Incorporating CBD Into Your
Research Review and Potential Synergies
Table of Contents
- The CBD Industry
- CBD and Legalities
- How CBD Works In The Body
- The Research – CBD’s Effect on Pain & Inflammation
- Adding Value To Your Practice – CBD & Bodywork Synergies
- How To Structure Your Offerings
- Educating Your Clients
- Testimonials from LMT’s
The CBD industry has seen a growing demand, and is slated to see furthered growth in the coming decade. Research into the potential for Canabidiol (CBD) has provided promising evidence of the cannabinoid’s analgesic, anti-inflammatory, anticonvulsant and anxiolytic properties. Manual therapists are an essential component to body and mind maintenance, and may be in a uniquely aligned position to enhance their practice and client experience by exploring the potential for CBD.
In this article we explore the synergistic opportunity of incorporating CBD into the traditional massage and manual therapy fields. We will look at the current legal landscape, review relevant research, and delve into the ways in which CBD could add value to your massage practice.
The global Cannabidiol market currently stands at $2.8 Billion, and is expected to grow by 21% per year from 2021-2028 . As people seek out more natural forms of healing, there is an increasing demand for CBD-based products in the health and wellness space, due to the abundant healing properties it possesses. As new scientific research comes out showing CBD to be a valid and viable treatment option, the laws surrounding hemp and CBD continue to become more accepting – all of which serve to further support this growth. Given CBD’s vast therapeutic benefits, particularly its effectiveness at reducing pain and inflammation, it is becoming more commonplace as a valid tool in the toolbox of natural healing options.
The 2018 Farm Bill explicitly removed certain hemp-derived cannabinoids, including cannabidiol (CBD), from the list of federally prohibited substances under the Controlled Substances Act. State law widely differs regarding the legality of hemp-derived cannabinoids, including CBD products. State legislatures and their respective regulatory agencies either: (i) openly permit CBD products under a state-specific regulatory scheme; (ii) do not regulate CBD products in any manner; or (iii) have otherwise expressly prohibited certain CBD products. While hemp-derived cannabinoids below 0.3% delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol on a dry weight basis are no longer a ‘controlled substance’ under federal law, it is important to check with your state’s specific laws, many of which are open to CBD .
In addition to state and federal laws, many state massage boards permit therapists to use CBD-infused products. The Oregon Chapter of the The American Massage Therapy Association approves the use of CBD products in massage sessions as long as they are below 0.3% THC – which classifies the product as a “hemp” product and not “cannabis” . The Oregon Board of Massage Therapists “Topical Product Policy” adds that CBD products must be tested at a OLCC (Oregon Liquor Control Commission) certified laboratory .
CBD interacts with our internal Endocannabinoid System – a complex biological messaging system that plays a fundamental role in regulating a range of physiological functions, including mood, energy, pain, metabolism, stress, sleep, and muscle control. The Endocannabinoid system serves to maintain homeostasis within the body by modulating a wide range of physiological functions.
While our bodies create our own endocannabinoids, the ECS is also designed to interact with external plant cannabinoids called “phyto-cannabinoids”. Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the 100+ phyto-cannabinoid compounds found in the Cannabis Sativa plant. Unlike THC, CBD does not produce intoxicating effects, and many studies suggest that CBD may play a role in the management of a wide range of ailments by way of its pharmacologic relationship to the endocannabinoid system.
CBD interacts with the Endocannabinoid System via either agonistic or antagonistic relationships to endocannabinoid receptors (CB1 + CB2) as well as peripheral receptors like 5HT1a Serotonin receptor, and the Vanilloid pain receptors (TRPV1).
For a more in-depth look at CBD and the Endocannabinoid System, check out our blog here.
With even just the anecdotal evidence, it would be hard to ignore the potential for CBD in treating a wide variety of issues, but let’s focus on what the research has to say about CBD/Hemp and its relationship specifically to pain and inflammation.
