As cannabis prohibition approaches its end, a whole heap of creative ways to experience the benefits of the cannabis plant, medicinal or recreational, are being explored. In fact, some cannabis enthusiasts are literally bathing in cannabis. These enthusiasts are adding cannabis products to their baths to help reduce stress and increase relaxation. However, healing herbal baths are not a new phenomenon brought to us by the changing cannabis laws. On the contrary, the benefits of herbal baths have been known and used by humans for thousands of years. The earliest documented information about bathing in aromatic herbs dates back to 1,500 BCE, when the ancient Egyptians, Babylonians, Assyrians, and Hebrews commonly used herbal baths for both hygienic and medicinal purposes.
The Father of Medicine, Hippocrates, learned about the benefits of aromatic baths from the ancient Egyptians. He developed teachings about using water as a form of treatment (referred to as hydrotherapy). During the Renaissance and Reformation, the Church nearly eliminated the tradition of herbal baths in Europe. Only the Finnish, Russian, and Scandinavian people continued the practice of herbal bathing.
Ancient manuscripts provide evidence of using the essential oils from about 50 species of herbs and flowers for treatments through bathing. Considering the cannabis plant’s close relationship with humans and the fact cannabis was recognized as a healing herb in ancient Chinese culture, the concept of “bathing in cannabis” is probably nothing new.
While herbal bathing is an ancient practice, new extraction techniques have led to recently developed methods of “infusing” bath products with cannabinoids and other plant extracts. Our ability to isolate individual cannabinoids makes it possible to create a standardized measurement of those ingredients in products, including bath items. With this standardized measurement comes more accurate scientific testing of the results of this method of administration and also peace of mind concerning the consistency and safety of the products for the user. Today, many cannabis enthusiasts are taking advantage of cannabis-infused bath products to “soak” in a mixture of marijuana extracts, Epsom salts, and various combinations of other herbs, including lavender, orange, patchouli, cedar-wood, grape-seed oil, jojoba oil, wintergreen, eucalyptus, chamomile, frankincense, and more.
Cannabis Bath Products
There are currently many different cannabis-based bath products on the market. Some are infused with the psychoactive cannabinoid THC, while others are infused with the non-psychoactive cannabinoid CBD. Some are infused with both. Any reputable cannabis manufacturer will include the exact amount of each active cannabinoid in the ingredient list. For example, the label of a cannabis-infused product might read 25mg THC and/or 25mg CBD. Knowing the precise amounts of cannabinoids in the product allows the consumer to make an informed decision and to accurately experiment with or compare products from different manufacturers.
Another consideration when shopping for cannabis bath products is the ratio of THC to CBD (assuming the product contains both). Many people report the most medicinal benefits with cannabis products that employ the entourage effect.
Essentially, the entourage effect is the idea that cannabinoids work synergistically and that whole plant medicines are more effective than individual cannabinoids.
Although many within the cannabis community strongly believe in the entourage effect, the concept is still just a theory that has yet to be scientifically proven. Still, many consumers prefer a bath product that utilizes both THC and CBD for a broader spectrum of medicinal benefits. A quick internet search for “cannabis baths” will display many personal testimonials advocating the relaxing and healing benefits of a cannabis-infused bath, along with companies that manufacture cannabis bath bombs/products and several do-it-yourself recipes for cannabis-infused bath salts.
When choosing a manufactured or DYI cannabis bath product, close attention should be paid to the type of Epsom salt used, not just the cannabinoids. In most bath products, Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate) is one of the main ingredients. This should come as no surprise as Epsom salts have been a staple in many medicinal bath concoctions. It is widely used to relieve many minor health issues and is commonly used in skin cleansers and hair care products as it naturally exfoliates the skin and adds volume and shine to hair. Soaking in a bath with Epsom salt can help relieve minor muscle aches and pains. Essentially, there are two types of Epsom salts available: USP (United States Pharmaceutical) grade, also referred to as food grade, and non-food grade. Non-food grade Epsom salt is mainly used for agricultural purposes and may contain contaminants. For cannabis (and, for that matter, non-cannabis) bath products, only food-grade Epsom salts should be used.
