How Cannabidiol can Help Improve your Athletic Performance?
From American soccer player Megan Rapinoe to Mike Tyson, Eddie Hall (winner of the World’s Strongest Man 2017), UFC fighter Nate Diaz and more – the number of high-performing athletes who take CBD for performance and wellness is growing by the day.
Cannabidiol, popularly known as CBD, is an excellent alternative for sustainable pain remedies among athletes. Not only is it legal in Thailand and conforms to anti-doping laws, but it is natural and has a bunch of excellent health benefits. So let’s look at how adding CBD to your workout routine can benefit your athletic performance.
What is CBD?
CBD is a cannabinoid, one of 100+ such compounds found in cannabis plants. It is non-intoxicating (it will not get you high) and is linked with many properties like anti-inflammatory, pain-relieving, anti-anxiety, among others.
Although cannabis plants also have THC (tetrahydrocannabinols) – the psychoactive compound responsible for the high sensation when you smoke a joint – it is still illegal in many parts of the world. The focus, therefore, has been on CBD owing to its strong health effects, without the negative impact on your mind.
CBD interacts with the body via the endocannabinoid system (ECS). Scientists are still understanding how ECS works, but here is what we know:
- ECS is responsible for maintaining homeostasis (internal stability) within our bodies. It is spread all over, including our brain, spinal cord, organs, limbs, and immune system.
- ECS regulates many important functions such as pain and inflammatory response, mood, appetite, sleep, hunger, and more.
- Cannabinoids also exist within our own bodies. Our system produces them as and when needed to keep the body in balance and ensure all functions are running smoothly.
As an athlete, you are bound to put your body through a lot with extensive workout schedules. Unfortunately, this means putting greater stress on your body – more than what your endocannabinoid system can handle.
In such a scenario, taking external cannabinoids (like CBD) can help your overloaded body take back control and help maintain that overall harmony.
Is CBD Legal?
As an athlete and powerlifter, one of the most common questions you are bound to ask is whether CBD is legal. Or whether or not CBD show up in your drug test? Can you use CBD as a supplement to your workout routine?
The answer to all of these is yes.
Here are the reasons:
- CBD is legal in Thailand. As per Thai laws, CBD products containing THC less than 0.2% by weight can be bought and sold. This change came only last year when CBD was no longer classified as a narcotic – again due to its impeccable health benefits.
- The World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) – a regulatory body responsible for drug use among athletes – removed CBD from its list of prohibited/controlled substances in 2017. In other words, athletes can use CBD supplements. However, other cannabis products like hashish, marijuana, and synthetic THC are still prohibited in competition. You can check out the 2022 WADA Prohibited Substance List for more information.
WADA serves as a gold standard for all athletic competitions in the world. Combined with the Thai laws, there is a very strong possibility that your local tournament – whether it is for fighting or weightlifting, permits the use of CBD.
Cannabinoids and Doping Rules: What is Prohibited in Competition?
According to the World Anti Doping Agency, the following cannabinoids are prohibited.
- Natural and synthetic cannabinoids, including hashish, marijuana, and other cannabis products
- Cannabinoids that produce the effects of THC
- Natural and synthetic THC
So all in all, any cannabis compound that has THC in it, or mimics the effects of THC is banned.
The exception to this, as mentioned previously, is cannabidiol (CBD).
According to WADA, CBD, including CBD oil is not prohibited. However, do note that certain CBD oil and tinctures may contain THC and other prohibited cannabinoids. Therefore, if you are taking CBD, ensure that it is either isolate or broad spectrum (more information below).
What are the Benefits of CBD?
CBD has plenty of benefits, especially for athletes.
Pain-Relieving and Anti-Inflammatory
CBD is an excellent remedy for pain, as proven by numerous studies. It can help with joint conditions like stiff joints, arthritis pain, in addition to pain from exercise, chronic pain, and even neuropathic pain. Lower back, neck, hands, feet – CBD can do wonders to reduce pain in these areas, especially after an intense workout.
Cannabidiol can also help reduce inflammation, which is quite common among athletes.
Anti-stress, Reduces Anxiety, Promotes Sleep
As a serious athlete, it is not just physical stress that you will put your body through. You will feel the heat mentally as well, whether it is related to the upcoming competition or meeting your fitness goals.
There is plenty of evidence to support the fact that CBD is good for your mental health. It can help you manage your anxiety levels and in the process, even improve your sleep quality, especially if it is disturbed because of stress.
With regular dosing of CBD, you will be ready to take on new challenges with a calmer, clear mind.
Excellent Alternative to Opioids and over-the-counter Medications
A lot of athletes resort to paracetamols, ibuprofens, opioids, and other heavy medications to treat their pain. Long-term and regular use of these drugs can lead to severe complications for your health. Moreover, these medications are quite addictive.
CBD serves as a terrific remedy for pain management, mainly because it is natural and non-addictive. When you use CBD, the tendency for addiction is next to zero, as stated by the WHO. Unlike morphine, codeine, and other opioids, there is no chance of substance abuse.
Experience all the pain-relieving benefits in a natural manner, minus the addiction.
How to take CBD?
You can take CBD in several ways. New products are popping up on the market with varying dosages, giving athletes plenty of options to enjoy the benefits of cannabis:
- Edibles like gummies, capsules, brownies, tea, butter, honey, cooking stock
- CBD oil and tinctures that can be placed under the tongue for 60 seconds before consuming it
- Topical creams, oils, and ointments, which are applied over the affected area (mainly for pain relief)
- Smoking and vaping
Coming to CBD dosage, this varies from person to person. A lean, slim athlete may require less CBD to experience the effects in comparison to a well-built, muscular person. The rule of thumb, in this case, is to start small and then work your way up to a dosage that is working for you.
Another thing to note is CBD comes in three spectrums: isolate, broad, and full.
Isolate contains cannabidiol, while the broad spectrum contains CBD and other cannabinoids. Full-spectrum CBD comes with trace amounts of THC. From an anti-doping point of view, you should use CBD products that fall either in the isolate or broad category as these do not contain any THC.
CBD is an excellent pain remedy and serves as a viable supplement for athletes. The existing research and its wide acceptance by prominent sports figures and the WADA only attest to the effectiveness of this cannabis compound. While there is a lot to learn about CBD, the data so far is promising.
The risks are few (drowsiness, fatigue, diarrhea, loss in appetite/weight), and they outweigh the benefits. But more than that, it can help reduce athletes their dependence on prescription medicines and painkillers, which is undoubtedly a positive sign.
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