The smell of burning Nag Champa fills the air, local artwork adorns the walls and the airy synths of ambient music play in the waiting room just like any other massage studio in the country – except this one uses cannabis-infused products. Just one look at the poster for topical cannabis company Apothecanna and you realize you’re not in a typical spa. You are in a cannabis-infused, therapeutic heaven.
Cannabis spas were predicted to be one of the biggest trends to look out for in 2015 and LoDo Massage in Denver, Colorado is proving to be a true testament to the success of incorporating cannabis into the $14-billion-a-year spa industry.
Since LoDo Massage’s opening in February 2014, the studio’s staff has seen first-hand the influence of Colorado’s explosive canna-businesses – a direct result of the legalization of recreational marijuana. Alexi Atkins, Lodo Massage’s operational manager and private yoga instructor, says that the spa has received an incredibly positive response. Unsurprisingly, the “Mile High Massage” is its most popular option. This deep tissue massage employs a THC– and CBD-infused lotion from the Apothecanna collection. Apothecanna is a Denver-based line of lotions that not only boasts cannabis ingredients, but also includes essential oils, many of which are locally sourced.
According to Atkins, about 75 to 85 percent of tourists who visit the studio indulge in the Mile High Massage. She explained that the lotion they use is targeted to treat chronic pain, making it the perfect accompaniment to the deep tissue massage. The lotion allows the muscles to relax so the therapist can go deeper without causing pain to the client. In addition, the range of motion involved in the deep tissue massage allows the Apothecanna to work instantaneously, providing pain relief for those who suffer from ailments such as arthritis. Moreover, its anti-inflammatory properties combat soreness, which is usually an unintended result of a deep tissue massage.
While the duration of the effects of the cannabis-infused massage is said to vary from client to client, Atkin’s guess is that the blissful relaxation effect of the topical massage lasts for up to a day after the treatment. Clients are encouraged not to shower right after, to preserve the potency of the lotion.
An inevitable question that Atkins is often asked is, “will this massage get me stoned?” The answer is no.
“If it got you stoned, my therapists wouldn’t be able to stand on their feet,” Ed Rich, LoDo Massage’s owner, noted.
While the therapists don’t get high from the lotion, this not-so-secret weapon in their holistic arsenal allows them to reap in its natural benefits as well. Thanks to the cannabis cream, their hands and arms are not nearly as sore as they normally would be after providing upwards of six hours of massages to clients.
Atkins warned that while clients are free to enter the spa high, massages do move a person’s blood around, thus increasing sensations. That being said, according to Atkins, people should demonstrate some precaution before getting a massage while intoxicated, as this could intensify their senses leading to an uncomfortable experience. Fortunately, Atkins only encountered one incident when someone was too high to enjoy the massage.
The THC from the Apothecanna topical used, does not enter the bloodstream and therefore does not cause psychoactive effects nor change moods and overall brain functions. This element makes the Mile High Massage appealing to senior citizens, one of the largest client bases of the spa.
“While our client base has a huge range of demographics, we definitely see a lot of elderly people in here for the Mile High because while they have no interest in pot, the natural lotion really helps with pain and allows them to access pot’s healing properties without them having to try cannabis,” Atkins said.
Since LoDo Massage isn’t a dispensary, the studio can’t legally sell Apothecanna to its clients. Cannabis-infused lotions, tinctures and salves all fall under the same category as edibles. Thus, Rich offers the cannabis lotion treatment for no extra charge. Fortunately, he has a close relationship with Apothecanna’s manufacturer, so he’s able to provide the Mile High Massage at a standard massage fee.
LoDo Massage also offers a variety of other massage packages and private yoga classes. When asked if she would consider incorporating cannabis lotion into yoga classes, Atkins simply shrugged with a smile and said, “Sure, why not? I’m open to anything that can have healing effects for clients.”
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