How does CBD cream work – and where can I buy it?

CBD creams and topicals are the go-to format for many CBD consumers. These products are designed for common issues like muscle aches, back pain, and skin conditions, and can be applied directly to the problem area.

With new CBD creams, serums, and balms hitting the shelves every week, it makes sense to ask exactly how these products work, and where you should shop for them. Let’s take a look.


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What are CBD creams, CBD topicals, and CBD balms?

There are many kinds of topical CBD products, all designed to be applied to the site of pain or discomfort. Depending on how and where they’re intended to be used, a topical might take the form of:

  • Creams
  • Lotions
  • Balms
  • Salves
  • Sprays
  • Patches
  • Roll-ons

Regardless of the format, CBD topicals contain a CBD extract (which can be an isolate or a full spectrum extraction) and an emollient such as plant oils or shea butter.

CBD creams are generally the most popular kind of CBD topical, thanks to their familiarity and versatility. Creams are easy to use and can seep deep into skin layers to reach tight or knotted muscle tissues.


How do CBD creams work?

All CBD products work by interacting with the endocannabinoid system, a part of the body that controls stress reactions, activates inflammation, and signals pain.

Specifically, CBD affects the functioning of endocannabinoid receptors called CB1 and CB2, which are found all over the body, including the nervous system and immune system.

CBD creams and other topicals have a more localized effect on cannabinoid receptors than edible CBD. Instead of creating a whole-body response, they stay in the dermal and subdermal layers of skin and don’t make it into the bloodstream.

Because of this, while CBD creams may create a soothing, calming sensation, they don’t have any direct effect on the brain. Unlike CBD edibles and oils, another benefit of topical products is that nothing is lost to metabolism as a result of digestion.

These qualities make CBD creams and topicals useful for treating several common conditions:


CBD cream for pain

When pain is inflammatory and localized, CBD cream is an effective treatment. For swollen joints or aching muscles, CBD creams can soothe while helping to prevent further inflammation.

The best CBD creams for arthritis pain should be thick enough to remain applied for a good amount of time and contain high levels of full-spectrum CBD.


CBD cream for back issues

Because back pain often has an inflammatory basis, sufferers can use CBD cream to help ease swelling and discomfort on a daily basis.

Many users apply CBD at night to make sleep more comfortable and promote greater flexibility in the morning.


CBD cream for anxiety

Although an edible CBD product may be more effective at soothing anxiety, topical CBD can also help.

Many sources recommend applying CBD roll-on or cream to the temples and forehead to help with anxiety, where the cannabinoid can help to relieve tension.

If a topical also contains fragrant essential oils, then applying the product near to the nose will give you access to the relaxing scent.


CBD cream for neuropathy pain

The tingling, numbness, and pain that results from neuropathy can often be alleviated by a good quality CBD oil.

While other treatments such as physiotherapy and surgery may be important for restoring function, CBD can be used to help manage neuropathic symptoms.


CBD cream for psoriasis

CBD cream has the potential to reduce the flare-ups of red, itchy skin associated with psoriasis. It can help to suppress overactive immune responses that often underly breakouts. 

Other skin conditions that cause itchiness and irritation can also be treated with CBD cream. Many users report positive effects when using CBD to soothe sunburn, while a recent clinical review highlighted the ability of CBD to help those with atopic dermatitis and scarring.

Also try CBD creams for:

  • muscle recovery
  • tendonitis 
  • hemorrhoids
  • eczema


CBD cream dosages

Getting the most out of a CBD cream requires knowing how much to use for your needs.


CBD cream dosage calculator

As with all cannabis products, newcomers to CBD cream should start with a small amount and increase the dosage when it’s clear that the body is tolerating it well.

That said, CBD cream is an extremely safe supplement, and there are no real upper limits to quantity or frequency of use. Many CBD cream fans enjoy high-strength, 1000mg products for targeting deep tissue pain and aches.

As a general rule, look to reapply CBD cream every 3-4 hours, or as symptoms begin to return. 

For skin conditions, it can be helpful to give the affected area a break from applications every 8-12 hours.


CBD cream dosage chart

Skin issues Apply a thin layer of CBD cream to the skin area every 4 hours. Check for improvements and ensure the area is periodically left free to breathe if necessary. 
Stress and anxiety Apply moderately to tension points such as the forehead, temples, and back of the neck. Try combining with oral CBD.
Pain Apply liberally to the affected area. Reapply every 3 hours or symptoms increase. Try strong, 1000-3000mg CBD pain creams 


Where can I buy CBD cream?

The places you should and shouldn’t look for topical CBD products.


Can I buy CBD cream for anxiety on Amazon?

While Amazon’s marketplace is awash with CBD oils and topicals, the online retailer doesn’t officially allow the sale of any cannabis products on its site. Because of this, the quality and safety of CBD creams on Amazon can’t be verified.


Can I buy CBD cream from Walmart?

A quick look at Walmart’s product offerings shows a range of hemp topicals, salves, and balms. But closer inspection shows that none of these products contain active cannabidiol (CBD) meaning they won’t have any significant anti-inflammatory effect.


Is CBD legal in Canada in 2021?

Like other cannabis products, CBD cream is now nationally legal in Canada. The Cannabis Act regulates the licensing and sale of CBD, helping protect consumers from sub-par products.


Is CBD legal in the US in 2021?

In 2018, amendments to the US Federal Farm Bill allowed CBD products made from hemp to be manufactured and sold across states.


How do I make CBD cream?

If buying CBD cream is an issue, you can always make it yourself. The basic premise is to combine a pre-bought CBD oil with an emollient of the right consistency for your needs. The longer you’d like the CBD to be in contact with your skin, the thicker the cream you’ll need.

To do this, warm your chosen emollient (shea butter, aloe, etc), before stirring in CBD oil. As this mixture cools, combine with melted beeswax and any other essential oils.

Check for the desired consistency as the mixture returns to room temperature, then store your cream in a container with a sealed lid.