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?”
Just chill. No, but really, when it comes to getting a CBD massage, the whole point is to reach peak relaxation, so don’t stress out over how to prepare for the rubdown. Simply arrive as you would to any other massage and get excited for a calming CBD experience.
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!”
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.
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.
While many people swear by topical CBD, more research needs to be done. Currently, the majority of the studies on CBD pertain to oral dosages, which, in some cases, have been associated with diarrhea, nausea, fatigue, drowsiness, and more. None of these results, however, have been tied to topical use as of now. As such, when considering a CBD massage, remember that, while it seems like everyone on social media is singing CBD’s praises, the science isn’t all there (yet).
Health-wise, incorporating CBD into your routine has been shown to have amazing anti-inflammatory, antidepressant, and antibacterial properties, and lately, there’s been a boom of CBD products and treatments in the wellness space.
Once the CBD massage was over and done, I did feel more zen than I when I woke up that morning, but not any different than I've felt after regular massages — or so I thought. When I got up and outside I felt loose and just good overall. After I left Paul Labrecque, I hit up Whole Foods on the way back to my apartment. Normally a trip to WF on a Saturday afternoon makes me rage-y. Even though the store was a hot mess with long checkout lines and a handful of crying babies in strollers, I wasn't phased by any of it.
Even though CBD oil-infused products have one of the biggest beauty and wellness trends of the past few years, I haven't used it consistently enough to know whether or not any of the tinctures and gummies out there have any effect on my anxiety. In terms of skincare, the CBD-infused products I've tried have worked wonders for reducing any inflammation or redness on my face.
Physically, this mental stress manifests itself in my posture. When I get really in the zone at work, I'm often hunched over my keyboard with my shoulders all tensed up. I do the exact same thing when I'm trying to stay warm walking outside on a cold, windy New York winter day.
What Happens During a CBD Massage?
Capobianco says that CBD acts as an "analgesic and anti-inflammatory" and has been known to "reduce pain and inflammation when used topically." This explains why it could create a soothing and relaxing massage experience.
CBD oil (or cannabidiol) is a non-psychoactive component of the cannabis plant that has been reported to help reduce stress, anxiety, and inflammation — but no, it won't get you high.
The hour-long, full-body, deep tissue massage started with Shanahan asking what areas of my body have been feeling tense (I told him to go hard on my shoulders) and cleansing the room's energy with a sage hydrosol spray. A typical massage followed — except CBD oil was rubbed all over my body.
This led me into a downward spiral where I began stressing over what I'm going to look like when I'm older if I continue on with this bad posture. As I tried to relax again after getting lost in my own thoughts, Shanahan continued the massage, moving onto my arms and legs. When he was working on my arms he reassured a little bit by telling me that based on how I was laying on my back, my shoulder placement wasn't great, but it wasn't terrible. I made a mental note to start being more mindful of how I'm sitting at work.
While the research is largely still in its infancy, CBD has been studied and shown to help specific anxiety conditions. For example, the National Institute on Drug Abuse found that CBD is non-habit forming and can help relieve both mental and physiological symptoms of anxiety.
Regular massage therapy has also been proven to reduce the symptoms of anxiety and depression , in some cases by as much as 50%. By combining massage therapy with topical application of CBD oil, you can trust that you’ll leave the studio feeling more relaxed and focused than ever.
CBD works by interacting with the endocannabinoid system, which has protein receptors throughout the body that absorb CBD. These receptors are linked to circulation, pain, appetite, metabolism, and a variety of other systems. It’s shown that stimulating the endocannabinoid system can help boost the functions of all of these systems and, in turn, reduce pain and inflammation. Additionally, CBD is shown to be a powerful antioxidant , which helps combat free radicals, reduce inflammation, and ease the discomfort caused by chronic pain conditions.
CBD for Chronic Pain
Massage therapy is an excellent way to support both physical and mental wellness, reduce pain, and promote health and wellness.
CBD stands for cannabidiol, referring to the primary chemical compound it’s composed of. One of the primary two chemicals derived from cannabis plants, CBD is known as a holistic treatment for a variety of conditions, including inflammation, insomnia, and anxiety.
As a cannabis-derived substance, CBD doesn’t cause a “high” like THC (tetrahydrocannabinol, the other main chemical substance in marijuana), while still offering relaxation benefits. Because of these benefits, CBD is often used to treat anxiety, insomnia, and similar conditions.
Massage therapy helps provide relief for a wide range of conditions which cause chronic pain and inflammation, such as past injuries, arthritis, fibromyalgia, sciatica, migraines, and even cancer. Massage helps improve circulation in the lymphatic system, increase white blood cell count, and relieve muscular tension.