In terms of the benefits of CBD massage specifically, “CBD oil has natural anti-inflammatory effects that can more effectively soothe sore muscles and joints, which makes it great for massages,” explains Cyndi Ramirez-Fulton, Chillhouse founder. “It encourages the body to speed up the healing process and is beneficial in relieving anxiety as well as gastric distress. Our CBD cream also has arnica and lidocaine, which allows for additional anti-inflammatory benefits.” (As a note, arnica is a common natural ingredient that people swear helps reduce bruising and muscle fatigue more quickly, and lidocaine gives a soothing, cooling feeling). Ramirez-Fulton is clearly a CBD believer and told me that if she ever can’t make it in for a massage, she’ll turn to her inventory of CBD oils and creams. The second she puts them on her shoulders or anywhere tense, she feels temporary relief. “For creams, I love Lord Jones ($60) and Cannuka ($28). For ingestibles, I love Soul Addict’s hemp butter ($35) and Cap Beauty’s The Daily Hit,” she says. “Hard to say what’s working for me long-term, but I’m overall less stressed these days, so something’s gotta be working!”
Let me just start by saying that there’s nothing I hate more than when people tell me to “relax.” As a highly emotional person, this is possibly the worst thing you can say to me when I’m feeling stressed or high-strung, and I guarantee that I will do the exact opposite the second I hear those words (my ex-boyfriends can attest!). Therefore, I felt like I had come to a place that understood me when I walked into NYC’s Chillhouse and saw that all the staff were wearing shirts that said, “Don’t tell me to relax.” Finally, a place full of kindred spirits who understood me. If more people realized that relaxing is not just something you can tell yourself to do, the world might be a more understanding place.
How to Prepare for a CBD Massage
Bliss out. That’s it. Simple as that. Following a CBD massage, there’s no need to immediately hop in the shower—in fact, it’s advised against. By going about the rest of your day with the CBD cream still intact, you’ll be able to benefit from the calming ingredient for hours to come.
As mentioned, the biggest difference between a CBD massage and a regular massage is the CBD. When it comes to Chillhouse (and most massage studios for that matter), the kneading technique doesn’t change. That way clients are able to really tell the difference of the CBD inclusion alone, as opposed to trying to figure out what’s a result of the CBD and what’s due to the rubbing motions.
As someone who also wants to feel less stressed overall, I immediately took her up on her offer to experience the CBD massage. I told the masseuse that I’d like her to focus the CBD part of the massage on my shoulders, which always holds a million knots from sitting hunched in front of a computer all day. As I laid facedown on the massage bed, I felt the familiar hurricane of thoughts begin to swirl in my mind. Deadlines, upcoming projects, what I’d be eating for dinner (one of my favorite things to think about)… I tried to quiet my mind and focus on my breathing using a meditation technique I had learned last year that involved counting up to eight while picturing the shape of the number eight. It worked. I felt my shoulders unclench (though that may have been because of my skilled massage therapist). The last thing I remember was feeling a slight cooling, chilly feeling on my shoulder blades. Then, the next thing I knew, my masseuse was gently shaking me awake and telling me she was done. A full hour had passed. It felt like minutes. Slightly surprised at just how quickly it had gone by and how the tension in my shoulders seemed to have all but melted away, I floated out of the room in a hazy cloud. I felt inexplicably calm and, yes, relaxed. If someone told me at that moment to relax, I probably would have smiled serenely and said, “I am. Isn’t it lovely?”
"Our gateway treatment for women is the manicure," says Danielli Martel, who co-owns the shop. "We use Zoya natural nail polish and organic, vegan cannabis-infused oil during the hand massage. That's when they get hooked."
Since it doesn't penetrate the bloodstream, topical cannabis has no psychogenic effects (meaning you won't get stoned), but it relaxes muscles so the therapist can go deeper without causing pain. And as I discovered, the power of suggestion can make you feel high. Cannabis oil is also used at the spa to reduce the redness and sting of waxing and to calm stressed-out skin during facials. ("Put cannabis oil on a zit overnight," says Martel. "You'll look like a witch with a green wart, but it'll clear up.") Even getting lash extensions includes a depuffing cannabis mini massage around your eyes.
