Unless you’ve been living under a rock — or with no internet access — you’ve probably tried, or at least heard of, the bazillion or so CBD products out there. Across the food, health, and beauty spaces, CBD-infused everything is having a major moment. As a quick refresher, CBD (aka cannabidiol) is a primary component of the cannabis plant. And while it often gets lumped into the same category as or confused with pot, it won’t get you high. Unlike THC, which also comes from the cannabis plant, CBD doesn’t have any psychoactive effects.
What it will do is help alleviate pain and reduce anxiety, this according to both CBD fans, but also backed by scientific studies. How, you ask? To put it simply, CBD both reduces inflammation and interacts with neurotransmitters that bind to cannabinoid receptors in your nervous system (the pain relief part) and also acts on the brain’s receptors for serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates your mood (the anxiety part).
So, obviously CBD is an ideal substance to incorporate into a massage, given that the goal is more often than not to both reduce muscle aches and relax mentally. More and more spas across the country are now offering CBD massages, including Chicago’s Spa Space where I went. Their CBD massage ($110) uses CBD oil to up the physical and mental benefits of a good rubdown (oh, and they also offer a CBD pedicure, too). Spoiler alert: It works.
I should note that my experience with CBD has been mixed. I’ve eaten it in chocolates and gummies and felt a little something; I’ve tried CBD suppositories that did nada. I went into this experience slightly skeptical, though figured if nothing else I’d get a good massage out of it. (Hey, my job is tough, but someone’s got to do it.) Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised by the effects.
I get massages often, so I can very easily and quickly notice a difference in how my muscles react based on the therapist, technique or, in this case, product being used. My muscles are constantly jacked up, and I went into this massage with a particularly painful knot in my upper back. I always ask for firm pressure, and massages for me are often more painful than pleasurable. But despite the fact that my therapist really went to town, there was none of the usual pain or soreness that I experience — neither during the massage nor the day after. I could feel the muscles relaxing and loosening much more quickly and easily. My therapist confirmed this was the case and noted that that’s the biggest difference she sees in using CBD oil, especially in people whom she works on regularly.
Mentally, I always find it tough to zone out during a massage. I can easily fall asleep during a facial, but for some reason my mind starts going a mile-a-minute the second I hit the massage table. It’s annoying, as I spend most of the time up in my head rather than actually relaxing. The day I got the CBD massage was especially stressful for a variety of reasons, and I braced myself for some serious thought racing. Nope. While the mental effects weren’t as immediate for me, towards the end of the massage I caught myself almost falling asleep. You know that weird state you get in right before sleep, when you start having random thoughts that don’t make any sense and you don’t know where they came from? That’s where I was.
During the many, many massages I’ve had in my day, that has never happened. Coincidence or CBD? I’ll attribute it to the latter. At the end of the day, my CBD massage was noticeably better than a standard massage, both physically and mentally. If you’re into CBD, I highly recommend trying one.