CBD Promises a Lot For Athletes. Can it Deliver?

The hemp-derived compound may ease soreness and relieve pain without the drawbacks of other

At the beginning of 2018, the World Anti-Doping Agency removed cannabidiol, or CBD, from its list of prohibited substances, in or out of competition. The US Anti-Doping Agency soon followed suit. Since then, more and more athletes have swapped their post-workout ibuprofen for CBD.

It’s no surprise athletes are eager to experiment with using CBD to manage soreness and pain.
CBD promises to reduce inflammation without the risks associated with chronic use of over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs, including blood clots, heart attacks and strokes or addictive, destructive opioids.

If you think CBD might be right for you, read on for a complete guide to CBD for athletes.

What exactly is CBD?

CBD is one of over 100 chemical compounds called cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. Unlike the better known cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, it doesn’t have psychoactive properties, meaning it won’t get you high. While CBD isn’t intoxicating, many believe it can provide relief from anxiety, ease forms of muscle pain and help with sleeplessness.

CBD’s purported benefits are intriguing athletes looking to ease sore muscles after a workout, manage chronic pain or reduce stress before a big race. The jury’s still out whether the benefits are real, however. The FDA has only approved one CBD product, the epilepsy treatment Epidiolex. After evaluating the health benefits of cannabinoids, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine professor Ryan Vandrey told Consumer Reports that “other than epilepsy, at this point it’s mostly postulation, not proof.”

Is CBD Really Legal?

In the final weeks of 2018 Congress approved the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, also referred to as the Farm Bill. It was a massive win for the cannabis industry. Once signed by the President, the bill legalizes the production, processing and sale of hemp products. This will remove non-THC hemp products from the Controlled Substances Act and make hemp a commodity overseen by the Department of Agriculture. Since CBD is a hemp product, it should be legal across the country but some legal experts suggest that the rules for CBD might be more complicated.

THC helps activate CBD’s healing properties and, as a result, many CBD products include small amounts of THC. THC is still federally illegal and a banned substance under WADA, so using it could come back to haunt you if you’re being drug tested.

Benefits For Athletes

Studies indicate that cannabis is effective for reducing pain, including musculoskeletal pain from exercise and stiff joints. Unfortunately, there isn’t a preponderance of research into CBD and anecdotal reports are all we have until research catches up. Many athletes say it’s an effective pain reliever that’s particularly appealing for offering relief without the long-term side effects of ibuprofen or the addictive qualities of opioids.

How to And How Much

The cannabis industry is booming and new CBD products hit the market every week. You can get ingest CBD through capsules, pills or as an oil. You can inhale it as a vapor. It’s been infused into sports drinks, recovery drinks and all manner of edibles. Topical creams and lotions contain CBD oil, as do tinctures/drops that can be placed under your tongue.

How you consume CBD may affect how you experience its effects. Capsules, oil, and edibles have to be digested so they may take longer to kick in than drops/tinctures. Topical creams are said to be quicker than edibles but won’t work on all types of pain.

Because there is no standard dose, deciding how much CBD to take can be a little tricky. CBD products are unregulated, so there are inconsistencies in how much CBD is in a product—some products might contain not at all. When figuring out how much to take, it’s always better to err on the side of caution. Side effects of taking too much CBD aren’t severe but they’re unpleasant and range from dizziness to grogginess.