Comparing 2 CBD Roll-on Products

CBD companies are coming out with new products that blur the line between cannabis and pharmaceuticals. I tried two “high strength” roll-on products that are marketed to relieve muscle and joint pain. Both helped relieve the tendonitis pain in my hands that wakes me up at night. Both contain CBD along with ingredients like lidocaine (in the cbdMD product); and menthol, cayenne extract, and capsaicin (in the Green Roads product). These are ingredients available in other OTC products meant to treat joint pain.  The U.S. FDA (as of 12/20) has not finalized their rules about CBD.

Green Roads and cbdMD are using slightly different approaches for their products.

Green Roads uses terms like “heat relief” for their CBD Muscle and Joint roll-on. They also have the disclaimer that “this product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.” Their “mighty” strength roll-on has 750mg of broad spectrum CBD in a 3 oz. roll-on.

CbdMD takes a different approach. They have a “Drug Facts” panel that lists Lidocaine HCL 4% as the lone active ingredient. They add a whopping 3000 mg of broad spectrum CBD to their 2.5 oz. roll-on. Because 4% lidocaine is FDA approved for topical pain relief they are free to label their product “for temporary relief of pain.”

I found some obvious differences between the two products. The Green Roads roll-on smelled like menthol and my hands tingled a bit after using it. This actually felt good, and it gives the immediate sense that something is working. Products like Icy Hot and Ben Gay work this way – as a “counter irritant” that tricks the brain into not feeling the pain. Capsaicin sometimes feels hot to the touch too, but it also blocks pain transmission from the periphery to the central nervous system. I don’t think there is actually much capsaicin in the green roads product, as it is the very last ingredient listed.

The cbdMD product soaks into the skin quickly, like the other roll-on. There is no fragrance, no tingle, no immediate sensation at all. I just noticed some pain relief after a few minutes. This product takes longer to work, but it seems to relieve pain longer. I never woke up needing a second dose with this product. I don’t know if it’s the lidocaine or the super-strength of CBD that contributes to the longer pain relief.

I’d give a slight edge to the cbdMD roll-on.  I like the initial sensation from the Green Roads roll-on and I would be happy continuing to use it.  The cbdMD roll-on gave me longer-lasting relief.

We’re getting pretty far from the plant with these products, but I imagine they will be accepted by consumers who may shy away from other cannabis products.   If you want to make your own CBD topical try our salve recipe. The menthol makes it more like the Green Roads product.

Disclaimer – I received these products from Cannabis Pharmacy to sample and to review them.  

How to make CBD and CBDA Menthol Salve to relieve aches and pains

It’s easy to make a homemade hemp salve to help soothe your achy joints.  I use it at night for arthritis pain in my hands.  I made this batch with hemp flower that I ordered last year when it first came on the market.  I bought a lot more than I needed and I mixed a little over an ounce together.  I decarbed 3/4 of the total in order to convert the CBDA to CBD.  I left the remaining 1/4 “raw” so that the salve contained some CBDA as well as CBD. While CBDA has not been as widely studied as CBD, there is evidence that it is a COX2 inhibitor (like Celebrex).  These substances are a subclass of NSAIDs – non-steroidal antiinflammatories. – which are used to treat arthritis.

Homemade help salve to help aches and pains.

Homemade hemp salve to help relieve aches and pains.

The first step is to infuse some coconut oil with the CBD and CBDA. Infused coconut oil is especially easy to make with a Magical Butter machine or an Infusium 420, but there are also recipes that use a crock pot.   If you are using one of the machines you simply load in 8-12 ounces of coconut oil (which is semi-solid at room temperature) and an ounce or more of plant material (and optionally a small amount of lecithin). Run the machine through a cycle, using either the oil button or the butter button.  You strain the resulting warmed liquid oil and pour it back into the jar.

If you let this sit at room temperature it will harden again.  You can actually use it in edibles as well as in salve. To make the salve from the infused coconut oil follow the following instructions:


  • 1 cup infused coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup beeswax (or shea butter or cocoa butter)
  • 1 TSP menthol crystals
  • Other essential oils as desired.  Some to consider are calendula, lavender, arnica, and tea tree oils.

In a double boiler or a pan set on top of a pot with simmering water, melt infused coconut oil. (I set the jar of infused coconut oil into a pyrex bowl and added almost-boiling water from a tea kettle to melt the oil.)

Add olive oil to the infused coconut oil. (This is said to help create a smoother finished product and improves absorption.) Break-up the beeswax or heat it so that it dissolves in the coconut oil.  (The beeswax is to reduce greasiness.) It can take a long time for the beeswax to dissolve. Remove from heat and add the menthol and the essential oils. Stir or whip the mixture until a smooth texture is achieved. Place in cosmetics containers and cool completely. (Based on a recipe from the Infusium 420 cookbook.)

You can optionally add some powdered CBD isolate to the salve to boost the CBD content. I did the math estimating that 75% of the CBDA from my original plant material made it into the infused coconut oil, and I wanted a stronger finished product. I added 1 gram of CBD isolate powder to the hot mixture and it dissolved readily.

You can, of course, make a similar salve from marijuana and you will have THC and THCA in your salve instead of (or in addition to) CBD and CBDA.  There is good research suggesting that a blend of THC and CBD may relieve pain better than either alone.  Living in an illegal state, my salve is made from hemp.