CBD for Athletic Performance and Recovery

CBD for Athletic Performance and Recovery

In recent years, there has been an explosion of interest in Cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive compound found in the Cannabis sativa plant. CBD has opened up a whole new suite of options for athletes to enhance and augment their performance. While its potential therapeutic properties span a range from epilepsy to anxiety, the athletic world has also turned its attention to CBD. Many athletes claim to derive various benefits from it, from improved recovery to enhanced mental well-being. But what does the science say?

**CBD’s Potential Benefits for Athletes**

1. **Anti-inflammatory Effects**: One of the prime culprits of post-exercise discomfort is inflammation. Preliminary research suggests that CBD might help in reducing exercise-induced inflammation, aiding in faster recovery and reduced muscle soreness (Nagarkatti et al., 2009).

2. **Pain Management**: Any athlete, whether amateur or professional, can attest to the occasional or even chronic pains experienced due to rigorous training or competitions. CBD is believed to be a natural remedy for pain relief, presenting an alternative to traditional NSAIDs and opioids, which can be detrimental when used long-term (Iskedjian et al., 2007; Russo, 2008).

3. **Reduced Muscle Spasms**: Particularly in sports demanding high levels of endurance, muscle spasms can occur. Early research implies CBD’s efficacy in alleviating muscle spasms, though the mechanisms remain somewhat elusive (Wade et al., 2003).

4. **Sleep and Recovery**: Recovery isn’t just about the immediate hours after exercise; it’s also about quality sleep. It’s the period when the body undergoes most of its repair and regeneration. Some studies suggest that CBD might play a role in improving sleep quality, which is crucial for muscle repair and cognitive function (Babson et al., 2017). CBD can enhance or help sleep if caffeine is not present. Some athletes using CBD have reported better sleep quality, leading to enhanced recovery and improved performance in subsequent training sessions or competitions.

5. **Stress and Anxiety Reduction**: The psychological challenges of sports, especially at higher levels, cannot be understated. Whether it’s pre-competition anxiety or stress from training, CBD might help athletes manage these pressures (Blessing et al., 2015).

**Points of Contention and Concern**

While the above points suggest a rosy picture, there are several concerns & nuances surrounding CBD use for athletes:

1. **Dosing Challenges**: Every individual might react to CBD differently. This makes standardized dosing challenging.

2. **Legalities**: : Always check the regulations of your sports governing body. The World Anti-Doping Agency, for instance, has removed CBD from its list of banned substances but maintains a prohibition on THC.

**In Conclusion**

CBD offers exciting potential for athletes, from its pain-alleviating properties to its possible role in stress reduction. However, with the landscape of research continuously evolving and regulatory guidelines in flux, athletes should proceed with caution, always in consultation with healthcare professionals. CBD’s potential in the realm of athletics seems poised for further exploration. Anecdotal and peer-reviewed evidence continues to pile up showing benefits.


A very informative podcast on CBD for athletes here with Ben Greenfield on sleep, recovery, etc


**For a deeper dig into the science behind the anti-inflammatory aspect https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2828614/

1. Iskedjian, M., Bereza, B., Gordon, A., Piwko, C., & Einarson, T. R. (2007). Meta‐analysis of cannabis based treatments for neuropathic and multiple sclerosis‐related pain.

2. Russo, E. B. (2008). Cannabinoids in the management of difficult to treat pain.

– Nagarkatti, P., Pandey, R., Rieder, S. A., Hegde, V. L., & Nagarkatti, M. (2009). Cannabinoids as novel anti-inflammatory drugs.

3. Wade, D. T., Robson, P., House, H., Makela, P., & Aram, J. (2003). A preliminary controlled study to determine whether whole-plant cannabis extracts can improve intractable neurogenic symptoms.

4. Babson, K. A., Sottile, J., & Morabito, D. (2017). Cannabis, cannabinoids, and sleep: a review of the literature.

5. Blessing, E. M., Steenkamp, M. M., Manzanares, J., & Marmar, C. R. (2015). Cannabidiol as a potential treatment for anxiety disorders.

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