Side effects of cbd oil for massage therapists

A Florida Massage Therapist’s Guide to CBD Oil

Everyone, and I mean everyone, is talking about CBD oil.

Massage boards are full of questions about suggested use and legality. You are likely seeing emails from massage suppliers with new CBD products. And at every massage conference, there are CBD oil booths with a company selling “the best” CBD oil.

As the popularity of CBD oil has grown, its use has gained much interest from both clients and fellow health practitioners. More and more massage therapists in Florida and around the country are using CBD oil for massage and have had numerous positive reviews.

However, many questions still remain. Is using CBD oil legal in Florida? Can I use it with my massage clients within the scope of practice? Will it help clients with x? Can I sell it in my massage establishment?

I will try my best to provide you with current information and point you towards some places to look for answers. First, before we get to specifics such as Federal laws, Florida laws, and board rules, let’s learn more about CBD oil. Here are ten frequently asked questions.

1. What is CBD oil?

Both marijuana and hemp plants are considered as “cousins” as they come from the same cannabis sativa species.

CBD, or cannabidiol, is one of the 100+ diverse cannabinoids found both hemp and marijuana. Cannabidiol has been shown in clinical research studies to benefit anxiety, cognition, movement disorders, and pain.

In particular, CBD oil is a concentrated cannabidiol extract which can be taken from either marijuana or hemp plants.

There are many ways to extract the oil from the plant and make CBD oil. One of the most common ways is Carbon dioxide (CO2) extraction to produce a clear, light amber colored oil.

A basic understanding of these different sources (hemp and marijuana) may save you from legal actions and impending sanctions depending on each state.

2. Is there a difference between CBD oil from marijuana and CBD oil derived from hemp?

Yes. As discussed previously, we know that CBD oil can be extracted either from the marijuana plant or hemp plant. CBD oil from marijuana may have a higher concentration of the psychoactive THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) as compared to hemp, which only has minute traces of THC.


Chemically speaking, THC and CBD are the most famous and well-identified phytocannabinoids of the cannabis plant – both marijuana and hemp plants included in this species.

Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is the main psychoactive component, or the one responsible for the “high” users can feel.

On the other hand, cannabidiol or CBD, is not psychoactive. It is also known to balance the side effects THC gives.

However, take note that both THC and CBD have therapeutic benefits. The difference is marijuana can get a person high, or “stoned”. while the CBD from hemp does not. As a result, the use of CBD from hemp in the form of oils, creams, and patches is growing.

Remember, that both THC and CBD are present in both marijuana and hemp plants. The difference lies in how much of these cannabinoids are present in each of them. In marijuana, THC content is high, giving itself the notorious profile. THC levels in marijuana can range from 15%-40%. While in hemp plants, THC is likely around 0.3% or lower and it has higher CBD content.

THC is basically what all the legal fuss is about using CBD oil. Hemp was made illegal to grow without a permit in the U.S. under the Controlled Substances Act passed in 1970 because of its relation to marijuana. At that time, the entire Cannabis species (which includes hemp) was categorized as a Schedule 1 drug.

3. What is the THC limit of CBD Oil?

Finally, in 2014, a U.S Farm Bill, set the THC limit for hemp and allowed for institutions of higher education to grow hemp as part of a pilot program. As stated by U.S. Federal law, hemp should not contain more than 0.3% of THC.

In 2018, another U.S. Farm Bill was passed. One of the changes in the 807-page document was the management of hemp. Hemp is now managed by the Department of Agriculture as a crop rather than by the Justice Department as an illegal substance.

The bill outlined actions that would be considered violations of the law, such as producing a plant with higher than 0.3% THC.

Hemp can be used in various commercial/textile items, such as paper, clothing, and food. Why has it not been used previously? It was illegal to grow. Hemp’s relation to marijuana was hard to legally shake. As perspective and laws have changed, hemp is now able to show its many uses.

4. What are the benefits of using CBD oil?

Through various research studies, we know that cannabidiol (CBD) is a promising compound. It is known for its anti-anxiety, anti-inflammatory, antipsychotic, antioxidant and neuroprotective effects that could greatly help a lot of conditions influenced by such pathophysiology. Let’s move onto uses for specific conditions and research.

