Cannabidiol (CBD ) may only have been legalized in 2018, but researchers have been studying this plant-based compound for years. Early research focused on how it can be used to treat rare diseases such as certain types of childhood epilepsy. More recently, studies have begun to focus on how it impacts average consumers and, yes, athletes, and they have begun to turn up plenty of interesting information about how it may help to improve athletic performance.
Help with Muscle Recovery
CBD has been shown to be safer than over-the-counter NSAIDs for reducing the pain associated with strenuous workouts. NSAID pain relievers like ibuprofen and naproxen sodium can increase athletes' risks of renal damage when used frequently but there's no evidence of similar health concerns associated with CBD. Most athletes report that it is just as effective as over-the-counter pain relievers at reducing musculoskeletal pain and stiff joints. Athletes who want information about how to grow their own CBD-rich cannabis can get more from i49 on the subject.
A little inflammation can help to stimulate positive training adaptations, but too much of it can hinder recovery time and performance. CBD has known anti-inflammatory effects. It binds to CB2 receptors to reduce cytokine production, helping to scale back inappropriate immune responses such as excessive inflammation after hard training sessions.
Improve Sleep Quality
All workers need to get good sleep if they want to perform well at their jobs, but there are few professions where sleep is more important than professional athletics. Adequate sleep gives athletes' bodies time to heal and keeps their minds focused on the game, and CBD can promote more restful sleep. Researchers believe this may be the case because CBD inhibits the reuptake of adenosine.
Adenosine breaks down as the body burns carbohydrates and binds to neurons in the brain to inhibit the release of neurotransmitters, slowing down brain activity and making consumers feel sleepy. It's naturally absorbed by the body, but CBD binds to the same receptors as adenosine, preventing its reuptake and helping it accumulate faster. The result is that athletes, and anyone else who takes CBD as a sleep aid, can fall asleep faster and get more restful sleep.
Reduces Digestive Upset
Digestive upset, especially small and large intestine inflammation, can cause a lot of discomforts, disrupting athletes' focus and sometimes even causing them to drop out of races or games. For those who have underlying problems with gastrointestinal distress, taking CBD can reduce discomfort by binding to the CB receptors in the colon. Athletes will still need to ensure that they stay hydrated and don't overeat before games, but taking CBD will help them with other underlying gut problems.
The Question of Legality
Until recently, CBD existed in a gray area for most athletes or was prohibited entirely. Now, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA ) and the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA ) explicitly clarify that CBD, despite being a compound found in cannabis plants, is not a prohibited substance. WADA has also adjusted its urine threshold for THC from 15 nanograms per milliliter to 150 nanograms per milliliter, making it easier for athletes to take advantage of marijuana-based CBD products.
The Bottom Line
Athletes can now use CBD to speed up recovery after workouts, improve sleep, and even deal with inflammation during games or races without worrying about legality. As research into CBD progresses, there's a good chance it will uncover even more reasons to use CBD.