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What are CBD’s benefits for high performance athletes?

CBD has been a trending topic but even more so in the world of sports. This is due to a variety of studies that have been published on the properties of CBD.

What are CBD’s benefits for high performance athletes?
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CBD has been a trending topic but even more so in the world of sports. This is due to the different studies that have been published on the properties of CBD. Today we already know the effects of CBD and the benefits that it can provide for high-performance athletes. Later in this article we will discuss how some of the most important high-performance athletes are using CBD. First let’s talk about why CBD and sports go hand in hand.

What is CBD?

Cannabis has been used by humans for thousands of years. But it was not until the 20th century that we began to study it under the microscope. In 1964, Raphael Mechoulam managed to isolate and synthesize the structure of CBD and THC. They began to discover the properties and benefits of cannabinoids in the human body. The most studied cannabinoids to date are THC and CBD.

Cannabidiol does not present the same psychoactive effects as THC, that is to say it does not make you feel high. In the World Health Organization’s report in November 2019 they stated that CBD is neither dangerous nor addictive. The WHO also recognizes the promising effects of CBD for medicinal and therapeutic use due to its multitude of benefits and properties, among which are its antioxidant, antibacterial, analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects.

CBD y deporte

Topical use of CBD for muscle and joint inflammation is the most commonly recommended form of using CBD for localized pain.

What are the benefits of CBD?

CBD has the following properties:

  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Analgesic
  • Antioxidant
  • Anxiolytic
  • Anticonvulsant
  • Neuroprotective
  • Anti-nausea and antiemetic

 

It can be used for diseases like epilepsy, fibromyalgia and MS.

Why are athletes using CBD?

Athletes have been using CBD for a while to decrease recovery time. High performance athletes push their body’s to its limits. Joints, ligaments, tendons and muscles can suffer and produce small injuries. What marks how far an athlete can go is their resilience. The sooner you recover, the sooner you can train or compete again. Athletes use CBD for inflammation, chronic pain, nausea, nerves and muscle relaxation.

CBD interacts with cannabinoid receptors. We don’t know exactly in what way but researchers have found that CBD may not bind with CB1 and CB2 receptors, but it does influence and activate them in a certain way which promotes the healthy function of our endocannabinoid system and offers CBD’s properties globally. CBD has also been found to affect another cannabinoid receptor, the TRPV1 receptor, which is responsible for our body’s response to pain and inflammation.

  • Analgesic properties: CBD mediates pain signals. It interacts with cannabinoid receptors and inhibits pain signals, making you stop feeling discomfort. This property helps athletes deal with chronic pain and aches after strenuous workouts.
  • Anti-inflammatory properties: In recent years, many athletes have stopped using ibuprofen and have switched to CBD, because it does not have as many side effects for our body. Muscle inflammation is extremely common among athletes.
  • Anti-nausea properties: In high intensity training it is normal to experience feelings of dizziness and nausea, due to the intense physical effort exerted by athletes in training and competitions. Some studies have confirmed CBD’s antiemetic properties which help suppress the urge to vomit.
  • Antioxidant properties: These properties help achieve faster recovery because they directly affect drowsiness and stiffness. CBD can help reduce stiffness after physical exercise.

 

An interesting fact: Something very interesting which is now being studied is the relationship between CBD and an endocannabinoid called Anandamide, the bliss molecule. Our body naturally produces Anandamide and it is known to interact with CB1, CB2 and TRPV1 receptors.

Anandamide is responsible for that post-workout euphoric feeling, also known as the runner’s high. CBD can slow down the breakdown of anandamide and prolong the feeling of bliss and relaxation that we feel after working out.

 

How to use CBD?

There are several ways to use CBD. In the case of muscle pain, it is recommended that athletes use recovery balms and CBD creams.

In Spain only external use is regulated, but in other countries, like the United States, internal use is regulated. In these countries the most common way of using CBD is sublingually through CBD oil.

Marvin Washington usa CBD

Marvin Washington, professional NFL player, stands behind CBD’s benefits for athletes.

Elite athletes who use CBD

There are many elite athletes who use CBD daily, both for training and for competition. Marvin Washington, a former NFL player believes that the time has come to consider the promising therapeutic properties of CBD as a safe alternative to opioids:

“There should be an athlete cannabis movement, as there is strength in numbers. Enough numbers and we will be able to change policy and make the four major leagues look at the whole cannabis plant as an alternative to opiates. Concussions and opiates are the two biggest issues the NFL is facing concerning players’ health, and cannabis can help both.”

It is also worth mentioning the cyclist Floyd Landis, champion of the Tour de France in 2006. Landis has used CBD since his hip operation, where he had a prosthesis implanted. Another cyclist and triathlete who uses CBD for muscle pain is Andrew Talansky, who has also acknowledged that it helps him sleep.

The world of extreme sports have been pioneers in the use of these products. There are studies showing that many board athletes (surf, snow, skate, ski, etc.) already use CBD to improve their performance. An example would be Ross Rebagliati, Olympic snowboard champion or Billy Kemper, XXL surf champion. Both use CBD to improve their performance and to achieve faster muscle recovery. Billy Kemper confessed that he found CBD when he was looking for natural products that could help his mother with nausea and sleep issues. In this extreme sports area, there are countless cases of athletes using these kinds of products; Mason Ho, Jaime O’brien, Tony Hawk, Nathan Florence, Nate Diaz…

Outside of extreme sports, there are other athletes who use CBD products such as the well-known golfer Bubba Watson or the world champion in soccer, Megan Rapione.

CBD legality in high performance competitions

Any derivative of cannabis has been banned in the world of sports, including CBD, until January 1, 2018, when the World Anti-Doping Agency excluded CBD from the list of prohibited substances. In the Tokyo Olympics CBD will be highly present due to its benefits for physical activity and health.

In recent years, many athletes have joined the CBD wave, as a natural remedy for chronic pain, inflammation, muscle spasms, nausea etc… CBD consumption in sports is increasing quickly day by day. As research progresses, we will be able to discover new properties and applications of this cannabis derivative. 

Lucas Corrales (Autor)

Experto en Marketing y Ventas en el sector deportivo con más de 8 años de experiencia en retail, ventas y Marketing tanto a nivel nacional como internacional. Experiencia como embajador y planificador de eventos deportivos.

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Jose Vazquez Luca de Tena (Revisor)

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