There are people who check out THC content and ABV percentages with the same guiding principle: more is better. But as cannabis has become increasingly legalized and studied, this focus on potency has receded to make room for interest in things like terpenes and cannabidiol (CBD) content. In fact, people looking for therapeutic benefits are often considerably more focused on CBD content than THC content, because these cannabinoid molecules have a broad range of medical applications that include easing the symptoms of anxiety, opioid withdrawal, inflammation, PTSD, Crohn’s Disease, pain, and seizures. And CBD does it all without getting you high, which is solid for people who want the curative advantages of cannabis but aren’t looking to be baked.
Anecdotal evidence obviously links CBD to the relief of a number of health issues, but the strongest scientific evidence has been found in relation to childhood epilepsy syndromes. There are multiple studies that show it reduces the number of seizures. It’s been so effective that the FDA approved Epidiolex, the first cannabis-derived medication on the market. There are also studies that show CBD applied to the skin of animals lowered pain and inflammation caused by arthritis. Another demonstrated the mechanism by which CBD reduced pain caused by inflammation and neuropathy. But it’s worth noting there are more voices celebrating CBD on social media than there are studies backing these positions up.
We think it’s worth maintaining a healthy skepticism because there aren’t any cure-alls in the world. Instead of rushing headlong into a vat of modern snake oil, we have cautiously investigated products containing CBD. We urge you to do the same. Vape or smoke some CBD-heavy herb, take a CBD oil capsule, try a sublingual tincture, rub on some lotion with a high CBD content, or scarf down some CBD edibles. If they work to reduce a medical issue that is plaguing you, then you win. In our experimentation, we won repeatedly. In fact, we assembled this list of CBD products that worked in a big way.
It is worth noting that though we talked about weed a lot here, CBD is also harvested from hemp. Marijuana and hemp are two different varieties of the same cannabis sativa plant, and they have been bred for many, many hundreds of years for a variety of reasons. Both of them contain CBD, but whereas marijuana contains a lot of different chemicals, hemp is only CBD. If you live in a state where pot is still illegal, you will likely only have access to hemp-derived CBD. That means some of the items on this list aren’t universally available.
Alice + Olivia CBD Bubble Bath by Kush Queen
A hot bath is a killer way to relax sore muscles and increase your chances of having a good night’s sleep. And a bubble bath amps it up by introducing elements that soften skin and scents that work as part of an overall aromatherapy experience. This bubble bath takes all of those positives and increases them with the addition of CBD. There is 150mg of nano CBD in each bottle of Alice + Olivia CBD Bubble Bath, which gives you about 20-40mg per bath. It’s not a ton, but it’s enough for your skin, the body’s largest organ, to absorb like a sponge.
If you’re particularly sore or anxious and you need extra chill, add an Alice + Olivia 200mg CBD Bath Bomb to the bath along with the bubbles.
There are a lot of CBD bath products, but we like that Kush Queens are vegan, sulfate-free, gluten-free, paraben-free, phthalate-free, and free of artificial fragrances and dyes. Plus, they aren’t tested on animals. This means you can get all the CBD goodness without triggering skin sensitivity or allergies, and no bunnies need to go blind. -Alia Stearns
Awaken Natural Arousal Oil with CBD & Botanicals by Foria
There are lubricants with THC in them, but people who aren’t looking to potentially get high from their lube will do better with a CBD lubricant like this chocolatey, minty massage oil. It is formulated for women who are looking to enhance sensation and pleasure while they dial down any tension, discomfort or dryness, but we think it’s great for people who don’t identify as female as well. The broad-spectrum CBD that Foria uses should loosen tight muscles, enhance blood flow, and lessen pain signaling. But there are also synergistic essential oils and botanical extracts that are said to work with the cannabinoids in the lube to increase the aphrodisiac effects.
This is another product whose purity is wonderful. All the ingredients in Awaken are natural and grown without pesticides, and the final product is tested to make sure there are no pesticides, heavy metals, microbes, or other toxins. Our take: when things are going on your junk, that’s important. -Alia Stearns
CBD Chewing Gum by Endoca
This chewing gum is a discrete way to get 15mg of CBD every time that you chew a piece. Topical products certainly get absorbed, but those that are used orally allow you to maximize the bioavailability of the CBD. We love that because it’s a good way to improve our focus or ease anxiety quickly. But we also love how environmentally friendly this product is. Normal chewing gum is a legit problem. It isn’t biodegradable, and that sucks in a large way; it’s the second most common type of litter. This gum is made of natural ingredients like chicle, a sustainably harvested tree sap, that break down and dissolve when disposed of. Plus, there are no artificial sweeteners, colors, preservatives, or colors. It is totally free of aspartame and GMOs. Does it sound like hippie gum? Yep, but that doesn’t detract from it being an awesome thing to have in your pocket when you need it.