There is a growing body of evidence that CBD may possess analgesic properties related to inflammation and varying types of pain – including chronic pain, arthritis pain, peripheral neuropathy, and more . It is thought that CBD and THC may work better together when it comes to the treatment of pain, but CBD does show potential on its own as well.
In a study published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine in rat models, CBD was shown to play a role in the reduction of chronic inflammatory pain and neuropathic pain .
In a 2016 study examining efficacy of transdermal CBD in animal models, the authors concluded that CBD noted a significant reduction in arthritis pain-related behaviors and inflammation .
In a 2020 randomized, placebo-controlled study, 29 patients with symptomatic peripheral neuropathy were given transdermal CBD across a period of 4 weeks. The authors found significant improvement in the reduction in intense pain, sharp pain, and cold/itchy sensations, with no reported side effects .
Enhanced Healing and Relaxation for Clients
The addition of high-quality CBD topicals that are formulated for a manual therapy session – with proper glide & workability, cannabinoid concentration, absorption, and natural scents – provide for a complimentary add-on that enhances client experience.
Given CBD’s quick absorption and effective analgesic characteristics, use of topicals can offer immediate relief to both muscles and joints, especially for clients who experience severe or chronic pain due to injury or arthritis. It also provides a deepened sense of calm allowing the client to relax their body further, giving the massage practitioner access to manipulate deeper layers of tissue. Because chronic pain usually inhibits deep relaxation and sleep, and can increase depression, anxiety, and stress, the use of CBD in a massage can help the client mitigate discomfort long after their time on the table. Many patients also report that CBD eliminates rebound pain felt the day after a massage session.
Massage therapists are an integral component to sports recovery, and the addition of CBD to massage sessions may work to boost the healing process related to sports injuries.
Many topicals also incorporate other beneficial and healing herbs like camphor, cayenne, peppermint, eucalyptus, etc., further alleviating pain and stress.
Taking CBD internally before a session, via gummy or sublingual drops, can also aid the client to settle into a deeper sense of relaxation in preparation for and during the session, allowing for a more enjoyable session and aiding overall well-being.
To Give Is To Receive
Many manual and energetic therapists feel that while giving healing to another, there is a reciprocal healing that the practitioner also feels. When it comes to working with CBD-infused products in sessions, the aspect of receiving takes on an added meaning. Let’s face it, those hands work hard and sometimes could use some love themselves — As the CBD-oils are massaged into your client, your hands and arms also receive the topical anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving benefits.
Selling Personal Use Products
If clients find benefit from their CBD-infused sessions, they may be interested in also purchasing a personal product for at-home treatment between sessions. Including CBD products both in your sessions and in your lobby has inherent synergies that add value for both you and your clients. For you, you’ll be able to confidently recommend and vouch for your products, as you will continually be receiving first-hand feedback from your clients during their sessions. If you have (or have not) chosen the right brand, it will be clear. This also positions you as a trusted resource for your clients, in that you will be recommending products that you know will provide benefit. For your clients, being able to try CBD-infusions in their sessions will make any subsequent purchases a more confident and informed decision. This model also helps to remove the overwhelm and uncertainty that can arise as a consumer when trying to find a good CBD brand, and they will prefer to buy from you.
At Amoha Living we offer an affordable LMT Wholesale Program designed to work with the needs of your business.
Natural & Safe
CBD is not addictive and has a favorable safety profile with virtually no negative side effects. CBD products can be an effective substitute for Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID’s) like ibuprofen and aspirin. While these drugs can be effective, they can also be harmful to the digestive system and liver and bring other unwanted side effects. Adding CBD to a massage session poses little risk to the client while also offering a higher level of relief.
The exact way you incorporate CBD into your practice can vary depending on the type of body-work you do, your clientele needs, and the overall theme of your practice. We recommend working with the products yourself, or testing out on family, to develop an informed game plan for how CBD can add the most value to you and your clients. In this section we’ve summarized some popular ways that LMT’s choose to incorporate CBD into their business model:
- CBD Salve/Massage Oil Add-On → Clients could elect to add CBD spot treatment to any existing massage for a small charge.
