Former NFL Star Cullen Jenkins Turns To CBD Oil For Pain
In 2012, the results from the National Health Interview Survey indicated that America was a nation in pain. Over a three month period, roughly 11 percent of adults had experienced daily pain, and the data also showed that approximately 17 percent of adults experienced severe levels of pain. Former NFL star, Cullen Jenkins, can relate. His 13-year career as a football player left him in progressively debilitating pain, even after his retirement in 2016. After trying to manage the pain with a damaging cycle of alcohol and prescriptions, Jenkins recently turned to CBD oil for pain management and is elated with the results.
Jenkins’ Struggle With Pain and Depression
There are programs in place for retired NFL players, and they include educational opportunities and career training. Yet, Jenkins, when facing retirement, wasn’t able to participate in any of these programs due to chronic pain. As happens with many NFL retirees, Jenkins was struggling to cope with the residual pain from many years of physical injuries, which led to an increasing issue with alcohol, and a reliance on prescription pain meds like Vicodin.
Leaving his NFL career behind, once his entire life, also left him deeply depressed and he was struggling to cope.
According to Jenkins, he didn’t like taking marijuana, as he had tried it enough to know that it didn’t benefit him. Marijuana would, for instance, make him feel nervous about how he would react in certain situations. In his words, “I was paranoid, my mind would be all over the place. If something happened, am I going to be in the right state of mind to be able to deal with it? With my kids? So, I didn’t like doing it.”
Even so, family members persuaded him that cannabidiol (CBD) wasn’t psychoactive, and with nothing to lose, he finally tried using CBD oil for pain.
Very quickly after taking CBD oil, Jenkins started noticing a difference. “It started helping,” Jenkins said, “with the joints, with the pain. It kind of helps with focus. I will take it before class — I’m in two carpentry classes now — and I like to take it before. It helps me stay in the moment.” He specifically noticed CBD’s true effects when he went without it on a week-long family vacation. Without it, his aches and pains returned so it was on this vacation that he truly grasped the power of CBD oil for pain management.
Unpacking Jenkin’s CBD Oil Journey
Jenkins’ is a personal success story of overcoming pain, addiction, and depression post-retirement. As a former professional athlete, his story also lends a lot of legitimacy to the push for CBD oil as alternative therapy across the country. There are thousands of people across the US already using CBD oil for a number of health conditions, but there is something to be said about having a former defensive lineman open up about his own CBD oil usage. Can any of the current body of research into CBD oil back up Jenkins’ personal experience?
CBD Oil for Pain
Most CBD research is still in its infancy. Because there are few rigorous clinical trials into CBD oil for pain, we depend mostly on insights from lab and animal studies. Yet, despite the tentative nature of the research, there are some very compelling investigations underway.
According to a recent review of the literature, the authors of The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids: The Current State of Evidence and Recommendations for Research concluded that “there is substantial evidence that cannabis is an effective treatment for chronic pain in adults.” They did not, however, differentiate between cannabinoids in their conclusions. This is the case with much of the literature, where many studies explore cannabinoids for pain, or a THC:CBD ratio, but there are few studies on specifically CBD for pain. 
With that said, some small-scale studies are encouraging and underscore the need for a more rigorous investigation into cannabidiol’s health benefits. A small human trial in Uruguay, for instance, indicates that CBD by itself could have some use for pain control. The seven patients, who had just received a kidney transplant, were given CBD for pain twice a day for three weeks. The results are compelling, “Two patients had total pain improvement, 4 had a partial response in the first 15 days, and in 1 there was no change.” 
CBD Oil for Addiction
Another area under intense study is the possibility of using CBD for addictions treatment. In 2013, researchers discovered that people using CBD oil reduced their cigarette consumption by 40 percent. In other research, CBD oil showed promising results for alleviating opioid addiction.
In 2015, the case was presented in Early Phase in the Development of Cannabidiol as a Treatment for Addiction: Opioid Relapse Takes Initial Center Stage that CBD could offer a novel new approach to the opioid epidemic. The authors discuss results from numerous studies, demonstrating that CBD inhibits drug-seeking behavior, and continues to do so weeks after use. For folks with chronic pain, like Jenkins, who relied on prescription painkillers to improve his quality of life, there is hope that CBD oil for pain management offers an option with virtually no risk of addiction and other harmful side-effects. From the research, it looks as if CBD not only targets the pain itself but also makes it much easier to come off of any opioid painkillers that patients might be using. 
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CBD Oil for Athletes
Although there are ongoing concerns about cannabis-based products within the professional sports, hemp-derived products pose little risk for professional athletes like Jenkins. Although THC-laden marijuana products remain listed as a banned substance across many sports, CBD is explicitly allowed in others, including by the World Anti-Doping Agency. Taking into account that the benefits of CBD oil for pain management don’t include performance enhancement, nor is CBD psychoactive, it makes sense that professional athletes around the world would consider using it for pain, inflammation, and recovery. Hopefully we will soon see more clinically and statistically relevant trials to investigate the benefits of CBD oil for human health.
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