CBD for Athletes?
Physical activity puts a lot of stress on our bodies. Especially the intense kind of physical activity that often goes hand in hand with sports. For that reason, athletes’ bodies can be put under immense strain that results in both positive and negative effects. The long term effects are, typically, positive. Stronger muscles, increased cardiovascular endurance, maintaining a healthy weight, more energy, positive mood, and the list goes on.
However, although stress from athletic training can stimulate body system adaptation and improvement, physical trauma and prolonged wear and tear can lead to injuries or pain. The normal soreness and pain we experience from pushing our bodies to their limits can be made worse by pushing ourselves too hard, not allowing adequate rest and recovery, or poor technique or habits.
The result is that athletes turn to over the counter anti-inflammatory pain drugs like ibuprofen or, if injured, get prescribed opioids or other strong pain medication. However, these medications can be extremely dangerous if not administered correctly or, in the case of chronic ibuprofen use, have a long term detrimental effect on different organs in the body.
For these reasons, both athletes and doctors are looking for something better. Increasingly, many people are asking about CBD for athletes.
CBD for Athletes: A Positive Alternative?
Although research into the potential benefits of CBD for athletes is still in its relatively early stages, we have to consider the current context of pain management. Tens of thousands of people a year die from opioid overdoses and even more become chronically addicted to its various forms. As of right now, athletes only really have the two choices we mentioned. Ibuprofen for everyday pain, and strong, addictive, and dangerous drugs for stronger pain.
With such limited options, if there’s any chance that there might be a substance that can effectively reduce pain and inflammation, then doctors and athletes alike would be very interested. This is why CBD for athletes is such an important topic.
How Does CBD Help Athletes
CBD may help athletes in the same way that it may help all of us. Namely, through its effect and influence on the body’s endocannabinoid system. As a refresher, the endocannabinoid system is a vital bio-communication system within all of our bodies.
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is made up of three primary components:
- Receptors in the nervous system and around your body that endocannabinoids and cannabinoids bond with
- Enzymes that help break down endocannabinoids and cannabinoids
Endocannabinoids are essentially the body’s equivalent to “external” cannabinoids like CBD and THC. Both cannabinoids and endocannabinoids interact with the receptors found throughout the nervous system that make up the endocannabinoid system.
When it comes to CBD and athletes, the way it works is by binding to CB2 receptors, the receptors of the ECS that are found in the peripheral nervous system. Binding to these receptors allows CBD to effect and help moderate bodily responses like inflammation. This is where the potential for fighting muscle soreness and pain associated with physical activity comes in.
A smooth blend of coconut (MCT)oil combined with CBD allows each consumer to choose their desired dosage with every drop. Tinctures allow for a faster-onset of effects than other consumption measures which is ideal to see what dose is right for you.
Are Athletes Allowed to Consume CBD?
This is a big question that crosses many athletes’ minds when they think about adding CBD to their training regimen. Are they allowed to take it?
The answer is yes, athletes are allowed to consume CBD. And CBD only. As of the beginning of 2018, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) removed CBD from the list of prohibited substances, whether the athletes are involved in a competition or not. The US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) did the same. However, there is an important caveat to make not of. CBD and only CBD was removed from the prohibited list.
THC and all of the other cannabinoids found in marijuana or hemp plants are still prohibited by these agencies for in-competition use and considered illegal controlled substances by the US federal government.
What the WADA did do however, is up the threshold for the allowable amount of THC to be found in an athletes urine. Previously, this amount was 15 nanograms per milliliter, now the threshold has been raised to 150 nanograms per milliliter.
The reasoning given by Ben Nichols, a spokesperson for WADA, in 2016 in anticipation of the change in policy was, “Our information suggests that many cases do not involve game or event-day consumption. The new threshold level is an attempt to ensure that in-competition use is detected and not use during the days and weeks before competition.”
At Urban Roots Hemp Co, we are hesitant to comment on the legality of CBD or marijuana as a whole because the landscape is constantly changing. This is, in part, due to the federal nature of the United States and the conflicting laws on the national and state level. However, we can say that, as of right now, CBD that is derived from hemp and which contains less than 0.3% THC is not considered a controlled substance at the federal level.
Benefits of CBD for Athletes
The fact that hemp derived CBD with very low levels of THC is not considered a controlled substance by the federal government, coupled with the fact that the relevant athletic organizations have okayed its use means that if you’re an athlete, CBD may be an option for you. And that’s good news for all of us who like to push our bodies.
When you work out or play a sport, you tear your muscles. Then they heal and become stronger than they were before. Although this is a beneficial and necessary process, it can also be pretty painful at times. CBD has the potential to reduce muscle swelling and to decrease the pain and inflammation associated with muscle healing.
Basically, the body’s nervous and immune systems interpret the muscle tearing resulting from working out as damage and delivers a response that can cause inflammation, swelling, stiffness, and pain. Now, inflammation is a necessary response that allows our muscles to heal. However, too much inflammation can actually hinder recovery and hurt athletic performance.
To prevent an over response by the body and to take advantage of CBD’s reported anti-inflammatory properties, many athletes will add CBD to their post workout supplements.
In addition to aiding with soreness relief and muscle recovery, the main reason by CBD for athletes is exciting is because it may free us from harmful anti-inflammatory and highly addictive opioid drugs.
There is still a lot to learn about CBD and athletes and CBD in general. However, since there are no reported negative side effects and because it has been given the okay by the WADA and USADA, you can feel confident that you can experiment with it and see if it helps your own athletic performance.