CBD and Sports: How Cannabidiol increases athletic performance
CBD is making waves among athletes and sports enthusiast who claim the benefits can vary from accelerated recovery, to better sleep, to less stress of upcoming events. CBD is gaining more and more popularity among athletes since being removed from the World Anti-Doping’s list of controlled substances.
CBD is a non-intoxicating cannabinoid that has shown to have anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective, anti-anxiety and analgesic properties. CBD, along with other cannabinoids have been thought to help with an abundance of health and wellness related issues, from acting as a sleep aid, to stress reduction and pain management.
CBD is directly linked to pain relief
In research published in 2020 by Sports Medicine that involved pre-clinical animal studies and clinical trials in non-athletes, researchers found that CBD could help promote both physiological and psychological as well as biochemical benefits that could help athletes. The study found that CBD is directly linked to relief from pain due to inflammation, which in turn is linked to tissue damage and neuropathic pain due to irritation or nerve damage. This could overturn the evidence, particularly for action or endurance sports that are subject to high-intensity movements, as well as long-distance training that can lead to inflammation, irritation or injury.
Reduces inflammation after sports injury
For athletes of any sport, CBD could be beneficial for training regimens for a number of reasons. By interacting specifically with CB1 and CB2 receptors within the endocannabinoid system, CBD may help reduce pain and inflammation associated with sports injury or irritation. For athletes this can mean a shorter recovery period.
Improving the quality and quantity of sleep
Similarly, after a sports session, a game or a heavy training session, it is important for athletes and active people to get enough sleep so that the body has time to heal itself. Increased stress levels, however, can make it difficult to sleep through the night.
CBD causes a variety of effects on the human body and mind through the endocannabinoid system (ECS) and other channels. In the ECS, CBD shows a weak tendency to be bound by the two main cannabinoid receptors, CB1 and CB2, and instead promotes the production of endogenous neurotransmitters such as anandamide. This, in turn, helps the ECS reach homeostasis-a state of equilibrium that can only be achieved with healthy sleep.
CBD also interacts with the endocannabinoid system, regulating mood and helping athletes stay active throughout the day.
Has antidepressant activity
This means that it can help reduce the breakdown of lean muscle tissue and even help build more muscle mass. CBD has been shown to reduce the number of catabolic hormones in the body and regulate the stress hormone cortisol, which breaks down muscle tissue to supply the body with blood sugar.
Reduction of muscle spasms
Muscle spasms: Dehydration, muscle sprains and nerve damage are just some of the causes of muscle spasms. Cannabinoids are known to have antispasmodic properties and supplementing with CBD oil can help reduce these spasms.
Increase in appetite
Intense workouts require additional calories for optimal recovery and CBD can help you stimulate your appetite in a healthy way. CBD’s ability to stimulate appetite may be justified by its influence on serotonin receptors. 5-HT receptors play an important role in appetite and digestion, and studies show that CBD can help increase appetite by reducing the symptoms of an upset stomach, rather than directly affecting feelings of hunger.
According to what we know so far, CBD offers good potential benefits and few risks. As it improves recovery and since it acts as a painkiller, anti-inflammatory and sleep aid, then it has great potential to improve athletic performance.
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA-AMA) reminds us, however, to always be careful. Although cannabidiol is not banned, athletes should always consider that certain CBD oils may also contain moderate – but anti-doping test sensitive – amounts of THC. To avoid positive tests, make sure you buy products that do not contain other “banned” active ingredients.