If you haven’t had xylitol-sweetened gum, this is a good place to start. It is a completely natural sweetener that is found in birch trees, and when mixed with wild peppermint, mint essential oils, and hemp oil, it makes for a yummy chew. -Alia Stearns
Organic Gummies by Balance
Available in packs of 100mg or 250 mg, these gummies are super high quality. They’re organic; free of artificial colors, sweeteners, and preservatives; gluten-free; allergen-free; cruelty-free; and vegan. A lot of people may not understand how awesome it is to find a vegan gummy, but vegetarians who forgo eating gelatin because it is made from slaughterhouse byproducts like skin, connective tissue, and bones also want to enjoy tasty, squishy candies. And these are for sure tasty. Made with organic fruit and vegetable juice, they come in a variety of flavors, including orange dreamsicle, green apple, strawberry, and cotton candy. It’s pretty awesome to find CBD products that taste really good but are also doctor-formulated and third-party tested.
We strongly urge users to go with the 250mg packs because each gummy has 25mg of CBD and that’s one of the highest doses available in a gummy. We have found them to be lifesavers when we get achy after a long hike or day in the ocean. They are also great if you work on your feet or do heavy labor. -Alia Stearns
CBD Cool Stick by Wildflower
Any form of CBD product can be beneficial when it comes to pain, but sometimes we like to hit the affected area directly with a targeted rub, and the Cool Stick is excellent for this. In addition to full-spectrum CBD oil, the product uses arnica, which people into homeopathy will recognize as an herb used to treat bruises, sprains, and muscle aches. The product also has peppermint essential oils and menthol crystals for an immediate cooling effect. Though we mostly use it for inflammation or muscle and joint aches, the Cool Stick is also excellent for treating sunburns, acne, and headaches. It works super quickly to alleviate discomfort, and the small size means you can carry it with you to use any time you need that immediate relief. Plus, it absorbs well, leaving skin smooth rather than sticky.
If you are experiencing tremendous pain, use the stick after a hot bath or shower; this makes it absorb better. You won’t find a better over-the-counter product. -Alia Stearns
CBD Peppermint Oral Spray by Purekana
We love a sublingual CBD tincture, but it can be hard to get an exact dose. The droppers make getting an exact milligram count nearly impossible. Sprays are pre-calibrated, and they allow a user to know precisely how much cannabidiol extract they are getting. For casual use, this may not matter, but if you find the perfect dose for your anxiety or your pain, you want to make sure you can keep on getting it. And with Purekana’s Oral Spray, the concentrated liposomal vitamin D extract used acts more quickly than a lot of tinctures. We love that in a big way. It doesn’t hurt that the vitamin D comes with its own wellness benefits. Heading into winter and long, dark days means we will take any vitamin D we can get.
We also like that busting this out in public means people think we’re using breath freshener rather than a cannabis adjacent product. We are cool with it, obviously, but we don’t wanna deal with anyone’s small-minded prejudice about CBD. -Alia Stearns
Ultra Healing Lip Balm by Serene
We are rapidly approaching winter and falling temps and whipping winds are big contributors to dry, chapped, and cracked lips. A lip balm is a great way to add moisture back to parched lips, but they don’t generally address the discomfort that comes with the cracking. That’s where CBD can do wonders by alleviating discomfort and soothing inflammation. Some research shows that CBD oil helps lips form new skin cells to reduce cracking as well as other oral issues like cold sores. Serene’s Ultra Healing Lip Balm is the highest saturated lip balm on the market, so it brings what you need in a big way. Most products on the market only contain 20mg of CBD, while this balm has 50mg (the tubes are only .15 oz, so it’s very concentrated).
The product’s unrefined avocado oil and shea butter add an SPF 15, which isn’t a ton but definitely helps when you’re out in the snow. Let’s be honest, any SPF is better than none. It might not matter now, but when we’re all old, it will be clear who protected themselves from the sun. -Alia Stearns
Full-Spectrum Tincture by Planet M
A tincture has its advantages. A big one is the delivery system. With a small dropper, you’ve assured a specific dose every time — that’s a win right there. Another advantage we dig is the quick working nature of using a tincture. Planet M’s full-spectrum tincture CBD is derived from hemp oil and works wonders if you’re looking for a recovery tool after a hard work out. The fast-working approach is perfect post-run or post-hitting-the-gym, giving the user an ability to ease back into recovery mode for the rest of the day.
The product is purely Hemp Oil Extract, MCT Oil, and food-grade essential oils. Each 100ml dropper will give you about 30 doses and run around $30. And, it’s worth noting that it tastes pretty neutral with a clear hemp oil essence that’s subtle and never overwhelming. -Zach Johnston
Cannabis Chocolates by To Whom It May
To Whom It May Concern is a cannabis chocolate company that makes both CBD and THC-infused treats. They make a premium product; all their bonbons and truffles are totally crafted by hand, including the nut butters and the cannabis laden organic coconut oil. The ingredients are all things any consumer would recognize, and there are no strange or hidden additives like emulsifiers, processed sugars, preservatives, or soy or corn products. They all begin with single-origin 70% dark chocolate sweetened by organic cane sugar. Flavors include cherry cayenne, smoked almond butter, hazelnut brandy, and hazelnut butter. Sometimes an edible can be considered acceptable because it gives you the CBD dose you are looking for without requiring you to down some oil or smoke some flower, but these are simply damn good chocolates. There’s no strange weed taste lurking under the sweetness because they use high quality concentrated full-spectrum hemp CBD oil.
