Guide to CBD Massage Oils

The art of massage has been practiced for centuries. A good massage can foster a better sense of emotional and physical well-being. Massage lowers your stress levels, relieves muscle pain and stiffness, and improves sleep and relaxation.

Incidentally, these are many of the same benefits CBD oil provides. Extracted from cannabis (but without the high), CBD oil is a natural anti-inflammatory and anti-anxiety agent. Scientists continue to explore its potential health benefits, but if the research thus far is any indication, incorporating CBD oil into your massage may deepen your sense of relaxation and pain relief.

CBD oil already exists in a variety of consumer products, from traditional tinctures to more unique options, like CBD-infused shampoos and chewing gum. Given its potential for stress and pain relief, it was only a matter of time before CBD massage oils entered the marketplace. 

What can you expect when using a CBD massage oil? Whether you’ve made an appointment for a CBD massage at your local spa, or you’re considering buying CBD massage oil for yourself to use at home, we break down everything you need to know.

What Are CBD Massage Oils?

Simply put, CBD massage oils are massage oils that contain CBD. CBD, or cannabidiol, is a natural chemical compound found in cannabis. Don’t let cannabis throw you off. Unlike its more well-known counterpart, THC, CBD is not psychoactive and will not get you high. It does, however, appear to provide relief for a variety of health conditions, ranging from chronic arthritis pain to severe childhood epilepsy

For individuals considering CBD massage, two benefits of CBD oil will be of particular interest. Many people get massages to cope with pain, whether chronic or temporary, or to relax and relieve stress. According to the research, CBD may assist with either of those goals. 

  • CBD for pain relief: In studies of arthritic rats, massaging CBD gel into inflamed areas reduced swelling and pain, while improving movement. CBD may also relieve temporary inflammation and muscle soreness, such as that caused by exercise.
  • CBD for stress relief: As a natural analgesic, CBD has been shown to reduce stress symptoms related to social anxiety and PTSD. More generally, CBD oil appears to have antidepressant and anxiolytic (anti-anxiety)-like effects that may promote relaxation. 

One nice side benefit of a massage is how it makes your skin feel—replenished and hydrated. CBD massage oils may boost these effects. CBD oil shares a similar texture to regular massage oils, lubricating your skin to prevent any drag or chafing from your massage therapist’s hands. 

CBD massage oils are formulated to moisturize the skin without leaving an oily or greasy residue. In addition to the CBD, they’ll include natural ingredients like coconut oil, almond oil, or jojoba oil. Plus, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are present in high concentrations in CBD oil. These healing fats are known for promoting stronger, healthier skin

What Is a CBD Massage?

A CBD massage is much like a regular massage—except that your massage therapist will use a CBD massage oil as part of your treatment. Thanks to the analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties of CBD, you may leave your CBD massage feeling more relaxed than usual. 

For example, it’s normal to feel some discomfort during a massage, such as when the massage therapist works on particularly tight or sore muscle areas. With a CBD massage, that discomfort may be less acute than normal. 

How does CBD massage oil work its magic, precisely? When the CBD massage oil comes into contact with your skin, it engages local cannabinoid receptors in your dermis. These receptors are part of your body’s endocannabinoid system. This system works with your other bodily systems to keep everything in a state of healthy balance, from your appetite and temperature to your mood and pain response. Through your skin, CBD can bind to cannabinoid receptors in your peripheral nervous system. This interaction produces the pain- or stress-relieving effects some people feel when using CBD oil. 

Is a CBD massage right for you? CBD massage oils may be particularly beneficial for: 

  • People with temporary or chronic pain, including seniors with arthritis or cancer pain
  • Individuals looking for general stress or anxiety relief
  • Athletes recovering from an injury, or those experiencing muscle soreness

Even if you’re not experiencing a current health issue, you may be interested in experimenting with CBD massage as part of your general exercise recovery routine, or simply out of curiosity. That’s great. CBD massage oil may enhance the benefits of massage, and it’s considered very safe. In healthy adults, CBD rarely presents side effects

To be safe, however, it’s recommended that you consult your doctor first. CBD may cause side effects among pregnant individuals, or those taking other medications. 

Tips for Enjoying Your CBD Massage

In order to squeeze the most benefit out of your CBD massage, follow these tips.

1. Follow the product’s instructions.

If you’re giving yourself a CBD massage at home, read the product label carefully first. Make sure you understand how to use the CBD massage oil. The manufacturer may provide specific instructions for using the CBD massage oil, such as how many times to reapply. 

