CBD in sports can be a healthier, safer aletrnative to current approaches. Chronic use of prescription painkillers presents a great health risk to our bodies. Furthermore, in USA alone, opioid addictionn and lethal doses kill tens of thousands of people annually. As a consequence there is a growing interest among athletes in cannabidiol (CBD) effects on treating pain and inflammation, without risks connected to opioids. Below we will present what CBD in sports can be used for, how it can help you and who are the well known athletes already using cannabis.
During sports body can be heavily stressed which can result positively or negatively. Training can bring better results, however injuries and long term negative effects on the body can lead to injuries and pain. There is no if, only the question of when we will get hurt. Can CBD in sports present a new, health conscious approach?
Current methods of pain mitigation can be succesfull, but they kill people as well. In search of better alternatives for body regeneration and safer means of pain mitigation, many athletes turned to cannabidiol or CBD. Should you use it as well? CBD in sports can present a healthier, safer alternative to current approaches.
Chronic use of prescription painkillers such as Ibuprofen or Naproxen sodium, present much greater risks as assumed at first. It translated into opioid epidemic and lethal overdosing, which kills thousands of people annually in USA alone. That is why many athletes are interested in CBD use for pain and inflammation mitigation, without risking opioid side effects.
Should you use CBD products? To find out more, continue reading below.
LEGALITY OF CBD IN SPORTS
Is CBD legal in sports? YES!
From 2018, the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) removed CBD from the list of illegal substances (you can find the 2021 list here)
US Anti Doping Agency (USADA) followed with the same action. However, it si very important to know that only CBD has been removed from the list. Cannabis psychoactive component THC is still prohibited during competitions. The exact definition states that all natural and synthetic cannabinoids are prohibited except CBD.
Interestingly, WADA set a urin analysis limit to 150 nanograms per ml. The limit is set relatively high to reduce the risk of positive test, if athletes are using THC in non-competition environment (which is legal).
BASICS OF CBD AND OTHER CANNABINOIDS
Athletes can legally consume CBD. What is CBD actually, how it works and why should you use it? To understand how CBD in sports works, lets first take a look at some basic facts about cannabis and how it functions.
For starters, cannabinoids already exist in our bodies in the form of endocannabinoids. Researchers uncovered the system which controls everything and is called the endocannabinoid system (ECS). ECS modulates neuron activity as well.
CBD is a phytocannabinoid which can be naturally found in cannabis. Compared to THC (in cannabis as well) it is not psychoactive. However, they both bind to CB1 and CB2 receptors, which are spread across the human body. You can read more on how endocannabinoid system, CBD and THC work here.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is not a psychoactive cannabinoid and has many positive effects. It has an anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective effect, works as antioxidant and anticonvulsant, and can also help with anxiety. When we consume CBD in combination with other cannabinoids, their effect is very much synergistic. Together they are more efficient and effective.
Athletes can put too much stress on their bodies, which commonly leads to pain and inflammation that are too intensive for our endocannabinoid system to mitigate them successfully. Consuming external CBD can help with endocannabinoid system overload. In this way, athletes body can remain in homeostasis.
CBD EFFECTS ON ATHLETES
Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, cannabis can help with pain mitigation. This is one of the areas that bring exceptional results. Research have shown it can help with mitigation of chronic and acute pain due to muscle spasm.
Povezano z protivnetnim delovanjem, konoplja lahko pomaga pri odpravljanju bolečine. To je eno od področij, ki prinaša izjemne rezultate. Raziskave so pokazale, da lahko pomaga pri odpravi kronične in akutne bolečine zaradi mišičnih krčev.
Furthermore, studies have shown that cannabis (THC more than CBD) is effective in pain mitigation, including musculoskeletal pain and joint pain, as a result of exercising. There is less research involving only CBD or 1:1 THC and CBD ratio.
According to user experience, CBD effectively mitigates pain for many athletes despite lack of research.
Dodatno so študije pokazale tudi, da je konoplja (predvsem THC in manj CBD) učinkovita pri lajšanju bolečine, vključno z mišično-skeletno bolečino kot posledico telovadbe, ter tudi bolečine sklepov. Manj je raziskav samo s CBD ali razmerjem THC in CBD 1:1.
ALTERNATIVE TO MODERN MEDICATION
For decades, athletes have been using nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication such as Ibuprofen (Advil), Naproxen Sodium (Aleve), and many others. It turns out they are not as safe as they thought at first. As it turns out, long-term or frequent use can result in heavily increased risk of cardiac arrest or stroke. Very common side effect is addiction.
Some athletes claim that pain mitigating effect of CBD can reduce or even replace the use of above mentioned painkiller medication. Compared to anti-inflammatory medication, the book »The Essentials of Pain Medicine, Fourth Ed« notes, that there is no recorded death due to cannabis or any product based on cannabinoids in history.
CDC reports that there were more than 42,000 deaths connected to the use of opioids in USA in 2016 alone. Opioid based pain mitigating medications (morphine, codein, oxycontin) are very effective in mitigating pain however, they can cause a serious addiction risk and deaths due to overdosing.