5. Are the benefits of hem just hype or are there published research studies regarding CBD oil?

Fortunately, CBD oil is backed up by science and research. It is a very promising and natural compound that continues to spark more research and clinical trials. Read on to find out more about why CBD oil is more than just a fad.

Chronic pain which includes Osteoarthritis (OA) and neuropathic pain

The endocannabinoid system influences the pathophysiology of osteoarthritis. With the production and release of endocannabinoids, this pain mechanism may be interrupted. In addition to that, one study has shown to decrease knee joint swelling in OA.

Analgesia effects, anti-anxiety, and anti-depression

A study has found that CBD does have pain-relieving effects as well as anti-anxiety and anti-depression properties.


One study has shown that CBD can actually influence the proliferation of some types of skin cells and has good antibacterial activity. In addition to CBD’s anti-inflammatory effect, it can be used as a good anti-acne agent.

Cancer-related symptoms

This is probably one of the most popular benefits and what makes medical marijuana, in general, is so controversial. We cannot deny the fact that CBD does have good qualities to treat, or at least influence certain conditions. Cancer is one of those conditions. Another study showed that cannabis does have antiemetic and antitumor properties. Though studies are predominantly still primarily used on animals, this poses a good lead for future established clinical trials.

Movement disorders such as Parkinson’s Disease (PD), Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and Huntington’s Disease (HD)

One study has shown that with CBD administration, patients reported an improved quality of life, although the improvements noted were non-motor parameters yet. However, CBD’s ability as an anxiolytic, antidepressant, antipsychotic and neuroprotective properties are indeed promising.

In another study, administration of CBD resulted in the improvement of motor patterns in patients with dystonic movement disorders.

Although more studies are needed for these, CBD oil is a promising tool for the following:

Treatment for substance abuse

In an animal study, CBD has shown to reduce morphine-dependence and heroin-seeking behavior through the administration of CBD. This results from CBD influencing the circuits of the brain that are associated with addiction.

Florida opioid epidemic – which massage profession is a part of solving

Prevention of Diabetes

In an animal study, CBD has shown to reduce diabetes and inflammation in non-obese rat models by 56%.

Antipsychotic effects

Through its antipsychotic properties, a study shows that CBD may help with the management of some mental disorders like schizophrenia.

Despite all these wonderful things and positive customer/patient feedback CBD brings, it is important to remember that CBD is relatively a new compound that needs to be studied and tested further in human models. It is a promising compound indeed, but one should not rely solely for the betterment of one’s health. Rather, having it as an adjunct to therapy would sound more rational.

6. How does CBD Oil work in the body?

How cannabinoids, in general, work is closely associated with our body’s endocannabinoid system. This system has specific receptors such as C1and C2 where the psychoactive THC sensitively binds to. However, with different studies over the years, it has been found that CBD does not actually have much influence of the said receptors. Rather, CBD works through other different mechanisms and receptors inside the body that can ultimately affect the endocannabinoid system:

Activation of TRPV1 receptors

Various cannabinoids, CBD included, can activate the TRPV1 receptors that are responsible for pain and body temperature regulation.

At high doses, activation of 5-ht1A receptors

A study has shown that high doses of CBD binds fairly well to the 5-ht1A receptors which are responsible for regulating pain, anxiety and addiction. Also, this receptor has an influence on sleep patterns, nausea and vomiting.

Activation of PPAR-gamma receptors

The PPAR-gamma receptors are involved in insulin sensitivity and dopamine release.

Antagonizes GPR55 receptors

The affinity of CBD to GPR55 receptors, which are highly concentrated in the brain, can help control blood pressure and bone density.

7. What are the side effects of CBD Oil?

Although CBD has been established as a relatively safe compound, several research studies show some adverse effects. One study has shown positive changes in appetite, diarrhea, and fatigue from CBD intake.

Another study has shown that local irritation may result and low skin penetration is possible in water-loving or hydrophilic structures. In addition to that, CBD may have potential interactions to certain drugs, especially antiepileptic drugs. If you are taking any medications, please consult with your physicians first before using CBD Oil.

