The concept of athletes taking a cannabis-derived product and benefit is certainly a bizarre one. However, since the advent of non-intoxicating cannabidiol (CBD) products, it has become a reality. CBD offers a range of potential benefits both in an out of competition. We will highlight several of them in this post.
CBD for sports anxiety
CBD wholesale products may help to alleviate troublesome sports anxiety, which has notoriously prevented many top sportsmen from reaching peak performance levels on the biggest stages. A racing mind full of doubt and nagging, negative thoughts is the last thing a golfer needs when faced with a pressure putt, or a kicker needs when his team are a field goal away from glory. It’s not uncommon for athletes to turn to mindful practices such as meditation to boost their mental resolve, but CBD may have a more telling effect.
CBD bear some similarities with existing anti-anxiety drugs, working via the 5-HT1A receptor in the serotonin system. But CBD also reduces anxious responses by balancing inhibitory and excitatory neurotransmitters, which relaxes the brain. This is achieved through GABAergic mechanisms. Some scepticism remains over how effective CBD is for anxiety, due to the lack of clinical research. But experiments have demonstrated that CBD has a genuine anti-anxiety effect in placebo-controlled simulated tests.
To bring out the anxiolytic qualities in a game situation, quick delivery of CBD into the system is vital. While vaping and smoking are intake methods that would likely do as athletes more harm than good, tincture oils are both similarly speedy and safe. A dose applied under the tongue becomes active after a few minutes.
CBD for pain
Pain is a fact of life for sportsmen and women. Ideally, it’s not intense enough to keep them from competing, but general discomfort can make it more difficult and even impossible to perform at the highest level. Opioid-based painkillers have been considered the best pharmaceutical way of managing pain, but there are a lot of costs to put up with for the benefit of pain relief. Firstly, opioids are highly addictive – indeed, multiple Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighters have gotten hooked on prescription opioids. Secondly, they come with severe side effects, and thirdly, they can be very sedating, rendering them impractical as medication to help when in the ring or on the field.
CBD doesn’t have quite the sedative impact that opioids do, unless it is taken in very large amounts. More importantly, CBD is non-addictive and may even be anti-addictive, and causes few side effects. There are various CBD products on the market that can help with different conditions. For instance, tinctures, sublingual strips and e-liquids tackle acute pain well, while edibles, capsules and syrups are ideal for chronic pain. CBD creams can be harnessed as a solo treatment or to complement another CBD product, delivering localized relief.
Athletes in some sports – including American football’s NFL – have called for the allowance of medical marijuana to help with injuries, like pain, but also concussions. While the NFL has yet to give cannabis in any form the go ahead, the plant may be more likely to receive acceptance if CBD, a non-psychoactive option, is introduced first.
CBD for broken bones
CBD may not be able to repair a broken bone in the blink of an eye (it’s not a miracle cure!), but it may help with the recovery process. Studies have found that endocannabinoids are implicated in bone formation, hence why CBD is theoretically good for the bones.
In the future, CBD could be used in topical solutions to relieve pain and to heal fractures. This could get athletes back on the field of play that much more quickly.
But is CBD a performance enhancer?
The only question mark over CBD is whether it could be used to enhance performance, particularly regarding sports anxiety. CBD only became legal for sportspeople to take after the World Anti-Doping Agency removed it from the restricted list in January 2018. The compound was taken off as it doesn’t have intoxicating effects, but no mention was made concerning its therapeutic potential. And with so few clinical studies on CBD, this is no shock.
WADA has faced a similar recent dilemma with nicotine, which may have value for concentration enhancement. The debate on CBD will be if athletes are gaining an unfair advantage by using it for anxiety. Being able to handle huge levels of pressure has long been considered part of parcel and sport, and what separates the best from the rest.