Why is CBD Popular Among Athletes and Sportspeople?
The world of sports comprises a mix of the adrenaline rush, wins, losses, performance anxieties, and victory cheers. Pain, however, is the underlying constant here. Given the rigorous schedules of athletes and sportspeople, they often fall prey to excruciating pains, injuries, and post-exercise soreness. Even with their high levels of tolerance, sportspeople need something that can dial down the pain and help them heal faster.
Unfortunately, most pain medications prescribed to sportspeople and athletes are opioid-based. Opioid-based medicines work fine in treating pain, but the addictive properties that accompany it could be potentially life-threatening. Addiction of any sort can affect performance drastically. As such, a clear head is a must for every sportsperson. Focus is not only primary but also the key to their success.
CBD plays a significant role by not only helping sportspeople and athletes deal with their pain issues but also by doing so without inducing addiction.
What is CBD?
CBD is the shortened version of cannabidiol. Cannabidiol is one of the 113 active compounds, commonly known as cannabinoids, found in the cannabis plant. Cannabidiol is one of the commonly found compounds in the Cannabis plant, second only to its well-known counterpart, Tetrahydrocannabinol Delta-9, also known as THC.
Cannabis is well known for its psychoactive properties, which is the reason why CBD, one of its active compounds, had been banned across the U.S.
Only recently, after some studies and researches had been conducted on the cannabidiol compound, did it become clear that CBD in cannabis does not have the psychoactive properties. Instead, it is rich in anti-inflammatory properties and is known as a proven medicine for a variety of seizures.
THC, on the other hand, is also found in the cannabis plant and is largely psychoactive, which leads to hallucinatory effects on people who consume it. Therefore, cannabis could be potentially psychoactive and hallucination-inducing, but CBD as an independent compound is helpful in various ways, without posing any risks or side effects.
How does CBD work?
In the 1980s, scientists discovered the endocannabinoid system in the human body. The system derived its name from the study the scientists had undertaken on understanding how cannabinoid works. Although this government-sponsored research was undertaken to prove how marijuana could lead to cognitive impairment and brain damage, scientists ended up uncovering an entire network of neurotransmitters and cell receptors that exist to maintain the body in homeostasis.
This meant that the body itself has its own set of cannabinoids working with these receptors (CB1 and CB2) to achieve the desired effects and keep the body in balance. Since these cannabinoids are produced by the body itself, they are called endocannabinoids (anything produced within the body is attached to the prefix “endo”). This is how the system got its name.
The cannabinoid receptors in the human body are spread throughout the body, with the majority of the receptors located in the peripheral and central nervous system, as well as the immune system. The endocannabinoid system’s main task is to improve the communication between these various systems, thereby ensuring the body is in balance, aka in homeostasis, at all times. The system is also responsible for maintaining healthy biological functions, ensuring proper sleep, temperature, stable mood, strong immune response, fertility, pleasure & pain response, appetite, and memory.
Whenever the body is not functioning properly, for any reason, the endocannabinoid system springs into action to help bring the body back into balance. It does so by immediately releasing endocannabinoids into the system, which interact with the receptors, to send messages to the related organ to take certain actions (releasing hormones) that will help bring the body into homeostasis.
The endocannabinoid system works fine unless the body suffers from chronic health issues. In such cases, the endocannabinoids are not sufficient to stir receptor action and bring about homeostasis. This is when externally or internally administered phytocannabinoids come into play. They give a much-needed boost to the endocannabinoid system. It should be noted that the phytocannabinoids or CBD does not work directly with the receptors. Instead, they stimulate the system to produce more of its own endocannabinoids to help the fire up the receptors.
Sportspeople are encouraged to push their limits. They have high pain tolerance levels and are known to perform under high-pressure environments. Although they might be achieving all these factors, their bodies are always under a lot of pressure. Many athletes and sportspeople also suffer from chronic pains. These constant pressures, chronic pains, coupled with performance anxiety, can disturb the body’s endocannabinoid system and hinder it from working at its full potential. Even if it does work at full potential, the athlete might find it difficult to recover from a one-time injury, because their endocannabinoid system is already overworked. CBD can be extremely helpful during these times. Whether consumed in the form of gummies, sublingual oil, capsules, or topically massaged onto the area of injury, CBD can help boost the production of endocannabinoids in the body and therefore help the injured athlete relax by bringing their body back to homeostasis sooner.
