A Soothing Soak: Can CBD Bath Bombs Appease Your Pain?
Pain can be a real… well, pain! When you’re in the throes of discomfort, it can disturb all areas of your life: from work performance and social interactions, to your stress and anxiety levels. But did you know that CBD is making a huge ripple effect in the world of hemp-inspired wellness? In this article, we’ll explore how pain works in the body, and teach you how to comfort yourself with something simple, such as a soothing soak and a CBD bath bomb.
You’re probably already familiar with bath bombs — those fun, fizzing spheres that first splashed onto the scene in the late 1980s. Nowadays, these skincare treats are available far and wide. If you’re feeling creative, you can even try to make your own bath bombs using common kitchen ingredients, such as cornflour, bicarbonate of soda, and citric acid. But what do you do when you’re craving a more luxurious, natural, and grown-up twist on this classic bath time ritual? Luckily, we have just the thing for you: CBD bath bombs.
Can these hemp-inspired cosmetics help send some of your pain symptoms spiralling down the plughole? Let’s explore the possibilities of adding CBD and bathing to your soothing self-care routine.
The Active Ingredient: What is CBD Oil?
In basic terms, CBD oil is a combination of plant-based carrier oils (such as coconut or hemp seed oil) and cannabidiol extract. As you may have guessed, CBD oil is the defining feature of any CBD bath bomb. Manufacturers also formulate it as a food supplement that you can enjoy in CBD edibles (food and drink), or consume raw by placing one or two drops under your tongue. The latter technique is known as the ‘sublingual’ method, and involves holding the CBD drops in place for up to sixty seconds to allow any potential absorption to occur.
So, What is CBD (Cannabidiol) Extract?
If you need a quick reminder, we’ve got you covered! Technically speaking, CBD is a non-psychotropic plant compound from the cannabis family (specifically, the hemp subspecies). In other words, CBD is a cannabinoid. Developers use state-of-the-art extraction and distillation techniques to separate this substance from hemp leaves, stems, and flowers. Broad-spectrum CBD also contains some natural hemp terpenes (fragrant molecules) and cannabinoids (excluding THC). According to preliminary evidence and popular anecdotes from CBD users, cannabidiol might help to influence a wide range of common discomforts — including some symptoms of pain, inflammation, stress, anxiety, and more.
Is CBD Legal?
CBD won’t damage your relationship with the law — at least, not if you live in the UK, Germany, or any of the other CBD-tolerant countries in the EU and beyond. In order to be legal in the UK and EU, CBD products must typically:
- Come from licenced hemp crops
- Have non-euphoric chemistry (with no more than 0.2% THC per product)
For your reference, THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is a psychotropic cannabis compound that may come with some unwanted psychotropic effects if you consume it in excessive quantities. If you’re considering CBD bath bombs (or any other hemp-based products), it’s vital to refer to the laws and legalities where you live before taking any further actions.
Before considering the possibilities of using CBD and bathing to help appease some unpleasant symptoms, let’s take a closer look at a touchy subject: pain.
Pain does not need to be rationally understood to be felt. It’s a sensation that can be expressed in terms simple enough for a small child to process: words like “ouch”, for example. Put simply: pain hurts! It’s no surprise that many of us will go to great lengths to avoid unnecessary suffering — nor is it a shock that we’re often willing to try anything to escape the grips of pain. But have you ever wondered what pain is on a functional level? Let’s take a moment to get comfortable with some key definitions.
What Is Pain, and How Does It Work?
Most experts define pain as a troubling symptom that includes sensations of physical suffering and psychological distress (particularly in terms of your emotions). In many cases, this discomfort is connected with actual or potential cell damage. Some common signs of pain include grimaces, poor sleep, sweating, trembling, and other types of agitated behaviour. While pain is a fairly universal experience that affects people and animals, there is still a great deal of mystery surrounding it.
According to The British Pain Society (BPS), pain is like an alarm signal that travels from your body to your brain via neurotransmitters (chemical messengers). These messengers engage with an integrated network of structures (from microscopic receptors and nerve fibres to your lengthy spinal cord). Some neurotransmitters can amplify pain, while others might help to bring some natural relief. Similarly, some experts suggest that positive emotions can decrease the pain we feel, while feelings of stress, anxiety, and broader negativity may have the opposite effect.