8. Can CBD oil get me, or my clients, high and addicted with topical use?

No. Even though THC-containing CBD oil only has 0.3% of THC in it, this percentage is not significant at all to cause any THC-like psychoactive effects. It will take you tons and tons of impossible amounts of CBD oil to get you high and addicted.

9. Is CBD legal use and sell?

To tell you the truth, it’s complicated. There is actually no straightforward answer to this question. Although industrial hemp use is now widely considered legal in all 50 states because of Federal law, state laws still come into play.

It can all boil down to where the CBD oil came from, marijuana or from hemp.

From a legal perspective, hemp-derived CBD is often considered legal as the plant does not give psychoactive effects. Other hemp-derived products are textiles and clothing are also not illegal. Marijuana, on the other hand, has a very different story. Since it has psychoactive effects from the THC content. Thus, marijuana-derived CBD is not legal in the majority of the states.

Now, the problem is that since hemp and marijuana are cousins and come from the same plant species family, there is also a close association between CBD Oils of both plants. This results in a stigma towards hemp-derived CBD Oil that also causes confusion and differing state laws.

As of early 2019, there are less than ten states that consider the use of hemp and marijuana to be legal – both recreationally and medicinally.

But this number is changing all the time. So much that I do not want to list them here. Check here to see to the status of state laws.

If you are from these states, you are likely free to use CBD oil from any plant source without a doctor’s prescription. If you’re not in these states, it would be best to consult with your state laws to determine the legality of CBD Oil use.

What about in Florida?


On a federal level, medical marijuana is still illegal. However, Florida voters approved the Florida Medical Marijuana Legalization Initiative on November 8, 2016. Known as Amendment 2, this law authorizes the use of medical marijuana by Floridians with certain debilitating illnesses.

CBD oil

We talked about the Farm Bill and paving a way for legal CBD and hemp use, but there is still so much confusion and old regulations that still exist. Just this year Sarastota police planned a crackdown on CBD oil retailers, including massage establishments. Then they announced plans to delay that effort.

One of the issues is that most CBD retailers are not licensed medical marijuana dispensaries. A Sarasota police investigator stated CBD oils derived from hemp still fall under the definition of cannabis. Therefore, they say selling CBD oil is not legal under Florida law unless it is distributed by a medical marijuana treatment center.

Just this summer, Governor DeSantis signed Florida Senate Bill 1020, regulating hemp in Florida, which includes state regulation cannabidiol (CBD). It appears the Department of Health now has to make some rules regarding Hemp and CBD oil. Here is a helpful page from the Florida Department of Agriculture.

10. Is it within the scope of practice for massage therapists to use CBD oil?

I am not a lawyer and I cannot interpret Florida law. However, I am a Florida Laws and Rules course instructor and I can copy and paste the definition of “massage” below according to Florida’s Massage Practice Act.

Take note of the last line, “the application to the human body of a chemical or herbal preparation”. Does that apply to CBD oil?

480.033 Definitions.—As used in this act:

(3) “Massage” means the manipulation of the soft tissues of the human body with the hand, foot, arm, or elbow, whether or not such manipulation is aided by hydrotherapy, including colonic irrigation, or thermal therapy; any electrical or mechanical device; or the application to the human body of a chemical or herbal preparation.

Tell me your thoughts now about CBD oil and massage. Do you plan to use it in your practice or sell it in your establishment? If you are already using it, what results are you seeing?

Reader Interactions


Cielo azul says

Thank you so much for your information. At The place where I work cbd cream is offered as an add on product. I experienced being very low energy and getting my hands extremely cold after 50 min session applying and massaging with cbd cream. I will think my blood pressure went down. It took me few hours to be myself again. had a peppermint tea with lots of honey.
My thought is cbd usage is not for every body, we need to check the side effects in massage therapist and clients and cbd usage at spa s must be regulated.

Aaron Hultquist says

Yes! That is a good point. There were certain oils I would not use when I was expecting.

I am an advocate for alternative medicine and would like to be able to offer marijuana massage as in California and would like to know what certification is like and where? Is there an international license to apply for to be able to provide these types of services? This is my first year in massage and would appreciate any education recommendation in Florida

Aaron Hultquist says

There is no international license or national certification that allows you to work everywhere. Over 45 states license massage therapists separately. If you completed 500 hours of massage training, then you have completed the first big step to getting a Florida license.