In mitigating acute, high intensity pain, cannabinoids are not as efficient as opioids. However, they can be very efficient with long term pain mitigation. Additionally, they have little to no risk of addiction or death.
Kanabinoidi niso tako učinkoviti kot opioidi pri zmanjšanju akutnih, visoko intenzivnih bolečin, vendar so lahko zelo učinkoviti pri dolgotrajnem uravnavanju bolečin. Pri tem pa imajo veliko manj oziroma nič tveganj za odvisnost ali smrt.
Little inflammation can have a positive effect on athletes, as it helps with positive workout adjustment. However, a strong inflammation can limit regeneration and negatively affects the results.
CB2 receptors are located in the brain and throughout the body. They are more concentrated in the immune tissue. Cannabinoids that bind to CB2 receptors can have an anti-inflammatory effect, as they reduce the cytokine production (cell communicator). In other words, CBD that binds to CB2 receptors, can help reduce the response when immune system triggers an alarm after intense workouts.
User experience and scientific research conclude, htat cannabis has exceptional anti-inflammatory properties. It is noted, it has 20x greater anti-inflammatory effect compared to Aspirin and 2x greater effects compared to steroid hydrocortisone. These anti-inflammatory capabilities can have a great effect on muscle regeneration.
There are some alternative clinics (many in USA), that recommend different ways of consuming CBD to athletes. As smoking is not recommended with athletes, they turn to products which are very effective when administered locally, such as CBD balm, CBD oil, CBD cream.
Settle Your Gut
Inflammation in small and large intestine cause a lot of discomfort. Stomach problems are one of the main reasons endurance athletes drop out of races. CBD in sports will not solve the problems with dehydration and overheating (two major causes for athletes), but if you have underlying inflammation issues that contribute to gut problems during or after exercise, CBD can be effective for reducing your symptoms.
There are CB1 and CB2 receptors in the colon. Colitis symptoms were inhibited (in mice) when CB1 and CB2 receptors were activated.
Improved Quality of Sleep
We are all aware of how important sleep is for our physical and mental preparation. CBD can mitigate sleep disturbance in REM sleep phase (where people physically act out their dreams) and helps with fatigue during the day. CBD can profoundly reduce stress levels, which can result in sleep quality improvement and longer quality sleep.
Long and quality sleep is one of the most efficient ways for athletes to increase the level of their training and competing. Athletes that consume CBD report, they have less problems going to sleep and sleep more calmly. A potential reason could be that CBD can modulate adenosine paths in the brain.
Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is a multipurpose molecule, which serves as an energy source for different processes. It accumulates during the day and at the end of the day it deactivates neuron sensors in the part of the brain that keeps us awake. Our body metabolizes adenosine while we are asleep and a bit later, small concentraion of adenosine helps us wake up and the process repeats itself.
CBD Effect on Adenosine
As CBD binds to the same receptors adenosine would, CBD can control the levels of adenosine and can consequently help with faster accumulation and causes a premature sleepiness. CBD can also be effective against anxiety, which can also cause sleep disorders. In this way it can help you get more quality sleep.
Cannabis has an additional advantage of being an alternative for traditional sleep medication, which cause addiction and many other side effects. Company Eaze issued a cannabis report (2017) with a conclusion that 95 % of people in USA included in the survey, used cannabis to reduce the use of sleep and anxiety medication.
HOW TO USE CBD IN SPORTS?
CBD can be used in the form of oil, capsules or inhaled as vapor. As smoking CBD in sports is not recommended there are many food supplements with added CBD. On the market you can also find products such as creams, lotions and balms which contain CBD. Using CBD oil is another very effective way of CBD consumption.
You can purchase CBD products in full spectrum, broad spectrum or as isolate. You can check the comparison and read more about the advantages of full spectrum here.
When choosing the product the process of how it is made is very important. You should focus on the quality of raw cannabis and extraction process, where high temperatures should not be present to obtain the most of the plants positive effects.
DOSAGE TO USE?
This is when things get a bit complicated. We do not have a standard which would result in the same effects for every person. CBD products are not well regulated and consequently there are discrepancies on how much CBD there actually is in the product.
Additionally, it also depends on the consumption method, which makes determining the dosage even harder. The best way to find the right dosage for ourselves is to choose a product which has cannabinoid level marked in miligrams and we can calculate it with each consumption. In this way we start with a small dose and increase it if required. For this kind of dosing products such as CBD oil are perfect as we can ingest it per drop.
ATHLETES WHO USE CANNABIS
There are many athletes who use various cannabis products as a part of their training and regeneration regime. Because cannabis remained a taboo for a long time (in some places it still is), athletes did not discuss it publicly. Even today it is very common that athletes discuss cannabis use only when they retire. However, thing are changing for the better. Active athletes such as Nate Diaz (MMA), Eddie Hall (Strongman), George Kruis and James Haskell (Rugby), Lucas Glover (Golf) and many others.
