too — including essential oils.
  • Yet another helping hand is flavonoids. These also have shown to have therapeutic benefits — they’re found in things like fruits, veggies, wine, tea, and chocolate. Yum.

Full-spectrum CBD is CBD that contains allll of the above compounds naturally found in the cannabis plant — including THC (though never more than 0.3 percent of it).

Full-spectrum CBD’s cousins — broad-spectrum and isolate — don’t contain all of these compounds. Broad-spectrum contains all of the terpenes and flavonoids, but no THC. Isolate is nothing but CBD.

Here’s a little chart to break down how they all differ:

CBD THC Terpenes Flavonoids
Broad-spectrum X
Isolate X X X
Pros and cons of full-spectrum CBD

How do you know if full-spectrum is the right type of CBD for you? Let’s break down the pros and cons.


Full-spectrum CBD has been getting a lot of love lately, as research suggests that keeping all of those compounds together (THC included) enhances their therapeutic benefits — especially when it comes to mood disorders and anxiety. This is lovingly referred to as the “entourage effect.”

There is some research that says CBD can be beneficial on its own — it just requires a specific dose that can be hard to find.

The presence of THC, in particular, may help give full-spectrum CBD an extra anti-inflammatory, pain-busting boost that broad-spectrum and CBD isolate products don’t have.

Another pro of full-spectrum CBD is its easy availability. You can find a wide variety of full-spectrum products (including oils, pills, capsules, gummies, and topicals) online or in many health/wellness stores.


One of full-spectrum CBD’s biggest assets is also one of the biggest strikes against it: THC. This isn’t a con for everybody, though.

Full-spectrum products generally contain small amounts of THC. Hemp-derived products will never contain more than 0.3 percent, but cannabis-derived CBD products can contain more — so it’s important to check whether products are in line with what may or may not be legal in your state.

The THC can also put full-spectrum CBD users at risk of testing positive on a drug test — especially if you use full-spectrum products daily for an extended period of time.

If you want to avoid THC altogether, broad-spectrum or CBD isolate products are def a better option for you.

How we chose the best full-spectrum CBD products

When comparing these full-spectrum CBD products, we considered many factors, but the CBD itself wasn’t what made these our top picks. Instead, we chose these products based on criteria we think are good indicators of safety, quality, and transparency.

We made sure to include products that:

  • are produced by a company that provides proof of third-party testing by an ISO 17025-compliant lab
  • are made with U.S.-grown hemp
  • contain no more than 0.3 percent THC, according to the certificate of analysis (COA)
  • have passing levels of pesticides, heavy metals, residual solvents, and molds, according to the COA

Other factors we considered in selecting these products:

  • company certifications and manufacturing processes
  • product potency
  • overall ingredients
  • indicators of user trust and brand reputation, such as:
    • customer reviews
    • whether the company makes any unsupported health claims
Pricing guide

Full-spectrum CBD comes in a variety of forms and volumes, so we included picks to fit any budget.

$ = under $50
$$ = $50–75
$$$ = over $75

7 full-spectrum CBD products

Below are our picks for some of the best full-spectrum CBD products on the market.

Best full-spectrum CBD topical

CBDfx CBD Cream For Muscle & Joint: Cooling Formula

  • Price: $$$
  • CBD per serving: N/A
  • Total CBD: 1,000 milligrams (mg)
  • COA: available online

This cream is made with organic hemp and fortified with icy menthol (a known pain reliever), caffeine, and white willow bark (another pain reliever with anti-inflammatory properties).

This CBD cream absorbs quickly to deliver fast-acting, long-lasting cooling calm to sore muscles and joints. It’s also vegan, cruelty-free, and made in the U.S. — plus, it’s got a 60-day money back guarantee. So, if it doesn’t solve your achy breaky muscle pain, you can return it for a full refund.

Users enjoy how quickly this cream sets in to ease all sorts of pain, including arthritis, stressed muscles, and nerve pain. They’re also fans of how easy it is to apply and that it doesn’t leave a greasy residue. The biggest gripe they have is the cost — CBDfx does run on the pricier side.

Best rated full-spectrum CBD

NuLeaf Naturals Full-Spectrum Hemp CBD Oil

This full-spectrum CBD oil from NuLeaf Naturals is made from organic virgin hemp seed oil. Oils like this are sweet because you can drop them underneath your tongue for quick absorption — but the manufacturer also suggests mixing it with a moisturizer to apply to your body to soothe unhappy muscles. We love a twofer!

Reviewers rave about this one, giving it an average of 4.9 stars from over 23,000 reviews. Many say it helps relieve pain, insomnia, and anxiety. They’re also big fans of NuLeaf’s customer service, which is a big plus.

