5 Best CBD Ointments and Salves of 2021


You might have noticed that cannabidiol (CBD) comes in just about every kind of product you can think of: oils, lotions, creams, gummies, pills, beauty products, bath bombs, and salves or ointments, just to name a few.

In case you’ve managed to avoid the buzz, CBD is one of the countless active compounds found in the cannabis plant.

There’s still a lot we don’t know about CBD yet, but so far, available research does point to these benefits:

  • may help improve sleep
  • may help with pain and anxiety
  • has anti-inflammatory properties
  • can help reduce seizures in people with epilepsy — Epidiolex for seizures is the only prescription CBD product approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

If you’re considering trying a CBD ointment or salve, keep reading. You can check out our favorites and find out how they work, how safe they are, and how to shop for them.

CBD comes in many topical forms like balms, salves, creams, lotions, and ointments.

Salves, balms, and ointments typically use fatty oils and waxes as base ingredients, compared with cream and lotions, which usually use water.

While balms tend to be thick, waxy, and pretty solid, CBD salves and ointments are usually a little softer than balms. They’re a good choice for applying relief directly to aches and pains.

However, studies on topicals suggest that skin absorbency is pretty low compared with other mucous membranes — meaning that when you use a topical product, it’s a good idea to choose one with a high level of CBD and apply it generously.

We selected these products based on criteria we think are good indicators of safety, quality, and transparency. Each product in this article:

  • is made by a company that provides proof of third-party testing by an ISO 17025-compliant lab
  • is made with U.S.-grown hemp
  • contains no more than 0.3 percent THC, according to the certificate of analysis (COA)
  • passes tests for pesticides, heavy metals, and molds, according to the COA

As a part of our selection process, we also considered:

  • the company’s certifications and manufacturing processes
  • product potency
  • overall ingredients
  • indicators of user trust and brand reputation, such as:

Pricing

  • $ = under $60
  • $$ = over $60

Joy Organics CBD Salve

Use code “healthcbd” for 15% off.

  • CBD type: Broad-spectrum
  • CBD potency: 1,000 mg per 60-mL container
  • COA: Available on product page

Price: $$

This certified organic and cruelty-free CBD salve is made with a blend of phytocannabinoid-rich hemp oil, organic beeswax, and organic medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil. Thanks to the organic essential oils, it has a calming scent of lavender and eucalyptus.

The website displays reviews centered around all of Joy Organics’s products and customer service (all positive), so reviews for this particular product are a bit tough to hunt down.

Joy Organics sources their hemp on U.S. farms, according to their website, and uses a proprietary hemp extraction and purification process that includes supercritical CO2.

Joy Organics offers free shipping and a 30-day money-back guarantee.

CBDistillery CBDol Topical — CBD Balm

Use code “healthline” for 15% off sitewide.

  • CBD type: Full-spectrum
  • CBD potency: 500 mg per 1-oz. container
  • COA: Available on product page

Price: $

This nongreasy, non-GMO salve is made with essential oils and shea butter and coconut oil.

Reviewers are overall impressed with this pick. One notes that this salve worked well for her nerve pain.

CBDistillery says on their website that their hemp is grown using natural farming methods and food-safe extraction methods. Specifically, the CBD oil in their full-spectrum products uses CO2 extraction, while the CBD used for their 0 percent THC products is extracted with ethanol.

CBDistillery offers a discount for veterans. The product comes with a 60-day money-back guarantee.

GoGreen Hemp CBD Balm Salve

  • CBD type: Broad-spectrum
  • CBD potency: 500 mg–4,000 mg per 4-oz. container
  • COA: Available online

Price: $–$$

This broad-spectrum, non-GMO salve is made with beeswax, MCT oil, and CBD. It’s available in two scents: eucalyptus and lavender and “Calming Purple” — which is an unspecified terpene blend.

This pick is a hit with reviewers, one noting that she uses it daily, and others praising its effectiveness.

Go Green Hemp has an assistance program offering 20 percent off for life for active service members, veterans, people on long-term disability, and low-income households.

PureKana Topical CBD Ointment

  • CBD type: Broad-spectrum
  • CBD potency: 600 mg per 100-mL container
  • COA: Available online

Price: $$

Hydrating and moisturizing, this non-GMO ointment offers a satisfying cooling sensation, according to reviewers.

The bottle’s pump-top dispenser makes application easy, compared with tubs or squeeze bottles that can lead to messes or loss of product.

Reviewers say the pump-top seems to give them the same amount of product every time, making dosage simple. They also note that the ointment absorbs quickly.

PureKana sources all of their hemp from Kentucky farms and uses a solvent-free carbon dioxide (CO2) extraction process.

