Testing positive using CBD in massage services has been a concern among massage therapists and clients alike. Will these sevices lead to a failed drug test? CBD topicals are becoming much more commonplace, and you're right to wonder how they interact with your body and a drug test result. Whether you're considering tossing it in your gym bag for post workout recovery or getting a professional massage with CBD massage oil, you'll find that there are a wide variety of CBD fo A male driver was checked during a traffic stop. A blood sample was collected 35min later and contained 7.3ng/mL THC, 3.5ng/mL 11-hydroxy-THC and 44.6ng/mL 11-nor-9-carboxy-THC. The subject claimed to have used two commercially produced products topically that contained 1.7ng and 102ng THC per mg, r …
Will Topical CBD Products Cause Massage Clients to Fail a Drug Test?
Are you finding some important questions unanswered with the growing service and product offering of CBD products?
The safety of using CBD products is high on clients’ list of concerns — with the most important question posed to the practitioner being, “Will this show up on a drug test?”
There are areas of misunderstanding, curiosity and confusion surrounding CBD use, especially due to the marijuana branding over the last four decades and marijuana’s legal status. (For more information, read “The MT’s Guide to Marijuana and Massage.”)
Let’s dive into this issue so you know how to respond to clients’ questions.
A CBD Review
CBD, or cannabidiols, are a class of compounds from the cannabis plant called cannabinoids.
The cannabis plant contains more than 400 compounds, and 60 plus are cannabinoid and include terpenes similar to those in essential oils, like limonene, pinene, myrcene and linalool. The compound mix in cannabis products is dependent upon the extraction method used, which may be a supercritical carbon dioxide (CO2) extract, a distillate or compound isolating technique.
The two important compounds to discuss, both cannabinoids, are cannabidiol and delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
Cannabidiol is the non-psychoactive compound desired for medical use, pain and inflammation. The compound associated with the intoxicating effect is THC.
A differentiation is made regarding the plant used for extraction. Hemp has 0.3% or less THC content, where marijuana has the psychoactive content of 15-45%. Both are from the botanical species Cannabis sativa.
The safety of CBD use is still being established. There are some individuals who may have such slight side-effects as digestive issues, tiredness, dizziness or changes in weight and appetite. These side-effects are documented for internal use of CBD. Topical application of CBD is not sensitizing and, except in rare cases, would not have the side-effects noted for internal use.
Safety and sensitivity in topical solution, due to the other ingredients in the formula, would then be determined as would any other topical sold or used.
Legal in the U.S?
CBD products are legal in all 50 states — or not. This is a grey area. When doing the research the overall consensus is that it is legal. Conditions arise when looking at state level laws or conditions. (Note: this article is not meant as legal advice; contact your regulating board or legal counsel in your geographic area to determine if use of CBD products is legal where you live.)
The difference between legal and illegal may be determined from the source of the CBD, meaning whether derived from marijuana or hemp.
The 2014 Farm Bill made hemp legal in all 50 states, and so making hemp-derived CBD legal in all 50 states. Still, some states do not fully embrace these federal laws. Again, it’s recommended that you check the legal status in your state before using CBD products or offering services.
Internationally. CBD laws vary and, like in the U.S, acquiring thorough guidelines on its use will be vitally important. (For more information, read “Marijuana & Massage: Are CBD Pain-Relief Products Caught up in New DEA Rule?”)
There is a legal limit of 0.3% on THC content within a CBD product. This is a very low, non-psychoactive level and why hemp, already low in THC, is an often-desired source of CBD. It should be noted that even the low-level THC content, as well as a mix of other cannabinoids, is thought to assist in CBD efficacy.
The product manufacturer should have documentation of content in the extracts used.
Over the past decades, employers have been administering mandatory drug testing, especially in government, health care and transportation — trucking, bussing and airlines — industries. Until the recent influx of CBD products and services, this wasn’t an issue of concern to the massage or spa therapist.
There are four testing methods used; blood, hair, saliva and urine analysis.
Drug testing for marijuana use is determined by the appearance of THC metabolites, not CBD. With a 0.3% limit of THC in the extract, the question remains as to whether this amount, or less considering the extract is further diluted in the whole formula, can accumulate in the body or in other ways show up as THC metabolites in drug testing.
