Initially, CBD (Cannabidiol) came to the attention of researchers for its anticonvulsant properties, but as further research continued, additional therapeutic effects have been brought to attention in clinical and non-clinical populations including those of athletes. CBD is the non-intoxicating part of the cannabis plant and is no longer restricted by the World Anti-Doping Agency and so far appears to be safe for consumption by the general public and athletes worldwide. CBD is now available in many countries and can be distributed over the counter without a prescription. The purpose of this article is to explore the various psychological and physiological effects of CBD that are relevant to exercise and sports.
- CBD Oil has been reported to exert multiple benefits to athletes such as biochemical, physiological, and psychological effects which have the potential to benefit all types of sporting activities.
- More research is needed to explore and clarify the usage of CBD in athletes is warranted.
- The available evidence is preliminary since CBD was just legalized with the Farm Bill of 2018.
Introduction of CBD Benefits for Athletes
Since the farm bill has passed making CBD legal interest has increased among the general population. Many professional athletes (e.g. football players, distance runners, boxers) have started to use CBD, regardless of the lack of published studies. Cannabis or Marijuana has been banned in all sports for competitive athletes since the World Anti-Doping Agency became responsible for maintaining and establishing a list of banned substances in sports 15 years ago. In 2018, however, Cannabidiol was taken off the prohibited list, after showing that even at acute doses (e.g. 6000 mg) a day, it was shown to have no adverse effects in humans.
CBD in Sport and Exercise Performance
Exercise in itself when done strenuously can induce skeletal muscle and ultra-structural damage. The exercise itself can reduce muscle function and initiate an inflammatory response. Since inflammation is an integral part of muscle repair, excessive inflammation can cause extended soreness and delay the functional recovery of the athlete. CBD helps modulate the inflammatory process by stimulating the production of anti-inflammatory properties in the body.
CBD For Athletic Pain
Persistent pain is normal for long term athletes. Nociceptive pain, which is in the same class as inflammatory pain, normally occurs because of tissue damage after exercise and workouts. Neuropathic pains can be common for athletes with spinal cord injuries and can also be caused by surgery. Initial trials of CBD has shown promising results for reducing pain in all types of athletic injuries and workout recovery.
CBD for Sports Performance Anxiety
Strong levels of pre-competition anxiety or sports performance stress can hurt an athlete’s ability to perform at their maximum level. This type of impairment can be caused by an increased expenditure of energy, loss of sleep, and decreased nutritional intake. Recent clinical trials have shown the effect of CBD on anxiety for the general population and persons with social anxiety disorders. It appears with recent studies that moderate levels of CBD may be anxiolytic in high-stress situations and provide relief for those symptoms.
CBD For Sleep
Recent studies have shown that a well-regulated sleep pattern is crucial to the performance of athletes. However, often athletes become sleepless and experience a reduced quality of sleep versus non-athletes. Some of the issues that cause poor sleep in athletes are training sessions, use of caffeine, long-distance travel, evening competition, and pre-competition anxiety. Recent studies have investigated the effects of CBD and sleep on humans. The results found that people with insomnia experienced better sleep and other studies have shown a reduction in symptoms caused by rapid eye movement. These combinations of traits have shown that athletes who take CBD experience longer and more regulated sleep.
Cannabidiol has been reported to provide a number of biochemical, physiological, and psychological effects for active athletes, that have the potential to improve athletes’ overall performance. For example, there is general supportive evidence for neuroprotective, analgesic, and anti-inflammatory, benefits of CBD and the high probability it may protect against muscle damage associated with inflammation and contribute to the promotion of the healing of traumatic skeletal injuries. However, the athlete should understand that these research findings are at times inconsistent, and mostly come from preclinical research trials. Some of these studies are limited in their availability regarding new studies, and often administer high doses of CBD that may be difficult if not impossible to copy the benefits in humans. The main observation is that studies directly reaching CBD and sports performance are missing, and until we see these new research studies, we can only speculate in regard to its effects. Moreover, this review of CBD for athlete’s suggests that controlled investigations clarifying the utility of CBD in the sporting context are clearly warranted.
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