Below we will present some of them who are big advocates of cannabis and CBD in sports:
Mike Tyson is probably the most famous advocate of CBD in sports and a very passionate user of many types of cannabis. Retired heavy weight boxing champion is considered one of the best boxers, if not the best in history. Tyson owns his ranch where he also cultivates cannabis and produces multiple products. Big advocate of CBD products claims that cannabis changed his lifer for the better. He told his life story in many interviews.
Officially, 2017 strongest man in the world, Eddie Hall is one of the physically stongest people in the world. He was the first one to break the 500 kg deadlift record.
Eddie Hall is also a regular CBD user and often publicly discusses, how CBD helps him retain his physical balance. He is also trying to educate the public about 100 % natural element CBD, and end the THC/CBD connection myths.
He played 19 seasons in the NBA and he uses CBD for a very specific reason. In the year 2000, at the peak of his career, he was a knife attack victim in a Boston nightclub. He was stabbed 11 times and got a bottle broken on his head, which not only caused physical damage to his body, but long term emotional consequences as well. From that moment on, he uses CBD every day to balance his mental health.
Another former NBA player, Kenyon Martin claims that 85% of NBA players use cannabis.
He played hockey in NHL for 8 years. He used cannabis for most of his life for the positive effects it brings. Cote claims cannabis helps him mitigate pain, anxiety, helps with faster regeneration, and minimizes the need for pharmaceutical products.
He was an active NFL player when publicly defending the use of cannabis. In New York Times article he asked the NFL to stop testin its players for cannabis use and claimed it can potentially replace opioids, which are prescribed by doctors for many NFL players.
“Now we know that these medications are not as safe as doctors thought at first. They cause higher addiction and death rates across the country. And then we have cannabis, which is much healthier, does not cause addiction, and lets face it, its much better with pain mitigation. “
With new cannabidiol and other cannabinoid research we are discovering brand new ways of regeneration in sports. Maybe an era of human friendly substances is starting, which will bring our bodies natural balance after intense workouts and competitions. It will also help with ocassional and chronic pain.
Current results look very promising. However, we cannot forget a healthy diet and body mind balance which is a big factor as well.
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G. D. C.
Below you can also find some resources for further reading:
- Booz, George W. “Cannabidiol as an Emergent Therapeutic Strategy for Lessening the Impact of Inflammation on Oxidative Stress.” Free Radical Biology and Medicine, vol. 51, no. 5, 2011, pp. 1054–1061., doi:10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2011.01.007.
- Elman, Igor, and Scott E. Lukas. “Effects of Cortisol and Cocaine on Plasma Prolactin and Growth Hormone Levels in Cocaine-Dependent Volunteers.” Addictive Behaviors, vol. 30, no. 4, 2005, pp. 859–864., doi:10.1016/j.addbeh.2004.08.019.
- Filippis, Daniele De, et al. “Cannabidiol Reduces Intestinal Inflammation through the Control of Neuroimmune Axis.” PLoS ONE, vol. 6, no. 12, 2011, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0028159.
- Gorzalka, Boris B., et al. “Regulation of Endocannabinoid Signaling by Stress: Implications for Stress-Related Affective Disorders.” Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, vol. 32, no. 6, 2008, pp. 1152–1160., doi:10.1016/j.neubiorev.2008.03.004.
- Halawa, Omar I., et al. “Role of Cannabinoids in Pain Management.” Essentials of Pain Medicine, 2018, doi:10.1016/b978-0-323-40196-8.00056-5.
- Hammell, D.c., et al. “Transdermal Cannabidiol Reduces Inflammation and Pain-Related Behaviours in a Rat Model of Arthritis.” European Journal of Pain, vol. 20, no. 6, 2015, pp. 936–948., doi:10.1002/ejp.818.
- Murillo-Rodriguez, Eric, et al. “Anandamide Enhances Extracellular Levels of Adenosine and Induces Sleep: An In Vivo Microdialysis Study.” Sleep, vol. 26, no. 8, 2003, pp. 943–947., doi:10.1093/sleep/26.8.943.
- Nagarkatti, Prakash, et al. “Cannabinoids as Novel Anti-Inflammatory Drugs.” Future Medicinal Chemistry, vol. 1, no. 7, 2009, pp. 1333–1349., doi:10.4155/fmc.09.93.
- Pacher, P. “The Endocannabinoid System as an Emerging Target of Pharmacotherapy.” Pharmacological Reviews, vol. 58, no. 3, 2006, pp. 389–462., doi:10.1124/pr.58.3.2.
- Patricia H. Reggio, “ Endocannabinoid Binding to the Cannabinoid Receptors: What Is Known and What Remains Unknown”, Current Medicinal Chemistry (2010) 17: 1468. https://doi.org/10.2174/092986710790980005
- Xiong, Wei, et al. “Cannabinoids Suppress Inflammatory and Neuropathic Pain by Targeting α3 Glycine Receptors.” The Journal of Experimental Medicine, vol. 209, no. 6, 2012, pp. 1121–1134., doi:10.1084/jem.20120242.