The label will also state how much CBD is in each dose. Ensure you understand this information so you can give yourself the desired dose of CBD and avoid wasting any product.

2. Get in a relaxing state of mind.

Whether you’re getting a massage at a dayspa or enjoying one at home, take a few minutes to set the mood. The more serene you feel, the easier it will be to fully relax your body and receive the full benefits of massage. Try the following:

  • Dim the lights to relax your eyes. 
  • Light some candles, or use an aromatherapy diffuser to release a calming scent like lavender into the air. 
  • Turn on some calming music or ambient noise to give your mind and ears something to focus on. 
  • Take some deep breaths.

3. Clean and dry your skin.

CBD massage oils are applied transdermally, so they have a lower bioavailability (meaning less of the CBD actually reaches your endocannabinoid system) than other CBD products, like tinctures or vape oils. With those, the CBD enters your bloodstream directly through the sublingual gland or nasal passages, while with CBD massage oil, it engages local endocannabinoid receptors in your skin. 

Because the CBD has less of a direct pathway to your body, you’ll want to remove any obstacles in its way. Take a quick shower or rinse before your massage, in order to remove any dirt and allow the CBD to work its benefits.

4. Be generous when applying.

Because massage oils and other CBD topicals have a lower bioavailability, it’s wise to apply liberally in order to increase the amount of CBD that engages your endocannabinoid system. Apply generously, and massage firmly into the skin, really working the CBD into your local endocannabinoid receptors. Some products may encourage you to apply two or three times for maximum effect. 

5. Wash your hands afterwards.

When your CBD massage is over, wash your hands with soap and water. Depending on the product’s ingredients, it’s usually best to avoid contact with your eyes. 

Even if someone else gave you the massage, it’s still a good idea to wash your hands, just in case your hands came into contact with the massage oil. You don’t want to risk rubbing your eyes and irritating them.

How to Buy CBD Massage Oil

Ready to try CBD massage? Before you run out and purchase any massage oil advertising itself as CBD, ask the following questions to ensure that what you buy is a safe, quality product.

Is it third-party tested?

Reputable CBD brands partner with third-party labs to test their products for safety. These labs will provide a full test result, called a Certificate of Analysis (COA), which includes:

  • A comprehensive analysis of the cannabinoids present in the CBD oil (such as CBD, THC, and others); and
  • Confirmation that no bacteria, mycotoxins, or other harmful substances are present. 

If a CBD brand has nothing to hide, you can usually find this test result in its entirety on their website.

How much CBD is in the massage oil?

You’ll also want to review the total concentration of CBD in the oil. CBD is a trending item right now, so there are many brands out there to make a quick buck. They may slap “CBD” on the label, even though the product contains very little CBD. Always look for the total amount of CBD in a massage oil. It should be noted in milligrams. 

What extraction method was used?

How CBD gets extracted from the hemp plant affects the quality, safety, and purity of the final product. For CBD massage oils, look for CO2 or ethanol extraction. Both of these methods are safe and natural, using either carbon dioxide or ethanol to separate the CBD from the hemp plant. 

Avoid synthetic CBD massage oils or any that were extracted using hydrocarbons like petroleum, butane, or propane.

This information may not be provided on the product label, but you can almost always find it on the manufacturer’s website. If the manufacturer doesn’t mention their extraction method, consider using a CBD massage oil from another brand who’s more transparent about their production practices. 

Is the product full-spectrum or isolate?

CBD oil can be either full-spectrum or isolate. This refers to the oil’s overall cannabinoid profile.

  • Full-spectrum oils contain high amounts of CBD, along with smaller amounts of other cannabinoids, including CBN, CBC, CBG, and THC (although the THC should always be 0.3% or less).
  • CBD isolates contain just CBD, and no other cannabinoids.

Research indicates that full-spectrum CBD oils are more effective at providing relief than those containing just CBD. However, some folks prefer CBD isolates. They may be subject to drug testing at their work, and using an isolate reduces the chances of causing a false positive test result.  

Is CBD Massage Legal?

Yes, CBD massage oils are legal. With the 2018 Farm Bill, the U.S. government legalized CBD at a federal level. Specifically, the law made CBD oils extracted from hemp legal. The majority of CBD oils are extracted from hemp, since hemp is highly concentrated in CBD, and contains only trace amounts of THC (0.3% or less).

However, CBD oil can also be extracted from marijuana, which may or may not be legal in your state. Always check your state laws before using a massage oil that contains high amounts of THC.

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