As the popularity and availability of hemp and cannabis oils continue to increase, more and more people are asking about the claimed health benefits and legal status in the UK. Could using a CBD oil for your massage treatment provide supplemental pain or anxiety relief or might it simply make you (and your massage therapist) high?
Let’s deal with the chemistry first.
The photo above shows a hemp plant. Or is it a cannabis plant? Most people could not tell the difference. Both hemp and cannabis are part of the cannabis sativa family of plants, and therefore not only look similar but also contain many of the same substances.
Ask most people about cannabis and they will probably mention two aspects: a recreational drug for getting high and a medicinal plant used for anxiety or pain relief. Both are true but these different uses arise from distinctly different chemicals contained in the same plant.
Cannabis (or marijuana) and hemp are very similar - they both contain over a hundred of the same chemical compounds, known as cannabinoids. Two of the most well known cannabinoids are CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol):
⦿ CBD = a chemical compound which is believed to possess natural properties beneficial to health and pain relief.
Both cannabis and hemp contain CBD.
⦿ THC = a psychoactive chemical compound that can have a behaviour or mood changing effect on your brain ("getting high").
Only cannabis contains THC.
So, both cannabis and hemp contain the wellness ingredient CBD but only cannabis contains THC, which is the psychoactive stuff. The common misconception that people take cannabis, get high and this sensation of being high is what causes the reduction in pain or anxiety is simply not correct. It is the presence of the chemical compound CBD in these plants which provides medicinal benefits.
Recently a number of producers have started extracting CBD from hemp (or cannabis) and mixing it with lubricating base oils such as almond or jojoba oil to produce CBD based massage oils.
The proportion of CBD in massage oils is usually between 5% - 15%. It is important to ensure that the manufacturer of the oil is reputable and that pure CBD extracted from industrial hemp has been used.
CBD oil is legal in the UK, as long as it has been produced and sold in accordance with certain requirements. Reputable high street retailers in the UK such Holland & Barrett and Lloyds both sell versions of CBD oil. Massage oils which have been mixed using legally sourced CBD oil are perfectly fine to obtain and use as part of a home or hotel visiting massage.
There have been widespread reports about the health benefits of CBD and extensive research has been conducted on the subject in recent years. Some of the key wellness benefits identified for CBD closely match those that massage therapy is already known for.
Probably the most well reported benefit is CBD’s ability to reduce pain and inflammation. Research has also indicated that CBD oils may be useful in treating anxiety or depression, cancer pain relief and reducing seizures, such as those suffered by children in epilepsy.
Massage therapy is of course commonly recommended when seeking to reduce stress or help with pain caused by inflammation or over-exertion, such as those suffered in fibromyalgia or chronic back pain.
People have long sought assistance for conditions such as these through regular and appropriate alternative therapies such as massage. Combining massage therapy with high quality hemp oil that contains the appropriate concentration of pure CBD, could be a marriage made in heaven. A CBD massage won’t make you high in the psychoactive sense but could certainly take you to a higher state of pure and utter blissful relaxation.
As always, before trying any new therapy or health product, it is recommended to consult with a healthcare professional to ensure the proposed remedy is suitable for your specific circumstances.
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