Massages aren’t just a little treat or self-care for me, they’re essential for my stress management — and my sore muscles. My body swells from damage during weight lifting, and a massage is one of the only things that will bring down the inflammation. I’m also a worrier who can worry about how much I worry. Despite the anti-anxiety and inflammation-fighting benefits of CBD oil, it never crossed my mind to get a cannabis massage.
In fact, I got a cannabis massage completely by chance. To make sure I follow through on getting routine massages, I signed up for a massage membership at Chillhouse on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. That means I get a discount on massage add-ons like hot stones, muscle soother balm, and yes, even CBD oil. It also ensures I have a 50-minute massage every month, but I have two months to use each credit in case something comes up.
I’m a creature of habit. Once I find something I like, I stick to it. That’s why I always book Chillhouse’s The Works standard massage with the same masseuse, plus a muscle soother balm because, as previously mentioned, my body takes a beating. I showed up for my massage as usual last month, but they were out of the muscle soother. My masseuse, who I found after trying out a couple others there who were skilled but not a perfect fit for me, suggested going with the CBD oil instead. I probably would have said no if it were anyone else, but she’s amazing and I trust her, so I agreed.
Wait, what is CBD oil and is it even legal?
So why are you seeing this option offered at more spas? What’s so great about CBD oil, anyway, and can it really do that much since they’re applying it topically? First things first, though, no, CBD oil and cannabis massages do not get you stoned. CBD is cannabidiol, a naturally occurring chemical in the Cannabis sativa plant. It does not include any THC, the component that gives pot its highly prized status (see what we did there?).
Cannabis sativa actually produces around 400 different compounds, called cannabinoids. But cannabidiol, or CBD, is the one with the most health benefits and the one you’ll find listed among your spa’s treatments. And, yes, since CBD doesn’t produce any of those high effects, it’s legal almost everywhere. (The DEA even said they’re not going to arrest people for CBD use in Indiana, after there was a state crackdown on stores selling the product.) It is not, however, currently regulated by the FDA, so it pays to do some research before you buy a bottle or hand over your credit card at the spa.
What are the benefits of CBD oil and why is it used in massage?
CBD oil interacts with our bodies through the endocannabinoid system, a network of neurons that are involved in many of your body’s processes, from appetite and mood to pain and memory. And it’s in these processes that you might see some benefits from using CBD oil or getting a cannabis massage.
Many of the health benefits of CBD oil that have research to back them up are for medical conditions. There’s evidence that CBD shows promise as a therapy for epileptic seizures. The compound also boasts a neuroprotective effect that could make it part of a well-rounded treatment for Alzheimer’s disease. But what you might see during a cannabis massage is CBD’s effects on inflammation. Since it works within that network of nerves, it’s able to calm the body’s inflammatory responses. It has also been shown to help people suffering from PTSD to forget painful memories. That means it can also ease your everyday worries.
Reduced inflammation and anxiety relief both make for a successful massage experience, but how effective is CBD oil? Rest assured that your skin does absorb CBD oil, so lotions or oils with the compound should go to work while you relax.
Here’s what it’s like to get a cannabis massage
Since I sign up for literally the same massage every time I go to Chillhouse, I know exactly what to expect. I always leave their spa-slash-coffeehouse lighter, more relaxed, and significantly less puffy than when I walked in. But even just a couple hours after the massage, the anxiety creeps back in. I’m hardwired that way.
For most the massage I didn’t notice a difference. My masseuse was amazing, as she always is, and found the areas that needed work without prompting. My shoulders and back felt looser and I had let go of some stress, despite the pain that came with working out some of my knots. I generally try to stay away during massages. I want to remember and appreciate feeling relaxed and pampered, after all. But towards the end of the massage, I struggled to keep my eyes open.
The treatment had eased a good amount of my inflammation, which is typical of my experience here. My ankles felt smaller, my legs looked a little leaner, and I felt less puffy despite the humid weather. These are all some of things that keep me coming back for this treatment. I can’t say I looked any different with the CBD oil treatment versus my standard muscle soother, but I do think I looked less puffy for longer.
The best part of my cannabis massage
But the clear difference struck me as I sunk down into the corner of a cab on my way home. I was nodding off. There was no way to deny the difference. My massage was no later than usual, my day no more taxing. But I couldn’t keep my eyes open.
As soon as the cab pulled up to the curb, I headed into the apartment and curled up for a nap. Normally that would make me wired until late in the night, but I slept all the way through. In fact, I slept better than I have in a long time. No, I can’t prove it was the CBD that gave me my night of zen. But I do know I’ll be booking another cannabis massage, and soon.