Some of the most common causes of pain that can arise in daily life include:
- Aching muscles and sore joints
- Lower back pain
- PMS, period pain, and stomach aches
- Minor injuries
While you may attribute your pain to a logical trigger, it’s important to remember that some pain symptoms can arise without a clear origin. Just as some car alarms are more sensitive than others, the extent to which our bodies interpret and process pain can vary from person to person.
What is Pain Management?
Pain management is a multi-faceted strategy that encourages people to take practical and proactive comfort measures — particularly if they experience chronic pain. With the assistance of a trained wellness professional, individuals can create personalised routines that might help them cope better when their distressing symptoms arise. As summarised by N Hylands-White and others, pain management often involves clinical pain killers, movement, distractions and more comprehensive self-care techniques. It can also include lifestyle changes — such as altering your nutritional intake and behavioural responses to stress.
At this point, it’s helpful to explore the connections between pain and mental wellbeing.
Pain, Stress, Anxiety, and Depression
According to a 2015 literature review, stress is a state of physical and psychological disharmony. It may potentially lower your pain threshold and even cause you to experience some symptoms of hyperalgesia (increased sensitivity). Since stress also involves physical tension and hormonal changes within the fight-or-flight response, prolonged periods of agitation can cause your muscles to become tight and uncomfortable. On the flipside, pain itself is often an upsetting experience — whether it’s the result of a worrying injury or simply feeling under the weather. Some researchers even question whether chronic pain and chronic stress are connected on a deeper level, since many of their symptoms are similar.
Further speculations have been made regarding pain, anxiety, and depression. As you may know, anxiety is both a fear-based emotion and a chronic mood disorder. Depression is also a mood disorder — though it’s characterised by feelings of despair and hopelessness rather than panic. Interestingly, pain symptoms sometimes overlap with typical signs of anxiety and depression. This might mean that psychological comfort is just as important as physical comfort when you’re in pain.
Generally speaking, there are four main categories of pain: nociceptive (coming from physical injuries), functional (pain without any clear origin), neuropathic (triggered by nerve damage) and inflammatory (resulting from inflammation). In light of some of the recent preliminary CBD research we will review soon, it’s helpful to understand why pain and inflammation often go hand-in-hand.
What Is Inflammation, and Why Might It Trigger Pain?
According to experts at the German wellness portal Informed Health, inflammation is one of the key ways that your body responds to damaging stimuli (from physical injuries and pathogens to even perceived threats, such as the fear of becoming ill). This defence mechanism is part of your immune system — an incredible network of cells and chemicals that protect your body from infection. It also involves the CB2 receptors in your endocannabinoid system (ECS), which we’ll talk about later.
Your immune system works to fight the potentially dangerous cells that you encounter daily. However, immune disorders can cause your body to attack its own cells, which can be harmful.
While inflammation does not always present symptoms, some classic signs include:
Why is inflammation often so uncomfortable? There are a few possible reasons for this. To begin with, inflammation often sends a characteristic surge of blood to the parts of your body where the damage (or perceived threat) is taking place. While this shift leads to increased temperature and sensitivity to touch, it also causes swelling — as white blood cells and other fluids accumulate to offer a ‘cushioning’ effect.
When structures inside your body become swollen and stretched, they can aggravate and squash your nerves. Not surprisingly, your nerves react by sending pain signals. At a basic level, this explains why pain can be a symptom of inflammation.
At this point, let’s investigate how CBD might impact this uncomfortable cycle.
As a quick disclaimer, we must make one thing clear: CBD is not a pain killer. While many researchers are exploring its potential clinical and therapeutic properties, there is currently no evidence to suggest that cannabidiol can “cure”, “treat”, or “remedy” your pain. Consequently, it’s more helpful to contemplate this substance as a self-care tool within a more comprehensive wellness strategy. Dr Shafik Boyaji from Harvard Medical School puts it this way: ‘don’t make CBD your first or only option for pain relief’. With this being said, let’s review some studies exploring CBD oil for pain symptoms.
CBD, Inflammation Symptoms, and Comfort Levels
As we touched on briefly just a moment ago, pain can be an uncomfortable side effect of the natural inflammation processes that take place within your body. Whether you’re experiencing mild post-workout swelling, recovering from knee surgery, or struggling with more general discomforts, you’ll be familiar with the sensations of pressure, throbbing, and stiffness that inflammation can cause. Can CBD impact some of these inconveniences?
