There are a lot of reasons to get massages. Relaxation of tight muscles, the relief of stress carried in the shoulders, tension-related migraine headache relief. There are many different types of massage such as deep tissue, hot stone, and the most commonly known Swedish massage. Swedish Massage works by using an oil or lotion to lubricate the skin while the massage therapist uses various pressure and stroke to warm up the tissue and break up knots in the muscle. The act of massaging the muscles serves to relax the soft tissue which has a cascade effect, releasing nerves and deeper connective tissue, and it also increases blood flow and lymph circulation through the muscles. The lymphatic system in which lymphs are found is a network that serves to remove excess fluid and waste products into the blood for disposal, which is why they tell you to drink a lot of water after massage, to help these waste products be removed from the body quicker. The only real difference between a regular massage and a CBD massage is the oil used to lubricate the skin is infused with CBD, made up of a non-CBD oil—called a carrier oil—mixed with CBD before being applied to the skin.
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How does a CBD oil massage work?
Entering into a dark room, disrobing to comfort level, and lying face down on a table, the massage proceeds as normal with no noticeable difference from a regular massage, except for the fact that the oil has faint marijuana scent to it. Even though full-spectrum CBD doesn’t contain any THC, it still might retain that marijuana smell because of the way the oil is extracted from the cannabis plant.
CBD (cannabidiol) works by targeting the endocannabinoid system. In the body, endocannabinoids interact with receptors on human cells and they serve to regulate anything from hunger, to mood and pain. CBD topicals can take anywhere from one hour to two days to absorb through the skin and provide relief to a number of feelings and conditions.
The main way CBD affects this system is by inhibiting the absorption anandamide by the body, therefore causing this molecule to hang around the system longer. Anandamide is a neurotransmitter that regulates pain. CBD also interferes with some receptors that bind molecules that promote chronic pain and inflammation, additionally acting as an anti-inflammatory and causing a reduction in these effects.
Topical CBD products applied on the skin doesn’t hit the bloodstream the way other forms might, but it can be absorbed through the surface to interact with nearby receptors, therefore when using this lotion or oil on muscles that are being massaged the CBD will interact with nearby receptors and reduce the amount of pain felt from the post-massage muscle soreness. With a regular Swedish massage most people are sore the next day, feeling as though their muscles were put through a meat tenderizer. With the use of CBD massage oil that pain is generally blocked and should not present at all.
Who can benefit from a CBD oil massage?
Anyone can benefit from a CBD oil massage.
The receptionist at a well known massage center on the south shore of Massachusetts, Kristen, says they get a lot of customers coming in wanting to add their “herbal ritual.” Most of these are regular people with normal stressful lives just looking to boost their usual massage. However there are some clients that need a little extra care, and this is where they see the biggest benefit. One of the anecdotes Kirsten told me was about a client with scoliosis. This client had come in and tried everything the store offered—hot stones, salt stones, aromatherapy, reflexology, cupping, and then discovered CBD. Kirsten says that this client described it as a miracle and they request the CBD massage service every time they visit now.
A CBD massage would also be a good choice for someone with arthritis in their back. A 2016 study published in the European Journal of Pain showed that CBD applied topically to rats reduces inflammation and pain in the rodents. The researchers in the study gave 54 rats arthritis and later, took half of them and applied a CBD gel to a small section on their backs. Using several different biochemical techniques they measured joint swelling, joint pain reactions, and “pro-inflammatory biomarkers”—molecules in the system that are present when tissue is inflamed. The study resulted in all of the rats that were given arthritis, then treated with CBD gel, showing levels of inflammation and pain similar to non-arthritic rats.
Other benefits of CBD topicals
CBD is an antioxidant, protecting the skin from UV rays, smoke and other pollutants that can lead to wrinkles and fine lines. Studies have also shown that it can help regulate oil production in the skin and hair and can inhibit the lipid production in skin cells that lead to acne. So it’s not surprising that CBD is becoming a big player in the beauty industry and with the rise of beauty influencers on Instagram, CBD lotion sellers are seeing a new opportunity to get in on the action.
Briana Deschaine, a makeup guru on Instagram, has also had a good experience with topically-applied CBD. Her profile—@brianadeschainemakeup—is one of the beauty influencer accounts blowing up. Briana is so engaging with her audience that she gets contacted regularly by companies wanting her to promote their material, including CBD skin care. Recently she was contacted by a company to try their CBD lotion and if she liked it to promote it on her account. Briana said that she had never tried the lotion before now, but she is loving the results and will continue to use and promote the product. The biggest benefit she has seen is in her hands. They no longer get tired typing at the computer all day, and her eczema—which was so bad it didn’t even respond to steroid creams—is clearing up. While we were chatting Briana pulled out a little jar of lotion. It had a pleasant smell, a little flowery, and when applied didn’t smell like someone had rolled around in a marijuana field.
Briana’s experience is actually in line with a study from 2005 that was published in The Journal of Dermatological Treatment. This study showed improved clinical symptoms of atopic dermatitis—aka eczema—in patients treated with hemp seed oil.
Should I try CBD massage?
CBD topicals, tinctures and salves are heavily trending among people interested in self-care options to reduce stress, sore muscles and boost their immune systems. While there is a small range of side effects to oral CBD use such as drowsiness, digestive issues, or in rare cases liver problems, there are no known side-effects for topically applied CBD. With all the data out there that show the myriad benefits to topically applied CBD it seems to be a safe and effective option for people looking to relieve stress and reduce post-massage soreness.