The confections contain 10mg CBD and come in boxes of four, eight, or 24. Customers can opt to grab a box of a single flavor or mix and match to try multiple delicious flavors. -Alia Stearns
Hemp-Infused Honey by Luce Farm Wellness
The bottom line is that honey is delicious, but it’s also one of the healthier ways to please your sweet tooth. It’s full of antioxidants, beneficial enzymes, and nutrients. Plus, honey is one of the most easily digested forms of carbohydrates, making it a super awesome vehicle for delivering therapeutic elements like CBD. If you drink some in tea or down a spoonful, it hits your bloodstream directly, triggering near-instantaneous effects from anything infused within it. When you want to reduce anxiety, speed is a must. Made in the USA, Luce Farm’s CBD honey is made from hemp grown on the hillside of a sustainable family farm in Stockbridge, Vermont, as well as from certified organic coconut oil. The company uses an environmentally friendly process of extraction to retain minerals, vitamins, terpenes, and omega fatty acids that naturally occur in hemp, which maximizes the health benefits to the consumer. And at 10 mg per teaspoon of full-spectrum CBD, you can adjust the amount you ingest to get exactly the effect you seek.
We have gone over a lot of the health benefits on this one, because there really are a lot of them, but it’s worth noting that this stuff is very, very tasty as well. We got in the habit of putting it in our coffee every morning, and it really improved our focus and willingness to sit down and get our writing done instead of compulsively scrolling through Instagram. -Alia Stearns
Mad Tasty CBD Infused Water
What I like most about Mad Tasty — a CBD water from Interscope (yes, the record company) and One Republic frontman Ryan Tedder — is the flavor. I haven’t yet jumped aboard the sparkling water craze and I’m sure I pronounce La Croix wrong, but I have to admit: The taste here is just fantastic. It’s basically mineral water with just a little fruit essence. A whisper of grapefruit; a lingering note watermelon and kiwi. Good stuff.
What do I like second-most? The CBD — which leaves me energized but not anxious and creative but not stressed. It’s a nicely balanced product that carries no hemp flavor and also only has five calories. Like many of the CBD brands on this list, the Mad Tasty crew did a ton of research before stepping into the market, which they make readily available on their site.
Okay, what do I like the third most? The brand works with Drop4Drop to give 12 ounces of clean drinking water to communities in need for every 12 ounces of CBD water they produce. Hopefully, that’s the sort of thinking that can help change the world… it definitely feels that way when you have CBD running through your veins and you’re feeling inspired. -Steve Bramucci
Tri-Sleep Strips by Able CBD
Here’s my thing: I think sleep is important. It’s not really a revolutionary stance, but it often feels like that in this 24/7, media infused, workaday world. So a CBD product literally aimed solely at my sleep cycle is exactly what I want and need. And they don’t come any easier than this one. The Tri-Sleep strip just dissolves on your tongue like those old breath strips. (It actually has a mint flavor that’s also reminiscent of those, though not so chemical-y.)
The result? I slept quietly and cozily, which is pretty easy for me but not so easy for my partner, who gets restless at night. After hoarding my stash for a few days (they cost $39), I gave her a strip and she knocked out — at least enough to mention it in the morning, which seems solid. According to Able CBD, “By dissolving sublingually and bypassing the digestive system (liver and stomach) CBD absorption rates are capable of reaching 90-95%.” That sounds… reasonable. Though, as Alia noted above, the lab data and studies on cannabinoids, in general, are severely lacking.
The Tri-Sleep strips also have 5HTP — a mood-enhancing supplement which I personally take daily — and melatonin. But perhaps the best sign of the company is just how transparent they are and how eagerly they share information on how CBD works and the philosophies behind their product. -Steve Bramucci
CBD Synergies-SP Sleep Formula
Okay, this is a good place to finish things off. Because most of the products on this list score a solid seven or eight on the science and transparency scale, but CBD Synergies is a 10. Their website is literally loaded with science, not just about cannabinoids, but also about absorption, effects, and dosage. The product is made with the brand’s own proprietary PharmaGABA and melatonin, as well as full-spectrum CBD and 5HTP.
My personal experience with this product wasn’t that grog-inducing, dead-to-the-world sleep that a few glugs of Nyquil offer. It was a steady, restful sleep and — more important and difficult to achieve for me — a nice, calm wake up. I liked who I was in the morning and didn’t wake with work anxiety. That’s harder for me to put a price on than sleep alone (at nearly $70 per 1.7fl bottle, CBD Synergies obviously has put a price on it).
I don’t struggle with “falling” asleep enough to really recommend anything in that vein. That part is really simple for me. But I definitely recommend this in superlative terms for “how” you sleep and how much rest you accumulate from those hours you spend horizontal. -Steve Bramucci