What Is a CBD Massage and What to Expect
A CBD massage is exactly how it sounds. It can be any type of massage therapy that is enhanced by the use of CBD within the massage oil.
Since massage therapy and CBD have many overlapping benefits, combining the two makes for an overall compounding of those benefits (think 1 + 1 = 3).
CBD is very much at home within a massage oil, amongst many other essential oils, and extracts of many similar herbs and spices. Again, when many herbs are combined, their therapeutic power is greatly magnified, even more so when combined with a massage.
Our oils were developed around specific types of massage therapy. Our warming CBD massage oil was developed specifically for use in deep tissue and sports massage. The original CBD massage oil was designed for use as a full body, generally relaxing treatment.
We wanted to make massage oils of exceptional quality irrespective of them containing CBD. Although CBD is the star of the show in our oils, they are professionally developed to meet the demands of massage therapy at the highest level, even without the CBD.
What are the Benefits of a CBD Massage?
It's hard to tell where the benefits of a massage start, and where the benefits of CBD end. They blend into a divine experience where one is truly complementary to the other.
Like massage, CBD can have a diverse range of benefits that permeate through the body, and ripple through the mind. Notably, the benefits are most notable when it comes to musculoskeletal and skin health, but also when it comes to just feeling more relaxed as a result of releasing tension, which may help with anxiety and sleep.
General benefits of CBD massage:
Analgesic (Pain Relieving)
Antimicrobial (Antibacterial, Antifungal)
Vasodilation (Improved circulation)
Anxiolytic (Reduces Stress)
We will now look at some of the research with CBD, which expands upon these benefits in greater detail.
CBD Massage for Pain
Topically applied CBD has been shown to help alleviate the sensation of both neuropathic and inflammatory pain, in a few studies (1), (2), (3), (4).
When applied directly onto the skin, CBD can permeate under the surface and communicate to sensory neurons, which effectively reduces the sensation of neuropathic pain in that area.
Conditions where pain is related to muscular tightness and tension can be assisted by the muscle relaxing effects CBD has on the nervous system, which can facilitate feelings of letting go and encouraging bodily relaxation.
CBD can also combat inflammatory pain firstly by reducing the level of inflammatory messengers that cause pain (5). Secondly, CBD reduces the impact these messengers have on the sensory nervous system, which results in a weaker pain signal to the central nervous system (6).
CBD Massage Oil For Arthritis
Cannabinoids have been found to reduce the inflammatory messengers that destroy cartilage, by modulating the ECS found within the joints (7).
Cannabinoids have also been found to inhibit the inflammatory messengers which seek to destroy synovial tissue (8), which may help preserve overall joint health.
CBD has actually been found to reduce the breakdown of bone (minerals) in mice (9), which may be a use case to use CBD preventatively for early arthritis.
CBD is able to reduce pain, inflammation and swelling associated with general arthritis (3), (10). In some studies, this has also resulted in improved joint function and mobility (11).
CBD Muscle Recovery
Reducing inflammation also helps support the relief of muscular soreness after training, in addition to the muscle recovery process.
CBD restores calcium levels within muscles (12), which is needed to form new muscle fibers from stem cells after training, as well as reduce soreness. CBD could help speed this process in theory, as well as alleviate soreness.
CBD may also reduce excessive muscular inflammation (13), which may help keep an optimal level for recovery, as well as alleviate soreness (14).
In theory, CBD can also support muscle recovery from increasing the delivery of nutrients and oxygen back to muscles, by increasing blood flow to muscles as a vasodilator (15).
CBD Skin Care
The combined properties of CBD as an antioxidant, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and moisturiser means it has anti-aging, rejuvenating and protective properties for keeping youthful and vibrant skin.
CBD boosts skin hydration (by moisturising and preventing water loss), elasticity in the skin, and quality of life in people with psoriasis and dermatitis (16).
CBD also encourages processes involved in wound healing, skin development, repair and maintenance (17).
It also has antibacterial and anti-fungal activities (18), (19), protecting against skin infections and conditions such as acne.
How Does CBD Work In Massages?
CBD works in unison with the therapeutic pressure applied to the body through a massage. After CBD massage oil has been applied onto the body, it is worked on and into the skin.
