How CBD Massage Oil Can Make Massages Better
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a natural compound found in and derived from the cannabis plant. It has anxiety and pain-relieving qualities, in part thanks to its anti-inflammatory and mood boosting properties. Unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the most famous cannabis compound, CBD won’t get you “high” and is non-intoxicating.
CBD is an important component of a range of topical products, including massage oils.
CBD massage oils have all of the important benefits as other massage oils, plus their own added qualities. These oils reduce friction on the skin and improve the ability of the massage therapist to treat the muscles without stressing the skin. And while relaxation and pain relief are normal up sides of massage, CBD massage oils take both of these benefits to the next level.
In this post we’ll cover why massages are great for muscles, and how specifically CBD massage oil can create a better massage experience. Then we’ll tell you about the two CBD massage oil products we like the best so far and why:
Disclaimer: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate CBD products such as massage oil in the same way they regulate dietary supplements and drugs. There is not one consistent standard for quality and safety that each CBD product will meet. This lack of regulation plus the sheer number of CBD products available today can mean that identifying the right products are tricky. Always look for results from third-party lab testing and other signs of transparency.
Benefits of Massage and Massage Oil
Massage is a basic term that means rubbing, pressing, and manipulating the muscles, skin, ligaments, and tendons. Massage may range from. There are various styles of massage, featuring light touch to deep pressure, including these common types:
- Swedish massage. This gentle massage style is the most common “default” and uses kneading, long strokes, vibration, deep circular movements, and tapping to assist the patient in both feeling more energized and relaxed.
- Sports massage. Similar to Swedish massage, this style helps prevent or treat injuries in athletes and other participants in sport activities.
- Deep massage. Often used to treat muscle damage from injuries, deep massage targets the deeper layers of connective tissue and muscle with slow-paced, stronger motions.
- Trigger point massage. After overuse or injuries, regions of tight muscle fibers can form in your muscles, which trigger point massage focuses on.
Benefits of Massage
According to the Mayo Clinic, massage is part of integrative and complementary medicine and can be part of standard treatment for many medical issues. The primary benefits of massage include relief of pain, stress, and muscle tension. Mayo Clinic also points massage can also treat anxiety, digestive disorders, fibromyalgia, migraines and other headaches, stress-related insomnia, myofascial pain syndrome, injuries from sports and other situations such as soft tissue strains, and temporomandibular joint pain (TMJ).
Many people also enjoy massage because it can create feelings of comfort, caring, well-being, and connection with others more generally.
Why CBD Massage Oil
When you consider why you might want to try CBD massage oil, first explore the health benefits of CBD topicals.
The Endocannabinoid System
The human body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS) moderates multiple important functions, such as body temperature, memory, mood, hunger, sleep, and pain. Cannabinoids send signals to nearby cells as they bind to specific receptors on your neurons to regulate these functions.
The body produces cannabinoids, of its own: endocannabinoids. However, if it fails to produce sufficient cannabinoids to achieve stasis, it also can use phytocannabinoids made by plants, such as cannabidiol or CBD.
When you use CBD skin care, it is absorbed by the body, CBD circulates in the bloodstream until it locates cannabinoid receptors on the neurons and binds with them. This can cause multiple effects in your body, such as improved sleep, improved neuronal health or neuroprotection, pain relief, reduced anxiety and stress, reduced inflammation, and relaxation.
CBD Absorption Through the Skin
CBD absorbs gradually through the skin, and while it is slower to take effect this way, the benefits also last longer than faster forms such as sublingual tinctures or vapes. In fact, CBD topicals and massage go together well and create an efficient route for uptake, since rubbing the CBD in gently and slowly and then allowing it to absorb slowly is an ideal way to cover the skin with CBD oil and allow it to work.
CBD is useful in treating a wide range of health conditions, thanks in large part to those powerful anti-inflammatory properties we mentioned. CBD lotions, salves, and massage oils can help ease inflammatory aches and pains like sore muscles. Topical CBD products are especially effective at treating several types of chronic pain, including joint pain, muscle pain, and neuropathic pain.
The relaxing effects of CBD can also soothe symptoms of depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders, especially in combination with massage. Additional ingredients such as chamomile, sweet almond oil, or lavender essential oil can enhance this relaxation experience.
Another benefit of using a CBD topical such as a massage oil is that you’ll be allowing the CBD directly into the bloodstream through the skin, bypassing the digestive system. This maximizes how much CBD you’re actually accessing. People with inflammation in one area or other localized pain symptoms may really prefer CBD topicals.