According to a recent literature review by S Berstein, CBD may potentially influence your endocannabinoid system (ECS) — a cell signalling network in the body that helps to regulate your natural immune response (and many other vital processes). While further research is needed, some scientists suggest that cannabidiol might interact with CB2 receptors to potentially affect the exchange of inflammation markers and other signals.
Additional studies explore some broader possibilities regarding CBD, such as:
- Its potential antioxidant properties (which may impact inflammation symptoms triggered by oxidative stress)
- Whether CBD might influence some signs of swelling in the airways, muscles, and possibly even the brain
If you’re as intrigued about these ideas as we are, it’s a good idea to keep up to date on the research — as CBD is a dynamic and ever-evolving space!
CBD Might Influence Your Self-Perceived Pain Tolerance
Alongside its physiology, pain is a highly personal (and often emotional) experience that can sometimes leave us lost for words. Often, pain signals bring a deep sense of urgency that can conflict with our other day-to-day priorities. Suppose you’ve ever experienced a headache at the office, or a burning sensation in your body as you prepare for another challenging workout. In that case, you’ll know how difficult it can be to focus on the big picture when you are uncomfortable. These feelings can also affect our behaviour and social interactions — potentially causing us to be more irritable, ‘on edge’, down, or just generally moody. Along with most of our conscious experiences, pain is processed and perceived in the brain.
So, can CBD influence how we perceive symptoms of pain?
According to a 2020 research paper by J Mlost and others, CBD may potentially impact some symptoms of nerve discomfort and inflammatory pain. So far, these observations suggest that consuming CBD might possibly influence:
- Your self-perceived pain tolerance
- The extent to which you perceive your pain symptoms while performing gentle everyday tasks (such as washing your face)
- How ‘on edge’ you feel
- Your self-perceived sense of wellbeing (particularly if you suffer from chronic pain)
CBD May Impact Some Symptoms of Stress and Anxiety
Earlier in this article, we explored a few possible links between pain and broader mental wellbeing — including your mood. Interestingly, factors such as stress and anxiety may potentially increase the amount of pain-promoting neurotransmitters in your body — possibly making your discomfort even more unbearable. Did you know that being in a good mood (or at least a better one) can influence the pain you feel? Understandably, pain can make it very difficult to be optimistic — which is why incorporating small, meaningful pleasures, and thorough self-care techniques can do us a world of good.
Before we evaluate the broader, feel-good potential of your CBD bath bomb, let’s consider how cannabidiol might potentially blow some of your stress and anxiety symptoms out of the water.
According to a 2015 literature review, CBD may impact some signs of anxiety and post-traumatic stress symptoms. Numerous researchers have made some further suggestions about CBD — indicating that this compound may potentially help with:
- Muscle tension
- Getting a good nights’ sleep and reducing some symptoms of insomnia
- Some behavioural signs of anxiety and stress
- Your personal sense of calmness
While the full potential of CBD is still waiting to be unlocked, studies suggest that it might be a helpful substance to explore within your self-care routine. Before we teach you how to enjoy a CBD-infused bath, it’s critical to keep this pointer in mind:
The Truth Hurts: CBD is Not Suitable for Everyone
As you may know already, CBD is not suitable for children under the age of 18. If you’re pregnant or nursing, you should avoid using cannabidiol, as there is not enough evidence to confirm its safety in these circumstances. Similarly, if you have any underlying health conditions or are on medication, it’s best to get the green light from your doctor before using any CBD-themed products. Now that we’ve covered these bases, let’s skip to the good part: a long, relaxing soak in the tub.
Recognise the Therapeutic Potential of Your Bath
Bathtubs have been around in some shape or form since 2000 BC, and they are still making waves in our relaxation rituals. Taking a comfortably hot bath can be a blissful experience, but did you know that bathing also offers a broad range of scientifically proven wellbeing benefits? Being immersed in warm water can positively impact your circulation, muscle tension, and the natural release of toxins in your body. Many studies illustrate that bathing can also influence your physical and mental health — potentially decreasing signs of stress, anger, and depression- and that’s before you add the CBD bath bomb!
