7 Benefits of CBD
Charlie White explains some of the benefits of CBD for sports.
Anyone who has interacted closely with sports should know that cannabis is an unspeakable taboo in this field; at least it has been for a long time. So when the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) decided to remove CBD from the list of prohibited substances in 2018, the whole world was taken aback. What is happening here? In case you are still coming to terms with this drastic move, this article will shed light on why WADA and the whole sports fraternity are taking a whole new approach to this cannabis-derived compound, cannabidiol.
What is CBD?
The UK anti-doping agency defines CBD as one of around 110 known cannabinoids produced by the cannabis plant.
CBD is different from Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the psychoactive compound that causes the typical “marijuana high.” THC is prohibited by WADA as well as other sports supervisory bodies.
Cannabinoids such as THC and CBD mimic the action of the body’s internal cannabinoids which form part of a signalling system known as the endocannabinoid system (ECS). Several studies have revealed that this system modulates pain, inflammation, hunger, immunity, reproduction, memory, sleep, and mood. This system also forms a basis for the pharmacologic effects of cannabis.
Is CBD legal for athletes?
CBD is legal for athletes, at least starting from 2019 when the World Anti Doping Agency removed CBD from their list of prohibited substances. Since then, other sports agencies have followed suit, those who have not, are warming up to the idea.
The UK anti-doping agency allows athletes to use CBD; this is following the move by WADA to de-list CBD. According to their website, “the use of any CBD product is at the athlete’s own risk. As a result, CBD products should be considered in the same way as all other dietary supplements.”
Reduce Performance Anxiety
Athletes are no strangers to anxiety attacks, especially before a major performance. This commonly manifests as a rush of adrenalin accompanied by panic, fear of not being able to perform, and other negative thoughts. What do you do when this happens? You may need to take something to calm you down immediately.
A small 2010 Brazillian study revealed that CBD is effective in relieving social anxiety. The study showed that CBD increases blood flow to areas of the brain that control anxiety. A subsequent study conducted in 2015 by New York University showed similar results; CBD is a potential treatment for anxiety disorders.
A good number of athletes have used CBD to help them calm down before a major performance. CBD comes in the form of CBD oils, tinctures, gummies, capsules, lotions, and creams. For anxiety, taking a few drops of CBD tinctures sublingually will increase the speed of absorption and help you calm down before the game.
If you are looking to buy CBD oil in the UK for sports use, we recommend taking a look at the EcoWatch article, "Where to find the best CBD Oil in the UK". They have researched over 100 CBD oil brands in the UK to bring you the very best.
When it comes to opioid addiction, athletes are among the worst hit. This is because, by the very nature of sports, injuries are prone to happen. It is not rare to find athletes being on prescription opioids for one reason or another. But what happens over time is that the athletes get hooked on the opioids, and then they have to resort to sourcing for opioids from unverified sources.
Cannabidiol may not be as effective in relieving intense acute pain. However, preclinical studies have shown that CBD is effective in treating chronic pain. Also, CBD has a good safety margin and no chances of causing addiction.
Relieve Post-Workout Inflammation
Post-workout inflammation is also referred to as delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). This occurs following microscopic damage to the muscle fibres after an intense workout or performance.
A study published in Frontiers in Neurology showed that CBD could reduce inflammation and improve mobility in patients with multiple sclerosis. Topical CBD applications can be rubbed directly onto inflamed areas on the skin which is loaded with endocannabinoid receptors. This should be done immediately after a workout or performance to initiate a pain-free healing process.
Usually, athletes turn to NSAIDs to get relief from inflammation. NSAIDs are convenient because they do not require a prescription. Unfortunately, long-term use of NSAIDs is associated with GI bleeding. Athletes are thus advised against using them for extended durations of time.
Competitive sports have four dimensions: skill, strength, endurance, and recovery. Success in sports requires a blend of all dimensions.
Endurance is defined as the ability to sustain through an activity level for a given amount of time. By relieving anxiety, pain, and inflammation, CBD helps in boosting endurance.
CBD also stimulates the release of anandamide which in turn triggers the “runners’ high.” This will cause a heightened focus and increased motivation to succeed in the sport. However, this effect should not be mistaken for euphoria as CBD is not psychoactive.
Lastly, CBD helps to balance dopamine levels resulting in more relaxed exercise. With these factors, CBD helps in boosting endurance.
Maintaining Low Weight
Most athletes will prefer to maintain a steady weight as this has an impact on their agility and cardiovascular function. Again, keeping a low weight has numerous other health benefits aside from what is directly linked to sports.
CBD for weight loss may seem controversial because CBD is known for its anti-emetic effects. As much as CBD may help to reduce nausea, it does not increase feeding.
Research has shown that CBD stimulates the burning of calories and reduces the risk of obesity.
Increasing Muscle Mass
Muscle mass translates to a high-performance body, and isn’t that what all athletes covet? Unfortunately, this is not easy to come by. It is the product of hard work, commitment, discipline, and effort. It comes as no surprise that some athletes opt for shortcuts to gaining muscle mass without exerting any effort.
CBD limits the production of cortisol which is a catabolic hormone. Note that cortisol serves a vital function in the body. However, some factors such as stress or high-intensity workouts may trigger the production of excessive cortisol. When this happens, the body will start breaking down muscle mass. Cortisol also increases the accumulation of body fat as well as spikes blood pressure. Lastly, cortisol reduces bone density, something that an athlete will not wish for.
CBD has anti-catabolic activity and helps to limit the above-mentioned adverse effects associated with cortisol. Limiting the secretion of cortisol will help athletes achieve that six-pack in no time.
Improve Sleep Quality
After intense workouts, sleep is vital to facilitate full muscle recovery. A study published in 2019 by the University of Colorado showed that CBD was effective in reducing anxiety and initiating sleep. CBD also reduces the active phase (REM) sleep to ensure that you fall asleep soundly. CBD takes a wholesome approach to sleep; it numbs pain, reduces tension and anxiety, relaxes muscles, and eventually induces sleep.
Many athletes struggle with insomnia, especially before a high-pressure performance or immediately after. This explains why addiction to sleeping pills is common among athletes. CBD may provide a safer alternative for athletes struggling with sleep issues.
Does CBD Prevent Sports-Related Concussions
This is an interesting discussion, albeit one that can be a deal-breaker in the industry.
Almost 5 million sports-related concussions are reported each year, up to date, there is no definite cure for concussions. While some concussions may be mild, others may cause structural changes in the brain that may be severe or even fatal. Repeated concussions have been linked to the development of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).
One study conducted by the Virginia Commonwealth University has given hope in this area; cannabinoids promising impact for traumatic brain injury.
For now, it is just that, we are hanging onto hope that CBD will provide a suitable relief for sports-related concussions. An article published in Vancouver Sun this year gives us more reason to remain optimistic.
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About the Author
Charlie White is a freelance journalist.