The acceptance of CBD topicals as helpful for pain relief has gone global, and many people who are curious about those benefits are finding their way to massage therapy practices that offer CBD massage.

Even though CBD is mainstream, with products being sold everywhere from high-end spas to food stores, there is still a lack of information on the how and why of CBD topicals for massage.

In this article, we’ll explore some of those misconceptions, as well as ways to address them so that your clients feel comfortable receiving CBD massage from you.

Will I Get High? (No)

Misconceptions about what CBD massage is and how it affects the body can lead to some off-the-wall questions for massage therapists.

“The strangest question we’ve received is, ‘Am I going to get high?’ And the answer is no,” said Jessi Brock, LMT, owner of Good Medicine Acupuncture & Massage in Missoula and Bozeman, Montana. “They are going to feel more relaxed because it does help sedate the nervous system, but that is not the same as getting high,” she said

Jessi Brock, owner of Good Medicine Acupuncture & Massage in Missoula and Bozeman, Montana.

Sources interviewed for this article believe massage businesses should be as transparent as possible when presenting CBD massage to clients.

Are You Sure I Won’t Get High? (Yes)

Understanding the product is key in educating clients on the difference between a CBD isolate, broad-spectrum CBD and full-spectrum CBD when offering it as a part of your service.

A broad-spectrum CBD uses the whole plant but has no traceable THC in it. “An isolate contains 0% THC,” Korey Cleaver, owner of Well Being Massage Studio in Akron, Ohio, explained. “A full-spectrum product, which uses the whole plant, will have trace amounts of THC in it, but even then, it will not get you high unless you perhaps are getting some select products from a dispensary.”

Therefore, when it comes to CBD massage, “There is little to no chance of having any kind of intoxication with a hemp CBD. And a hemp CBD is defined as having less than 0.3% of traceable THC in it. That is also why it is legal—because hemp is legal for public use,” said Brock, an advocate for the benefits of CBD. Her two clinics see about 1,400 clients a month, many of whom seek her clinics out for their expertise in CBD massage.

Will I Be Able to Drive Home? (Yes)

Cleaver has been asked by clients if they would be able to drive after their session. He explains to them that CBD massage will not impair their ability to drive.

“You’ll be able to drive just fine. Hopefully, you’ll find you are more patient with people on the road because of the relaxed mental state you just obtained by getting a massage,” Cleaver said.

Korey Cleaver, owner of Well Being Massage Studio in Akron, Ohio.

Will CBD Massage Make Me Fail a Drug Test? (No)

CBD topical products contain CBD—short for cannabidiol—a nonintoxicating cannabinoid contained in most forms of cannabis. A massage therapist practicing in a state where CBD containing 0.3% or less THC has been legalized and where the state’s board of massage has approved CBD within scope of practice might choose to use a lubricant containing CBD in practice or for self-care. (Note that this article is not intended as legal advice. As the reader can check their state and local regulations to determine if CBD is legal and within their scope of practice where they live.)

The misunderstanding clients have about CBD massage stems from its plant source, hemp, a cousin of marijuana—which many people smoke or ingest for its psychoactive effects. But that is not part of CBD’s story today. The marijuana plant contains some CBD and high levels of the psychoactive compound tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), but CBD is non-psychoactive; CBD is typically derived from the industrial hemp plant, another member of the cannabis family, which is legal and contains only trace amounts of THC.

Now, due to the work of medical cannabis leaders, researchers and educators, a country-wide trend toward the normalization of cannabis use—and the passage of the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, also known as the Farm Bill, legalizing the cultivation of hemp (classified as cannabis containing less than 0.3% THC)—the field of cannabis medicine is earning science-backed legitimacy.

“To date, the only two questions or concerns we get when it comes to our CBD products is whether the guest will get high or if it would show up on a drug test,” said Farhan Qureshi, founder of Journey Within Wellness Center in Columbia, Maryland. “Neither of which should be a concern because CBD will not get you high nor would it appear on a drug test.”

The staff of Journey Within Wellness Center in Columbia, Maryland (founder Farhan Qureshi is second from right).

While the products used for CBD massage may vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, products used at spas and massage practices typically contain zero to less than 0.3% THC, which is the FDA’s legal limit for CBD hemp oil.

When you choose a CBD product, look for one that is third-party lab tested, with test results readily available to buyers, so you know what you are getting.

Using CBD as Part of Your Massage Services

Some massage therapists offer CBD as a specialty massage or an upgrade to a massage, with a fee ranging from $15 to $50.

Good Medicine, Brock’s company, went a different route and created their own. They work with a local hemp farm to have their handcrafted massage oil infused with CBD oil. Clients booking a CBD massage buy a one-ounce bottle containing 100 mg of CBD oil that the therapist uses in the session, and what is not used is theirs to take home.

“It is more cost-effective for us and our patients get more. It also gives us more legitimacy for what we promote,” said Brock, who uses a blend of coconut oil, arnica and Chinese herbs as the base for their CBD oil. The one-ounce bottle can be used in any massage, and they find it ensures the amount of CBD each customer is getting.

“It has given us a name in our area. When people ask, ‘where should I go for a CBD massage?’ they hear, ‘You’ve got to go to Good Medicine.’ It has stepped up our consistency in our appointment booking, without question,” said Brock.

How CBD May Help Your Clients

CBD oil can help with pain, inflammation, stress and restlessness, among other conditions.

Qureshi believes CBD and massage are a winning combination. For clients, a full-body massage by itself can provide substantial relief for pain, he said. “Adding our CBD products can add an extra layer of relaxation to an already potent process of releasing muscle tension.”

Cleaver notices the biggest difference in the posture of clients after a CBD massage. “You can physically see the increased drop in the shoulders when CBD is applied on them as opposed to our normal cream. Additionally, clients may experience increased relaxation, decrease in pain or increased mobility,” he said.

These experts share the benefits of CBD massage with clients in waivers, on promotional material and verbally with clients. When a client asks about what massage is good for pain relief, it is an opportunity to discuss CBD massage, said Cleaver.

How CBD May Help You

CBD is not only for clients’ benefit. Giving is receiving when it comes to CBD; therapists receive the benefits of CBD on their hands, wrists and forearms—trouble areas for many therapists after long hours of work.

Brock said it also makes it easier for therapists to do deep tissue massage, so it is a service therapists are eager to promote to their clients.

“During the course of the massage, tense tissues are a lot easier to work with for massage therapists [when they incorporate a CBD topical] and it allows them to do more complete work during that session. It also helps after a massage,” said Brock. “CBD will help in the 24 to 48 hours post-treatment, addressing the tenderness after deep tissue work.”

Stand Out with CBD

Addressing clients’ misconceptions with knowledge about the benefits of CBD in massage topicals—including what it is and what it is not, and the effects it does and does not have—is what sets these massage practices apart from every other business jumping on the CBD bandwagon. Part of that work means providing literature to clients that they can take home and read or directing them to information on the massage practice’s website.

Not all CBD topical products are created equally, and it is important to do research and test them out before introducing them to clients. You should also familiarize yourself with your state and local laws regarding CBD topicals.

“It is our responsibility to be the experts in the room with our clients,” said Brock. “They come to us for education and for bodywork.”

About the Author:

Aiyana Fraley, LMT, is a freelance writer and health care professional with more than 18 years of experience in the massage field. She teaches yoga and offers sessions in massage, Reiki, sound healing and essential oils. Her articles for MASSAGE Magazine include “Will Touch in Long-Term Care Facilities be Changed Forever by COVID-19?” and “The Massage Therapist’s Guide to Assisted Stretching Techniques.”