Thanks to changes in the law, we are seeing a massive increase in the number of people who are able to take advantage of the benefits of CBD oil and other products which are made from the compounds of the cannabis plant. This is due to the fact that there is more and more research being carried out into its effects, as well as the fact that CBD is more accessible around the world.
Whilst there are a number of groups of people who can specifically benefit from CBD, one that is often overlooked is athletes and sports men and women.
Regardless of whether you are a professional athlete, an avid gym-goer, or just enjoy kicking a football around with your mates once a week, some of the properties of CBD can be beneficial to anyone who loves a bit of exercise.
What is CBD?
CBD or cannabidiol is a compound – or cannabinoid – which is found naturally in the cannabis plant. The plant has over 100 compounds, with the two most understood being CBD and THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol).
Both CBD and THC can interact with the human endocannabinoid system – the recently discovered system which is responsible for keeping your body in balance. Some of the aspects of the body that the endocannabinoid system can affect, include:
The body naturally makes endocannabinoids which interact with the cannabinoid receptors in the endocannabinoid system. When you take CBD, it can also interact with these receptors, giving your endocannabinoid system a natural lift.
CBD is safe to take, with very few side effects, none of which are long term, and, unlike THC, it won’t make you feel high.
CBD and Sport
People who regularly partake in sport – regardless of the level – are often very conscious about what they are putting into their body. So, taking CBD isn’t a decision that is taken lightly by either amateurs or professionals. In fact, it is of the utmost importance for those who partake in sport that anything that is consumed does not affect them in a bad way.
CBD is not a performance enhancer, and the main way that CBD can help athletes is pre or post workout. It can help a sportsman or women in a number of different ways:
One of the main benefits of CBD is in pain relief. CBD works against pain in two main ways – through its analgesic properties and through reducing inflammation – which can often be the cause of pain for many athletes.
Research shows that CBD and other cannabinoids (including THC) can interact with the CB1 receptors which are found especially in the nervous system and can therefore help to modulate pain. This means that is can have an analgesic effect, giving pain relief after a particularly hard workout, or training session.
Many athletes take medication such as Ibuprofen or other NSAIDs (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs) after exercise if they are feeling pain. However, the side effects of the long-term use of these medications can be very severe, causing problems such as liver and kidney issues, stomach ulcers and heart issues.
CBD does not have any severe long-term side effects, but although some people may feel a little nauseous, experience fatigue or have a change in appetite, this is nothing compared to some chemical medications.
CBD’s effect on Inflammation
Another effect of CBD on the human body is that it can help to reduce inflammation. Its impact on the CB2 receptors can mean that inflammation is reduced in a number of parts of the body, including tissues and muscles. When you exercise, the pain that is felt in the muscles and joints is mainly due to their inflammation.
When you take CBD, inflammation can be reduced, meaning that you feel less pain and recover more quickly, without any of the harm which you can suffer from through taking NSAIDs.
Another benefit that CBD has is to help you get better rest when you’re not exercising. Although it won’t make you high, it can help with calming, and improve sleep quality. We’ve all felt that buzz after doing exercise, and this can often prevent you from being able to unwind.
CBD can have an anxiolytic effect, meaning that it can reduce anxiety, keep you calmer and help you to sleep. It is whilst you are resting (and sleeping) that muscles repair themselves, and so it is important that you rest well.
Some people feel nausea when they really push themselves in a training session, due to the lack of blood getting to the stomach. CBD is antiemetic, which means that it can help to reduce nausea, allowing you to carry one training for longer.
CBD and the Sports Regulations
Every country or state is different, and every sport has their own regulatory rules. This is why, if you are thinking of trying CBD, it is important to check its legalities before trying it – especially if you are likely to be drug tested.
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) have stated that CBD or cannabidiol alone is perfectly legal for athletes to take.
However, CBD oil is made from an extract of the hemp or cannabis plant. If you buy full or broad-spectrum CBD oil, it might have a certain level of THC present (even if it is legal to buy), which is illegal for athletes to have in their system. It’s important to find out the dosage of CBD and THC in any product you purchase.
CBD isolate should give you as ‘pure’ CBD as it is possible to get, but it is still important, therefore that you get CBD oil which has been lab tested and can tell you exactly what is in it and what you are taking.
How athletes take CBD
There are a number of ways that athletes can take CBD:
Some people like to inhale it through a vaporiser or e-pen – which gives you a quick and effective reaction but might be unsociable and not allowed in all places.
CBD drops or spray under the tongue – which is also gets your CBD working fast as it goes straight into the bloodstream and is more discreet.
CBD edibles – whether it is capsules or sweets, protein bars or CBD water, this can also be discreet, but can take longer to work as it needs to go through the digestive system
CBD balms and topicals – which are rubbed onto the skin. You can rub this on your muscles or joints to help to reduce inflammation and pain. This can be applied as and when you need it for natural pain relief.
Although many people have their preferred CBD delivery method, one of the good things is that you can chop and change as you choose. As topicals such as creams and gels do not go into the blood stream, you can use as much or little of this as you would prefer, without it affecting other levels of CBD which you have already taken.
Athletes who are already using CBD
There are many athletes who already openly use CBD. There include NFL players Eugene Monroe, Derrick Morgan and Leonard Marshall, MMA fighters Nate Diaz and Chris Camozzi and strong man Eddie Hall.
It is, of course, important to know exactly what you are putting into your body, which is why it is essential to buy only legitimate, lab tested CBD products.
As our understanding of CBD and other cannabinoids grows, we are seeing how it can help an increasingly diverse range of people. More and more sports men and women are turning to CBD as an alternative to anti-inflammatory pain killers as well as a way to keep them generally in good health, both legally and naturally.