Natural pain relief can come in many shapes and sizes—not to mention smells. So many over-the-counter products claim to miraculously heal you in a matter of minutes ... and few deliver on even a fraction of their promises. Take it from me: After countless college-related sports injuries and subsequent injuries, I've tried them all.

Then came Kado Skincare's CB2++, which officially launched in Houston this past December. Formulated and developed by sisters Dr. Jessica Kado and Dr. Rachel Kado—a dermatologist and immunologist, respectively—it’s the same patented repair cream that former Detroit Lions head athletic trainer Kevin Bastin used on his players to treat a variety of pains and ailments. That's huge, because many of the treatments and protocols used on top athletes aren't available or financially feasible for the rest of us washed-up collegiate stars or weekend warriors.

Not anymore. The breakthrough product provides inflammation and pain relief by targeting the body's CB2 cannabinoid receptor. This plant-based cream, loaded with a deep-penetrating essential oil blend, binds cannabinoid receptors without using THC or CBD—the key selling point for me. I’ve spent upwards of a few hundred dollars a pop on recommended products that contain THC or CBD, and despite the hefty price tag, none managed to put a dent in my pain.

Another key difference: CB2 is mainly operative in the immune system rather than the central nervous system, so, when activated, it doesn't affect your mental state like the CB1 receptor, which is what's activated by both natural and synthetic cannabis agents including CBD products.

For the last few months, my boyfriend—who recently had neck surgery—and I have both been using CB2++. Here’s what we've found:

  • Mercifully, it doesn’t have the typical menthol smell that comes with other pain-relieving products like BENGAY or Biofreeze.
  • It’fast-acting, but the lasting benefits are what sold usSure, we feel a little bit of immediate relief when using it as part of our nighttime ritual—him on his neck and traps, me on my shoulder, neck, and knee—but it’s the next morning when we notice the biggest difference.
  • My muscles recover faster after tough workouts since I started using CB2++, which makes sense since it's made with (non-marijuana) plants that target receptors for inflammation reduction.
  • Because it doesn’t contain irritants or steroids, I don’t have skin reactions (redness) like I do with other pain relief creams, and my boyfriend was able to use it directly on his scar about a week after surgery.

Basically, you get the benefits of cannabis or CBD without the side effects (yes, I have noticed side effects from previous CBD use)—or the unknowns that cloud the heavily saturated CBD market. It's strong enough to work on pro athletes but safe enough to use on babies. Plus, because it's a non-prescription cream, it's easy to keep on-hand without needing to see a physician for a refill.

"One of the great breakthroughs of CB2++ is that it has eliminated the unknowns associated with cannabis-based products,” Dr. Rachel Kado said. “With such a proliferation of cannabis products right now, the big questions are: ‘Which one of these will work?’ and ‘What impact will this have on the body?’”

Houston’s highly active and diverse population coupled with its history as the frontier for groundbreaking innovations in everything from medicine to space exploration made it a natural fit to commercially launch the Michigan-based company’s landmark product to consumers. It's available locally at Heights boutique fitness concept SWEAT 1000or you can buy it online for $40 per 3.4-fluid ounce jar.

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