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CBD is one of the trendiest three-letter acronyms in wellness. The cannabis compound is in everything from skin creams to your gummies to oils.

If you listen to all the health claims — less anxiety, pain relief, and reduced inflammation, to name a few — it’s easy to see why CBD is the most famous part of the cannabis plant that doesn’t get you high.

While more studies need to happen, early signs show that CBD’s pain and inflammation-reducing qualities may help with sciatica symptoms.

That said, simply heading down to the store and buying the first thing that says “CBD” on it probably won’t help you.

Finding the right CBD is like finding the right workout app. Sure, there are a lot of options out there, but only the quality ones hold up to any scrutiny. You’ll want to spend your hard-earned money on the best of the best when you’re looking for CBD.

This guide will cover:

  • an intro to CBD
  • what the research says
  • 7 best CBD products for sciatica from balms to drops
  • how to choose
  • reading labels
  • how to use CBD

Cheat Sheet: CBD vs. THC

Both CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) are natural compounds found in plants within the Cannabis genus.

CBD can be extracted from cannabis or hemp. Legal hemp must contain 0.3 percent THC or less.

THC is a psychoactive compound in cannabis that produces the so-called high sensation.

CBD doesn’t get you “high.” THC can.

First things first, you’ll want to know a few definitions so you know what you’re getting.

  • Full-spectrum has all the cannabis compounds (called cannabinoids) — including up to 0.3 percent THC if it’s from hemp, or more if it’s from cannabis.
  • Broad-spectrum has most of the cannabinoids but no THC.
  • CBD isolate is true to its name: 100 percent isolated CBD, 0 percent any other cannabinoids.

With that settled, how do you decide on the right CBD product for sciatica pain? Since CBD hasn’t been specifically studied for that use, the main thing to look for is an overall quality product like the ones listed here.

Strength is one factor we take into account, as is the product not having any pesticides, heavy metals, or molds. This should all be verified by a third-party lab.

Also important, the CBD products included here stick to the law of the land. Unless otherwise noted, they’re all made with U.S.-grown hemp and have a certificate of analysis proving each contains 0.3 percent or less THC. If you have additional questions about the legality of CBD in the U.S., read on here.

Researchers have yet to zoom in on how CBD can specifically help relieve sciatica pain. Current studies do show that CBD could reduce overall pain and inflammation.

One 2018 review of studies between 1975 and 2018 concluded that CBD helped ease chronic pain for a number of conditions — fibromyalgia and neuropathic pain, to name a few.

It’s not cut and dry, but the gist of what’s out there on CBD and pain management points to CBD’s potential.

It’s not exactly the Wild West out there, but there are a lot of empty claims when it comes to CBD products. The FDA doesn’t regulate CBD like it does other drugs and supplements, so it’s important to do your own research.

We selected the following products based on criteria established by our team of medical experts. To make the list, CBD products had to:

  • be made with hemp grown in the U.S., which is subject to agricultural regulations
  • be made by a company that provides proof of third-party testing by an ISO 17025-compliant lab
  • contain no more than 0.3 percent THC, based on the certificate of analysis (COA)
  • pass tests for heavy metals, molds, and pesticides according to the COA

Beyond these safety guidelines, how do you go about choosing the right CBD when faced with a vast number of options? The next step is checking the label carefully and knowing what dose to choose.

First, starting with the label — make sure the product says it has CBD (or spelled out as cannabidiol) in it. CBD is from the flowers, stems, and leaves of hemp plants, not the seeds — so pass on it if the only thing you see listed is “hempseed oil” (read: not CBD).

Ingestibles vs. topicals

CBD products are available in different forms — some edible or ingestible, others topical. We’ve included a variety, so you can pick based on your needs. To target specific pain points, some people prefer balms or lotions, while edible gummies may help ease general discomfort. Topicals tend to take longer to kick into action, a consideration if you’re looking for fast results.

