On her website Massage Topicals, Julie Crispin, a licensed therapeutic massage therapist based in Portland, OR, offers this definition for a topical cannabis massage. “Topical cannabis massage is the use of an oil or lotion that contains some cannabis concentrate (some combination of CBD and THC) in a carrier oil. It is applied to the full body during a Therapeutic or Swedish Massage.”
Following is a conversation with Crispin exploring the health benefits of combining massage therapy with topical cannabis.
What interested you in adding cannabis to a therapeutic massage?
About three years ago, one of the chiropractors I work with asked me what I knew about using cannabis. She had a lot of patients asking her about salves that are used for spot treatment. I said, “Not much.” This conversation got me wondering what a full body massage would be with one of these salves. When I started researching this topic, the little material I found focusing on topicals was all anecdotal. I began to research the cannabis plant and learned about the endocannabinoid system. I was intrigued and surprised that we had receptors throughout our body. So, I started doing my own research by purchasing some topicals and trying them on my patients who had severe chronic pain. Lo and behold, it worked.
How effective have you found cannabis to be when combined with massage?
My anecdotal experience is that when people who have Parkinson’s or other seizure disorders, it helps mitigate the seizures. The anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties in cannabis helps those with chronic pain. Given we have endocannabinoid receptors throughout our entire body, a full body topical massage allows full body microdosing. This has a calming effect on the central nervous system, changes the body’s perception of pain, and allows more healing to occur. Spot treatments can be effective but they’re more a temporary fix like putting on a band-aid as opposed to receiving a full body massage.
What types of cannabis topicals do you recommend for massage?
It doesn’t matter if one uses a cream, a lotion, or an oil. What matters is the cannabis content. I believe that you need to have both CBD and THC in significant quantities in order for the cannabis oil to be effective by itself. My experience is that products with CBD only oil containing less than .3 percent THC contain other ingredients in addition to cannabis that make the product effective (Hemp Oil, Emu Oil, DMSO). Here in Oregon, I love the products made by Empower Oil, Luminous Botanicals, and Sacred Herbal Medicinals.
Can you address the concerns raised by some people have that a cannabis massage will give them a psychoactive high?
When I started giving cannabis massages, many of my clients were elderly and they were not using any kind of cannabis. I asked them if they would take a drug test before, immediately after the massage, and then a week later. Every single one of these tests came back negative. Apparently the topicals enter the skin but do not enter the bloodstream. So they did not show up on a drug test.
What do you see as the future for cannabis topicals massages?
I believe that the root of all disease is dis-ease – which comes from stress. There’s so much stress in our daily lives. We’re plugged in & turned on all the time and we’re running a million miles a minute. That’s not good for our body because we’re releasing adrenaline to our brains and we’re not chilling down. That’s what topical cannabis massage allows us to do. I believe massage needs to be a combination of relaxation and therapeutic to be the most effective. But if you’re only going to do one, I’d say get massages as often as you can to relax and de-stress.
Finally, anything you’d like to say to folks who are skeptical about receiving a cannabis topical massage?
I have two things. One, I’m really focusing as I move forward on educating health care workers about the biology and legality of using cannabis. If I can inform them about the safety and efficacy of these cannabis topicals I can help assuage people’s fear of cannabis Secondly, I have worked on people who are in their eighties. It doesn’t show up on any drug test that I’ve given to them. And they swear by it. They won’t go back because it has such a positive effect on them. It doesn’t get you high. Why not try it?