CBD as the need piece of a health jigsaw puzzle.

Products containing CBD, or hemp oil, might relieve pain and anxiety, promote sleep and foster relaxation.

Humans have cultivated hemp for close to 5,000 years, first using the plant for fiber to make such items as rope, twine, cable, string and yarn. This led to its use as fabric and then, with technological advances, to today’s use of hemp as an alternative to materials including fiberglass and plastic.

Cannabidiol (CBD) oil extracted from hemp is used with growing frequency in self-care products like tinctures and topicals.

Walk into any mall, grocer’s, pet store, garden center or spa and you’ll find products crafted from hemp or containing hemp oil that include clothing, food, beverages, biofuel, blankets, dog toys, paper products, and CBD analgesics, cleansers, lotions, sprays and drops — and many more than can be listed here. The hemp trend indicates nothing but growth of this versatile plant and the products made from it.

“Hemp and CBD have entered the mainstream and national conversation,” Jonathan Miller, general counsel for the U.S. Hemp Roundtable, a coalition of companies focused on safe hemp and CBD products, told MASSAGE Magazine. Interest on the part of medical professionals and consumers, he added, has never been greater.

A Burgeoning Trend

Why is interest in these plant-based products flourishing? Anecdotally, products containing hemp oil relieve pain and anxiety, promote sleep and foster relaxation, and an increasing number of research studies is providing evidence that supports those effects.

A study reported by Bloomberg in 2019 showed that of the people currently using a CBD product, tinctures are used by 44%, topicals are used by 26%, capsules are used by 22% and beverages are used by 19%.

With the 2018 Farm Bill having created exceptions to hemp-derived products’ Schedule 1 status under the Controlled Substances Act, hemp products can be incorporated into most Americans’ lifestyles. (This article is exclusively about products containing hemp-derived CBD containing 0.3% or less THC used for self-care. Check your local and state laws regarding CBD product legality.)

As with any personal-care product, your individual needs and preferences will inform your decision. We spoke with massage therapists who use CBD products for self-care, along with representatives of hemp and CBD organizations to provide insights into hemp and CBD’s benefits.

CBD Products for Pain Relief

Massage therapist Teresa Piatek, LMT, of Holland, Michigan, has used a CBD tincture as a sleep aid for two years. “Sometimes when I have long days it’s kind of hard to wind down, she said. “I feel really restful after [taking the tincture]. There are no side effects and I’m not groggy the next day.”

Teresa Piatek, LMT

Piatek also applies a balm containing CBD to her hands when they feel stiff and painful after a day of massage. “It helps within two minutes,” she said. “It makes my hands feel relaxed, pain-free and not as stiff.”

Hemp-based products might improve emotional issues as well. Massage therapist Kumi Taylor, LMT, of Gun Barrel City, Texas, said she used to have severe mood issues. “It was affecting my daily life and my marriage,” she said.

Kumi Taylor, LMT

CBD has been life-changing for her, Taylor said. “Basically, it’s balanced me out,” she explained. “There were times when I couldn’t sleep and [stress] just spiraled out of control. It affected my sleep, my eating habits … [CBD] has balanced me out to where I still tend to have those issues but it’s extremely mild. I can manage it. I can focus.”

Taylor also suffered from severe discomfort that resulted from a 2005 auto accident and had tried yoga, eating healthier and stretching to relieve her neck pain. “It got to the point where I could only do one massage a day, and it was keeping me from moving forward in my career,” she recalled. Within two weeks of using a tincture she noticed a “drastic improvement” in her pain.

Jeffrey Cullers, DC, LMT

For chiropractor and massage therapist Jeffrey Cullers, DC, LMT, who practices in Daytona Beach, Florida, a CBD topical helped relieve his lower-back pain. He finally underwent a spinal fusion two years ago, after a 2013 auto accident left him in extreme pain and after trying allopathic treatments, decompression and chiropractic, to feel better.

“I put it on my lower back and I was amazed by how much of a difference there was,” said Cullers, who is also a Certified Medical Cannabis and CBD Advisor and owns Premier US Hemp, a company that sells CBD products.

Choose Carefully

Piatek, Taylor and Cullers all stressed the importance of researching the quality of any CBD product before using it. Ingredients to avoid include pollutants, toxins, chemicals and preservatives. Some companies provide a third-party’s certificate of analysis that indicates a product’s contamination level and verifies the data behind the company’s claims.

Many people attest to improvement in health while using CBD; however, even careful selection of a product containing CBD won’t guarantee you will have the same results as any other person who uses the same product, said Cullers.

“What I’ve learned about the use of CBD from hemp is it affects everybody completely differently,” he explained. “CBD is a cannabinoid … [and] there are over 130 cannabinoids. You may be deficient in CBD. Someone else may be deficient in CBA — so to say that I take CBD to help sleep and everyone would have the same effect is not correct. Some people take CBD at night to sleep and it wakes them up.”

According to Consumer Reports, 64 million Americans have tried CBD — 15 percent of whom are age 60 and older — and respondents to a 2019 Consumer Reports survey said CBD relieved muscle and joint pain, reduced anxiety and improved sleep.

Also reported: little to no side effects. Further, 22 percent of people who took CBD told Consumer Reports that it had helped them replace prescription or over-the-counter drugs.  (This article is not intended to be an alternative to medical advice.) 

Perry Antelman

“Consumers are looking for natural pain relief,” said Perry Antelman, CEO of Abacus Health Products, the parent company of CBD Clinic and CBDMedic, both CBD topical products companies. “CBD topicals offer a safe, effective alternative, providing powerful analgesic compounds that can be quickly absorbed to relieve pain, reduce discomfort, aid repair and increase flexibility — with a significantly lower risk profile to pharmaceutical options,” he said.

Whether in topical, tincture or other form, CBD might hold a solution for problems related to pain, emotions, insomnia and anxiety.

About the Author:

Karen Menehan is MASSAGE Magazine’s editor in chief. Her reporting on CBD for this publication includes “MTs Ask: What’s Really in My CBD Topical?” “The MT’s Guide to Marijuana and Massage,” “Are CBD Pain Relief Products Caught Up in New DEA Rule?” and “Cannabis is Big Business for Colorado’s Massage Therapists.”