Our editorial director investigated the benefits of a CBD massage. Check out her experience and insights from the founder of Chillhouse here. Find out what it's like to get a massage with CBD oil and the benefits of applying CBD oil to your skin. By pairing the many benefits of CBD with expert massage therapy, you’re able to enhance the unique benefits of both for your overall health, wellness, and relaxation. Learn more about the benefits of CBD oil massage!
I Got a CBD Massage—Now I’m a New, Chill Woman
Faith Xue has worked in digital beauty for 10 years and is currently Bustle Digital Group’s executive beauty director. She was Byrdie’s editorial director for seven years.
Swiner is a family medicine/general medicine expert, covering a broad spectrum of both medical and mental health issues. She loves taking care of the family as a whole—from the cradle to the grave. Her interests include Minority Health, Women’s Health and Pediatrics. As a wife and mother of two, she uses real-life experiences to clearly communicate keys to better health and wellness for mind, body and spirit. She is the author of How to Avoid the Superwoman Complex.
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In This Article
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.
For me, the concept of relaxing often feels like a nice but unrealistic fairytale. Yes, of course, I’d like to Zen out and release tension from my body and mind. Now, would someone explain to me how I’m supposed to do that? Clearing your thoughts and allowing yourself to slip into deep relaxation is something that feels quite unattainable in a world where information is exchanged at lightning speed and there’s always, always something on your mind—from work stress to realizing you really underestimated Jessica Biel after watching season one of The Sinner (just me?). Anyway, all of this goes to say that I walked into Chillhouse feeling hopeful but slightly dubious about the de-stressing benefits promised by its CBD massage, an add-on you can choose to boost any of its normal massages for just $15.
Keep reading to find out what happened when I got a CBD massage.
What Is a CBD Massage?
First of all, let’s talk about CBD—full name cannabidiol—which is non-psychoactive and is found in high concentrations in cannabis and hemp (not to be confused with THC, which is the psychoactive part of the cannabis plant that people associate with the “high” feeling). When incorporated into a massage, the only difference is the product used not the massage technique itself. So, while it sounds like something much different than a traditional rub-down, a CBD massage is just that: a massage performed with CBD-infused oils and creams.
Potential Benefits of a CBD Massage
- Calms inflammation
- Soothes anxiety
- Reduces chronic pain
- Melts tension
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.
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!”
CBD Massage vs. Regular Massage
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.
How to Prepare for a CBD Massage
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.
What to Expect During a CBD Massage
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?”
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).
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.
The Final Takeaway
If you have the opportunity to incorporate CBD oil into a massage or facial treatment, I highly recommend it. It adds another level of relaxation, and you’ll emerge a chiller, less anxious person. As a very un-chill, anxious person, I can attest.
Byrdie takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.
Karas JA, Wong LJM, Paulin OKA, et al. The antimicrobial activity of cannabinoids. Antibiotics (Basel). 2020;9(7):406. doi:10.3390/antibiotics9070406
How CBD Can Make Your Massages So Much More Relaxing
Erin is a Brooklyn-based beauty editor and has been with InStyle since 2016. She covers all facets of beauty for the site.
I have zero chill. Whether I’m getting my blood pressure checked, my aura read, or on the phone with my mom, I’m always told the exact same thing: calm down.
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 same thing when I’m trying to stay warm walking outside on a cold, windy New York winter day.
So, as much as I hate being told to “calm down,” I probably should. That’s why I was down when Paul Labrecque Salon and Spa in New York City offered me the opportunity to try their new CBD Ritual Massage one Saturday afternoon.
What Is CBD Oil?
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.
Even though CBD oil-infused products have been 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 in reducing any inflammation or redness on my face.
Since there’s research that massages can relieve muscle soreness, I was curious about the effects of a massage with CBD oil thrown into the mix.
“There is little reliable research when it comes to how cannabinoids are absorbed topically, but since the skin is the biggest organ, it makes sense that so many users cite the benefits of CBD when the ingredient is applied to multiple parts of the body,” explains Cindy Capobianco, co-founder and president of Lord Jones, a leading brand of CBD-infused products.
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. However, keep in mind that more studies are needed to determine if topical CBD works, as well as the recommended dosage to be effective. You should also avoid CBD if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, as well as taking certain medications. Talk to your doctor with any concerns.
What Happens During a CBD Massage?
Before my actual massage started, Paul Labrecque Salon and Spa massage director Michael Shanahan explained to me that CBD massages “can be helpful for anyone that deals with muscle inflammation, circulation issues, chronic pain, arthritis, headaches, and so much more.”
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.
Shanahan started with my back, getting out all of the stress-related knots, and then moved onto my shoulders, where I hold all of my tension. When he was getting all of the knots out of my shoulders (and there were a lot) it sounded like someone repeatedly cracking my knuckles. It hurt a little, tbh, but damn — did it feel good once those knots were out.
At this point, I was pretty relaxed because I was in the middle of a massage, but then Shanahan asked me if I tend to overthink things because there’s a belief that people who do tend to hunch their shoulders — which I had apparently been doing throughout the massage. And Michael, yes, I do.
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 with this bad posture. As I tried to put these thoughts aside and relax, Shanahan continued the massage, moving onto my arms and legs. When he was working on my arms, he reassured me 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.
Once the CBD massage was over and done, I did feel more zen than 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.
When I took a shower later that night, I discovered that I had put my underwear back on inside out and hadn’t noticed all afternoon. I guess I was on another level of chill.
Benefits of CBD Oil for Massage
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.
When applied topically through skillful massage therapy, the effects of CBD enhance the benefits of massage therapy for a unique combination that will make you feel like you’re floating out of the studio.
CBD for Mental Health
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.
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 for Chronic Pain
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.
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.
Getting Started with CBD Massage
By pairing the many benefits of CBD with expert massage therapy, you’re able to enhance the unique benefits of both for your overall health, wellness, and relaxation. At Massage Studio, you now have the option to add CBD oil onto any massage at either of our locations. Book your appointment today to try the benefits of CBD massage therapy for yourself.