Best full-spectrum CBD oil

Absolute Nature CBD Full-Spectrum CBD Oil Drops

  • Price: $$$
  • CBD per serving: 33 mg
  • Total CBD: 1,000 mg
  • COA: available online

Absolute Nature CBD tincture’s is made using MCT oil (fractionated coconut oil), which is supposed to increase CBD absorption and maximize its benefits. Made with organic GMO-free hemp, this CBD oil is also vegan, cruelty-free, and gluten-free.

Absolute Nature has a special dropper that’s supposed to make it easier to get the right dose (which can be kind of annoying to do with a regular dropper) and avoid a sticky, drippy mess.

Reviewers call this oil high quality and praise how well it helps with sleep, anxiety, and pain. Keep in mind that it isn’t flavored, so it’ll have that strong earthy taste typical of unflavored CBD products.

Read our full review of Absolute Nature here.

Best budget full-spectrum CBD

CBDistillery Full-Spectrum CBD Oil Tincture

If you’re on a budget, CBDistillery is where it’s at. It’s a real bang for your buck — especially considering you get 17 mg per serving at this price point.

Besides hemp-based oil, this full-spectrum oil contains MCT oil to help increase CBD absorption. The hemp in this product isn’t organic, but it is GMO-free.

Customers emphasize that this product helps them feel relaxed and get better sleep. A few customers even say they started with CBDistillery’s isolate tincture and could really see a difference after switching to the full-spectrum version.

Best flavored full-spectrum CBD

FOCL Orange Cream Full-Spectrum CBD Drops

FOCL offers a delicious option with its Orange Cream Swirl CBD Drops. This CBD oil is produced with GMO-free, U.S.-grown hemp, and its formula also contains coconut-derived MCT oil and organic flavors.

Reviewers say the orange flavor is actually amazing — which is kinda hard to come by with CBD oils. If orange isn’t your thing, it also comes in mint and cherry flavors. The company offers a 60-day money-back guarantee, so you can feel confident giving this one a shot.

Best full-spectrum CBD capsules

Charlotte’s Web CBD Oil Liquid Capsules

  • Price: $$
  • CBD per serving: 25 mg
  • Total CBD: 2,250 mg per 30-ct bottle
  • COA: available online

With only two simple ingredients — full-spectrum hemp extract and organic EVOO — these capsules have little fuss and a whole lotta impact. Compared to standard softgels, these liquid capsules don’t contain unnecessary extra ingredients, like gelatinglycerin, or carrageenan. Plus, they dissolve more quickly, so you can reap the calming CBD benefits sooner.

Many reviewers say that these capsules are their key to a good night’s sleep, as well as helpful in relieving anxiety and reducing minor pains. Some people who started with Charlotte’s Web’s powdered capsules were disappointed that these replaced their beloved product — especially because the dosage changed, too. But most users say the new version works just as well as the other.

Best full-spectrum CBD gummies

Bluebird Botanicals CBD Gummies

Made with all plant-based ingredients, these yummy gummies contain organic cane sugar and come in three delicious flavors: lemon, strawberry, and watermelon. Bluebird Botanicals uses all clean ingredients, including full-spectrum hemp extract that features over 110 cannabinoids to deliver soothing relaxation and promote overall wellness.

Bluebird gummy reviewers rave about the taste and claim that these don’t have any weird aftertastes, like other products sometimes do. They’re also fond of the low sugar count (only 2 grams per serving). While users are overall satisfied with the product, they do wish the bag was larger — it’s only available in a 30-count pack.

How to shop for full-spectrum CBD

There are tons of full-spectrum CBD products on the market, so how do you choose the right one for you? Here are a few things to consider when shopping for a quality CBD product:

  • Make sure the certificate of analysis (COA) is up-to-date (and from a third-party lab!).
  • Verify that the product contains less than 0.3 percent THC.
  • Read what reviewers are saying. This may help you determine whether the product is legit and suitable for your specific needs.
  • Be suspicious of products that have customer complaints or outstanding lawsuits.
  • Check labels for misleading ingredients.
  • Be wary of boastful marketing. CBD is cool, but it’s not a cure-all, so if a claim seems too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Wondering what the heck a “carrier oil” is? It’s an oil that carries the CBD and other phytochemicals, helping dissolve the compounds of the hemp plant. Make sure your CBD uses a carrier oil that’s safe for you.

You’ll also want to consider the type of CBD product to get. But while having to choose between oils and gummies and topicals (oh my!) may seem overwhelming, we’ve got your back.