Will CBD Massage Oil Make Me Feel High?
Especially for first time users, this is one of the biggest questions about CBD. However, although CBD is sourced from the Cannabis sativa plant, it does not produce any intoxicating or psychoactive effects. Those kinds of effects are down to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the cannabinoid most people think of in the context of medical cannabis.
CBD will not cause these effects, whether taken internally or used in massage oil. It is sourced from the hemp version of the cannabis plant, and is now legal federally in all 50 states. For anyone who wants the benefits of cannabis without the high feelings, CBD is the ideal option.
What Are the Benefits of CBD Massage Oil?
As you might guess, CBD massage oil brings together all of the benefits of CBD, CBD topicals, and massage. It’s among the most comfortable and luxurious ways to experience the pain relief and relaxation of CBD while bypassing the GI system, unlike with CBD gummies or other edibles.
As you shop for CBD massage oils, remember that the rest of the formula is important, too. Different CBD massage oils have unique ingredients that impart textures and aromas, and pain relieving, moisturizing, warming, or cooling benefits. For example, arnica is a natural pain-relieving, cooling ingredient present in many CBD topicals. The right combination depends on your preferences and needs, so do read those labels.
Benefits of a CBD massage include reduced inflammation, chronic pain relief, and soothed tension and anxiety. CBD massage oil also has natural anti-inflammatory effects that can help it soothe sore joints and muscles more effectively. As an antioxidant it can relieve gastric distress without serious side effects and encourage a quicker healing process throughout the body.
CBD Massage vs Regular Massage
The main difference between a regular massage and a CBD massage is simply the CBD—but that’s saying a lot. The benefits are real, although the massage technique remains the same. In fact, this is the easiest way to determine whether the added benefits work well for you: try it and see if you can feel the difference. (We can.)
What to Expect During a CBD Massage
A CBD massage works like a regular massage in that your therapist can target specific areas or try to achieve certain goals (for example relaxation versus working out a painful knotted area). Tell your therapist where you hold tension, if you know, and about any existing injuries.
You will often feel an additional cooling sensation from CBD massage oils, usually from a natural source such as eucalyptus or arnica. Remember to prepare for this and keep the room warm enough.
The Best CBD Massage Oils
To benefit your overall wellness and reduce that stress level, we present our two favorite CBD massage oils.
I Got a CBD Massage—Now I’m a New, Chill Woman
Faith Xue has worked in digital beauty for 10 years and is currently Bustle Digital Group’s executive beauty director. She was Byrdie’s editorial director for seven years.
Swiner is a family medicine/general medicine expert, covering a broad spectrum of both medical and mental health issues. She loves taking care of the family as a whole—from the cradle to the grave. Her interests include Minority Health, Women’s Health and Pediatrics. As a wife and mother of two, she uses real-life experiences to clearly communicate keys to better health and wellness for mind, body and spirit. She is the author of How to Avoid the Superwoman Complex.
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In This Article
Let me just start by saying that there’s nothing I hate more than when people tell me to “relax.” As a highly emotional person, this is possibly the worst thing you can say to me when I’m feeling stressed or high-strung, and I guarantee that I will do the exact opposite the second I hear those words (my ex-boyfriends can attest!). Therefore, I felt like I had come to a place that understood me when I walked into NYC’s Chillhouse and saw that all the staff were wearing shirts that said, “Don’t tell me to relax.” Finally, a place full of kindred spirits who understood me. If more people realized that relaxing is not just something you can tell yourself to do, the world might be a more understanding place.
For me, the concept of relaxing often feels like a nice but unrealistic fairytale. Yes, of course, I’d like to Zen out and release tension from my body and mind. Now, would someone explain to me how I’m supposed to do that? Clearing your thoughts and allowing yourself to slip into deep relaxation is something that feels quite unattainable in a world where information is exchanged at lightning speed and there’s always, always something on your mind—from work stress to realizing you really underestimated Jessica Biel after watching season one of The Sinner (just me?). Anyway, all of this goes to say that I walked into Chillhouse feeling hopeful but slightly dubious about the de-stressing benefits promised by its CBD massage, an add-on you can choose to boost any of its normal massages for just $15.
Keep reading to find out what happened when I got a CBD massage.
What Is a CBD Massage?
First of all, let’s talk about CBD—full name cannabidiol—which is non-psychoactive and is found in high concentrations in cannabis and hemp (not to be confused with THC, which is the psychoactive part of the cannabis plant that people associate with the “high” feeling). When incorporated into a massage, the only difference is the product used not the massage technique itself. So, while it sounds like something much different than a traditional rub-down, a CBD massage is just that: a massage performed with CBD-infused oils and creams.
