Published on August 22, 2019

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design by emily henderson, photo by tessa neustadt

You might think that you have the recipe for a perfect bath down pat: some candles or essential oils for aromatherapy, a good book, and plenty of bubbles and salts to transform your bathwater into something of a magical elixir. But there’s one ingredient you haven’t thought of, and it could make it even better: CBD.

By now, you’ve probably heard all about the benefits of CBD, but if you’ve avoided the acronym thus far, here’s a crash course: Basically, CBD is just one of many cannabinoids found in the hemp plant. No, it won’t get you high—it doesn’t contain THC, the ingredient that causes psychoactive experiences. Instead, it has an anti-inflammatory effect when it comes in contact with the cannabinoid receptors found in your body. Simply put, it can decrease stress and anxiety, calm inflamed skin, and soothe achy joints. And now you can get those benefits in a bath. Here’s the deal:

How does a CBD bath work?

You might be most familiar with CBD in tincture and gummy form, but it can also be absorbed through your skin. “Topical application is one of the oldest forms of CBD uses. It is referenced in Chinese medicine and many ancient health approaches. Thousands of years ago, humans would grind up hemp into a paste and apply it to the skin for its healing properties,” says Dr. Andrew Kerklaan, who has his own line of topical CBD creams. “The effects of applying it to your skin range from anti-inflammatory to pain killing to muscle relaxing.”

When you add it to your bathwater, you basically increase the surface area of your body that absorbs it, Kerklaan explains. To increase the benefits of a CBD bath even further, he also advises “applying a nongreasy topical cream or lotion after the bath to allow the CBD to soak deep into your skin.” As with all CBD products, you’ll want to make sure that you’re buying your bath salts or soak from a reputable company that ensures they contain enough CBD to actually have an effect. (Don’t worry; we’ve rounded up a few of our favorites for you.)

What will you gain from it?

The benefits of a good soak alone are reason enough to take one when you’re feeling achy or stressed. (Did you know a bath can help you fall asleep faster?) But add in the anti-inflammatory properties of CBD and you’ll quickly feel even more relaxed—physically but also mentally.

“CBD-infused bath products provide the benefit of being able to take that time-out for yourself and relax while applying medicine to the skin in a more peaceful way,” says Dr. Rahul Khare of Innovative Express Care. “Stress levels have been clinically shown to relate to inflammation and pain, and thus CBD can help patients reduce their mental stress levels, too.”

Sure, you might have grown jaded from seeing CBD in pretty much everything these days, but this is one new option where the science seems to check out. Just draw some water, pour in plenty of salts, and feel all that weight lift off your shoulders. Ahh.

See more CBD:
Move Over, LaCroix: CBD Seltzer Is About to Take Over
What It’s Really Like to Get a CBD Massage
We’ve Hit Max CBD Hysteria, Now It’s Time to Clear the Smoke

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