You’ll also want to check whether it’s full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, or a CBD isolate. Some studies have found that full-spectrum CBD — which includes all the cannabinoids, even a small amount of THC — is more effective because of what’s called the entourage effect when the cannabinoids all work together.

Broad-spectrum is as close to that as possible without any of the THC. If you want something that’s neutral in all other ways, though, go for the isolate.

Finally, make sure the company provides a COA.

What is a COA?

Choose a CBD with a certificate of analysis, or COA, which provides proof of third-party testing. You should be able to find the COA on the company’s website, but if not, email them and ask.

Pricing guide

Pricing for CBD products depends on the type of product and the strength of CBD dose you desire. The pricing guide below is based on the strengths we list under each product but may vary depending on your preference.

  • $ = under $45
  • $$ = $45–$100
  • $$$ = over $100

Papa & Barkley Releaf Drops

  • Price: $$
  • Type: drops
  • Spectrum: full-spectrum
  • Amount of CBD per container: 900 mg per 30 millileters (mL)

This medium-strength product has just two ingredients: hemp-derived CBD and MCT oil, a coconut-based carrier oil that metabolizes easily so your body can quickly absorb the CBD.

Papa & Barkley has a solid reputation, largely due to their focus on clean production and transparency. Their hemp is grown on farms in California (where they’re based), Oregon, and Vermont. Their manufacturing process uses “chemical-free lipid infusion” which, in more basic language, produces highly concentrated oil without any potentially harmful chemical residue (which can happen with other extraction methods).

Choose from two flavors, lemongrass ginger or natural. For those who want to sample Releaf Drops before investing in a full-sized bottle, try the 15 mL starter size. Papa & Barkley also offers a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Buy Papa & Barkley Releaf Drops online.

Charlotte’s Web CBD Balm Stick

  • Price: $
  • Type: cream
  • Spectrum: full-spectrum
  • Amount of CBD per container: 525 mg per 1.75-ounce container

Charlotte’s Web was producing, testing, and perfecting CBD products long before many of today’s popular brands were even created.

Like 1937’s Comfort Cream, Charlotte’s Web CBD Balm Stick has the added benefits of menthol and peppermint. It also has ginger oil and turmeric, the latter of which has its own possible health benefits.

It should be noted that the company drew the attention of the FDA in 2017 for mislabeling the products on its website as dietary supplements. This is not that. It is, however, a high dose of CBD for the price, and the roll-on nature allows for targeted application.

Buy Charlotte’s Web CBD Balm Stick online.

Kopari CBD Recovery Balm

  • Price: $$
  • Type: balm
  • Spectrum: full-spectrum
  • Amount of CBD per container: 250 mg per 2.5 ounces

This perky peppermint-scented balm offers pain relief plus a bit of bonus pampering for dry skin. Packed with nourishing goodies like coconut oil, cocoa butter, aloe vera, and shea butter, it soothes and hydrates, while easing aches and pains.

Reviewers generally like the “woodsy” or “earthy” scent, along with the effectiveness of the product in relieving pain. On the other hand, a number of people expressed surprise at the small size of the jar.

Buy Kopari CBD Recovery Balm online.

Joy Organics CBD Gummies

  • Price: $
  • Type: edible
  • Spectrum: broad-spectrum
  • Amount of CBD per container: 10 mg per gummy (30 gummies per container)

These vegan gummies come in flavors like green apple and strawberry lemonade. Joy Organics is a good starter for anyone who wants a CBD product without breaking the bank.

Gummies are a good entry point to trying CBD overall. They’re easier to use than oils and tinctures while often being more cost-effective per dose than creams and lotions. They do take a bit to kick in, though.

Buy Joy Organics CBD Gummies online.

Social CBD Meyer Lemon Broad Spectrum CBD Drops

  • Price: $$$
  • Type: oil
  • Spectrum: broad-spectrum
  • Amount of CBD per container: 1500 mg per 30 milliliters; 50 mg per serving

This is a strong oil perfect for people who have tested the CBD waters and are ready to dive in. The broad-spectrum CBD uses a base of coconut oil, and Social CBD has vanilla mint, cinnamon, pomegranate tea, and natural flavored drops as well as Meyer lemon.

