CBD has transformed the cannabis market, and as of late, it has entered the sports world as well. While THC is responsible for the well-known ‘high’ of cannabis, CBD is gaining popularity due to the numerous health benefits it can offer. It has been proven to be very helpful with several issues such as muscle pain, anxiety, and sleep difficulties, making it attractive for athletes as well.
But what are the effects of CBD, and what are the risks involved in the sports industry? Let’s look through them below.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the over one hundred cannabinoids present in the cannabis plant, and the most well-known, along with tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the component that causes the intoxicating effect, the ‘high’ connected with cannabis use.
Like all cannabinoids, CBD affects the human body through our endocannabinoid system ―a vital physiological system, which regulates processes such as sleep, relaxation, digestion, etc. Contrary to popular misconception, CBD is psychoactive, just non-intoxicating, unlike THC. But what are some of the pros and cons of using CBD as an athlete? Keep reading to find out!
Muscle strain and cramps are frequent occurrences for professional athletes, and CBD is a potent analgesic. It can enhance the nervous system’s primary neurotransmitter by influencing the accordant receptors ―ultimately helping relax your muscles after a hard day of training by directly influencing a system that calms you down.
CBD has been found to alleviate inflammatory pain associated with tissue damage and neuropathic pain caused by nerve damage or irritation. These properties make it even more appealing to athletes, given that inflammation is a natural response to exertion during strenuous workout sessions or injuries.
CBD has been linked to enhancing the immune system, making the body way more resistant to infections, as well as stress and exhaustion. Plus, it can also help develop a healthier bone deposition and aid in cases of fractures.
Sports involving movement against resistance, like weight-lifting, are especially exerting for the central nervous system. And CBD can synchronize neural signaling and neurotransmitters and ultimately help athletes with the ‘shaky’ feeling after exhausting lifts.
Athletes who go through rigorous training are often in danger of reducing oxygen and nutrient delivery to the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Straining the GI tract may negatively influence exercise performance by causing nausea and even impaired nutritional intake. And research has shown that CBD can protect the GI tract by often reducing tissue damage.
Anxiety before sports events can impact the athlete’s psychology and, ultimately, their performance, and CBD has been found to help suppress anxiety and stress. Moreover, CBD can help regulate sleep cycles by bringing on a certain calmness that does wonders for a good night’s sleep.
It was in 2018 when the World Anti-Doping Agency removed CBD from its list of prohibited substances. But it would be best if you were careful, as the use of THC is still prohibited at most major sports events and athletic organizations, so you have to be sure about the percentages of other cannabis compounds in your CBD.
However, extracting 100% pure CBD from the cannabis plant is no piece of cake, so most CBD tinctures and oils in the market contain a mixture of additional cannabinoids. You should look for high-quality CBD isolates in companies that provide third-party lab test results to ensure your product does not contain THC.
However, it is better to be safe than sorry, so we advise professional athletes to stop consuming CBD products at a time’s notice before a competition.
Among athletes, the most popular products are CBD drops and ingestibles, like capsules or gummies, given their easy consumption method, along with vitamins and other supplements daily. Plus, CBD-infused sports drinks and beverages can be taken during a workout session to keep you hydrated or as a post-workout drink to help replace lost electrolytes. Topicals like balms, lotions, and oils can be applied during a massage after a workout or to treat aching muscles and sore joints.
If you’re an athlete and are considering taking CBD to boost your performance, you should make an informed decision regarding the legislation, consult your health professional, mind the dosage, and take the advice of your coach and/or team ―and don’t forget that THC is a banned substance in athletic events, so if you’re buying CBD, buy the purest isolate you can find.
In general, there have been no concerns raised over negative side effects after prolonged use. More research needs to be conducted on humans to determine the long-term effects of CBD, and clinical testing in athlete populations would give us even more definitive insights into CBD’s utility and effect in sports. For example, Aurora Cannabis teamed up with the UFC in 2019 to develop research on CBD, athlete health, and recovery, and we’re sure to expect more studies of the same nature taking place.