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Can CBD help athletic performance?

Published: 19-10-2021

As an athlete, searching for methods of improving performance is a constant battle. You will be ravaged with reviews, testimonials, and recommendations online to the point where it becomes difficult to determine what works and what doesn’t.

To compete officially, any product that you take also needs to pass the anti-doping laws else you will be disqualified. It needs to:

  • Be safe for consumption
  • Effectively show an improvement in performance
  • Be as natural as possible

Cannabidiol is a product that has been talked about by many athletes over the years. They are making claims that it helps with improved sleep, improved recovery, and reduced stress. Is this all simply hearsay or is there some truth to what is being said? Let’s find out.

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Is CBD legal for athletes?

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) is the foundation that was created to monitor and set regulations against the usage of drugs in competitive sports. The World Anti-Doping Code includes all the rules and regulations which every athlete needs to follow worldwide.

In 2018, WADA removed CBD from the list of the substances prohibited for use by athletes. This was followed by the removal of CBD from other foundations such as the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) as well. You can clarify more details about the use of CBD and THC from their FAQ page.

However, you should note that only CBD was removed from the list. The plant from which it is derived from, Marijuana, is still a prohibited substance. This is because of the psychoactive element, THC, present in the plant. All cannabis-related products are officially banned while CBD alone has been granted approval.

Due to new research being done into the effects of THC on the body, some additional changes have been made to testing before athletic games. A few years ago, if results showed that an athlete had over 15 nanograms per milliliter of THC in a urinary test, they were not allowed to compete. This has been increased to 150 nanograms. This is so as to prevent athletes from partaking during and a couple of weeks before the competition.

Also, there have been instances where the CBD athletes consume is mislabeled or isn’t properly isolated from the THC. As such, there could be small amounts of THC present in their urine sample even if they have only consumed CBD. By upping this THC limit, the chances of being disqualified are reduced.

Benefits of CBD for Athletes

More studies have been completed recently into how CBD helps with various functions of the human body. The following are some of the confirmed benefits that athletes can gain from CBD:

Reduction in pain and inflammation

CBD has been found to create biochemical and physiological benefits for athletes. It can help:

  • Alleviate inflammatory pain due to tissue damage
  • Reduce neuropathic pain due to damage to the nerves

Athletes are constantly training and do repetitive workouts everyday which can definitely cause damage to both these areas. CBD can be a natural way of reducing the repercussions caused by these actions.

Improve bone health

Healthy bones are important for athletes who put pressure on them on a daily basis. There are always chances for the bones to get fractured or cause immense pain as they are put under duress regularly. CBD has been shown to increase the density of bones by encouraging bone deposition and it can also hasten the healing process of fractured bones.

Improve Gastrointestinal function

The Gastrointestinal (GI) Tract has a direct effect on oxygen consumption and nutrient delivery in your body. When you are always engaged in strenuous activity, you can impair these areas to the point where your body isn’t getting enough nutrition and it is inducing a sense of constant nausea. This will impact your performance to the point where you may not even be able to train on certain days.

Research has found that CBD can actually help with protecting against any damage to your GI system. As we already know, it can help with tissue damage caused to the GI tract and can even improve the function of your intestine.

Improved sleep cycles

The key to improved performance is not just training but sleep as well. Sleep is when the body recovers and builds itself into the high-performing machine you are training it for. CBD has been proven to make it easier to fall asleep and get a full night of rested sleep, allowing you to create a consistent sleep schedule.

The interesting thing here is that small doses of CBD actually promotes wakefulness. Therefore, you need to take a slightly higher dose in order to promote sleep. This can be advantageous both ways. CBD can be a good addition for endurance athletes who need to be active and alert for long periods of time so a small dose can work wonders for them.

CBD is also known for its anti-anxiety effects on the body. This can be useful for those who find it difficult to fall asleep at night.

How to use CBD

If you have never used CBD before, you may be wondering how you consume it. Marijuana is usually consumed by smoking it, but this isn’t the best method for athletes as you don’t want to further impair your lung performance.

The good news is that there are so many CBD products entering the market every year that you now have the option of choosing how to ingest it. CBD can come in the form of:

You can select any of these products for your consumption, but you also need to keep the CBD percentage in mind as well. You only want to consume the exact amount required to improve its benefits on your body, so make sure to read the label before consuming.

Also, some ways of consuming CBD have a faster effect on the body than others. For example, topical lotions are known to be absorbed faster into your body than direct food consumption such as edibles.

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How much CBD to use

Figuring out how much CBD you require is essential to getting the full benefits from consuming it. There is no recommended amount that is equal for every person. It will depend on your body and the CBD product you are consuming.

Remember, CBD products have only recently become commercially available so the regulatory practices are still rudimentary at best. You cannot always be sure of how much CBD is in a product or if it has been infused with anything else. Also, the method of consumption will also cause the CBD content to vary. For example, CBD oils have a higher concentration of CBD so you only need to take a small drop whereas you may need two CBD pills to get the same dose.

Side effects

Just like with any other body-altering product, CBD also has a few side effects that you need to watch out for when consuming. Most of these side effects become negligible if you are consistent with consuming a recommended dose, so are mostly triggered when you consume too much.

CBD in general is quite tolerable and many people would find it pleasant and safe to consume. However, some of the more common side effects include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Dry mouth
  • Drowsiness
  • Reduction in appetite

One of the main points of concern is that CBD has the potential to interfere with other medications that you may be taking. Therefore, before you consume any, it is recommended that you consult a doctor to find the best dosage and to ensure that you aren’t taking any medicine that can interact with the CBD, resulting in worse health implications.

Also, the purity of the CBD you consume can have a direct effect on the side effects you feel. Always make sure to get your CBD from a reputed and trusted CBD vendor so you know you are only consuming 100% pure CBD.

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