More and more athletes are singing the praises of cannabidiol, commonly known as CBD, even while laws, regulations, scientific evidence, and social views remain unclear. If you’re in the athletic world, or even simply pay attention to it, you’ve likely heard a wide range of arguments when it comes to the ethics, benefits, and legality of CBD for athletes. This article explores what those benefits are and provides essential information about CBD and sports, so you can make an informed decision.
CBD is not the same as THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), and it holds many performance and recovery enhancing benefits. Here are some of the known benefits for athletes:
Most benefits remain unverified by the scientific community or the FDA, but that doesn’t mean athletes aren’t already using CBD and enjoying the gains. Lab tests and more extensive studies are underway and the FDA is starting to recognize the benefits and undertake rigorous research about CBD.
But the lived experiences of people CBD has already helped clearly shows its benefits. For example, MMA Fighter Bas Rutten has recently stated how CBD oil can even help protect pro fighters from opioid addiction.
Scientists are still uncovering the mechanisms behind CBD. However, it is clear that CBD oil improves performance in a number of ways through healing a wide variety of ailments that might hurt athletes’ performance.
Inflammation, for example, hurts performance. Similarly, a big meal sitting heavy in your stomach and making you feel bloated will slow you down on the field. Both inflammation and bloating can be helped with CBD.
Recovery time is another factor accelerated by CBD. Faster healing means more productive training and higher chances of performing your best in back-to-back matches.
Importantly, CBD also improves your quality of sleep. Getting much needed restorative sleep to let muscle tissue repair enhances performance and helps you avoid injury.
For the best performance-enhancing CBD products, look for full-spectrum hemp oil. These products include all hemp plant compounds that complement CBD oil, making for a more potent dosage.
Injury, bad sleep, and delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS) might all point to the fact that your body isn’t recovering fast enough to keep up with you. CBD is a phytonutrient, which means that it’s a plant that aids human health. In fact, humans have an endocannabinoid system, which affects many of the same areas that CBD helps with.
Some properties of CBD that aid in recovery include:
CBD allows your entire body to function more efficiently and at a higher level. After strenuous exercise, your body is recovering from inflammation and requires a good flow of nutrients to repair musculoskeletal tissue.
Lastly, in terms of recovery, less pain means reduced stress, so your body can switch easier from fight or flight to rest and relaxation.
CBD has proven analgesic properties, which means it reduces pain. NSAIDs and opioid use run rampant in the world of pro-athletes, but CBD offers an alternative that not only helps with pain but saves athletes from addiction and a weakened immune system.
The research is far from complete, but ongoing reports from individuals are compelling. CBD works best for chronic pain but also grants benefits on a situational basis.
Athletes deal with all forms of stress. Training, as well as performing, provides a high amount of stress on the body, both physical and mental. When regular physical stress occurs like it does so often with athletes, so does oxidative damage. Over time, this will not only take its toll on your body but will also lower your overall performance.
Prolonged physical stress isn’t the only consideration. The emotional and mental aspect requires the same amount of attention. Depression and anxiety often set in at crucial times demanding performance. Opioids and NSAIDs don’t do your brain chemistry any long-term favors either.
CBD oil imparts impressive benefits when it comes to stress, especially when used regularly. CBD has been shown to improve mood and lessen reported incidences of both anxiety and depression.
A calm, focused mind is a requirement for high-end athletic performance. CBD is non-psychoactive and doesn’t get you high, but delivers enhanced clarity and long-term wellness.
Finally, an often overlooked area of stress is digestion—intense routine workouts and high stress damage the GI tract over time. CBD allows athletes to mitigate potential symptoms by healing gut inflammation.
CBD affects everyone differently, and you want to be fully in the know about your own body as an athlete, so make sure you seek advice from a medical professional before diving in and mixing CBD and sports. General advice is to start small in terms of dosage. Try out different products and modalities for taking CBD to find what suits your physiology. Let the benefits you experience dictate your CBD usage.
Athletes use CBD in a variety of ways, including tinctures, topical creams, balms, drops, edibles, vaping, smoking, coffee, sports-drinks, sublingual products, and more. There are many options that can be used for different purposes, so take the time to find what suits your body best.
Some tinctures market themselves to help athletes pass drug screenings. Most drug screenings focus on THC levels, which do not exist in CBD in products, but bear in mind that other cannabis, marijuana, and hemp products do contain THC.
Another benefit of tinctures is that they often come in a variety of flavors. These can be added to drinks or taken directly with a dropper. Furthermore, unlike pharmaceutical drugs, you don’t have to worry about health insurance costs or co-pays.
Full-spectrum CBD oil uses a large percentage of the plant. Athletes receive a wider variety of plant compounds from using the entire plant and more robust health benefits.
