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Athletes typically put their bodies through rigorous training, and during intense workouts, the stress and strain on the joints, tendons, and muscles could lead to physical inflammation and even injury. Cannabidiol (CBD) has been the focus in several studies that examine the potential benefits, if any, that this cannabis compound may provide athletes.
As the CBD market grows, athletes have become a target group for CBD marketing. The evidence suggests that CBD may potentially offer athletes a natural and effective therapeutic option that could be used to address certain injuries and boost performance. Here's what you should know.
CBD is only the second most well-known of more than a hundred cannabinoids found naturally in cannabis. Research, though limited, has shown the potential of CBD in treating several ailments, from pain to inflammation. Unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which causes a psychoactive response in users, or more commonly referred to as a "high", CBD provides many THC benefits without the euphoric feeling. THC binds directly to the CB1 receptors in the brain, causing the "high", while CBD has a low affinity for both receptors and indirectly modulates their activity, which amounts to peak functioning and high potency in providing several health benefits.
Why are athletes showing an interest in CBD now? Recent studies have convinced many athletes and fitness enthusiasts to give CBD some thought as an alternative to traditional treatments and supplements. Arguably, the most significant benefit of CBD for athletes is found in pain management and inflammation.
Inflammation and pain are common issues that many athletes face, which can interfere with performance. Research indicates that CBD could relieve inflammation and pain in athletes. The pain-relieving effect of CBD is exerted through particular interactions and modulation of the endocannabinoid system that regulates pain perception, along with the inflammatory and pain-sensing systems.
According to a review of studies, the pain-relieving effect of CBD suggests that its effectiveness is dependent on factors such as dosage administered and the specific pain type. High and moderate doses of CBD oil appear to be more efficacious at reducing pain than low doses. One of the positives of CBD is that there is no evidence indicating a risk of dependency with use by athletes. Furthermore, CBD doesn't appear to have to cause unwanted side effects that could impair athletic performance.
Exercise can cause an athlete to suffer from muscle damage that could impair muscle function, injury, or soreness. Research has shown that CBD modulates inflammatory processes, limiting immune cell buildup and pro-inflammatory cytokines and stimulating the creation of anti-inflammatory cytokines. The appropriate CBD oil dosage to reduce inflammation is not unclear, as both higher and lower dosages have proven effective in different studies.
Despite some of the info out there that may lead you to think that CBD is without side effects, that's not the case. Like traditional therapeutic substances, CBD may leave some persons experiencing side effects. However, CBD is not known to have many side effects or particularly severe ones. According to the Mayo Clinic, the common side effects of CBD includes:
● Dry mouth
● Reduced appetite
● Interact with medications like blood thinners
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) prohibits all-natural and synthetic cannabinoids except for cannabidiol, which was removed from its 2018 ban list. The US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) removed CBD from its list of ban substances in 2020. While US sports leagues, such as the National Football League and the National Basketball League, approve the use of CBD for its pain-relieving benefits, others continue to prohibit the use of CBD oil for athletes.
Consider that CBD isolate shouldn't result in a positive THC test, but full-spectrum CBD oil could. Still, results of positive THC tests after CBD have been reported. The type of test administered could mean the difference between a positive or negative test. Furthermore, athletes risk a positive test if they purchase their CBD oil from an unreliable source that could potentially be contaminated or mislabeled. The safest bet for any athlete is to avoid using CBD oil altogether. However, if you choose to use CBD oil, be vigilant in researching CBD companies, reading product labels, and assessing a CBD product for evidence of third-party lab test results.
There is not enough evidence to provide a clear understanding of how CBD impacts athletes negatively or positively. Athletes should proceed with caution when choosing to use CBD oil. Know the rules about the cannabis substance as it applies to an athlete. If it's banned in your particular sport, avoid using CBD oil entirely.
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