Here is an article about choosing a Florida massage school if you have not completed massage training –

If you have, here is another article about getting a Florida massage license –

Leave a Reply Cancel reply

Our company, Advanced Massage Techniques, is a Florida Board approved continuing education provider. Beyond that, we are not affiliated with, nor represent, the Florida Board of Massage. All information on this website is compiled through our experience. This information is not endorsed by the Florida Board of Massage and should not be interpreted as legal advice.

What Is CBD Oil?

This cannabis extract may help treat nerve pain, anxiety, and epilepsy

Cathy Wong is a nutritionist and wellness expert. Her work is regularly featured in media such as First For Women, Woman’s World, and Natural Health.

Verywell Health articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and healthcare professionals. These medical reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more.

Meredith Bull, ND, is a licensed naturopathic doctor with a private practice in Los Angeles. She helped co-author the first integrative geriatrics textbook, “Integrative Geriatric Medicine.”

Cannabidiol (CBD) oil is an extract from hemp plants called Cannabis indica and Cannabis sativa . You might be more familiar with cannabis plants because they are grown for marijuana. However, CBD is not the same thing as marijuana.

CBD oil contains CBD that’s mixed with a base (carrier) oil, like coconut oil or hemp seed oil. These are called tinctures. You can get tinctures in different concentrations. The oil can also be put into capsules, gummies, and sprays.

People who support using CBD oil say that it can treat pain and anxiety; can help stimulate appetite and may help manage some types of seizures.

This article goes over what CBD is used for, the possible side effects, and what you should look for if you choose to buy CBD.

CBD vs. Marijuana

CBD is one component (called a cannabinoid ) that’s found in a hemp plant. Marijuana is a separate plant but it’s from the same species that hemp belongs to. Marijuana has CBD and hundreds of other compounds in it.

The main difference between hemp plants and marijuana plants is how much of a compound called tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is in them. Hemp is grown to have less than 0.3% THC, while marijuana has more.

THC is what’s responsible for the psychoactive effects of cannabis—in other words, it’s what makes you feel “high.”

CBD oil generally does not have THC in it; however, a very small (trace) amount might be in products sold in certain states.

What Is CBD Oil Used For?

We’re not sure exactly how CBD works. Unlike THC, CBD doesn’t have a strong connection with the molecules in the brain that THC binds to create psychoactive effects. These are called cannabinoid receptors.

Instead, CBD works on other receptors, like the opioid receptors that help control pain. It also affects glycine receptors that control a brain chemical called serotonin which helps control your mood.

People that support the use of CBD claim that CBD oil can treat a variety of health problems, including:

  • Acne
  • Anxiety
  • Chronic pain
  • Depression
  • Drug use and withdrawal
  • High blood pressure
  • Muscle spasms
  • Poor appetite

As CBD has gained popularity, researchers have been trying to study it more. Still, there has not been a lot of clinical research to look for evidence in support of these health claims.

CBD is not a safe option for everyone. Talk to your healthcare provider if you want to try it for managing a health condition.


A 2015 review of research that was published in the journal Neurotherapeutics suggested that CBD might help treat anxiety disorders.

The study authors reported that CBD had previously shown powerful anxiety-relieving effects in animal research—and the results were kind of surprising.

In most of the studies, lower doses of CBD (10 milligrams per kilogram, mg/kg, or less) improved some symptoms of anxiety, while higher doses (100 mg/kg or more) had almost no effect.

The way that CBD acts in the brain could explain why this happens. In low doses, CBD might act the same as the surrounding molecules that normally bind to the receptor that “turns up” their signaling.

However, at higher doses, too much activity at this receptor site could produce the opposite effect.

There have not been many trials to look at CBD’s anxiety-relieving effects in humans. However, one was a 2019 study published in the Brazilian Journal of Psychiatry.

For the study, 57 men took either CBD oil or a sugar pill with no CBD in it (placebo) before a public-speaking event.

The researchers assessed the participants’ anxiety levels using measures like blood pressure and heart rate. The researchers also used a reliable test for mood states called the Visual Analog Mood Scale (VAMS).