How can CBD treat anxiety?
Anxiety has become a common mental health issue among masses now. About 40 million people in the U.S. suffer from an anxiety disorder. In the case of sportspeople and athletes, anxiety appears in the form of performance and social anxiety. The feelings of performing at their best and the pressure they feel internally and externally can soon turn their enthusiasm to anxiety. This can lead to negative thoughts and feelings of not being good enough, and subsequently interfere with their ability to perform or even relax the night before a big game.
CBD, when consumed to treat anxiety issues, can help by boosting endocannabinoids in the body, which then interact with both serotonin and CB1 receptors. This boosts the development of serotonin and anandamide in the body. These naturally occurring compounds help in regulating feelings of depression and anxiety.
There have been quite a few studies that have successfully proven the positive impact CBD has on patients with anxiety disorders. Some of the research findings are stated below:
- CBD reduced levels of anxiety and discomfort in people with a social anxiety disorder (2011).
- 49 studies conclusively stated that CBD could be used as a treatment for people with generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, PTSD, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (2015).
- The study showed CBD improved anxiety in 80% of the participants, and 70% of them reported improved sleep within the first month itself (2019).
Therefore, CBD can indeed be helpful for sportspeople and athletes who suffer from performance anxiety and would like to calm their nerves without losing their mental faculties or falling into a state of buzz.
CBD effectively works to boost the serotonin levels and anandamide in the body to ensure the mind and body are calm, and they can put their best into the game.
CBD’s role in alleviating chronic pain
Sportspeople and athletes often suffer repeated traumas and injuries, sometimes, in the same part of the body multiple times. These multiple injuries to a certain spot soon turns into chronic pain.
Opioids have been used for the longest time to treat these pains and injuries. However, addiction to opioids has been killing thousands of Americans each year.
In the view of this opioid epidemic, sportspeople and athletes want to move to a better alternative that will relieve the pain and will not cause addiction. CBD delivers successfully on both accounts. It is a plant-based product that works with the body (and not against it). Its anti-inflammatory properties help soothe injuries immediately, and as an added plus, it’s free of psychoactive properties and also helps in reducing anxiety.
Sportspeople who have been facing a tough time with their pain management and opioid addiction suddenly came across something nothing less than a wonder medication.
Therefore, as soon as the government lifted the ban on CBD (at varying levels) across the country, the sale of CBD skyrocketed, and so did the list of loyal enthusiasts in the sports industry.
Let us take a look at how exactly CBD helps in alleviating pain.
As stated earlier, CBD works with the endocannabinoid system (ECS) by interacting with the body to create more endocannabinoids, which will then interact with the CB1 and CB2 receptors to elicit the right response. The response could be reduced pain or reduced anxiety. In this case, we are going to see how CBD lowers pain.
To understand this, we need to learn a bit more about our CB receptors. CB1 receptors are mostly located in the brain and spinal cord. CB2 receptors are also found in the brain and the spinal cord, but the majority of them are found in the immune system. CBD that works on activating the CB2 receptors, help in addressing issues such as inflammation. They do so by reducing the production of cytokine (cell messengers). This helps by toning down the feeling of pain when the athlete’s immune system sends the message of pain and soreness after a workout.
Therefore, when an injured athlete ingests CBD in any forms or applies it topically on the injury, they experience immediate relief. CBD helps the already overstressed and overburdened athletes’ bodies by nursing it back to homeostasis (body’s balance). The amount of stress that a sportsperson endures to increase their capacity is too much for their endocannabinoids to support. This is where the exogenous cannabinoid in the form of CBD helps them cope.