- CBD Focused Targeted Offerings → Massage therapists could create a specific offering that is built around the added benefits of CBD or other ingredients in the product. For example, a “Tension Release” massage that focuses on neck and shoulders, while utilizing the Spa Refresh massage blend — calling on the added relaxation benefits of Eucalyptus, Lavender, and Bergamot. Or “Deep Tissue Release” that utilizes the Warming Massage Oil blend to increase blood flow and circulation to a problem area.
- CBD Add-ons Included → The addition of a CBD spot treatment to a specific problem area could be included as a perk to your clients, and worked into the overall price of a massage if needed. In this model, the enhanced customer satisfaction and loyalty that arises from a more effective session could pay for itself.
- Gummy or Sublingual Drops Add-On → Some therapists like to offer a CBD gummy or sublingual hemp drops to clients before a session, for the purpose of deepening the level of relaxation and relief, often in addition to CBD topical applications.
- Lobby Retail Sales → This increases both client experience & pain management with the option to purchase for home-use, as well as additional revenue for your business.
- Lobby Purchases Incorporated into Sessions → In this scenario, you could allow a client who purchased a full-sized product in your lobby to bring the jar into their session and use as much as they desire, whether spot treatments or full body. This would give the client more flexibility with how they want to use their CBD, and they will likely use you as their continued resource.
For many, the main reason for a hesitation about CBD comes from lack of proper education. Since hemp is so closely related to Cannabis, many wonder how it will affect them, if they are breaking the law, or if they will get high. In this section we will break down some of the main topics that your clients may have questions about.
In summary, CBD has been shown to have a favorable safety profile with minimal side effects. There have been many studies on the potential benefits of CBD showing positive analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and stress-relieving properties. Though CBD is related to Cannabis, the compounds found in legal hemp do not produce an intoxicating effect.
How Will CBD Benefit My Massage Experience?
CBD has been shown in various studies to have a positive effect on the body, most importantly in this setting with regards to pain, inflammation, and stress. CBD is known to provide localized relief of pain and inflammation when applied topically to the skin. Incorporating it into a massage will likely enhance the overall relief and relaxation experienced during the session. Ingesting internally, if desired, is likely to also improve relaxation and overall sense of well-being.
Will Hemp Products Get Me High?
While Hemp and Cannabis come from the same plant, it is the THC concentration in the plant that produces the “high” effect. For oral ingestion, since concentrations in hemp products are so low (<0.3%), it is not enough to produce an intoxicating effect when taken at the recommended doses.
When using hemp products topically, cannabinoid absorption is not shown to be able to break the blood barrier and reach the bloodstream. The exception to this would be for transdermal patches or if the product is specifically formulated to do so. This means that a topical product (with either CBD or THC) should not produce any intoxicating effects from application to the skin .
Is CBD Safe?
CBD has been generally seen to have a favorable safety profile. In a comprehensive review published by Bergamaschi et al, comparing over 100 original studies, it was noted that CBD is well tolerated in humans with doses up to 1500mg taken orally .
CBD is not addictive and thus lacks abuse potential. Many prescription drugs affect the release of dopamine in the brain’s pleasure center that can cause one to become dependent on the drug over time. CBD is not shown to trigger dopamine release, or show addictive qualities in the available literature.
While being generally well tolerated, some possible side effects (when ingesting internally) can include dry mouth, diarrhea, drowsiness at high concentrations, or changes in appetite 
Additionally, (more specifically for ingestion of CBD) there can be certain drug interactions when CBD is combined with other medications such as blood thinners. Be sure to consult with your health care provider before trying CBD if you are taking other prescription medications to ensure that you are informed and safe!
What is the Difference Between Hemp and Marijuana/Cannabis?
