6 Best CBD Sprays You Can Use for Pain
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We found six CBD sprays—one oral and five topical—that meet our experts' quality standards.
CBD sprays for pain
Are you thinking about trying a CBD spray for pain? There are a few important things you need to know.
There are two kinds of CBD sprays to choose from: Those that are sprayed into the mouth for fast, system-wide absorption through the mucous membranes, and topical CBD sprays that are applied to the skin for local pain relief.
Like other CBD products currently on the market in the United States, like CBD creams and CBD oils, these sprays are essentially unregulated. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has admonished some companies for making unsubstantiated health claims about CBD products.
But there’s no system in place at the national level to make sure these products are safe and effective.
Meanwhile, there’s growing evidence that CBD can reduce inflammation and ease pain, but most of it comes from lab and animal studies, says Kevin Boehnke, PhD, a research investigator at the Chronic Pain & Fatigue Center at Michigan Medicine in Ann Arbor.
“If CBD could help with anxiety, potentially that could help with some aspects of the chronic pain cycle, which is much more than just the physical sensation of pain,” he says. (Here’s what you need to know about using CBD oil for pain.)
Does CBD spray work?
“A lot of people report using topical products because they think, ‘OK, I don’t want to get high. What I want is just local symptom relief to this spot,’ ” says Boehnke. In that respect, “it’s just like using Icy Hot.”
Topical CBD products often contain other ingredients, like arnica or ginger, that are thought to have anti-inflammatory, pain-fighting effects.
An oral spray containing equal amounts of CBD and delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), called nabiximols, has been approved in several countries for treating spasticity due to multiple sclerosis (MS). CBD and THC are both compounds called cannabinoids that come from the cannabis plant. But THC is the main mind-altering chemical that makes you feel high, while CBD won’t get you high. (Read more about the differences between CBD vs. THC.)
A placebo-controlled study, published in 2014 in European Journal of Pain, found that CBD/THC spray helped relieve nerve pain in people with allodynia, a condition associated with migraine that makes people perceive even gentle stimuli as excruciatingly painful. Nabiximols isn’t available in the U.S., but manufacturer GW Pharmaceuticals is seeking FDA approval to market it as an MS treatment.
CBD “has a lot of potential for inflammatory disease, for pain, for itch, even potentially for cancer, but it’s going to be different ways of delivery and different concentrations for each individual, and that’s what we’re missing,” says Adam Friedman, MD, professor and interim chair of dermatology at The George Washington University School of Medicine & Health Sciences. “How do you know how much to use and which ones? We don’t.”
What should I look for?
If you live in a state where marijuana is legal and regulated, Dr. Friedman and other experts recommend buying CBD products from a licensed dispensary, where you can be reasonably sure that they’ve been tested for potency and screened for contamination.
Your next-best option is to be sure any product you buy has been tested by an independent lab, and that the company can provide a recent Certificate of Analysis (CoA) to confirm that it contains the amount of CBD on the label and is free from heavy metals, pesticides, mold, and other contaminants.
You should also decide which type of CBD product you want. They include:
- Full spectrum, meaning it contains all of the other components of the hemp plant, including small amounts of THC and plant compounds known as terpenes
- Broad spectrum, which contains all of these components plus CBD, but no THC
- CBD isolates, which contain CBD only
If you’re concerned about testing positive for marijuana, a CBD isolate may be your best option, but there’s still no guarantee it will be totally THC-free, notes Martin A. Lee, the co-founder and director of Project CBD, a California-based nonprofit, and author of Smoke Signals: A Social History of Marijuana–Medical, Recreational and Scientific. “An isolate theoretically should not show up in a drug test, but occasionally you hear of situations when that happens.”
Lee and other experts argue that full- and broad-spectrum products are likely to be more potent and effective thanks to the entourage effect. That’s the theory that components found in Cannabis sativa work together synergistically.
Best CBD sprays for pain
We found one oral CBD spray and five topical CBD sprays that meet our experts’ quality standards. The total CBD content of each bottle is listed to help you compare prices.
Reed’s Remedies Relief
$79, 500 mg CBD per bottle
This oral spray is made with full-spectrum CBD, and contains other cannabinoids including cannabigerol, cannabinol, and a small amount of THC. There are 6.67 milligrams of CBD per serving, and 2.25 mg of added terpenes. The company describes the spray as “mild and enjoyable,” and provides a recent CoA on its website. Each 15 milliliter bottle contains 75 doses.
Mary’s Nutritionals Burn Out Topical Mist
$45, on sale for $35, 250 mg CBD per bottle
Made with organically grown full-spectrum hemp extract, aloe vera, witch hazel, German blue chamomile and lavender essential oil, reviewers say this spray works quickly to ease pain, and smells great. While the company doesn’t post CoAs on its website, it provides test results on request.
CBD For Life Topical Spray
$26, 100 mg CBD per bottle
This spray is “the perfect application for larger areas experiencing discomfort, tension, or tightness,” according to the company. Ingredients include witch hazel, arnica, aloe, peppermint oil, camphor, and menthol. Reviewers give it high marks for treating pain on the go, and in tough-to-reach places. Batch-specific lab test results are available on the website.
CBD Medic Muscle & Joint Pain Relief Spray
$40, 200 mg CBD per bottle
With 3.1 percent camphor and 10 percent menthol, this topical spray also contains moisturizing ingredients like coconut oil. Batch-specific lab test results can be found on the website.
Sagely Naturals Relief & Recovery Spray
$28, 50 mg CBD per bottle
This topical spray contains “a proprietary blend of plant-based ingredients,” as well as menthol, peppermint, rosemary, and eucalyptus essential oils. You can look up a product’s CoA by batch number on the website, and email the company to view a sample CoA before you buy.
CBD Daily Active Spray Triple Strength
$38, 180 mg CBD per bottle
This mint-scented topical spray comes in a handy 2-ounce bottle. It’s THC-free, and contains hemp seed oil, menthol, arnica, and comfrey. Batch-specific CoAs are available on the website.
- Pain: "Cannabinoids, cannabis, and cannabis-based medicine for pain management: a systematic review of randomised controlled trials"
- Kevin Boehnke, PhD, research investigator at the Chronic Pain & Fatigue Center at Michigan Medicine in Ann Arbor
- Adam Friedman, MD, FAAD, professor and interim chair of dermatology at The George Washington University School of Medicine & Health Sciences
- Martin A. Lee, co-founder and director of Project CBD, a California-based non-profit, and author of Smoke Signals: A Social History of Marijuana–Medical, Recreational and Scientific