Cannabis has been used by people around the world to help with things like pain and stress for hundreds of years. Now with the emergence of legal Hemp and its compounds, CBD is warmed up and ready to exercise it’s full-potential as a workout supplement and exercise aid for professional and casual athletes alike. While the public perception of Cannabis is constantly changing, athletes everywhere are starting to use Cannabis and CBD as a crucial part of their exercise and supplementation regime. Here we’ll discuss some of the many ways Cannabis and CBD aids athletes in their physical activity, and discuss some of the new developments in Professional sports like the NFL, NBA, the UFC and other professional sports organizations and their views on Cannabis and CBD for their athletes.
I’ll begin by stating there needs to be much more research conducted on the effects of Cannabis and CBD with respect to specific health conditions and athletic performance. You can find some of the most prominent and recent studies done on the potential efficacy of Cannabis and CBD in the BLNCD Research and Medical Studies section with respect to specific health concerns. You can also find blogs written by the BLNCD Family in the BLNCD Blog, discussing these studies in real-life applications and breaking down the research into what it means and the potential impact it could have on your life. When it comes to specific areas of Cannabis and Fitness, we must acknowledge the lack of conclusive evidence in this area so that we may uncover the areas that need research the most. Here we’ll discuss some of the research that does exist on Cannabis, CBD and specific health concerns as it relates to fitness and exercise, and share some anecdotal evidence from fitness and cannabis professionals sharing their experience using these products.
So we’ve heard that Cannabis and CBD has a number of health benefits, but how many of them help athletes perform or recover? Which products are ideal for which types of exercise? Do I have to worry about failing a drug test while using cannabis and exercise? These are just some of the common questions we receive and that we’ll attempt to answer through this blog. Some of the most common health benefits of Cannabis include:
When it comes to using Cannabis or CBD integrated into your fitness life habits, they have a number of ways to help athletes recover faster and perform better. Since there isn’t a lot of clinical data showing Cannabis and CBD effect on areas of fitness specifically, we rely on anecdotal evidence from professional athletes and fitness connoisseurs to better understand the potential impact these products have on our lives.
What the Experts are Saying..
How does CBD help with Fitness?
Here are some of the most common ways CBD and Cannabis help athletes physiology:
- Lungs: Suppresses bronchial spasms
- Endocrine and Immune Response: slows or kills bacterial growth, reduced blood sugar levels, regulates skin disorders due to immune responses
- The Nervous System: supports mood regulation, supports Central Nervous System (CNS) recovery
- Neuroprotectant and antioxidant: inhibitor of AChE/Acetylcholinesterase, protects brain cells, keep brain cells healthy and communicating properly and efficiently
- Circulatory System: reduces risk of artery blockage, increases blood flow
- Digestive system: reduces contractions in small intestines
- Muscular and Skeletal: promotes bone health, suppresses muscle spasms, reduces inflammation, increases blood flow
- Whole Body Relief and Protection: supports overall homeostasis, reduces symptoms of overuse and discomfort, supports mitochondrial output and function, supports Circadian sleep rhythm.
How does CBD work with Muscle Growth?
When you put your body through an intense workout, it produces the stress hormone, cortisol. Cortisol is a catabolic hormone that reduces protein synthesis and may even prevent the growth of new tissue. After an intense workout, a large release of cortisol would inhibit new muscle growth and even increase the amount of fat stored in your body. Studies show that CBD oil is an anti-catabolic, which means it regulates how much cortisol is released into the system. By reducing the level of cortisol in your body post-workout, CBD allows protein synthesis and encourages muscle regeneration. In short, supplementing CBD could help ease inflammation, joint pain, muscle soreness, quality of sleep, recovery, and alleviate cortisol production thus promoting muscle tissue growth.
CBD also works an a potent anti-inflammatory, so the pain and inflammation that comes with intense exercise is reduced, allowing you to sometimes exercise longer, harder, and faster, while aiding your body in it’s own recovery processes. This makes CBD a very beneficial addition to anyone looking to improve their physical fitness or live an active lifestyle.
How Does CBD work with Fat Loss?
