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This is Why You Should Take CBD for Exercising



NFL players take it, gym buddies take it, your jogging neighbor takes it. In short, more and more serious exercisers are seeming to become what one blogger aptly calls "CBDevotees." 

Here's the lowdown on why cannabidiol could (and perhaps should) become an addition to your exercise and supplement regimen.

Contents

1. The Symptoms
     1.1 Inflammation
     1.2 Stress
     1.3 Pain
     1.4 Immunity
     1.5 Gut Health
2. The Drug Test
3. The Products
4. The Dose
5. The Conclusion

The Symptoms

Especially strenuous workouts and exercising come with a mixed bag of effects. The benefits of keeping active are well documented, as are the downsides of sports-associated pain and discomfort.

CBD could be the benevolent assistant that keeps you moving and motivated.

The good news is that CBD could be the benevolent assistant that keeps you moving and motivated. Anecdotal and scientific evidence point convincingly toward this cannabinoid's action against many physical symptoms typically associated with—but not exclusive to—exercising.

Let's dig into them.

1. Inflammation

CBD is great for post-workout recovery.

CBD is great for post-workout recovery, says one career fitness instructor from Denver, Colorado.

Toned Tara Laferrara is a personal trainer, yoga teacher, gym owner, and former sprinter. Her fitness industry friends introduced her to CBD after cannabis was legalized in Colorado in 2014, and she hasn't looked back since. [1]

Chatting to MensHealth.com, the now-devoted CBD user shared her personal experience with the cannabinoid for workouts. [2]

As a personal trainer and someone (who) works out every day and really pushes (her)self a lot, I noticed the biggest difference in inflammation and stress after a workout. It basically manages and prevents my joint inflammation, that aching kind of feeling, that I'd get after a heavy-lift day.

RELATED: Top 5 Ways to Reduce Chronic Joint Pain Naturally – Cannabidiol (CBD)

Her experience is backed by promising empirical data. 

One 2015 review of preclinical studies investigated CBD's effect on inflammatory conditions. The results were overwhelmingly encouraging. CBD demonstrated a diversified mode of action for alleviating inflammation—it reduced mediators of the inflammatory process as well as diminishing overactivity of certain pro-inflammatory enzymes. [3]

Human studies are lacking, and CBD's novel anti-inflammatory action is far from truly pinned by scientists. However, its side-effect and safety profiles are so good that you can experiment with confidence. 

It would be prudent to keep a few key tips in mind when you hunt for products (quality will influence the effect!), but there's no need to hold back. Nothing wrong with finding out if CBD works for you, even if science isn't yet sure exactly how it works.

2. Stress

Science backs up CBD's mind-calming effects.

Freelance journalist Dominique Michelle Astorino experimented with taking CBD pre-workout, and she shared her experience on PopSugar. [4]

Already acquainted and impressed with CBD's anxiolytic effects, she reported that taking it had no effect on any of the five types of workouts she reported on. Anti-climactic? Perhaps, but the dainty author was being clever:

The whole point with CBD, and I can't emphasize this enough, is: it's less about what you feel and more about what you don't feel. 

Here's what you can expect to feel: normal! Energized. Focused. At ease. You don't feel sedated or "too chill" to crush your workout, but you also won't feel hyped up, either. 

You'll honestly just feel like your best, most regular self because CBD helps bring your body to its stress-free, less-inflamed homeostasis.

Especially for yoga, she reported that her mind was calm and conducive to meditation.

Again, the science backs up Dominique's experiences with CBD's mind-calming effects.

Science backs up CBD's mind-calming effects.

RELATED: How to Use CBD Hemp Oil for Anxiety Relief

A 2010 double-blind study tested the compound in people with social anxiety disorder and who have never used CBD or marijuana before. 

The researchers also wanted to look specifically at CBD's neurologic action, for which functional neuroimaging was employed.

The conclusion:

Relative to placebo, CBD was associated with significantly decreased subjective anxiety (p < 0.001), reduced ECD uptake in the left parahippocampal gyrus, hippocampus, and inferior temporal gyrus (p < 0.001, uncorrected), and increased ECD uptake in the right posterior cingulate gyrus (p < 0.001, uncorrected). These results suggest that CBD reduces anxiety in SAD and that this is related to its effects on activity in limbic and paralimbic brain areas. [5]

The limbic and paralimbic regions of the brain are involved in motivation, emotion, learning, and memory.

