The benefits of receiving a professional massage are well known—they can help with sleep, reduces stress, improves posture, ease pain, boost immunity, and relieve headaches. But did you know that cannabis topical massages are also a thing? Granted they’re more expensive that a traditional massage, but the pay off could be very worth it.

According to licensed massage therapist, Jennifer Chan, adding a cannabis lotion or oil to a massage has given her clients a bunch of added benefits.

Firstly, the analgesic properties present in cannabis have been found to help with muscle pain. In particular, cannabis can be very effective in helping those with sports related injuries or surgeries in reducing chronic pain and lessening the recovery period. Cannabis has been shown to help reduce skin irritations like bruises.

By adding cannabis to a massage, Chan observes that her clients are able to relax their muscles with greater ease than when she uses non-cannabis infused massage oil. This allows her to go even deeper into their muscles while massaging her clients, thus giving them a more full-bodied massage experience. Chan also notes that her clients who receive a topical cannabis massage report that the effects of their massage tend to last longer than those who receive a traditional massage.

And while massages do not treat skin conditions, clients with eczema, acne, or psoriasis may find that applying cannabis topicals at home can help reducing itching and rashes on the epidermis due to cannabis’ anti-pruitic properties.

Finding the Right Topical Cannabis Massage

While many spas and therapists now offer topical cannabis massages, licensed massage therapist, Julie Crispin, suggests that potential clients do their research so they know exactly what they are buying. Before booking a cannabis-infused massage be sure to ask the following questions.

What cannabis-infused topical products are they using?

Don’t accept any product on face value. Go online and research products to ensure that it does in fact contain cannabis. Along those lines, while CBD isolate does have some efficacy when used topically, Crispin notes that the effectiveness seems to be better when there is some THC and terpenes present in the product, so you’ll want to look for a “full spectrum” topical.

Even in a state where recreational cannabis is legal, Chan adds one should check with the massage regulators to see which specific products a massage therapist can legally use in that particular state.

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Has the product been tested in a lab?

Crispin states, “If the company cannot provide test results from a certified ISO 17025 laboratory, it is likely the results are not accurate.”

Partial or full body?

For those with a specific injury to say, the knees, or tension in a particular part of the body like the shoulders, a spot treatment focusing on a specific area can be effective in providing relief for that one area. Remember, topicals provide temporary relief. So when used for spot treatments, the client is required to apply the product often for ongoing relief.

However, a full body massage is highly recommended in order to achieve all the aforementioned effects. Crispin theorizes that a full body cannabis-infused massage helps calm the entire body with a microdose to all the superficial ECS receptors as well as any other pain/inflammatory receptors present in the superficial facia and skin.

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Research into Cannabis Topicals

To date, most of reporting on the efficacy of topical cannabis massages comes from testimonials and anecdotal evidence provided by clients who have received cannabis topical massages. There still hasn’t been much research into topicals when used as part of a therapeutic massage due to the ongoing classification of cannabis at the Federal level as a Schedule 1 drug.

According to some research, cannabis doesn’t enter the bloodstream when applied topically because the molecules are too big to pass through the blood brain barrier (BBB). Other research seems to dispute this finding.

Also, recent research noted that topicals don’t really react with the endocannabinoid system as previously assumed. However, Chan notes that she knows people who make tinctures who have to wear gloves while making it or they will get high: “I teach that this is a small potential here for people who use tinctures as spot treatment, but usually no intoxication.”

For information on the latest developments in using topical cannabis for therapeutic purposes, log on to Project CBD and PubMed.

 

By Becky Garrison

May 16, 2019

Becky Garrison is a writer whose credits include The Guardian, The Revealer, and more. When she takes a break from her iPad, Becky can often be found sailing, kayaking, biking, or sampling craft beer, wine, spirits, and cannabis.