In recent years, there has been a dramatic spike in the number of people who are adding CBD to their exercise routine. Casual joggers, to CrossFit enthusiasts, and even professional athletes are preaching the multitude of benefits they have experienced from this naturally occurring compound. World Cup Champion Megan Rapinoe, UFC fighter Nate Diaz, and NFL quarterback Jake Plummer are only a few of many professional athletes who use CBD to better both their mind and health. So, what does this mean for you?
A Quick Overview of CBD
CBD has become a trending subject in pop culture, but not everybody truly understands what it is. First and foremost, CBD is not the same as THC. THC, short for tetrahydrocannabinol, is a chemical responsible for the psychoactive effects of cannabis, or the feeling of being high, a trait CBD does not possess.
CBD is short for Cannabidiol, one of the over 100 cannabinoids found in some strands of hemp. This cannabinoid is nearly identical in structure to the endocannabinoids that your body naturally produces. CBD interacts with our endocannabinoid system, a system that is crucial to maintaining homeostasis.
CBD & Inflammation
Most people have experienced exercise-induced inflammation at some point in their lives and understand how uncomfortable the feeling can be. When we exercise, our muscles fibers stretch and strain to the point that they suffer microscopic tears called micro-tears. While micro-tears are not serious and can be treated with ice or simply resting, it can put a speed bump in your fitness regimen. Weight-lifters and CrossFit enthusiasts exercise by pushing their body to the extremes, oftentimes resulting in inflammation that could take several days to heal.
Several clinical studies, in addition to countless personal testimonies, have shown that CBD may be a very effective anti-inflammatory. CBD is known to affect cytokines, a group of molecules that play an essential role in the inflammation process. CBD reduces the destructive effects of these cytokines, thereby significantly reducing inflammation.
CBD & Pain
Exercise and pain tend to go hand-in-hand, and, for this reason, many people take an NSAID (such as ibuprofen) before working out, this is especially relevant among runners. A surprising 60% of runners have reported taking an NSAID before their run to alleviate pain. Although fine for the occasional ache, NSAIDs are not meant to be used long-term and can have devastating consequences. Open your medicine cabinet and check for yourself. Common side effects include liver or kidney problems, stomach ulcers, dizziness, and high blood pressure. Not to mention the possibility of liver failure, stroke, or heart attack.
Anecdotal evidence strongly suggests that CBD is just as effective as any over the counter NSAID. Once in your system, CBD inhibits the effects of an enzyme called COX-2, an enzyme partly responsible for the sensation of pain. Over-the-counter NSAID medication also targets the same enzyme. This holistic alternative to pain management means you can reap the rewards of working out longer and harder.
CBD & Game Day Stress
Nobody likes game day jitters. Feelings of anxiety or nervousness before a race or a game are common, and these feelings aren’t exclusive to professional athletes. A simple workout session or a trip to the gym can be filled with nerves as well. In fact, some people even bypass going to the gym at all because of their anxiety.
CBD is renowned for its calming properties. Studies after studies continue to show that CBD is an effective tool in this area. When consumed, CBD binds to your brain’s serotonin receptors (5-HT1A). Serotonin is a naturally occurring chemical and a neurotransmitter and is commonly known as the happy chemical. Once bound, CBD boosts your body’s production of this chemical. Commercial drugs intended to relieve anxiety act int the very same way; however, these drugs carry with them a multitude of adverse side effects. These include blurry vision, vomiting, weight gain, and dizziness, just to name a few.
Is CBD Legal?
President Trump signed the Farm Bill in 2018 that legalized the production and distribution of hemp products nationwide. CBD is derived from hemp, making CBD products containing .3% or less THC, completely legal.
If you’re a professional athlete, you can also breathe easy. WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) has removed CBD from its list of prohibited substances.
But, Is It Safe?
CBD is widely regarded as safe; however, like any other substance you put in your body, it’s recommended that you consult your doctor first. CBD is well-tolerated, but it may interact negatively with other medications.
When purchasing CBD products, be very vigilant of where you are buying it. The market for CBD is not well regulated, and due to it’s booming growth, many people are jumping into the CBD game to turn a profit, despite not having much knowledge of the product. Simply do your research and buy from a reputable distributor.
I’m thinking of Trying CBD, But How?
CBD comes in a variety of products, but tinctures are the most popular method of consuming CBD. Tinctures are taken orally and typically come with a droplet allowing for concise measurement and convenience. They also have the added benefit of a long shelf life.
For fast-acting support, CBD creams and salves can be used instead. Tinctures need to be metabolized by the body, whereas salves and creams can be absorbed directly through the skin. Simply apply the product to the affected muscle, and relief will almost be instant. Perfect for post-workout relief.