Athletes Turning to CBD

By op-ed blogger Quinton Charles

Athletes use CBD?

While many people know of the beneficial effects of CBD, and use it daily, many are unaware that it can be immensely helpful for athletes. Now, I’m not talking about just Olympic-level athletes here. Anyone who leads an active life, or wants to start leading an active life, could benefit.

Anti-inflammatory properties

One of the main reasons that CBD is so complementary to exercise and why athletes are switching from other anti-inflammatory drugs (such as ibuprofen) is CBD’s purported anti-inflammatory properties [1]. Several studies have even shown that CBD can effectively regulate swelling in some inflammatory and autoimmune diseases [2]. Swelling is a natural part of athletics, but to be able to neutralize that response can shorten recovery time.

So why the switch?

Chronic use of over-the-counter pain relievers (i.e. NSAIDs like ibuprofen and naproxen sodium) poses greater health risk than previously known, and we are in the midst of an epidemic of opioid addiction and overdoses that kill tens of thousands of Americans annually. In such a landscape, athletes are rightly curious about and eager for cannabidiols’ (CBD) promises of pain relief and reduced inflammation without the risks associated with NSAIDs or opioids [3]. The option and availability of safe, alternative, and often affordable CBD is leading to many athletes switching over to CBD as a supplement to alleviate their pain.

Is it legal?

I can already hear the question: “but what about anti-doping rules and rules against performance-enhancing drugs?” CBD is not prohibited under either. Starting at the beginning of 2018, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) removed CBD from the list of prohibited substances – in or out of competition [4]. This means that, even if you’re a competitive athlete, you don’t have to worry about using CBD to treat those sore muscles!  It is key to look for CBD products that are THC free if you are having to undergo drug testing as it is possible to test positive for THC when using products that have that small percentage of THC in them.  This can either be an isolate or a Broad spectrum product.  We would recommend a broad spectrum over an isolate because it has more of the components present in the plant and can be beneficial with inflammation.

CBD and running

Anyone who regularly reads these blogs knows that I like to talk about my active lifestyle in relation to how I use CBD. I thought that it would be pertinent to bring up what I know about CBD and how it relates to my running.

First, a fun fact that I love sharing is that your body already uses CBD when you run. Well, sort of. It uses a chemical known as “anandamide,” which is a part of your Endocannabinoid system. What this chemical does is induce a euphoria, also known as “runner’s high.”

So what happens when you take CBD? Well, While CBD doesn’t activate cannabinoid receptors in the brain (like the anandamide does), it has shown to moderately inhibit the degradation of anandamide by working against the enzyme responsible for breaking down the bliss molecule. This means a prolongation of the “runner’s high” that makes running such an enjoyable activity (at least for me) [5].

But that’s not why most people, most runners, use it. It all goes back to the anti-inflammatory properties. Running is constant stress on your joints, and that can lead to swelling if you’re not careful. I’ve found that, with my daily CBD supplements and proper stretching, I never suffer from swelling or pain in my joints after running. All I feel is that sweet burn and satisfaction of having sweat it out!

What should I do?

Take some CBD supplements and get out there! You don’t have to be sprinting around a track to benefit from the salutary effects of exercise. Take a bike ride, go for a swim, walk the dog, whatever you can do to get outside and move around is good enough. If you’re an athlete, know that there are other, better options than opioids and painkillers and that these options can manage inflammation and swelling, too. If you’re just trying to get or stay fit, or if you’re already a weekend warrior, look into trying out a CBD supplement. As always, keep an open mind and think about what I’ve offered as you search for what works best for you!







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