Updated on January 21, 2020.
Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
Massage therapy and cannabis can be a good match for those seeking to relax muscles, calm stress and alleviate pain. That’s why Marijuana-infused topicals are appearing in more spa and massage therapy settings, enhancing the natural relaxing and healing properties of massage and helping therapists to work deeply and effectively.
You can use medical marijuana in many different ways, from vaping to edibles. However, for massage therapy, In a massage setting, you are most likely to encounter specialized cannabis-infused massage lotions and oils. Marijuana topicals are products that are infused with cannabis extract, much like essential oils. As a category, topicals contain a wide range of products, but the most common include:
What Type of Marijuana Is Used in Massages?
You can use medical marijuana in many different ways, from vaping to edibles. However, for massage therapy, the best method is through topicals. Marijuana topicals are products that are infused with cannabis extract, much like essential oils. As a category, topicals contain a wide range of products, but the most common include:
In a massage setting, you are most likely to encounter specialized cannabis-infused massage lotions and oils.
Choosing the Right Topical Cannabis
For many people, massages may be their first experience with cannabis. Because most cannabis-infused topicals contain only around 0.3 percent THC, it’s almost impossible to get a “high” from using them. This makes low-THC topicals widely appealing, especially when coupled with a professional massage.
If you visit a cannabis massage clinic, you will most likely see a range of CBD massage oils. These can range from hemp-infused lotions to salves made from marijuana strains with low-THC content. Many massage clinics use products derived from hemp in their topicals. Not only does hemp cannabis have high levels of CBD, it only has a minuscule amount of THC, making it well-suited for patients who are hesitant about marijuana.
However, topicals with small amounts of THC may be more beneficial than hemp alternatives because of its muscle relaxant effects. While it’s technically possible to get stoned from THC-infused topicals, it’s unlikely — the small amount is usually too low to raise blood levels enough to achieve a “high,” for either the patient or the therapist.
Look for topicals with high amounts of CBD and small quantities of THC for the best results. Avoid products labeled “transdermal” if you’re wanting to avoid a “high” — transdermal products pass through the skin and enter the bloodstream, creating the psychogenic effect associated with marijuana.
What Are the Benefits of a Cannabis Massage?
The health benefits of a good massage are many, including relief from some kind of pain, whether it comes from a headache, tissue strain or muscle pain and tightness. ‘
1. Relaxes Muscles
Marijuana has been shown to relax muscles. In the context of a massage, this is incredibly helpful. It’s often difficult to let yourself fully relax on a massage therapist’s table, especially if it is your first appointment. Cannabis helps your muscles loosen without conscious effort. Looser muscles also mean that your massage is more effective. A therapist can dig deeper into tissue, reaching buried knots and tensions faster and easier.
2. Relieves Pain
Patients suffering from, chronic pain may benefit from a cannabis massage. Topical marijuana products work to give localized relief centering around the area in pain. If you have arthritis or a sports injury, you can ask a massage therapist to focus the treatment on the affected areas. This will maximize the potency of the topical while providing relief where you need it most.
3. Reduces Inflammation
Along with relieving pain, CBD may reduce inflammation. For inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, this element of a cannabis massage may be especially beneficial. CBD-infused topicals can be applied directly to the affected muscles or joints with the goal of providing quick and lasting relief.
4. Lessens Stress
Stress hits us all, and we all deal with it differently. For many people, stress manifests as anxiety and physical tension. CBD oils are excellent at targeting and soothing both neurological and physical stress. Massages are naturally stress-reducing — when paired with the calming effects of cannabis, they may help to eliminate even the deepest stress.
5. Decreases Anxiety
Anxiety causes disruptions in the endocannabinoid system. Cannabis helps the condition by attaching to chemical receptors that regulate fear and anxiety-related behaviors. While smoking and edibles provide more direct relief, topicals applied during massage will also reduce symptoms and feelings of anxiety.
People dealing with anxiety can find it difficult to sleep. After your massage, the benefits of cannabis oil will linger and help to calm your body and encourage deep, healing sleep.
How Is a CBD-Infused Massage Topical Applied?
Typically, a massage therapist will use a CBD and THC-infused lotion, cream or oil. During the massage, the therapist will rub the topical into the skin, focusing on the areas experiencing the most pain or pressure. The muscle-relaxing effects of cannabis will help your muscles and connective tissues loosen, allowing the therapist to go deeper and access hard-to-reach knots and tension.
What’s the Duration of a Marijuana Massage?
The length of a cannabis-infused massage depends on the therapist. Since a marijuana massage is a normal massage with cannabis-infused oils, lotions or salves, it will follow the same pattern as most massages. Typical durations for a massage are 30, 60, 90 and 120 minutes. If you haven’t received a massage before, begin with a 30- or 60-minute session. This will help you gauge your body’s response to the massage and the CBD oil.
Are There Any Restrictions?
As long as marijuana use is legal in your state and your practitioner approves it, cannabis massages are appropriate for everyone, with the possible exception of pregnant or breast-feeding women. Because cannabis massages don’t carry the risk of a “high,” they’re suitable for a broad range of people, not just medical marijuana patients.
Possible Side Effects of CBD Oil
Cannabis topicals have few side effects, particularly when compared to smoked or edible marijuana. However, it’s wise to be aware of these possible symptoms:
Marijuana affects each person differently. Consult with a medical professional before beginning treatment to make sure you’re choosing the right product and method of application for your needs.
Experience the Relief of a Cannabis Massage
A cannabis massage can bring relief to anyone, from stressed professionals to injured athletes. In only 30 minutes, you could become looser, calmer and healthier. To learn more about the benefits of marijuana massages, contact us to talk with an expert, or search our directory of medical marijuana doctors to find a professional near you.