Often these products are marketed as aiding in overall health. Tinctures made for overall health in athletes should be used continuously over a more extended period. Constant daily boosts to your immune system allow it to work and repair more efficiently, such as through micro-dosing.
CBD topical products are quick and easy to use. They come most often in the form of creams, but include roll-on applications, too.
They’re also a great option if you’re not comfortable taking things orally. When it comes to health, as a rule, if it goes on your skin, then it enters your body. Ingesting CBD and topical applications generally yield the same result. That said, everyone’s body differs in how it absorbs nutrients.
CBD topicals work best after an intense workout. Different brands might include additional medicinal substances such as vitamin B6 and thermotherapy blends using technology administered by pharmacists.
Athletes dealing with inflammation, chafing, or irritated skin can try CBD topical creams for this use alone. Like the previously mentioned topicals, they might include additional ingredients, such as aloe vera and arnica flower. The cream moisturizes the skin and then penetrates it to reduce inflammation.
CBD tablets are a quick and easy way to allow CBD into your system. CBD products often include small doses of melatonin, a chemical that your body naturally produces to help induce sleep.
Rest remains a crucial aspect for building and repairing muscle, maintaining energy and focus levels, and promoting a healthy immune system. CBD and melatonin in tablet form can help you enjoy deep healing sleep on a regular basis.
Yes, there is even CBD coffee. Many people rely on a caffeine jolt but don’t necessarily like the jittery side-effects. If you’re struggling with any level of attention issues or anxiety, this could be a great solution.
Monitoring your health is especially vital when trying new substances, and different individuals report unique experiences. CBD has no taste, but that doesn’t mean you can drink this coffee endlessly. Know your dosage and enjoy everything in moderation.
Marijuana and other cannabis products are becoming increasingly popular, and the legality of them is changing fast. Consumers are using CBD for a wide variety of purposes, but the final question is whether CBD oil is legal to use for athletes?
This may vary according to your state, but overall: yes, CBD oil is a tremendous legal performance-enhancing option for most athletes. Congress and state laws are trying to keep up with demand and regulation.
According to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), CBD has been legal for athletes since 2018, although THC is prohibited in competition. Synthetic CBD, while technically not THC, mimics the effects of THC and is also banned. Hemp-derived CBD, which often has traces of THC, also has a strict threshold in the WADA urinary drug test.
If you’re a professional athlete, you’ll want to research what your sports league has to say. Be sure to look into your state laws as well for the most recent federal mandates. Finally, be aware that CBD products that are not FDA approved may contain inaccurate labeling. FDA research is ongoing.
CBD may be legal in your state, but make sure you check the laws that govern your specific sport. Here, we’ll go through some of the major sports leagues and where they stand on CBD as a performance-enhancing drug.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association’s (NCAA) sets the threshold for THC at five nanograms per milliliter but says that CBD is entirely acceptable.
The National Football League considers CBD to be a cannabis product, which it bans. Therefore, CBD oil is not an acceptable performance-enhancing substance in the NFL. Sadly, many star athletes have made headlines because of substance abuse, addiction, and harmful heavy-handed opioid use. Discussion about benefits and allowance of CBD in the NFL is currently ongoing and could change within a few short years.
Similarly, the National Basketball Association bans all marijuana-related products, and that includes CBD. That said, there has been increasing pressure from players to revisit these rules given the incredible benefits of CBD.
Major League Baseball has a more reactive approach to performance-enhancing substances, including marijuana. MLB’s official policy holds that there are no mandatory random drug screenings. Players are only tested based on “reasonable cause.” If tested, the THC threshold is a bit higher than in other leagues at 50 ng/ml. For this reason, you’ll find more pro baseball stars who are outspoken advocates of CBD oil.
The National Hockey League is much more lenient in its attitude towards CBD oil. The NHL tests players under the National Hockey League Players’ Association Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program. This means that if a player tests positive for CBD or cannabis, they receive no direct punishment. Disciplinary actions come in the form of record-keeping for future scrutiny of behavior.
In conclusion, the research concerning the benefits, use, and legality of CBD for athletes is still not complete and the health benefits, the risks, and the full legality remain to be determined.
Nevertheless, CBD oil is worth exploring due to the wide variety of benefits for athletes. Numerous cases show improved recovery for athletes receiving CBD, while topicals are proving to help with pain, muscle soreness, and stiffness. Mental and emotional stress can diminish with regular use and using CBD oil means a night of restorative sleep is more widely available and affordable.
If you’re a professional athlete or an aspiring one, make sure you continue to educate yourself on the health science of CBD and sports. Listen to what your state, chosen league, and body have to say.