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CBD in professional sport: safe, legal and powerful.

By November 8, 2021Uncategorized

In recent years, cannabidiol– or CBD– has taken the sporting world by storm. CBD is used and promoted by countless professional athletes, from a vast array of sporting backgrounds; boxing, basketball, golf, rugby, bodybuilding, surfing– whatever your sport, CBD can help you to succeed.

CBD has powerful anti-inflammatory properties making it popular with runners of all levels

What is CBD?

CBD is one of the 113 cannabinoids from the Cannabis sativa plant, more commonly known as hemp. Researchers have identified numerous therapeutic avenues for CBD, with evidence that CBD can support the mental and physical wellbeing of sporting professionals.

As an athlete, seeing ‘sport’ and ‘cannabis’ together may be sending alarm bells off in your head– but allow us to explain. The Cannabis plant contains two major cannabinoids, THC and CBD. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) has potent psychoactive properties; this is what makes you ‘high’. CBD, however, is non-psychoactive, so it does not alter our perception or awareness.

CBD products that don’t contain THC are not on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s Prohibited List, so there is no risk of failing a competitive sport drug test. CBD is a safe, natural supplement used by many to improve athletic performance– and here’s how it can help:

Muscle recovery

Strenuous and repetitive exercise makes microtears in our muscle fibres. This causes inflammation that our body perceives as an achy pain, known as delayed-onset muscle soreness, or DOMS. By giving our body enough rest and nutritious food, this allows the muscle to repair stronger.

In sport, DOMS can get in the way of your progress. With rigorous training programmes and little recovery time, professional athletes can’t afford for muscle stiffness to set them back. But CBD can accelerate the recovery process.

CBD has proven to limit the activity of pro-inflammatory immune cells, meaning CBD has anti-inflammatory action.[1] Reducing inflammation in the muscles reduces the perception of pain and enhances muscular recovery. This is supported by anecdotal evidence; in a survey of rugby players, 68% of CBD users reported significant improvements to muscle recovery.[2]

Interestingly, muscle growth is not impaired by CBD’s anti-inflammatory action.[3] By sustaining muscular repair, the pain-relieving properties of CBD can facilitate recovery from training, without compromising your athletic progress.

Sleep

Athletic performance is largely determined by your lifestyle, and how well we sleep is a key predictor of how well we perform. Sleep deprivation can cause fatigue and reduce concentration, which can be detrimental to your sporting success.

CBD can also act as an effective sleep aid. By reducing time spent in REM sleep, CBD can lengthen deep sleep phases and improve sleep quality, helping you to feel energised for your next training session, match, or competition.[4]

Sleeping is the optimum form of rest– it is when our worn-out muscles undergo the repair process. By also improving sleep quality, CBD therefore provides the body with optimal conditions for building muscle. 

Athletic performance

Sporting professionals often feel immense pressure to succeed, which can be detrimental to their performance. In one study, CBD was tested in volunteers during a public speaking test. CBD significantly reduced feelings and symptoms of anxiety when compared to a control drug.[5] This evidence suggests that CBD can help to reduce performance anxiety during your most important events, improving your athletic performance and even benefitting your career.

Interestingly, CB1 cannabinoid receptors have also be found in the cardiovascular system. It has therefore been suggested that CBD could optimise heart function during exercise. There is not yet enough evidence to support this claim, but this is an exciting avenue of future research.

Feeling your best self

The overarching role of the endocannabinoid system (ECS) is to maintain your body’s physiological homeostasis– or it’s ‘set-point’. CBD can contribute to hormonal balance, helping our mind and body to function optimally.

Our hormones play a major role in our energy levels, digestion, and mood. As gruelling training programmes can be physically and emotionally taxing, CBD can help to keep you in good spirits by increasing energy levels and supporting your mental wellbeing.

Nutrition is also a major aspect of professional sport; athletes must ensure that their body is fuelled efficiently, and CBD can go hand-in-hand with a sportsperson’s diet plan. CBD can aid digestion and relieve inflammatory gastrointestinal (GI) issues. As GI problems are relatively common in endurance athletes, CBD is a great supplement to add to your routine.

Supplements are not unfamiliar to professional athletes. But the advantage of CBD is that it can reduce pain, improve, and support mental wellbeing, all in one. It is a natural compound that is safe and well-tolerated by the body.

Always consult your doctor and sporting coach before implementing CBD into your routine– but why not give it a go? It may just lead you to some big victories! Find the best organic, broad-spectrum supplements here and let us know what difference it makes to your training – we love to hear your stories #Mee_Organic #CBDEducation


[1] Atalay, S., Jarocka-Karpowicz, I., & Skrzydlewska, E. (2019). Antioxidative and Anti-Inflammatory Properties of Cannabidiol. Antioxidants (Basel, Switzerland)9(1), 21.

[2] Kasper, A. M., Sparks, S. A., Hooks, M., Skeer, M., Webb, B., Nia, H., Morton, J. P., & Close, G. L. (2020). High Prevalence of Cannabidiol Use Within Male Professional Rugby Union and League Players: A Quest for Pain Relief and Enhanced Recovery. International journal of sport nutrition and exercise metabolism30(5), 315–322. 

[3] Langer, H. T., Mossakowski, A. A., Pathak, S., Mascal, M., & Baar, K. (2021). Cannabidiol Does Not Impair Anabolic Signaling Following Eccentric Contractions in Rats. International journal of sport nutrition and exercise metabolism31(2), 93–100. 

[4] Babson, K. A., Sottile, J., & Morabito, D. (2017). Cannabis, Cannabinoids, and Sleep: a Review of the Literature. Current psychiatry reports19(4), 23. 

[5] Zuardi, A. W., Rodrigues, N. P., Silva, A. L., Bernardo, S. A., Hallak, J., Guimarães, F. S., & Crippa, J. (2017). Inverted U-Shaped Dose-Response Curve of the Anxiolytic Effect of Cannabidiol during Public Speaking in Real Life. Frontiers in pharmacology8, 259. https://doi.org/10.3389/fphar.2017.00259

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