Can CBD Oil Help Athletes?

CBD for Athletes

Are you an athlete, pro or amateur, that periodically experiences light aches and pains from stiffness or soreness in your muscles? Maybe you’re involved in a contact sport like football, hockey, or MMA, and you’re continually putting your body under stress.

You might experience swelling, stiffness, or temporarily become unable to put weight on parts of your body. Needless to say, this could affect your performance, and it might even sideline you for a while in some cases.

Not to mention, the discomfort from sore and achy muscles might affect sleep and your overall quality of life.

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Table of Contents

What is CBD? And how does it work?

Understanding CBD & The Body

To understand how CBD works, we should briefly discuss the human endocannabinoid system (ECS).

The ECS is responsible for maintaining balance within the human body by regulating various functions like sleep, mood, appetite, immune response, among others. 

The endocannabinoid system is made up of 3 components.

  • Endocannabinoids –  Chemical compounds produced by the human body that are similar to ones found in cannabis plants.
  • Cannabinoid receptors – The CB1 and CB2 receptors that get activated by endocannabinoids. 
  • Enzymes – Enzymes that break down the endocannabinoids when their job is done.

When something is out of balance, the ECS goes to work. Endocannabinoids activate the CB1 and CB2 receptors to regulate functions that need attention. For example, if your body needs fuel, the ECS reminds you to eat by making you feel hungry.

Once everything is back to an optimal level, the enzymes break down the endocannabinoids since they are no longer needed, thus providing an accurate response.

CBD does not directly interact with the cannabinoid receptors. Although it isn’t clear how CBD interacts with the ECS, there is some evidence to suggest that CBD enhances the activity of the human body’s own cannabinoids.

Along with influencing the ECS, CBD also interacts with several non-cannabinoid receptors in the brain to affect a wide array of functions like sleep, mood, pain, and more.


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CBD for Athletic Recovery?

As an athlete, muscle aches or soreness is inevitable. To address their symptoms, athletes often turn to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). In some severe cases, they might get prescribed opioids.

While effective, these drugs can come with unwanted side effects. In fact, The Health and Human Services Department (HHS) declared opioid addiction to a public health emergency in 2017.

Recently, athletes have been turning to CBD as a natural dietary supplement.

CBD, or Cannabidiol, is a non-psychoactive compound found in the hemp plant. It has been gaining in prominence after Congress lifted several restrictions on the cultivation and sale of hemp products in 2018.

While CBD is not meant to heal any injuries, many athletes have been experiencing positive results after taking CBD during the recovery process.

In this article, we’ll take a more in-depth look into how CBD works, and if it might help you get back on the field, or the weight room, after an injury.

Why do athletes take CBD?

There are a few reasons why an athlete might feel better after taking CBD during the recovery process [2]. The research is still in the preliminary stages, but from what we know so far, here are some potential causes.

Pain perception – Your brain chemicals play a role in how you perceive pain. There is evidence that suggests that CBD interacts with brain receptors that regulate pain perception [3].

Immune function – Another key component of recovery from injury is managing inflammation. The immune system is responsible for regulating the inflammatory response [1]. The endocannabinoid system is involved with the immune system and might play a role in the healing process.

Bone health – As a dietary supplement, CBD might promote skeletal function [2]. Naturally, healthy bones are a critical part of success as an athlete.

Neuroprotector – CBD might promote brain health [4]. This can be vital when there are injuries to the head.

Are athletes allowed to take CBD?

As of 2018, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) does not consider CBD to be a prohibited substance. The US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) also removed CBD from its list of banned substances. However, if you’re a pro athlete, be sure to check with the regulatory authorities in your sports before using CBD.

CBD oil dosage for athletes

While there is no prescribed dosage for CBD oil yet, 20-25 mg per day is thought to be a safe daily amount for adults. One of the easiest ways to take CBD oil is through a tincture. You use a dropper to place the desired amount underneath your tongue.

For sore or stiff muscles, many athletes experience soothing effects when they apply a CBD topical directly to the affected area,

If you’re considering using CBD, be sure to consult with a medical professional before you begin.

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