Few more reasons why athletes love CBD
CBD effectively reduces post-workout musculoskeletal pain and also provides relief from stiff joints. But this is only one of the many reasons why athletes love CBD and have been openly endorsing it to their fans and the general public all these years.
Easy to buy, over the counter pain drugs like Advil (ibuprofen) and Aleve (naproxen sodium) is not safe for continuous consumption, as believed earlier. Ultradistance athletes, especially stand at a greater risk of renal damage if they consume NSAIDs during events or even long training sessions. However, the risk is equally high for athletes and sportspeople whose trainings are short, as long-term consumption can lead to increased risks of stroke and heart attack.
The same applies to opioids too. Opioids have otherwise been effective in reducing pains in sportspeople. However, its side effects of addiction and, in worst cases, death due to overdose have been a cause of concern in the sports industry.
Athletes and sportspeople have increasingly found that the use of CBD has helped them by reducing their dependence on NSAIDs and opioids, thereby providing heightened relief from exercise-related pain, sans the harmful side effects and health risks.
The legal status of CBD
The federal government has now removed the ban on CBD with a particular restriction that only CBD from hemp plants with less than 0.3% of THC will be considered legal. The grower of marijuana plants, growing the plant to extract CBD, should be licensed by the federal government, and they must follow the state regulations.
Each state has varying degrees of leniency or restrictions when it comes to growth, sale, or possession of CBD.
But when it comes to the sports world, the sporting regulatory bodies have now become more liberal about CBD usage in any of its forms. In 2017, CBD was removed from the list of banned substances by the World Anti-Doping Agency.
Celebs who openly endorse
Right from pro golfers to pro boxers, sports celebs have been endorsing CBD and have been using it in its various forms. CBD had helped most of them combat not only their chronic pains but also their addiction to NSAIDs and opioids.
Former boxing champion Mike Tyson is one of the biggest proponents of CBD. He has even created his own marijuana farm over an area of 40 acres and has named it the “Cannabis Resorts” where people can grow their hemp and smoke it.
David “Boomer” Wells, the American former pro baseball pitcher, was severely addicted to Percocet and admitted to being on it almost 80% of the time. He slowly switched to CBD and has been safely consuming it, sans addiction, ever since.
Former NBA star Jay Williams has been an outspoken advocate of CBD and its various medical benefits. Right from curing inflammations to reducing anxiety, Williams has been using CBD extensively.
CBD is slowly becoming mainstream because of the myriad benefits it offers without making the users “high”. It has effectively helped thousands of sportspeople and athletes perform at their optimal levels and also lead a healthier lifestyle, thanks to its many benefits. Also, the ability to access and use CBD in multiple forms is an added advantage. Right from pain relief spray, pain relief roll-on, pain relief cream, facial serum, face cream, glow oil, anti-aging facial serum, sleeping mask, eye serum, body oil, facial cream, to recovery lotion, gummies, tinctures, and more. CBD is the most versatile contender and possibly the only one in the pain relief and anxiety-reducing medication segment in the market right now and in the near future. Check out CBD Must and CBD Plus for the best CBD-based products.
The use of CBD in treating eczema has been extensively researched in recent times and the results have been favorable. The National Eczema.org website has information about CBD’s effects on atopic dermatitis, often clubbed with eczema. CBD has received a glowing report by none other than the founding editor of the JAMA Dermatology and one of the founding fathers of American Dermatology, Dr. Henry Piffard.
A study was conducted on 72 adults with sleep and anxiety problems. Assessments of their sleep and anxiety levels were taken before the initiation of the study and after a month as a follow-up.
Since the confirmation of the existence of the Endocannabinoid System (ECS), much work has been done to try to unravel this powerful yet convoluted feedback system.
Epilepsy is a chronic neurological disorder that is non-communicable in nature. Recurrent seizures are the main characteristics of epilepsy. These seizures can be partial where there is an involuntary movement of a part of the individual’s body or generalized where the entire body experiences these involuntary movements.
The therapeutic potential of CBD in managing many clinical conditions, including pain, sleep disorders, inflammation, and epilepsy, is supported by a growing body of evidence.