  • Oils or tinctures. This is one of the fastest ways to reap the benefits of CBD. Oils and tinctures are extracted directly from the plant and diluted with a carrier oil. They’re usually taken orally, so they hit your bloodstream quicker than other forms, making them good for those looking for fast-acting CBD effects.
  • Edibles (and eatables!). Basically any kind of CBD product you can ingest falls under the edibles category, including pills, capsules, gummies, fizzy drinks, and even candy (like chocolate, yum!). These are great options for those who aren’t looking for immediate impact, as research shows that edible CBD products absorb more slowly.
  • Topicals. Topical CBD — like lotions, creams, and balms — are applied directly to the skin (read: don’t eat!) for soothing relief. They’re an effective way to target a specific area, making them a particularly great option for those with arthritis, muscle pain, period cramps, or certain skin conditions.
Talk with your doc about full-spectrum CBD

Check with your doctor before using CBD, especially if you regularly take any medication, because CBD can interact badly with some medications.

How to use full-spectrum CBD

If you choose to use a full-spectrum CBD oil or tincture, you’ll simply use the dropper to measure your dose, squeeze the drops under your tongue, and hold the liquid there for about 20 seconds before swallowing.

If you like to experiment, you can also mix CBD oil with your favorite drink or add a few drops to your moisturizer to massage into your skin.

If you opt for gummies, capsules, or other edible forms of CBD, all you gotta do is eat or swallow the product. Be sure not to overdo it, though: CBD edibles aren’t meant to be noshed on like a bag of chips — one or two pieces will suffice. Be sure to follow the serving directions for your specific product to make sure you’re not exceeding the recommended amount.

Topical CBD products are applied directly to the skin in the area where you’re feeling pain or discomfort. As with any topical product, be cautious using on cracked or broken skin to avoid irritation. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions (or your doctor’s orders!) on how much to use.


If you’re new to CBD, start with a smaller dose to see how it feels, and then increase over time if needed. For full-spectrum CBD, you can start at 5 mg. You might have to adjust your dose depending on your weight and the issue you’re trying to address.

Frequently asked questions

Are there any side effects of taking CBD?

While CBD is well-tolerated by humans, some people experience mild side effects like:

Is CBD safe?

CBD is generally considered safe, but the FDA doesn’t guarantee the safety, effectiveness, or quality of over-the-counter CBD products. Some companies take advantage of this and sell unapproved CBD products with unsubstantiated health claims. That’s why it’s super important to do your own research before buying any CBD product.

What is full-spectrum CBD?

Full-spectrum CBD is one of three types of CBD. Unlike broad-spectrum or CBD isolate, full-spectrum CBD contains all of the naturally-occurring compounds found in the cannabis plant — including THC.

What are the benefits of full-spectrum CBD?

From easing anxiety to soothing stress, full-spectrum CBD is best known for its therapeutic benefits. When used topically, it can help provide pain relief to sore muscles, achy joints, inflammation, or even menstrual cramps.

What’s the difference between broad-spectrum and full-spectrum CBD?

The difference between broad- and full-spectrum CBD comes down to one thing: THC. Full-spectrum CBD contains *all* of the cannabis plant’s natural compounds, including THC. Broad-spectrum, however, contains all of the plant’s compounds *except* THC.

Does full spectrum CBD have THC?

Yes. Full-spectrum CBD contains THC — as well as all of the other compounds found in the cannabis plant.

The bottom line

The science behind CBD is still pretty new, and what works for one person may not work for another. If you’re curious about full-spectrum CBD, doing your research and finding a quality product to try could help you find some relief.

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. Cannabis-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.


Overwhelmed by 2020? Get your balance back with CBD.

Our doctor-formulated, vegan gummies are made with pure True-Broad Spectrum CBD: all of the naturally calming goodness with zero THC. Whatever your dose, find your chill. Use ‘GREATIST’ for 15% off.

Last medically reviewed on November 22, 2021

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7 Treats with Big CBD Energy

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Hemp CBD isn’t just the new kid on the block anymore. They’re the talk of the town and everyone wants to invite them to the party. Hell, we might even let them meet the grandparents because hemp CBD’s rep seems so good.

And there’s a reason for that.

Beyond being able to acknowledge them in public without triggering (in our opinion) unwarranted stigma, hemp oil CBD is being touted by both users and experts as a balm for inflammation, anxiety, nausea, and insomnia.

Laws are also changing, along with increased educational campaigns, so that people can easily purchase tinctures, topical ointments, and infusions.