“Will I Fail My Drug Test?”
Failing a drug test after receiving a massage service involving a CBD topical product is not likely, according to most experts in research of topical CBD products. Consider:
• To fail a drug test, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration guideline has a detection limit for the presence of THC, distinguished as a specific metabolite of THC, as 50 ng/mL.
• One estimate puts the threat of failing from an internal, not topical, dose of 1,000 mg and legal THC limit of 0.3% or less, at 23%.
• Another source declared a 1,000-2,000 mg dose, orally, gives an 11-23% chance of drug test detection.
• Key factors, beyond dosage, are the amount of THC contained in the extract, accurate labeling, metabolism, body mass and delivery method. If the extract is hemp-derived, it’s been determined there is no chance of detection.
• A CBD isolate, a product either specifically extracted or filtered to contain only the cannabidiol compound, if not contaminated in any way with THC, has no detection in drug tests.
Topical Application and Skin Absorption
With topical application it is highly unlikely, and close to impossible, for an amount of THC to be absorbed and metabolized by the body and detected in a drug test. Of course, there are circumstances that could change this such as the use of penetration enhancers, transdermal patches, and a higher than legal limit of THC in the product.
Topical CBD products are used for pain, inflammation and skin conditioning where the cannabidiols function by way of receptors in the cutaneous layers of the skin. Penetration into the blood is not necessary for localized therapeutic effect. The skin is designed to keep things out, making it logical that studies using blood and urine sampling find no penetration of cannabinoids following application.
The Jury is Still Out
Although evidence shows it would be unlikely to fail a drug test from topical use of CBD products, unease will continue for those who are drug tested at work. If employment is dependent on a clean reading, it is reasonable to accept clients’ hesitation or resistance to CBD use or services.
Precautionary measures may suggest introducing the conversation and alerting guests to CBD use and drug-testing.
As the market for CBD products grow, potential changes in drug testing may follow. For now, this will remain a challenging situation for all affected by employee drug testing.
Jimm Harrison is an internationally recognized essential oil and botanical skin care consultant, educator and author. He has developed botanical skin care, custom essential oil formulations and scent branding for spas and the retail health care industry. He is the author of Aromatherapy: Therapeutic Use of Essential Oils for Skin and Health and Easy Essential Oil Chemistry. Hedeveloped and teaches the Essential Oil and Aromatherapy Certificate Program at Bastyr University School of Natural Medicine, Kenmore, Washington. His article for MASSAGE Magazine include “Best Application Methods for Essential Oils.”
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Can Topical CBD Oil Cause Positive Drug Test?
CBD topicals are becoming much more commonplace, and you’re right to wonder how they interact with your body and a drug test result. Whether you’re considering tossing it in your gym bag for post workout recovery or getting a professional massage with CBD massage oil, you’ll find that there are a wide variety of CBD formulas available, each containing a colorful array of different cannabinoids, terpenes, and other plant derived compounds.
It boils down to this–CBD itself will not cause a failed drug test, but the THC content of some CBD products is much more controversial. Here, we’ll explore how CBD topicals work and whether CBD, or the trace amount of THC found in some CBD topicals, can penetrate the vascular system and make it into the bloodstream.
Let’s start with the basics:
- CBD topicals do not reach the bloodstream, but still interact with the Endocannabinoid System to provide therapeutic benefits.
- Drug tests don’t look for CBD, so CBD itself will not interfere with a drug test result.
- Some people worry about the trace amounts of THC in some topicals, but research shows that topical THC also does not reach the bloodstream.
- The benefits of CBD topicals may far outweigh the risks for most people looking to soothe topical aches, pains, and skin concerns.
What Is CBD?
CBD, or cannabidiol, is the primary cannabinoid found in hemp, as opposed to THC, the primary cannabinoid found in marijuana. Unlike THC, CBD is non-psychoactive, but it still interacts with the Endocannabinoid System in a meaningful way.
CBD is potentially therapeutic, both when taken by mouth when used topically. As a topical, CBD is widely believed to help reduce inflammation, soothe muscle pain, promote athletic recovery, and address an array of skin concerns. Evidence exists to help support these benefits, which we will discuss in greater detail below.