After considering the cannabinoids and which type of Epsom salt is being used, it is also important to look at all the other ingredients and consider how each of these may affect your body. Some manufacturers list “fragrance” as an ingredient. People with sensitive skin may wish to avoid this and stick with the “unscented” varieties. In any case, if irritation occurs, use should be discontinued.
Will I Get “High”?
Although some testimonials on the internet claim to feel a “high” from bathing with cannabis-infused bath products, this is most likely more from a placebo effect than the actual cannabinoids. According to the manufacturers of cannabis-infused bath products, soaking in them will not result in a “high” (although some warn about the possibility of women absorbing the psychoactive components of cannabis through their vaginas). For anyone worried about possibly absorbing the psychoactive ingredients, there are many cannabis-infused bath products that do not include THC. These products only use CBD (a non-psychoactive cannabinoid) to provide the beneficial properties of cannabis. The general consensus regarding cannabis bath products is a person can safely enjoy a soak in a cannabis-infused bath without the risk of becoming intoxicated. At least, not in the traditional sense of becoming intoxicated, high, or stoned. However, it is advertised that you may experience a heightened sense of relaxation and an overall reduction of stress. Along with heightened relaxation and stress reduction, cannabis-infused bath products may also provide health benefits to those suffering from skin disorders.
Cannabis as a Treatment for Skin Disorders
There is a myriad of testimonials on the internet about treating and healing skin disorders with cannabis. Claims of healing acne, eczema, rosacea, psoriasis, pruritus, and even cold sores with topical cannabis products can be found with a quick internet search. A number of studies have investigated whether the active ingredients in cannabis (cannabinoids including THC and CBD) show promise as a treatment or cure for skin disorders. Dr. Robert Dellavalle, the associate professor of dermatology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, and his team reviewed the existing evidence to see how promising cannabis could be for skin disorders and published the findings in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. According to their research, current literature suggests cannabis could be an effective treatment for a variety of skin disorders, especially pruritus (the unpleasant sensation of the skin that invokes the urge to scratch). It is believed the naturally occurring anti-inflammatory properties of cannabis might explain its benefits when treating skin conditions. Specifically, the Colorado School of Medicine’s research team points to a study showing that THC reduced inflammation in mice. This study indicates that the skin health benefits of cannabinoids might be attributed to cannabis’s natural anti-inflammatory properties. Their research concluded that although large-scale clinical trials assessing the safety and efficiency of topical cannabinoids for skin diseases in humans have yet to be conducted, current evidence suggests patients with skin diseases (especially those who fail to respond to conventional treatments) might benefit from topical cannabinoid therapies. Aside from topical creams and balms, one of the best ways to administer cannabis topically is to bathe in a solution infused with cannabis. In other words, using cannabis-infused bath products may offer significant benefits to those suffering from skin disorders.
The extensive benefits of herbal baths are not new knowledge. However, as our ability to isolate and experiment with plant extracts, including cannabinoids, increases, we will be better able to utilize them. Cannabis-infused bathing is just one of the ways ancient healing methods will be revisited in the future. For many, soaking in a tub of warm water combined with herbal extracts can create a serene environment where a deeply relaxed, almost meditative, state can be achieved. It only makes sense to include cannabis, a plant with a 5,000-year track record as a valued medicinal herb, in hydrotherapies. Currently, there are a wide array of quality cannabis-based bath products on the market for consumers to try out. Even states that have not yet legalized recreational marijuana will likely have CBD-infused bath products available. Experimenting with cannabis bath products, whether they are manufactured or homemade, is probably the best way to see if cannabis will enhance your bathing experience. A good hot soak to reduce stress and forget about the world for half an hour may be exactly what some of us need to get a fresh perspective on things.