CBD works with your Endocannabinoid system to regulate a variety of physiological and cognitive processes. Metabolism and weight loss are widely affected by Cannabis and CBD because your body’s metabolism is what converts food into energy within the body. It’s responsible for the body’s ability to burn energy and the speed at which it does so.
CBD also aids in fat reduction because it stimulates completely different elements of your body to breakdown extra fats, helps burn energy in natural ways, decreases lipid (fat) manufacturing, suppresses cravings and urges for food, and increases your metabolism thus helping you breakdown the calories in the food you do eat. Because of these two factors, CBD has shown to be a tremendous addition to helping people maintain their physical health, and fight off common fitness-related health concerns like obesity and diabetes.
CBD and the Brain
We’ve discussed many ways in which Cannabis and CBD helps the body, but how does it affect the brain? Cannabis and cannabinoids found within the plant have been known to have neuroprotective abilities, meaning they protect brain cells from damage and aid in their proper and efficient functioning. CBD has also been found to help with symptoms of PTSD, Neurological Pain, and Brain Damage Recovery.
- PTSD: One of the most remarkable things about CBD is its anxiolytic and analgesic properties, including its ability to boost serotonin receptors in the brain and promote relaxation. In addition, a number of studies published in Neurotherapeutics provide preliminary evidence which suggests that CBD could provide relief to individuals suffering from PTSD. In particular, CBD may ameliorate feelings of anxiety, avoidance, paranoia, and stress.
- Neurological Pain: CBD and other cannabinoids may also be effective in reducing pain and sleep disturbance in patients with neuropathic pain. Researchers have found that both low and medium doses of CBD may produce these effects. Cannabinoids may act as neuroprotectants, which, in turn, prevent neurological damage caused by ischemic injury, such as strokes.
- Brain Damage Recovery: Recent findings also suggest that CBD may indirectly activate CB1 receptors in the brain by increasing levels of anandamide, which protects the brain against negative effects of psychiatric conditions, such as chronic stress. Cannabinoids may also make the brain more resilient to the harmful effects of the aging process, which, like chronic stress, is also associated with a reduction in new brain cell production. A recent study shows approximately 87% of former NFL players suffer from some level of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), which is a serious and potentially fatal degenerative brain disease that’s caused by repetitive brain trauma. Cannabis and CBD have been shown to be a great option for athletes playing contact sports to protect against brain injuries like concussions or chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).
CBD and Sleep
Cannabis and CBD can be used as a sleep aid. Studies show that CBD interacts with receptors in the body that govern your body’s sleep and wake cycle. CBD can also alleviate conditions (anxiety, stress, and sleep issues) that complicate sleep. Cannabis and CBD naturally relieve sources of discomfort that prevent you from entering deep sleep (REM), thus allowing you to sleep more deeply, get better rest and wake up fully recharged.
CBD and Heart Health
CBD is definitely a great option to take for daily wellness. Beyond it’s use as a powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, pain-reliever, antiemetic, and neuroprotectant - it has long been shown to improve cardiovascular, brain, digestive, and metabolic health.
Recent research is coming out that shows CBD can target inflammation specifically for cardiovascular health. In animal studies, CBD has been shown to protect against cardiovascular damage from common causes like diabetes and generalized inflammation. It also seems to improve the response of the cardiovascular system to period of stress, and thereby reduce any negative effects stress can have on the heart.
CBD and the Immune System
Cannabidiol also slows the production of T-cells and suppresses immune system memory, meaning that CBD could cut down on the likelihood of future autoimmune attacks. CBD has also been found to increase the expression of genes that deal with oxidative stress, which may reduce cell damage from autoimmune attacks.
CBD and Cardio or Running
Cannabis and CBD has been shown to help athletes in a number of ways, but what does this mean for your cardiovascular health or ability to run? Both Cannabis and CBD have been shown to help improve endurance and recovery while exercising. More and more people are starting to use them to improve their performance or just to enjoy exercising a little more. But when it comes to running or cardiovascular exercise in particular, Cannabis and CBD helps in a special way.
