While there's always some variation, massage therapy is basically massage therapy. The end goal is to relax patients and their muscles; whatever combination of sights, smells, sounds and sensations the massage therapist uses can be chalked up to the type of therapy — deep tissue, Swedish, Shiatsu, etc. — detail and taste.
Yeden, for instance, is on the second floor of a home-turned-shared-office on Nevada Avenue just north of Willamette. Behind door and curtain, owner Yelena Kudrya's mood-lit workspace has a steady stream of mellow jazz, reliable conditions for helping a client relax. But Kudrya has one powerful and unique tool in her arsenal: house-made, CBD-infused massage oil. She's one of many massage therapists in Colorado who have taken to offering infused oils in their practices.
"I like to use high CBD strains like the Harlequin, which is a sativa dominant," she says, adding "I also like to add an indica strain and mix it to get all of the cannabinoids in there." To beef up the oil's relaxing power further, she then adds concentrated CBD oil. Certainly, it sounds great on paper, but how much is hype and how much is helpful?
In the interest of good reporting, I set up an appointment for an infused massage at Yeden — half an hour of work on my desk-job-blighted back, neck and shoulders. Though the CBD-infused oil was no panacea, it dialed up every element of the massage. On the table, I was a little more relaxed than with a conventional massage, a feeling which lingered afterward. Results-wise, I felt relaxed and well-worked, like I'd gotten more time on the table than the clock suggested.
But I'm not the only one whose experience improved with CBD. Kudrya says using the infused oil makes her work easier. Like any other topical cannabis product, Kudrya's massage oil reduces inflammation. That gives a little more oomph to her massage techniques, helping her work deeper tissue and better loosen knotted muscles. Further, it doesn't get the patient high or show up in a drug screen.
Kudrya's relationship with CBD and massage is more than just a convenient pairing. Between 2010 and 2013, she suffered from severe back pain, for which she was on painkillers and sleep medication.
"I couldn't sit for more than 15 minutes," she says. Kudrya started using CBD-infused lotions and massage in early 2013 to help her recover. Six months later, fully functional, she enrolled in classes and earned her massage license. But working in Philadelphia, she couldn't work with CBD-infused oils.
"At [that] point, CBDs were still not legal anywhere but Colorado," she says. She left Philadelphia for Colorado Springs, opening Yeden in January 2015.
Now what helped heal her, helps her patients — or at least most of them. She says about 80 percent of her clients pick the CBD-infused option, which she doesn't charge extra for, though they must be at least 21, she notes. And it's not one demographic opting in, either — Kudrya's customers range from blue-collar workers to missionaries and preachers. After all, it's not a drug experience she's offering, just a better massage.