The men who took 300 mg of CBD oil reported less anxiety than the men who were given a placebo; however, the men who took 100 mg or 600 mg of CBD oil did not experience the same effects.


CBD oil might help people with substance use disorder, according to a 2015 review published in the journal Substance Abuse.

The review looked at the findings from 14 published studies. Nine of the studies looked at the effects of CBD on animals, and five studies looked at the effects on humans.

The researchers reported that CBD showed promise for treating people with opioid, cocaine, or psychostimulant use disorders.

However, the effects of CBD were quite different depending on the substance. For example, CBD without THC did not decrease withdrawal symptoms related to opioid use.

On the other hand, it did reduce drug-seeking behaviors in people using cocaine, methamphetamine, and other similar drugs.

Some experts suggest that CBD could help treat cannabis and nicotine dependence, but more research is needed to provide this theory.

High Blood Pressure

A 2017 study found that CBD oil may reduce the risk of heart disease because it can lower high blood pressure in some people.

For the study, nine healthy men took either 600 mg of CBD or the same dose of a placebo. The men who took CBD had lower blood pressure before and after experiencing stressors like exercise or extreme cold.

The study also looked at the amount of blood remaining in the heart after a heartbeat (stroke volume).

The stroke volume in the men who took CBD was lower than in was in the placebo group, meaning their hearts were pumping more efficiently.

The study suggested that CBD oil could be a complementary therapy for people with high blood pressure that is affected by stress and anxiety.

However, there is no evidence that CBD oil can treat high blood pressure on its own or prevent it in people at risk. While stress can complicate high blood pressure, it does not cause it.


In June 2018, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a CBD oral solution called Epidiolex.

Epidiolex is used to treat two rare forms of epilepsy in children under the age of 2: Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. These are very rare genetic disorders that cause lifelong seizures starting in the first year of life.

Other than for these two disorders, CBD’s effectiveness for treating seizures is not known. Even with Epidiolex, it’s not clear if the anti-seizure effects are from CBD or another factor.

However, there is some evidence that CBD interacts with seizure medicines like Onfi (clobazam) and raises their concentration in the blood. That said, more research is needed to understand the link.

Possible Side Effects

Clinical research has shown that CBD oil can cause side effects. The specific side effects a person has and how bad they are varies from one person to the next and from one type of CBD to another.

Some common side effects people report from using CBD include:

  • Anxiety
  • Changes in appetite
  • Changes in mood
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

CBD oil may also increase liver enzymes, which is a marker of liver inflammation.

People with liver disease should talk to their healthcare provider before taking CBD oil. They may need to have their liver enzymes checked regularly if they are using CBD.

Can You Use CBD If You’re Pregnant?

You should not use CBD oil if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. Even though the effects of CBD are not fully understood, it does pass through the placenta.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) further states that pregnant people should not use marijuana because of the potential risks to a developing fetus.

Do not drive or use heavy machinery when taking CBD oil—especially when you first start using it or switch to a new brand. Remember that some products do contain THC, even in small amounts.


CBD oil can interact with medications, including many that are used to treat epilepsy. One of the reasons for this has to do with how your body breaks down (metabolizes) drugs.

Cytochrome P450 (CYP450) is an enzyme your body uses to break down some drugs. CBD oil can block CYP450. That means that taking CBD oil with these drugs could make them have a stronger effect than you need or make them not work at all.

Drugs that could potentially interact with CBD include:

  • Anti-arrhythmia drugs like quinidine
  • Anticonvulsants like Tegretol (carbamazepine) and Trileptal (oxcarbazepine)
  • Antifungal drugs like Nizoral (ketoconazole) and Vfend (voriconazole)
  • Antipsychotic drugs like Orap (pimozide)
  • Atypical antidepressants like Remeron (mirtazapine)
  • Benzodiazepine sedatives like Klonopin (clonazepam) and Halcion (triazolam)
  • Immune-suppressive drugs like Sandimmune (cyclosporine)
  • Macrolide antibiotics like clarithromycin and telithromycin
  • Migraine medicine like Ergomar (ergotamine)
  • Opioid painkillers like Duragesic (fentanyl) and alfentanil
  • Rifampin-based drugs used to treat tuberculosis

Always tell your healthcare provider and pharmacist about all the medicines you take, including prescription, over-the-counter (OTC), herbal, or recreational drugs.

