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THC in sport: a friend or a foe to athletes?

The marriage between cannabis and sport goes a long way back in time, with many stories of athletes using cannabis as a means of relaxation and mood and focus enhancer circulating in the news.

Even now, many athletes are still in the habit of using this substance.

The only difference is that many athletes are now turning to more refined versions of the plant-like THC wax (tetrahydrocannabinol) this time around.

Ironically, this compound – which is now the go-to substance for many athletes – happens to be the most controversial cannabis plant. 

While some believe ingesting THC can help athletes deal with anxiety and improve performance and focus. On the other hand, some think THC can decrease athletes’ motivation to train and cause them to lose concentration on the court because of its psychoactive properties.

This split of opinions led us to create this guide to examine just how good or bad the influence of THC is on athletes.

THC as a friend to athletes 

Helps athletes combat anxiety disorders

Irrespective of the sport, one of the most typical challenges athletes face is the issue of anxiety. 

It is usually borne out of the body and mind reacting to pressure from spectators, the threat from opposition, and the fear of losing or not doing enough.

When this feeling of anxiety sets in, most athletes lose focus and ultimately suffer a drop in performance.

While a vast majority of athletes often suffer from this generalized anxiety disorder at different times in their game, some athletes suffer from a special kind of anxiety disorder known as PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). 

This type of anxiety is usually borne out of athletes reliving a terrifying event several months after surviving the actual event. PTSD often occurs in athletes who have suffered traumatic injuries, contested in hostile environments, and faced-off against fierce oppositions. They dread any situation that flashes their minds back to that event.

The good news?

THC has a solid reputation for treating this sort of condition!

Some psychiatrists even believe that THC-rich cannabis is the only treatment for PTSD.

What’s more?

Several studies have confirmed that THC eases various PTSD-related symptoms, including agitation, depression, insomnia, flashbacks, and nightmares.

Helps athletes deal with the pain

Regardless of the sport, you’re in; pain is a part of the game. Whether you’re a boxer, footballer, sprinter, tennis player, wrestler, hiker, basketball player, or what have you, pain is something you’ve got to experience almost every time.

The good news? 

THC can help athletes handle all of their sport-related pains, from muscle aches to joint problems, neuropathic pain to nerve-related pain, and everything else in between.

An FDA-approved trial in 2013 confirmed THC’s effectiveness for pain relief.

“A low dose of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol provided statistically significant 30% reductions in pain intensity when compared to placebo.”

Helps athletes catch more sleep

According to, it has been confirmed that at least one in every four athletes have trouble catching enough sleep, with many suffering from sleeping disorders such as difficulty falling asleep, snoring, or sleep-disordered breathing.

Luckily for them, THC has a long history of helping people with sleeping disorders.

Helps athletes by enhancing their abilities and senses

An athlete that has just ingested a Gorilla Glue Strain THC, for instance, will most likely be far more active than someone clean, thanks to the psychoactive properties of THC. 

Although it may be argued that the psychoactive properties of THC are what make the compound such a dreadful substance in the first place, one needs to remember that it’s almost impossible to overdose on THC fatally. 

With this in mind, athletes can, therefore, use THC to heighten their senses, emotions, and abilities. By and large, THC used with intention and the right dosage levels can help boost athletes’ overall ability.

THC as a foe to athletes 

Like every substance under the sun, THC is not without its adverse side effects. And for athletes, these side effects are even more pronounced because of the condition they operate.

For some athletes, THC can cause them to be uncomfortable, disoriented, or downright confused.

This usually happens when athletes ingest too much of the compound. 

By and large, athletes using THC may find themselves feeling confused or unable to think straight, thereby making wrong decisions, struggling to communicate, and finding themselves “spacing out” and getting lost in their thoughts. 

THC can also cause issues like an elevated heart rate. 

Naturally, this doesn’t pose a significant health risk for most people, but it does for athletes because of most sports’ high pace and tempo. 

Safely consuming THC

Looking at the PROs and the CONs, one can see that THC is, indeed, of great benefits to athletes. But with its negative downsides, one might be torn between deciding to call the compound a friend or a foe to athletes.

By weighing the two sides of the coin, we can say categorically that THC is more of a friend.

PS: When you combine THC with CBD before ingesting, you might even be able to eliminate all its adverse side effects. 

Matt Carpenter

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