CBD is highly beneficial to skin barrier and skin immune health, pain, inflammation and relaxation because of the interaction it has with the Endocannabinoid System (ECS) on, and beneath the skin surface.
Both the dermis and the epidermis are home to cannabinoid receptors (CB1 & CB2), which is
how the ECS naturally maintains skin immune health, inflammation, pain sensitivity and blood flow through cannabinoid and cannabinoid related receptors.
When in balance, the ECS maintains:
Normal function of the skin barrier
Inflammatory tone (healthy vs excessive levels of inflammation)
Sensation of pain
Sensation of Itch
Cell cycles (destruction of old, and regeneration of new cells)
However, sometimes the ECS can become dysregulated, and lose its ability to regulate inflammation, cell cycles, skin barrier strength, pain etc. The result is greater risk of skin, itch and pain conditions.
There are a few things (that we know about), like infections, environmental toxicity and certain cosmetics which can cause the ECS to become disrupted in the skin. So limiting exposure to these is the first thing that can be done to help rebalance the ECS.
But this is also where CBD is most useful, because it can help to balance out the ECS, and alleviate the issues associated with its imbalance (as shown above).
When CBD massage oil is applied to the skin, it gets to work on and beneath the skin surface, by ‘talking’ to the ECS via cannabinoid receptors.
These cannabinoid receptors (CB1 + CB2) are located on immune cells, which allow CBD to control levels of inflammation within the skin. CBD can also control the sensation of pain and itch via talking to cannabinoid receptors on sensory neurons beneath this skin.
Skin cells also have cannabinoid receptors, which allows CBD to control the regeneration of new cells, and destruction of old. This helps keep skin youthful and vibrant, as well as keeping the skin barrier strong, to prevent skin infections.
CBD can also control the secretion of oils onto the skin surface, from the sebaceous gland, again via cannabinoid receptors. This means that, where skin conditions like acne are concerned, where there is excessive secretion of oil onto the skin, CBD may be able to help balance this out.
One of the main benefits of a CBD massage is no doubt the relaxing effects it has on the body, and the muscles and joints. This is mainly due to the muscle relaxing effects CBD has when applied through the skin, telling sensory neurons to relax muscles via cannabinoid receptors. Additionally, CBD helps soothe joint pain and stiffness through its interaction with cannabinoid receptors on immune cells, as well as synovial, cartilage and other joint tissues.
Massage therapy can help work the CBD into and beneath the skin more effectively than if it’s simply self applied. A thorough application of CBD massage oil, over the course of an hour or so can help increase the intensity of CBD’s benefits.
Side Effects of CBD Massage
Can you feel too relaxed?
All jokes aside, the few things to be aware of with a CBD massage is the ingredients within the massage oils. Some massage oils contain herbs, spices and extracts that some people may have an allergy to, whether knowingly or unknowingly. This may cause skin irritation.
In extremely rare cases, someone may experience an allergy to hemp, again causing skin irritation.
There are generally very little to no side effects when using topical CBD products, unlike when CBD is ingested. This is because most of the side effects related to CBD are due to its interaction with the liver, which requires it to be present in the bloodstream.
As we will review below, almost no CBD (or THC) makes it into the bloodstream from topical application. But in some cases, for certain individuals, caution is advised. Those people include:
Expecting Mothers during pregnancy
New Mothers who are breastfeeding
Full spectrum CBD products contain trace amounts of THC, so there are special considerations for the people above when using CBD massage oils.
We take a very cautious approach when it comes to even trace amounts of THC, because when someone’s career, or pregnancy is taken into consideration, we feel an overly conservtive approach is best.
For athletes who are tested in order to compete in their sports, special consideration is required when using full spectrum CBD products.
The World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) Position
“CBD is not prohibited; however, athletes should be aware that some CBD oils and tinctures extracted from cannabis plants, may also contain THC and other cannabinoids that could result in a positive test for a prohibited cannabinoid”
Cannabis is prohibited in competition only. In recognition that a number of athletes were being sanctioned due to the fact that cannabis remained in their system after out of competition recreational use, the threshold level for cannabis metabolite carboxy-THC was raised in 2011 from 15 ng/mL to 150 ng/mL (20).
All samples received by laboratories post-May 11 will be subject to the new threshold level for blood levels of Carboxy-THC (THC).