But my massage was ridiculously good. I'm one of those "Harder! No, harder!" massage people. (Does this make me a masochist?) This one was intense even by my yardstick, but still I floated through it in a blissed-out blur. After the massage ended, I felt loosey-goosey relaxed and ready for a nap. Or an order of fries. Maybe someone could throw fries in my mouth while I napped? If I didn't always want fries and a nap, I'd think there might be something to this topical cannabis business.
While I consider myself a connoisseur of spas and weed (only where it's legal, of course), I still wasn't entirely sure what to expect from the LoDo Massage Studio. I booked the studio's signature Mile High Massage using Apothecanna's Pain Cream, a massage lotion laced with cannabis (plus arnica, peppermint, and juniper—but who cares, right?).
I know what you're thinking: Did it get you high?
So did it get me high? That depends on your definition. I didn't get baked, but I felt something between a runner's high and post-coital bliss, along with the certainty that massage and marijuana go together like peanut butter and chocolate. And I could definitely go for a Reese's right now.
The only thing to do was investigate further! For science! So off to Primal Wellness in Englewood, Colorado, the "world's first cannabis-infused spa." Yes, that line is trademarked, and yes, every service here—facials, waxes, lash extensions, manicures—can be enhanced with something cannabis.
Cannabinoids bind with fat molecules, which means they’re most likely going to stick around in your skin and the underlying tissue wherever you apply them. People have used cannabis topicals as an excuse for failing a drug test, but it’s most likely not the truth. The only way topicals can get distributed throughout the entire body is if a person uses a THC patch, or if the topical is transdermal.
Instead of binding with receptors in the brain and causing a high, cannabis topicals bind with local cannabinoid receptors throughout the body. For that reason, topicals should only affect the area where they’re applied. Don’t expect to get any heady or cerebral effects from your cannabis-infused lotion, but it might work wonders for your aching back. The soothing effects of cannabinoids can work on joints and muscles, as well as the skin itself. People have even used it to address conditions like psoriasis, dermatitis, itching, and acne.
Simply put, cannabis-infused lotion does not make you high. Cannabis does not produce its psychoactive or intoxicating effects through local applications, so people can safely get relief from cannabis lotion without getting high. People have used cannabis-infused lotion to address everything from arthritis pain to post-workout soreness, and they can do so without being concerned about a fuzzy head. It’s ok to use topical cannabis without worrying about driving, working, or anything else you have to do.
Can CBD Lotion Make You Fail a Drug Test?
Part of the reason we can experience the benefits of cannabis is that the human body has a natural endocannabinoid system. This system runs throughout your entire body and regulates a variety of functions from sleep to the experience of pain. Cannabinoids in topical cannabis-infused lotion work by penetrating the muscles and joints, where they act as a supplement to the endocannabinoid system. In other words, THC can be absorbed through the skin, but that doesn’t mean THC lotion gets you high.
People have been using cannabis in medicinal settings for thousands of years. Finally, the western world is starting to catch on to the benefits of cannabinoids, and the stigma surrounding these products is beginning to go away. One of the biggest advancements in the industry comes in the form of cannabis-infused topicals, which do not produce psychoactive effects. In other words, you can safely use cannabis topicals without getting high or failing a drug test.
You can use topicals in the same way you’d use any other soothing salve, cream, or lotion. Simply massage your cannabis-infused lotion into your skin to experience relief.
Most likely, CBD lotion cannot make you fail a drug test. CBD is already a non-psychoactive cannabinoid, so drug tests aren’t looking for it. Drug tests for marijuana are looking for THC, which is the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis. Even when topicals contain THC, it’s extremely unlikely that they could make someone fail a drug test by getting into the blood or urine.