So, taking it pre-workout could soothe stress and a hectic mind, enhancing your trip to the gym. It could also, at least theoretically, boost your motivation levels to exercise!

3. Pain

CBD, together with THC, can control certain types of pain.

There is good evidence that CBD, together with other cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), can control certain types of pain. (Look for "full-spectrum" or "whole-plant CBD" products.)

But as the authors of an article in the Pain Medicine point out—modern understanding of the clinical effects of cannabis and cannabinoids in the treatment of pain is evolving. [6]

So far, these have shown promise to control: 

  1. neuropathic pain, 
  2. allodynia (feeling pain from non-painful stimuli), 
  3. medication-rebound headache, and 
  4. chronic noncancer pain. [7]

We've seen that CBD attenuates the inflammatory response, so it makes sense that any associated pain will be addressed as a result.

Athletes, in addition, report that muscle pain is fabulously soothed by rubbing CBD ointment or balm onto the affected areas.

Muscle pain is fabulously soothed by rubbing CBD ointment or balm onto the affected areas.

RELATED: How Useful Is CBD Oil for Pain Management?

But should CBD be your product of choice for pain? 

Perhaps, if you suffer from pain chronically, and if the product contains sufficient levels of THC. Renowned cannabis researcher Dr. E.B. Russo and colleagues note:

Basic science and clinical trials support the theoretical and practical basis of cannabinoid agents as analgesics for chronic pain. Their unique pharmacological profiles with multimodality effects and generally favorable efficacy and safety profiles render cannabinoid-based medicines promising agents for adjunctive treatment, particularly for neuropathic pain. It is our expectation that the coming years will mark the advent of numerous approved cannabinoids with varying mechanisms of action and delivery techniques that should offer the clinician useful new tools for treating pain. [8]

4. Immunity

Exercise encourages the body to fight pathogenic invaders such as viruses and bacteria.

Exercising hard when you are feeling unwell or are recuperating from illness is not advisable. Endurance athletes also sometimes fall ill right after a race because of a stressed immune system.

Oxidative stress is one of the body's ways to fight pathogenic invaders such as viruses and bacteria. Exercise encourages this action.

Yet a 2011 review explains that if this action is excessive or unresolved, immune-related oxidative stress can initiate further, increasing levels of the same. This, in turn, can cause organ damage and dysfunction.

The authors elaborate on CBD as an answer:

Targeting oxidative stress in various diseases therapeutically has proven more problematic than first anticipated, given the complexities and perversity of both the underlying disease and the immune response. 

However, growing evidence suggests that the endocannabinoid system, which includes the CB₁ and CB₂ G-protein-coupled receptors and their endogenous lipid ligands, may be an area that is ripe for therapeutic exploitation. In this context, the related nonpsychotropic cannabinoid cannabidiol, which may interact with the endocannabinoid system but has actions that are distinct, offers promise as a prototype for anti-inflammatory drug development[9]

Avoid the post-marathon cold by starting on a good-quality CBD oil six weeks or so in advance.

RELATED: The Balancing Act of CBD & Your Immune System

Again, it's CBD's anti-inflammatory properties that impress. Here it seems specifically to assist the immune system—good news for athletes and exercise junkies.

Avoid the post-marathon cold by starting on a good-quality CBD oil six weeks or so in advance.

5. Gut Health

CBD oil may just be the solution for gastrointestinal upset.

Many an endurance athlete had to drop out of a race because of gastrointestinal upset. Very uncomfortable, but CBD oil may just be the solution.

Chris Carmichael, writing for CTS Trainright, explains that if you have underlying inflammation issues that contribute to gut problems during or after exercise, CBD may be effective for reducing your symptoms. 

There are CB1 and CB2 receptors in the colon. Colitis symptoms were inhibited (in mice) when CB1 and CB2 receptors were activated. [10]

The Drug Test

Will CBD show up on a pre-event drug test? 

In short, nope. Sports rules have changed.