Both Hemp and Cannabis are actually the same plant – Cannabis Sativa. The key difference that separates “Hemp” vs. “Marijuana/Cannabis” comes down to the level of THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) present in the plant. If the plant contains less than 0.3% THC, then it is considered “hemp,” and will not produce noticeable intoxicating effects.
It has been shown in the research that even the trace amounts of THC present in hemp can synergistically work with CBD and other plant constituents to produce a better effect, especially for pain and inflammation. This is why we choose to use Full Spectrum hemp oil in most of our products.
If you or your clients would like further reading, we have written numerous educational blogs to provide a digestible rundown on how CBD works, it’s benefits, the human Endocannabinoid system, types of CBD, and more.
We connected with some LMT’s who have incorporated CBD into their practice to hear what they had to say:
“Using CBD on my clients has changed the way I practice. The effects are almost immediate in how it decreases my clients’ pain and invites relaxation, and I only see the popularity of using CBD with massage growing because of the results it offers.”
Sarah L, LMT
“We love working with AmohaLiving CBD products during our massage therapy sessions. Clients experience a deeper therapeutic effect and enhanced relaxation during and after their session when they add CBD to their treatment. We love to promote a CBD upgrade either internally with a gummy or topically with the salve or massage oil. Clients have expressed feeling less sore after their treatment and a greater sense of calm and stress relief.”
Amy O, LMT
There are many ways that you can incorporate CBD into a bodywork setting, all of which serve to enhance client relaxation and healing, as well as benefits to you as the practitioner, all while increasing revenue for your business in the process. The use of tailored and high-quality topicals can blend easily into the existing framework of manual therapy as an easy add-on to provide deepeneed benefit. Existing scientific research and a mass of first hand anecdotal data, coupled with favorable legal trajectory and an increasing demand, support the notion that CBD has potential to be a key player and viable tool for alternative medicine’s approach to healing.
- [Vučković S, Srebro D, Vujović KS, Vučetić Č, Prostran M. Cannabinoids and Pain: New Insights From Old Molecules. Front Pharmacol. 2018;9:1259. Published 2018 Nov 13. doi:10.3389/fphar.2018.01259].
- [Xiong W, Cui T, Cheng K, et al. Cannabinoids suppress inflammatory and neuropathic pain by targeting α3 glycine receptors. J Exp Med. 2012;209(6):1121-1134. doi:10.1084/jem.20120242]
- [Hammell DC, Zhang LP, Ma F, et al. Transdermal cannabidiol reduces inflammation and pain-related behaviours in a rat model of arthritis. Eur J Pain. 2016;20(6):936-948. doi:10.1002/ejp.818]
- [Xu DH, Cullen BD, Tang M, Fang Y. The Effectiveness of Topical Cannabidiol Oil in Symptomatic Relief of Peripheral Neuropathy of the Lower Extremities. Curr Pharm Biotechnol. 2020;21(5):390-402. doi: 10.2174/1389201020666191202111534. PMID: 31793418.]
- [Iffland K, Grotenhermen F. An Update on Safety and Side Effects of Cannabidiol: A Review of Clinical Data and Relevant Animal Studies. Cannabis Cannabinoid Res. 2017;2(1):139-154. Published 2017 Jun 1. doi:10.1089/can.2016.0034]
- [Bergamaschi MM, Queiroz RH, Zuardi AW, Crippa JA. Safety and side effects of cannabidiol, a Cannabis sativa constituent. Curr Drug Saf. 2011 Sep 1;6(4):237-49. doi: 10.2174/157488611798280924. PMID: 22129319.]
- Hess C, Krämer M, Madea B. Topical application of THC containing products is not able to cause positive cannabinoid finding in blood or urine. Forensic Sci Int. 2017 Mar;272:68-71. doi: 10.1016/j.forsciint.2017.01.008. Epub 2017 Jan 16. PMID: 28122323.