CBD’s ability to offer these therapeutic benefits without causing a head high is its greatest appeal. Still, some people have run into drug testing issues due to the trace amounts of THC found in full spectrum CBD oil products designed to be taken by mouth. Thankfully, this is much less of a worry for CBD topicals because of the way they interact with the body, meaning you may be able to use full spectrum topicals with far less risk.
What are CBD Topicals?
CBD topicals are exactly as they sound–CBD in topical form. This can mean CBD oil meant to be rubbed on the skin, CBD salves meant to target certain skin conditions, or CBD muscle rubs meant to penetrate deep and help to alleviate pain.
The type of CBD topical that you choose is totally based on preference, but it usually depends on how you intend to use it. All in all, though, they’ll each be pretty similar. As a rule, CBD topicals contain a base, usually an oil or butter of some form that’s meant to carry CBD and help it absorb into the skin. CBD is fat soluble, so it needs to be carried by an oil in order to effectively penetrate the skin.
Some topical CBD products also contain other hemp derivatives, like other cannabinoids and terpenes, as well as other botanicals, like camphor, menthol, or other essential oils chosen to boost the product’s therapeutic effects.
You’ll also have multiple formula options to choose from, but there are three basic options. Let’s break them down:
Full Spectrum refers to a CBD formula that contains a wide array of the cannabinoids found in cannabis, including trace amounts of THC, but also usually CBN, CBG, CBC, and more.
Broad Spectrum CBD products typically contain a large concentration of CBD alongside other trace cannabinoids, but they do not contain THC.
CBD Isolate simply refers to a formula that contains only isolated CBD molecules. It will not contain any other cannabinoids, though some CBD isolate products do have added terpenes and botanicals.
The difference in these two formulas is up for debate, but many people believe that Full Spectrum CBD formulas are more effective for most therapeutic purposes because they provide the added benefit of the entourage effect, a phenomenon where hemp cannabinoids work synergistically to boost each other’s effects. This of course is why CBD drug testing comes into question. Full Spectrum products contain at least trace amounts of Delta-9-THC, an illicit cannabinoid that will register on a drug test report.
Luckily, you probably don’t need to be concerned about the THC in topical CBD products. Here’s why:
How CBD Topicals Work (and Why They Won’t Make You Fail a Drug Test)
CBD, like other cannabinoids, interacts with the Endocannabinoid System, a regulatory system responsible for carrying out crucial bodily processes. The Endocannabinoid System wears lots of hats, but the most significant to CBD topicals is its ability to regulate pain signaling and the inflammatory response.
Research shows that CBD may help to reduce inflammation and pain across several applications, and CBD topicals do this by penetrating the deeper layers of the skin and interacting with CB2 receptors in the tissues below the surface.
In other words, CBD may penetrate all layers of the skin, all the way down to joints and ligaments, but it does not need to crossover into the vascular system to reach the Endocannabinoid System. That means that CBD (or THC) that’s applied topically doesn’t reach the bloodstream or have any systemic effect on the body.
Because CBD Topicals Don’t Reach the Bloodstream, They Have Virtually No Effect on Drug Tests
First and foremost, it’s important to note that drug tests don’t test for CBD. The risk of failing a drug test after using CBD involves only the trace amount of THC in Full Spectrum CBD products. The risk is already very small (and there’s no THC risks associated with Broad Spectrum or CBD Isolate).
Evidence suggests that THC, when applied topically to the skin, also doesn’t reach the bloodstream. That brings the already small risk down to zero. That means you should be safe to use full spectrum CBD topicals, even if you’re subject to drug testing.
Benefits of CBD Topicals
We lightly touched on how topicals work and the benefits that topicals may provide, but let’s dig deeper into the research available to support the use of topical CBD for inflammation and pain.
As we noted above, CBD can penetrate deep into the skin to interact with CB2 receptors, where it may have an impact on the body’s pain and inflammation response. According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association (AAD), CBD may be useful for managing certain inflammatory skin conditions, like acne, psoriasis, and eczema.
Research has also found that its anti-inflammatory effects may help to provide pain relief when used topically. One 2016 study, for instance, found that CBD, when applied topically to mice, may have long lasting benefits for reducing inflammation and pain-related behaviors caused by arthritis.