First—cannabidiol was removed from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) list of prohibited substances last year. So, taking it during competitions is allowed. [11]

And if you're worried about whole-plant CBD (which contains a bit of THC), there's more good news. 

In 2016, WADA amended its rules by raising the threshold for a positive THC test from 15 nanograms per milliliter to 150 ng/ml.

If you're worried about whole-plant CBD (which contains a bit of THC), there's good news.

In an interview with USA Today, Ben Nichols, former WADA spokesperson, said the raising of the threshold was meant to catch only athletes who smoke during the period of a competition. The drug isn't prohibited out of competition.

Our information suggests that many cases do not involve game or event-day consumption. The new threshold level is an attempt to ensure that in-competition use is detected and not use during the days and weeks before (a) competition. [12]

If this still bothers you, it really shouldn't, because your body eliminates CBD quickly.

Abraham Al-Ahmad, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Jerry D. Hodge School of Pharmacy at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, explained to PopSugar's Jennifer Torkelson:

CBD may remain biologically active up to 32 hours — probably less, but let's assume conservatively. This is assuming you have a single administration

Research backs this up, suggesting that a single dose will remain in the body for one to two days when taken by mouth. If you administer another dose within this time period, you will peak at a higher concentration. [13]

The Products

The market is replete with CBD products. However, a CBD-infused beer will not give you the same results as a tincture or an oil. Oils can be taken in drops (infused with flavor or not) or in capsule form.

Some first users are disappointed with the results and blog about it with glee. The reason for their apparent failure is often twofold: unrealistic expectations and/or a substandard or low-potency product.

The market is replete with CBD products.

High Expectations: If you're using CBD for the first time, remember that its effects tend to be cumulative. This means that you need to keep on keeping on with it—for at least two weeks. (If it's a very good product with high-potency CBD, you could experience results sooner. But perhaps you set yourself up for a pleasant surprise by not expecting this.)

Quality, Quality, Quality: U.S. cannabis market regulation is only in the early phases of development, which means that product manufacturing is still largely unregulated. Meaning you have to be vigilant in your scrutiny of the products you consider. 

RELATED: Hemp vs. Cannabis: Which CBD Oil is for You?

A few pointers for buying CBD products:

RELATED: What Does "Full Spectrum CBD" Mean?

The Dose

Since no dosing guidelines exist yet, you will have to experiment. As mentioned, a pure oil will make this more tricky, as it will be effective only if a very precise dose is taken each time.

Start with the manufacturer’s advice. Or, if you're in pain, start with one to six mg CBD for every 10 pounds/4.5 kilograms of body weight, depending on pain levels. Alternatively, start with one to five mg per day and increase until you feel the product working. 

Don't be afraid to experiment. As mentioned, CBD has a very impressive safety profile, and high doses up to 1,500 mg/day of CBD are well tolerated in humans, according to a 2011 review. [14]

The Conclusion

CBD is used with great effect by many athletes. The only rule is to experiment with products, dosage, and when to take it, because preference is as diverse as cannabidiol's applications. Don't ditch other supplements you trust, but don't ignore CBD either.

Sources:

  1. https://www.taralaferrara.com/about
  2. https://www.menshealth.com/health/a26467604/cbd-for-inflammation-muscle-recovery/
  3. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/272373349_Cannabidiol_CBD_and_its_analogs_A_review_of_their_effects_on_inflammation#pf8
  4. https://www.popsugar.com/fitness/Can-You-Take-CBD-Before-Exercising-44491388
  5. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0269881110379283
  6. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9780323401968000565
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21238581
  8. http://yescannabis.ca/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Russo-Hohmann-Role-of-cannabinoids-in-pain-management-from-Deer-2013.pdf
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21238581
  10. https://trainright.com/cbd-for-athletes-cannabidiol/
  11. https://www.wada-ama.org/sites/default/files/wada_2019_english_prohibited_list.pdf
  12. https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/olympics/2013/07/17/ross-rebagliati-olympics-marijuana-drug-testing/2528283/
  13. https://www.popsugar.com/fitness/how-long-does-cbd-oil-stay-in-your-system-46821934
  14. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22129319

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