Their veterans discount offers 25 percent off their complete selection of products.

Harmonious CBD Pain Salve

  • CBD type: Full-spectrum
  • CBD potency: 500 mg per 1-oz. container
  • COA: Available on product page

Price: $$

This full-spectrum CBD salve is made with hemp sourced from a Colorado farm, using a CO2 extraction process.

Although there are only a small handful of reviews for this product on Harmonious CBD‘s website right now, they’re very positive. One reviewer says it helps with the onset of her migraine symptoms.

This product is also vegan, non-GMO, sugar-free, and gluten-free.

Not all that glitters is gold. It’s important to keep in mind that not all CBD products come with a high level of quality and transparency.

It’s best to buy from a company that’s transparent about where they grow their hemp and how they make their products.

It’s also important to look for a product that comes with an up-to-date, comprehensive certificate of analysis (COA) from a reputable third-party lab. Here’s what to look for on the COA:

  • Potency. Check the amount of CBD and THC. Does it match what’s listed on the product page or label? Some variation is normal, but if it’s off by more than 10 to 20 percent, you may want to steer clear.
  • Date. Is the COA recent, ideally within the last year?
  • Contaminants. Has the product been tested for heavy metals, pesticides, and molds?

Additionally, consider only buying from companies with a positive brand reputation. You can look into whether the brand has been involved in any lawsuits and whether it’s received a warning letter from the FDA.

Finally, check online reviews. You may be able to find reviews on the brand’s site, but keep in mind these may be filtered to show mostly (or only) positive reviews. Check third-party sites too, if possible.

You can test-drive CBD salves and ointments on a variety of concerns.

Pain relief

Some CBD products that come with extra pain-relieving ingredients like menthol, camphor, and capsaicin could offer even more beneficial effects to the addressed areas.

Skin conditions

Along with physical pain, CBD topicals like salves and ointments may be helpful with certain skin conditions.

The American Academy of Dermatology says that topical CBD products show promise for lowering inflammation that can add to skin conditions like acne, eczema, and psoriasis.

Other uses

CBD topicals may also be able to help with:

  • Arthritis-related pain. One 2015 study done on rats found that CBD gel applied to the skin considerably lessened joint swelling.
  • Nerve pain. A small 2020 study looked at topical CBD oil’s effect on pain. The study’s participants with nerve damage all described having reduced levels of pain, specifically sharp, severe, cold, and itchy feelings of pain.
  • Jaw pain. A 2019 study examined how topical CBD may improve one kind of facial pain that mainly affects the jaw. Researchers found that those who applied topical CBD about twice daily experienced less pain in just 2 weeks.

Topicals like salves and ointments are the go-to choice for localized aches and pains or the skin conditions mentioned above.

If you’re looking for a more measured way to take CBD (especially if you’re on the go), you may consider capsules or gummies. You can easily toss these into your bag and take them quickly, compared with applying a topical that can get messy during application and can come with a noticeable scent.

Gently apply your salve or ointment to the desired area, adding more as needed.

CBD salves and ointments are available in varying levels of strength. Topicals can be tough to dose since they’re not as easy to measure as CBD oils or edibles.

Generally, the dosage varies on some key factors like your body weight, experience with CBD products, the product’s potency, and the condition you’re addressing.

If you’re trying CBD for the first time, it’s a good idea to start with the lowest possible dose at first and see how your body responds. You can increase the dose from there as needed.

The World Health Organization says CBD is generally thought to be safe, but some people may experience side effects, like:

  • fatigue
  • diarrhea
  • changes in appetite
  • changes in weight

It’s best to talk to your doctor before trying any CBD product, especially if you’re taking any medications. CBD may interact with some medications.

It’s also a good idea to use precaution with any new-to-you topical products. Check the ingredient list beforehand to avoid any potential allergic reactions. Don’t use topicals on broken skin.

Be sure to perform a patch test before using them broadly. To do this, just apply a little bit of the salve or ointment on the inside of your wrist and wait 24 hours to see how your skin reacts. If you detect any signs of irritation, like a rash or itchiness, stop using the product right away.

CBD research is still in its early stages. But the mounting evidence and consumer reports point to CBD topicals, like salves and ointments, showing promise to improve ailments like pain and skin conditions like acne and eczema.

As with any new-to-you product, be cautious by checking ingredient lists and performing a patch test to avoid allergic reactions.

It’s also a good idea to check in with your doctor before trying CBD, especially if you’re taking medication. CBD may interact with some medications.

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. Marijuana-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.


Breanna Mona is a writer based in Cleveland, OH. She holds a master’s degree in media and journalism and writes about health, lifestyle, and entertainment.



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