For the last half a decade, CBD, or cannabidiol, has been the new “cure-all” wellness discovery. A molecule derived from a plant that has been around for millennia, banned for the last half a century, it is now remerging into society, and people are reaping the benefits of this medicinal plant for everything from chronic pain to sleep issues to anxiety and more.
Derived from the hemp plant and in the same plant family of marijuana, CBD is a non-psychoactive compound that can give you the therapeutic benefits of cannabis without the high. CBD can be ingested, eaten, smoked, or applied topically, depending upon what desired benefits you seek.
The “high” people experience from marijuana is from THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, which is only found in trace amounts in the hemp plants used for CBD. Many CBD products on the market are considered isolates, meaning only the CBD was extracted from the plant for use then combined with other complimentary ingredients. This is as opposed to full-spectrum, where the entire plant was used and the final product may contain 0.3% or less THC (to be considered legal in today’s market).
I’ll break it down as simply as I can for you:
Your body has something known as the Endocannabinoid System (ECS) which is a biological system similar to other systems in your body such as the circulatory, respiratory, and reproductive. Your ECS is made up of endocannabinoids, or a type of neurotransmitter that binds with your cannabinoid receptors in the Central and Peripheral Nervous Systems.
You have two types of cannabinoid receptors throughout your body: CB1 receptors are found primarily in the brain and nervous system, but exist as well in the connective tissues, gonads, glands, and organs. CB2 receptors are found throughout the body and support the immune system.
Your body has naturally occurring cannabinoids (two kinds, actually, called Anandamine and 2AG) which are produced on demand by the body, distributed to the receptors, and aid the body in various ways as needed.
Phytocannabinoids, or plant substances that contain cannabinoids, can also stimulate cannabinoid receptors in your body within the ECS when ingested or applied topically. There are over 100 known phytocannabinoids in nature, but the most common come from the cannabis plants.
As far as massage therapy goes, the phytocannabinoid CBD binds with the CB2 receptors when applied topically, and aids the body in things like reducing pain, inflammation, and muscle spasms.
Evidence thus far says no.
CBD-infused massage oil is considered topical cannabis, meaning it is applied to the skin for localized pain relief, soreness, or inflammation, and it is non-psychoactive.
CB1 receptors, as I mentioned before, are the receptors that need to be stimulated in order to get cannabis’s psychotropic effects, or to “get high.” CBD only binds with the CB2 receptors beneath the skin, while THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, binds with CB1 receptors in the brain and nervous system.
Even massage oils containing THC are considered non-psychoactive, as cannabinoids cannot, on their own, penetrate the bloodstream and reach the brain to get you high, unless the product you are using is considered “transdermal,” meaning the product does get slowly released into the bloodstream via your skin. You can also get high from applying topicals to your mucus membranes, meaning the thin skin your lips, inside your mouth, or up your nose, although you won’t have to worry about this during a massage. Damaged skin can also absorb CBD or THC into the bloodstream, although damaged skin in and of itself is considered contraindicated for massage.
Topical cannabis is great for those that experience inflammatory conditions, such as arthritis or fibromyalgia, those that get muscle spasms, as well as those wanting an extra boost of pain relief from their massage. Those that get CBD massage report back that the effects of the massage tend to last longer.
Anecdotal evidence is beginning to crack the lid on an even wider spectrum of benefits, including helping with conditions such as psoriasis, dermatitis, itching, headaches, and cramping.
For athletes, it is said that CBD reduces the healing time of soft-tissue injuries, so they can get back out to their beloved sports faster. CBD massage after an auto accident may possibly help soft-tissue injuries from whiplash heal faster, as well.
To put it bluntly, without much solid regulation in the industry, there is a lot of crap out there. For every good CBD product, I’m willing to bet there are at least two to three not so good products to dilute the market. In my experience, the better ones do tend to cost more, so I wouldn’t recommend basing your decisions solely on a low price point.
Since CBD’s grandiose emergence into the marketplace several years ago, the FDA has been testing the chemical content of cannabinoid compounds in various products, finding that many products don’t actually contain the amount of CBD that they are claiming.
There are independent testing agencies out there in which manufacturers can go through to get their products certified. For example, Canalysis is a cannabis product testing laboratory in Nevada which offers verified certificates of analysis for CBD, hemp, and other marijuana products. Looking for certificates such as these can give you peace of mind that the company follows good quality assurance practices and that the product you are getting actually contains what they are claiming.
If you are seeking out CBD massage, it’s good to ask what brand of product the massage therapist is using and how they chose it. A diluted market doesn’t mean there aren’t an abundance of great options out there.
CBD Clinic by Abascus has been one of my favorite products so far, and each batch is third-party tested. The testing process includes not just ensuring that what’s on the label matches what is in the jar, but they also test for toxins or harmful products that may have infiltrated such as yeast or mold.