A 2018 study by Y Goto and others even suggests that taking baths may inspire you to smile more frequently and help you feel comfortable in your own skin! With this in mind, bathing is always something to look forward to — and the mere thought of a soothing soak can be very uplifting in times of discomfort or unease.
Make the Atmosphere as Calming as Possible
As we’ve already touched upon, stress and disharmony can adversely impact how your neurotransmitters process pain signals — potentially leading to more aggravation. Deliberately creating a calming atmosphere may help support the natural pain relief response in your nervous system. As you can imagine, this process involves adding sources of comfort and removing any unhelpful things that might cause you to become tense or preoccupied.
While pain and discomfort can create a sense of urgency, it might be best for you to avoid rushing and take it easy when preparing for your bath. Also, if you’re living with a partner, don’t be afraid to ask them for some help.
Here are some straightforward ways you can create a gentle ambience:
- Clear away any bathroom clutter (or at least move it somewhere out of sight)
- Light some natural soy or hemp wax candles
- Prepare a refreshing drink and a healthy snack (if you’re peckish)
- Play some quiet music, a long guided meditation, or an episode of your favourite podcast
- Keep your pyjamas and towel warm by draping them over the radiator
Melt Your Cares Away With a CBD Bath Bomb
Some brands add a few drops of CBD oil to a standard bath bomb recipe and call it a day. Here at VAAY, we pay painstaking attention to detail when it comes to supporting your natural relaxation ritual. Our expert team combines wholesome botanical extracts with a silky shea butter and beeswax core to create our signature Lavender CBD bath bombs.
As these soothing spheres dissolve, your bathwater becomes fused with delicate lavender flowers, CBD extract, fragrant terpenes, and essential oils ranging from hemp seed to jojoba. According to a recent review, aromatherapy itself may potentially help to reduce some symptoms of pain.
Parting Advice: What To Do in The Bath When You’re in Pain
You may find that bathing in warm water helps you to relax and unwind reasonably directly. However, depending on the type of pain you’re experiencing and how intense it feels, you might need to incorporate some other relaxation techniques. Here are a few ideas worth considering:
Deep Breathing or Mindfulness Meditation
Put simply, deep breathing activates your parasympathetic nervous system — a branch of your nervous system that helps you calm down and relax, both mentally and physically. It also increases the amount of oxygen in your body, which may also influence some of your pain symptoms. When we’re experiencing pain or panic, our breathing tends to become very shallow and less frequent. So, it’s wise to focus on taking full, smooth breaths amidst moments of discomfort.
Practice Positive Self-Talk
We all talk to ourselves in one way or another — whether it’s by making comments under our breath or simply circulating ideas in our minds. While negative self-talk often involves blame, pessimism, and blowing situations out of proportion, positive dialogues are focused on self-empowerment, faith, and hopeful affirmations. Next time you’re coping with painful sensations, try changing the narrative — the results might just surprise you!
Find a Distraction
In some circumstances, distractions are unwelcome and even dangerous — such as when you’re driving. However, when you are at home suffering from discomfort that feels overwhelming, shifting your attention elsewhere can help you feel better and more in control. While meditating on your pain or prodding tender areas can often make things worse, focusing on other things is a fascinating pain management strategy that many researchers are exploring.
Some distractions you can explore during your soothing bath include:
- Reading a good book
- Watching an episode of your favourite TV show (preferably a comedy)
- Connecting with a friend or loved one on speakerphone
- Mentally (or out loud) listing things in your life that you’re grateful for
As with deep breathing and positive self-talk, you might be amazed by the influence that a bit of distraction can have in moments of distress.
There is currently no evidence to suggest that CBD is a ‘pain killer’, and you should be wary of any brands that attempt to promote it as one. However, cannabidiol supplements and self-care products may possibly help to reduce some common symptoms of pain — ranging from physical tension and discomfort, to your mood and general sense of wellbeing. According to some studies, CBD may also impact some signs of inflammation: an immune response that often has some painful and uncomfortable side effects.
As we know, bathing is a scientifically proven wellness strategy in and of itself. Our lavender CBD bath bombs offer three main possibilities when it comes to appeasing signs of pain and creating moments of self-comfort. These potential benefits combine the therapeutic properties of a hot bath, the soothing elements of aromatherapy, and the uplifting possibilities of CBD — which some people call the “calm compound.”
Originally published at https://uk.vaay.com.