Before we become too buddy-buddy with CBD, let’s take a step back and admit that research still needs to be done. Nothing definitive is going to come for at least for five years. Does that mean it’s not worth trying? Well, when it comes to managing what overwhelms us, we’ll try it — curiously and cautiously.

Keep in mind that not all forms of CBD are legal everywhere, and the FDA is still culling over the studies to determine efficacy and safety. If you’ve tried CBD though and want to reacquaint yourself, here are seven tasty stress-relievers you might like.

1. Weller Caramel Coconut Bites with Hemp Extract

When it comes to assuaging weary workday nerves, these crunchy little nuggets make for an excellent early afternoon snack.

Each pouch packs 100 milligrams (mg) of the stuff — that’s 25 mg per five-bite serving — which is a good amount of bang for your buck compared to pricier munchies.

You can also mix things up with dark chocolate and original coconut versions.

Cost: $14.99welleryou.com

2. Queen City Hemp CBD Seltzer

Prefer to get your CBD through a (eco-friendly) straw? Grab one of these delicately-flavored sparklers tempered with 5 mg of CBD per can. These refreshers are sodium-, caffeine-, and sugar-free for those with sensitive guts.

Naturally-flavored options include blood orange, passion fruit, guava, and our favorite, the intoxicatingly herbaceous lemon lavender. The Cincinnati-based company sells them online by the case, but you can easily find sixers at health food stores and markets throughout the country.

Cost: $99 for 24; queencityhemp.com

3. Sträva Peace & Wellness Focus Coffee

If you’re looking for a reliable pick-me-up that won’t leave you jittery and frazzled, try whipping up a steamy batch of this CBD-doused coffee. Small-batch Denver roastery Sträva infuses each 12-ounce bag of gourmet Colombia Supremo beans with 30 mg of organic full-spectrum hemp oil, creating a rich, fragrant brew that’s balanced in both flavor and effect.

Cost: $19.95; stravacraftcoffee.com

4. Grassroots Harvest CBD Gummies

Indulge your inner child while soothing your grownup mind and body with a few of these lip-smacking gummy candies from Texas-based Grassroots Harvest. There’s a full 15 mg of hemp oil extract crystalline in each potent morsel, so it also has your energy crash covered.

With nostalgia-inducing flavors like peach rings, watermelon slices, and tart sour worms, you’re going to want more than one, so be sure to restrain yourself.

Cost: $80 for 4 packs; grassrootsharvest.com

5. Extract Labs Raspberry CBD Tincture

Tinctures, with their high concentrations, simple makeups, and sheer versatility, are all the rage in the world of CBD. This Colorado company sells a wide array of natural full-spectrum hemp oil tinctures available in 15, 30, and 60 ml bottles, ranging from 500 to 2,000 mg of CBD per unit.

This newly-formulated raspberry number, a mix of CO2-extracted hemp oil and fractionated coconut oil, is ideal for jazzing up salad dressings, smoothies, or anything else that could use a hit of fresh berry flavor and cannabidiol goodness.

Cost: $40 – $110; extractlabs.com

6. Blue Ridge Hemp Co. & Goddess Ghee Golden Spiced CBD Ghee

Whether you’re stirring a spoonful into a frothy cup of hot almond milk or using it as an aromatic base for a mouthwatering veggie curry, this vegan CBD-powered ghee may be just what your inner foodie lusts after.

Lactose- and casein-free, and made from non-GMO unsalted grass-fed butter, each soulful jar is crammed with anti-inflammatory agents like organic turmeric, organic Ceylon cinnamon, organic black pepper and, of course, a whopping 15 mg of 99.7 percent pure CBD isolate per tablespoon. Now that’s a golden ticket.

Cost: $55; blueridgehempco.com

7. Grassroots Harvest CBD Dog Treats

We’re gonna get honest with you on this one — it’s not entirely clear good old Spot is better or worse with CBD. What’s been barely researched with humans hasn’t been tested much with dogs either, however there are folks who swear their furry friend has aged backward after a nugget.

And so, if you’re looking to soothe your tail-wagging friend, a bag of these hemp oil extract dog bones may help. They’re made with unprocessed ingredients like wheat flour, oatmeal, chicken, turmeric, eggs, apples, carrots, and garlic. Each treat comes with 10 mg of CBD.

Cost: $35; grassrootsharvest.com

Is CBD Legal? Marijuana-derived CBD products are illegal on the federal level, but are legal under some state laws. 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. 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.

Overwhelmed by 2020? Get your balance back with CBD.

Our doctor-formulated, vegan gummies are made with pure True-Broad Spectrum CBD: all of the naturally calming goodness with zero THC. Whatever your dose, find your chill. Use ‘GREATIST’ for 15% off.

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