Potential Benefits of a CBD Massage
- Calms inflammation
- Soothes anxiety
- Reduces chronic pain
- Melts tension
Health-wise, incorporating CBD into your routine has been shown to have amazing anti-inflammatory, antidepressant, and antibacterial properties, and lately, there’s been a boom of CBD products and treatments in the wellness space.
In terms of the benefits of CBD massage specifically, “CBD oil has natural anti-inflammatory effects that can more effectively soothe sore muscles and joints, which makes it great for massages,” explains Cyndi Ramirez-Fulton, Chillhouse founder. “It encourages the body to speed up the healing process and is beneficial in relieving anxiety as well as gastric distress. Our CBD cream also has arnica and lidocaine, which allows for additional anti-inflammatory benefits.” (As a note, arnica is a common natural ingredient that people swear helps reduce bruising and muscle fatigue more quickly, and lidocaine gives a soothing, cooling feeling). Ramirez-Fulton is clearly a CBD believer and told me that if she ever can’t make it in for a massage, she’ll turn to her inventory of CBD oils and creams. The second she puts them on her shoulders or anywhere tense, she feels temporary relief. “For creams, I love Lord Jones ($60) and Cannuka ($28). For ingestibles, I love Soul Addict’s hemp butter ($35) and Cap Beauty’s The Daily Hit,” she says. “Hard to say what’s working for me long-term, but I’m overall less stressed these days, so something’s gotta be working!”
CBD Massage vs. Regular Massage
As mentioned, the biggest difference between a CBD massage and a regular massage is the CBD. When it comes to Chillhouse (and most massage studios for that matter), the kneading technique doesn’t change. That way clients are able to really tell the difference of the CBD inclusion alone, as opposed to trying to figure out what’s a result of the CBD and what’s due to the rubbing motions.
How to Prepare for a CBD Massage
Just chill. No, but really, when it comes to getting a CBD massage, the whole point is to reach peak relaxation, so don’t stress out over how to prepare for the rubdown. Simply arrive as you would to any other massage and get excited for a calming CBD experience.
What to Expect During a CBD Massage
As someone who also wants to feel less stressed overall, I immediately took her up on her offer to experience the CBD massage. I told the masseuse that I’d like her to focus the CBD part of the massage on my shoulders, which always holds a million knots from sitting hunched in front of a computer all day. As I laid facedown on the massage bed, I felt the familiar hurricane of thoughts begin to swirl in my mind. Deadlines, upcoming projects, what I’d be eating for dinner (one of my favorite things to think about)… I tried to quiet my mind and focus on my breathing using a meditation technique I had learned last year that involved counting up to eight while picturing the shape of the number eight. It worked. I felt my shoulders unclench (though that may have been because of my skilled massage therapist). The last thing I remember was feeling a slight cooling, chilly feeling on my shoulder blades. Then, the next thing I knew, my masseuse was gently shaking me awake and telling me she was done. A full hour had passed. It felt like minutes. Slightly surprised at just how quickly it had gone by and how the tension in my shoulders seemed to have all but melted away, I floated out of the room in a hazy cloud. I felt inexplicably calm and, yes, relaxed. If someone told me at that moment to relax, I probably would have smiled serenely and said, “I am. Isn’t it lovely?”
While many people swear by topical CBD, more research needs to be done. Currently, the majority of the studies on CBD pertain to oral dosages, which, in some cases, have been associated with diarrhea, nausea, fatigue, drowsiness, and more. None of these results, however, have been tied to topical use as of now. As such, when considering a CBD massage, remember that, while it seems like everyone on social media is singing CBD’s praises, the science isn’t all there (yet).
Bliss out. That’s it. Simple as that. Following a CBD massage, there’s no need to immediately hop in the shower—in fact, it’s advised against. By going about the rest of your day with the CBD cream still intact, you’ll be able to benefit from the calming ingredient for hours to come.
The Final Takeaway
If you have the opportunity to incorporate CBD oil into a massage or facial treatment, I highly recommend it. It adds another level of relaxation, and you’ll emerge a chiller, less anxious person. As a very un-chill, anxious person, I can attest.
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Karas JA, Wong LJM, Paulin OKA, et al. The antimicrobial activity of cannabinoids. Antibiotics (Basel). 2020;9(7):406. doi:10.3390/antibiotics9070406