The price tag could put you off, but there are also lesser concentrations with 12.5 mg per serving and 25 mg per serving for lower prices.

Buy Social CBD Meyer Lemon Broad Spectrum CBD Drops online.

Veritas Farms Full Spectrum CBD Tincture

  • Price: $
  • Type: tincture
  • Spectrum: full-spectrum
  • Amount of CBD per container: 250 mg per 30 milliliters; around 8 mg per serving

This line of tinctures is a bit like a choose your own adventure novel, but for CBD. There are five strengths from 250 mg to 2,000 mg per 30-milliliter bottle.

There are also five flavors to choose from: citrus, peppermint, watermelon, strawberry, and unflavored. In short, there’s a strength and flavor for just about everyone.

This full-spectrum CBD is for people looking for well-priced options. It doesn’t hurt that Veritas is extremely transparent with its practices and products.

Buy Veritas Farms Full Spectrum CBD Tincture online.

Sunday Scaries

  • Price: $$
  • Type: edible
  • Spectrum: broad-spectrum
  • Amount of CBD per container: 20 gummies / 10 MG of CBD per gummy (200 mg per bottle)

There’s nothing scary about these “gummies for chillin’.” The fruity little bombs (cherry, lemon, apple, and more) earn enthusiastic reviews for everything from acid reflux and menopause, to stress and general discomfort.

Each one is packed with 10 milligrams of CBD, along with 400 IU of vitamin D3 and 6.2mcg of vitamin B12. If you’re vegan, they also offer a version made without gelatin.

Note: Sunday Scaries’ published COA only gives potency. But the company does test its raw CBD for pesticides, molds, and heavy metals as well — that info is available by request.

Buy Sunday Scaries Gummies online.

If you’re going to invest in yourself and grab some quality CBD, you’re going to want to make sure you use it right and take the right dose.

There aren’t any official CBD doses, but that doesn’t mean it’s a free for all. Be sure to ask your healthcare provider about amounts when you speak to them about using CBD.

Dosage

Brands will often suggest on the packaging how much to take. These aren’t hard and fast rules, but can be a good starting point. Aim for around 20 to 40 mg to start, and then increase low and slow after a week if you feel you need more. Every person’s body is different, so you have to find your own sweet spot.

Using topical products is pretty self-explanatory — simply rub it in just like you would your favorite lotion. The simplicity goes for edibles, too, since brands typically state how much is in each gummy and all you have to do is eat it.

Oils and tinctures can take some getting used to though if this whole concept is new to you. The products come in a little dropper vial. Some have measurements on the droppers, others are plain.

Don’t panic if you don’t see measurements — just be prepared to do a little math. One drop equals around 0.05 milliliters, so your standard 10-milliliter bottle has about 200 drops. Once you know how many drops are in a bottle, divide the milligrams of CBD in the bottle by the number of drops.

Once you’ve measured out the dose to a T, tilt your head back a little and empty the dropper under your tongue and hold the oil or tincture there for 60 to 90 seconds before swallowing.

Studies and reviews show that CBD is generally considered safe. Still, some people may run into some side effects like fatigue, diarrhea, and changes in appetite and weight.

If you decide to go the edible route, it’s important to note that high-fat meals may raise the risk of side effects because fat can increase CBD concentration in your blood.

Treat CBD like you would other supplements and medications and run it by your doctor before taking it. This is especially true if you’re taking anything else, as CBD may interact with some medications.

We’re still waiting on more research for how CBD can directly help ease sciatica pain, but the promising news is that early studies show CBD can help with other types of pain and inflammation.

If you want to give it a go yourself, then make sure you get choosey. There are a lot of CBDs making a lot of claims out there, and your money is best spent on a vetted product.

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. Cannabis-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.