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What Happened When I Tried a CBD Cream for Pain Relief

Photograph by Twenty20

The opioid epidemic in the U.S. is a heartbreaking reality, and it claims 115 American lives every day. Fortunately, awareness of the addictive nature of these pain medications is increasing and leading many to look to alternative ways to manage pain. One method that's quickly gaining in popularity is the use of CBD products.

CBD oil is a cannabis product, but it does not contain any THC—the psychoactive compound in marijuana—so it doesn't get you high. Although it's currently unregulated and does not have FDA approval, many are touting its effectiveness for treating everything from anxiety to eczema. I'd even heard from a few friends that CBD oil can be especially useful for treating muscle and joint pain.

All this positive press had me curious. Having three kids has done a number on my shoulders and rotator cuff injuries run in my family, so I decided to give CBD oil a try in the form of a pain-relieving cream. In case you didn't know, CBD lotions and creams are available online and ship legally to all 50 states in the U.S.

I've got to admit I was skeptical at first, but was willing to try anything that could possibly help with the chronic pain. And I'm so glad I gave it a shot.

It just seemed to get deep, much more so than pain-relieving topical creams I've tried from drugstores that tend to only provide surface relief.

The cream I used, Extract Labs Muscle Cream Full Spectrum CBD, smelled strongly of menthol—which I liked. I'd heard that other creams and lotions had a very distinct CBD smell, but this one smelled like the Mentholatum my mom would put under my stuffy nose when I was a kid. Shea, rosemary and lavender oil were also listed as ingredients and the texture was more of a balm than a cream. The tin that it came in wasn't very big , so I was happy to see that a little could go a long way.

I had read that the best way to use a CBD lotion is to really rub it in deep (CBD massages have become very popular for this reason), so I used its application as an excuse to prod my husband to rub my shoulders (because, why not?). And, lo and behold, the cream really did help to relive pain.

I noticed it almost immediately. It just seemed to get deep, much more so than pain-relieving topical creams I've tried from drugstores that tend to only provide surface relief. This was important to me because at $45 a pop, it also costs a lot more than say, an Icy Hot patch. I'd be lying if I said it took all the pain away, but it certainly helped. I especially enjoy putting it on right before I go to bed and after completing a round of physical therapy for the shoulder that consistently gives me grief.

CBD cream is not a cure-all, but for me, it's a great supplemental way of treating chronic pain so that I don’t have to go to the medicine cabinet. It's definitely not cheap, but if self-care is on your list of resolutions this year, this can be a great way to treat yourself with a pain-relieving cream that packs much more of a punch than the traditional menthol topicals.

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