Furthermore, CBD may be useful for managing certain pain conditions that are difficult to treat. A 2020 study found that topical CBD oil may help to reduce pain related to neuropathy, a condition characterized by nerve damage that causes numbness and weakness in the hands and feet.
More research is needed to understand the full potential of CBD topicals for managing different types of pain and discomfort, and to compare the benefits of full spectrum and CBD isolate formulas. For now, we know that CBD topicals potentially offer a wide range of benefits with very little risk, so they may be worth a shot for anyone looking to manage topical skin conditions or muscle pains.
Types of CBD Topicals
We briefly covered the different types of CBD topical formulas above, but let’s touch on the two most common product types you’ll find in today’s hemp market–salves and muscle rubs.
CBD Skin Salves
A salve is a thick, buttery application that offers moisturizing properties. When infused with CBD, as well as other cannabinoids and botanicals, it can potentially be used to address topical skin concerns, like redness, irritation, itching, wounds, dry skin, blemishes, and more. Most skin soothing salves won’t contain menthol or other ingredients that will potentially irritate a rash or blemish, so this is the best option for skin care purposes.
Our CBD Skin Balm is designed to soothe topical scrapes, cuts, burns, and more. The functional formula combines nourishing rosehip oil and shea nut butter with rejuvenating essential oils to help support optimal skin health and healing.
CBD Muscle Rub
Muscle creams, on the other hand, can come in many forms. These may be creams, lotions, roll-ons, or a solid stick that can be applied to a targeted location. Usually, these will contain a higher potency of CBD alongside fast-acting botanicals, like camphor, menthol, and other plant-based analgesics.
Our CBD Muscle Rub, for instance, combines a potent CBD extract with hand selected botanicals, including cooling menthol, soothing arnica, and a powerful dose of turmeric oil. The combination is designed to support blood flow, lower inflammation, and offer a synergy that helps to calm pain and discomfort in the joints and muscles.
Where to Buy Topical CBD
Although CBD has not yet been approved by the FDA as a topical treatment for any condition, many people are eager to give it a shot for managing arthritis. Luckily, because it’s derived from hemp, it’s much more accessible than other cannabis products. In fact, you can order federally legal hemp products online and have them shipped right to your door from almost anywhere in the country.
There’s one drawback–the hemp industry is still poorly regulated, so you’ll need to take care to choose a high-quality, well-formulated CBD cream. At Vida Optima, we follow the same stringent quality standards for all of our CBD products, whether they are meant to be ingested or applied topically.
Our VidaDerm CBD Skin Care line is carefully formulated with premium CBD extract, hand chosen botanicals, and nourishing plant oils to offer a gentle and effective option for combating skin concerns at the surface and aches and pains deep in the joints. Pair it with a systemic CBD dose from our Vitality Collection for a full-coverage CBD wellness routine.
Topical application of THC containing products is not able to cause positive cannabinoid finding in blood or urine
A male driver was checked during a traffic stop. A blood sample was collected 35min later and contained 7.3ng/mL THC, 3.5ng/mL 11-hydroxy-THC and 44.6ng/mL 11-nor-9-carboxy-THC. The subject claimed to have used two commercially produced products topically that contained 1.7ng and 102ng THC per mg, respectively. In an experiment, three volunteers (25, 26 and 34 years) applied both types of salves over a period of 3days every 2-4h. The application was extensive (50-100cm 2 ). Each volunteer applied the products to different parts of the body (neck, arm/leg and trunk, respectively). After the first application blood and urine samples of the participants were taken every 2-4h until 15h after the last application (overall n=10 urine and n=10 blood samples, respectively, for each participant). All of these blood and urine samples were tested negative for THC, 11-hydroxy-THC and 11-nor-9-carboxy-THC by a GC-MS method (LoD (THC)=0.40ng/mL; LoD (11-hydroxy-THC)=0.28ng/mL; LoD (THC-COOH)=1.6ng/mL;. LoD (THC-COOH in urine)=1.2ng/mL). According to our studies and further literature research on in vitro testing of transdermal uptake of THC, the exclusive application of (these two) topically applied products did not produce cannabinoid findings in blood or urine.
Keywords: Cannabinoids; Gaschromatography mass spectrometry; Hemp oil containing cremes; Topic.
Copyright © 2017 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.
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