Our bodies create its own form of cannabinoids called endocannabinoids, called Anandamide and 2AG. Anandamide is known as the “feel good” molecule because your body creates it when you exercise to help create a sense of bliss, helping you feel better and enjoy longer exercise. This is also why anandamide is thought to be responsible for “runner’s high”. CBD mimics the way anandamide interacts with your body to help decrease inflammation, manage pain within the body and create a sense of bliss in the mind This enables you to recover faster, exercise longer, and feel better while getting fit.
A recent study at Colorado University Boulder shows 8 out of 10 users in states where Cannabis is legal partake in its use shortly before or after exercise. Researchers at CU surveyed 600 adult marijuana users in California, Colorado, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington, asking if they used cannabis before or after working out. 82% said YES, with an additional 70% of co-users saying it increased their enjoyment of exercise. More and more athletes are turning to Cannabis and CBD as a natural exercise supplement that can help with things like pain, inflammation, mental clarity, anxiety or stress, recovery issues, and overall enjoyment of exercise helping people recover faster, feel better and stay in their fitness goals.
Cannabis in Professional Sports
Athletes have been using cannabis as a pain remedy for decades, but we never really knew the potential benefit until now. Despite these new discoveries and research, athletes in professional and collegiate sports organizations are constantly getting busted for using Cannabis and/or testing positive for THC in a drug test. There are currently eighty-seven Professional Sports teams in the United States playing in states with recreational or at least medical marijuana policies in place. There are also nine professional Canadian teams that compete with U.S. teams in predominantly American leagues. To complicate things further, on October 17, 2018, recreational use of marijuana officially became legal across Canada. However, regardless of state, federal, or international law, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), National Basketball Association (NBA), National Football League (NFL), National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), Major League Soccer (MLS), Major League Baseball (MLB), and Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) all ban the use of Cannabis (namely THC) within their substance abuse policies. The National Hockey League (NHL) is the only professional sports league that does not include Cannabis in any form on its list of banned substances. To show a little more progress in this regard, the World Health Organization (WHO) creates the drug policies for the Olympic Games has explicitly permitted the use of CBD for their athletes. While this doesn’t nearly cover all of the cannabinoids in Cannabis (or the whole-plant and its forms), it shows tremendous progress that professional sports agencies are starting to look at the research and change their perspectives and policies on cannabis and their athletes use of it.
The marijuana debate within college and professional sports, like the rest of the country, is stronger than ever. Calls to remove Cannabis and it’s forms (Marijuana and Hemp) and cannabinoids like THC and CBD from the list of banned substances have become more frequent, in line with the increase in recent suspensions and fines, alleged rampant use among professional athletes, and players openly advocating for legalization.
With the growing opioid epidemic sweeping the nation, we must look at alternative forms of pain medication and athletic supplementation and study the long-term effects of what they’re doing to our physiology. Cannabis and CBD have emerged as front runners to aid athletes in this regard because of their ability to relieve pain and inflammation, reduce stress and anxiety, but also protect athletes body’s and mind’s from terminal damage and lasting injuries (like concussions or CTE). Since CBD offers many of the therapeutic elements of Cannabis, without the high or intoxicating effects, it shows promise to add therapeutic and medicinal value to the casual and professional athlete alike.
We’ve seen and discussed several ways in which Cannabis and CBD are helping athletes everywhere recovery faster and stay on their fitness goals. While new research still must be conducted to determine the long-term effects of Cannabis and its compounds in regards to specific health concerns, we cannot turn a blind eye to the staggering evidence that suggests Cannabis is not only a safe alternative pain medication, but its also a preferred supplement for the vast majority of professional athletes’ fitness regime. With the potential of CBD to deliver many of the therapeutic elements of Cannabis, without the high, CBD is primed and warmed up to be the next big player in fitness, sports, and exercise nutrition supplements.
To checkout the best CBD products designed to help athletes recover faster and perform better, visit the BLNCD Lifestyle Product Catalog. If you want to learn more about the Science and Effects of Cannabis and CBD, visit the BLNCD Blog and checkout the Research and Medical Studies tab or explore our blogs to learn about what all this new science means and how it could potentially help us live a happier and healthier life.
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