WADA advises not to pursue cases currently in the results management phase where the reported concentration is less than the new threshold (150 ng/mL) (21).
Also, for any analyses conducted from May 11 onwards, laboratories are requested not to report any THC case result below the acceptable threshold, regardless of the sample receipt date.
UK Anti-Doping position on Cannabidiol (CBD) products in sport
The use of any CBD product is at your own risk as an athlete, all athletes must adhere to the principle of strict liability and are solely responsible for any substances found in their system.
As a result, CBD products should be considered in the same way as all other dietary supplements – that strict liability will still apply, and the appropriate sanctions will be imposed on any athlete returning an Adverse Analytical Finding (AAF) from any supplement product, as with all other cases of doping.
Topical Application of CBD
Topical application of cannabinoids are mostly limited to the dermis and epidermis of the skin. However, there is a possibility that trace amounts may enter the bloodstream. Whether this is enough to flag a positive result on a drugs test is unknown, but could be possible.
More frequent use, for longer periods of time may increase the risk of a positive drug test for THC.
Some athletes may choose to use products infrequently, whilst monitoring their own blood and urine levels of controlled cannabinoids. Personal test kits are available with the caveat that readily available kits accuracy may differ to other tests used by governing bodies.
Athletes may choose to cycle on the use of CBD in the off season, where not subject to competition and testing.
Cycling off CBD may be chosen to eliminate and detoxify cannabinoids, to reduce the likelihood of accumulation especially over periods of longer use.
One study used topical CBD products containing trace amounts of THC (1.7 ng/mg and 102 ng/mg respectively) and measured blood and urine in users after three days of repeated use.
As a point of reference, here are the (approximate) levels of THC contained within each Gaia Guru product:
Original CBD Massage oil – 120 ng/mg
Warming CBD Massage oil – 330 ng/mg
CBD Muscle Balm – 480ng/mg
In the experiment, three volunteers (25, 26 and 34 years) put both salves on their skin over a period of 3 days every 2–4 h. The application was extensive (50–100 cm2, less than 1 g per application). Each volunteer put the products on different parts of the body (neck, arm/leg and trunk, respectively).
In none of the measured blood and urine samples could THC or its metabolites could be detected (22).
However, this study was only conducted over three days. Longer term studies where full spectrum CBD oils are used are needed to confirm whether they are safe for athletes to use.
As a disclaimer, due to the unknown impact of frequent and repeated use of full spectrum CBD, athletes are advised to use them at their own discretion, fully understanding the uncertainties and potential risks.
If athletes were to decide to use Gaia Guru products, fully understanding the potential risk, then the Original massage oil is the safest option.
Athletes who have been receiving regular treatments are advised to cycle off the use of topical CBD for a select period, engage in regular detoxification where possible (sauna, regular exercise, hydration and sweating). After some abstinence, athletes may choose treatment with Original Massage Oil, whilst being mindful of frequency of use and length of use between detoxification regimens.
Working Professionals, Expecting Mothers & Breastfeeding Mothers
Much of the above applies to mothers and working professionals. The principles are the same – that there is very little research, and we don’t really know what the deal is yet.
Expecting mothers should exercise caution when using CBD generally. This is less the case with topical use of CBD, because very little to any CBD really passes into the bloodstream after having been applied to the skin. This is even less so for the trace amounts of THC.
Both mothers and professionals can choose to use CBD massage products at their own discretion, and if they wish, can undertake self testing (with the understanding that tests are not perfectly accurate).
Does CBD Oil Massage Get You High?
CBD massage oil, even if you were to bathe in a bathtub of it, would be unlikely to have any psychoactive or high inducing properties.
Firstly, because CBD in itself is a non-psychoactive compound, it does not have the chemical capacity to produce a high.
Secondly, very little CBD actually makes it into the bloodstream from a CBD massage, let alone to the brain. So there is significantly less likelihood CBD would produce a high, compared to if it was ingested, which still is safe.
Thirdly, the amount of THC (which is psychoactive) in CBD massage oil is so minute, that even ingesting it would not have a psychoactive effect (do not ingest CBD massage oil!). So when applying it to the skin, there is roughly a 0.01% chance that the 0.01% concentration of THC would be absorbed. So we’re talking absolutely minuscule amounts, that would absolutely not produce any psychoactive effect.