The interactions between these medications and CBD are often mild and you might not have to change your treatment.

However, in some cases, you might have to change medications or space out your doses to avoid a reaction. That said, never change or stop medication without talking to your provider.

Dosage and Preparation

There are no guidelines for using CBD oil. Each product works a bit differently, depending on the form.

For example, putting the oil under your tongue can produce effects more quickly than swallowing a capsule that needs to be digested.

Here are a few ways that you can take CBD oil:

  • Placing one or more drops under your tongue and holding it there for 30 to 60 seconds without swallowing. You can also use a spray that is spritz in your mouth/under your tongue.
  • Taking a capsule or chewing a gummy

There’s no “correct” dose of CBD oil. How much you take and the form you choose will depend on your needs and what you hope to get for effects. The average dose range is from 5 mg to 25 mg.

Most oils come in 30-milliliter (mL) bottles and include a dropper cap to help you measure.

That said, it’s hard to figure out the exact amount of CBD per milliliter of oil. Some tinctures have concentrations of 1,500 mg per 30 mL, while others have 3,000 mg per mL or more.

How to Calculate CBD Dose

To determine an exact dose of CBD, remember that each drop of oil equals 0.05 mL of fluid. This means that a 30-mL bottle of CBD oil will have about 600 drops in it.

If the concentration of the tincture is 1,500 mg per mL, one drop would have 2.5 mg of CBD in it. The math to figure that out looks like this: 1,500 mg ÷ 600 drops = 2.5 mg

What to Look For

CBD oil comes in different forms: isolates, broad-spectrum, and full-spectrum.

  • Isolates contain only CBD
  • Broad-spectrum oils nearly all of the components of the plan (e.g., proteins, flavonoids, terpenes, and chlorophyll), but does not have THC oils have all the compounds including THC (up to 0.3%)

Alternative medicine practitioners believe that the compounds provide more health benefits, but the is a lack of evidence to support these claims.

Remember that CBD oils are unregulated. There’s no guarantee that a product is what it claims to be on its packaging. You also can’t know for sure that it’s safe and effective.

A 2017 study reported that only 31% of CBD products sold online were correctly labeled. Most had less CBD in them than was advertised, and 21% had significant amounts of THC.

If you are interested in buying CBD products, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Buy American: Domestically produced CBD oil might be a safer option than those that have been imported.
  • Go organic: Brands certified organic by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) are less likely to expose you to pesticides and other harmful chemicals.
  • Read the product label: Even if you choose a full-spectrum oil, don’t assume that every ingredient on the product label is natural. CBD products can also have preservatives, flavorings, or thinning agents in them. If you don’t recognize an ingredient, ask the dispenser what it is or check online.


Hemp plants can be grown for different purposes. Some species are made for marijuana but others are used to make CBD products.

Unlike marijuana, CBD oil does not “get you high.” Instead, it may help relieve stress, anxiety, drug withdrawals, and nerve pain.

While there are many claims about the health benefits of using CBD oil, the evidence is lacking. A lot of studies were done with animals, not humans.

If you want to try CBD oil, you should learn about the different dosages and preparations first.

You should also know that the products are not regulated, which means you can’t know for sure that a product will work and be safe.

Before you use CBD oil, talk to your provider. If you take certain medications or have a health condition, you may not be able to use these products.

Frequently Asked Questions

It would be hard to overdose on CBD oil. Research has shown that human tolerance for CBD is very high. One study reported the toxic dose would be about 20,000 mg taken at one time.

It depends on where you live, the type of product, how it was sourced (e.g., is it from hemp or marijuana), and its intended purpose (medical or recreational). In many states, you must be 18 or 21 to buy CBD oil. Check your state’s laws.

Not necessarily. While the names are sometimes used interchangeably, hemp oil can also refer to hemp seed oil, which is used for cooking, food production, and skincare products.

CBD oil is made from the leaves, stems, buds, and flowers of the Cannabis indica or Cannabis sativa plant. It should contain less than 0.3% THC.

Hemp oil is made from the seeds of Cannabis sativa and does not have TCH in it.

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.


RUNSTUDIO / Getty Images

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?”

Side Effects

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