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5 things athletes need to know about CBD
At this point, you've probably heard of CBD, the health product that seemingly everyone is talking about these days. It's inescapable. New products are rolled out every day - CBD water, CBD coffee, CBD oils, CBD lotion, CBD gummies... heck, there's even CBD-infused hair pomade.
What is CBD? Is it safe? Who's really using these products and why? Are they beneficial to athletes? And does anyone really need CBD in their hair?
To help you make sense of it all, we chatted with the executive team at Rx Sports - an innovative company that produces a wide variety of CBD products designed with athletes in mind. Let's get into it.
What is CBD?
This may seem like a flashback to chemistry class, but trust us…this is way cooler. Cannabinoids are compounds produced by both hemp and marijuana (good chance you’ve heard of those). But get this… they are also produced by the human body. Bet you didn’t know that. Some hard working scientists identified a collection of receptors in your body (called the endocannabinoid system or ECS for short) that regulate appetite, pain, mood, and memory. The primary goal of the ECS is to establish what’s known as homeostasis, meaning if there is a deficiency in the body, cannabinoids (like CBD) can act on the ECS receptors, resulting in different medicinal effects (see chart below).
It’s important to note that CBD is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid - that means it won't get you 'high' or give you that emotionally elated feeling often associated with cannabis. That’s a concern for some athletes, but don’t worry, we’ll explain a bit on that below.
Why are people using it?
At first glance, CBD may seem like another health fad. But, the reason that you're seeing and hearing all about CBD is the medical community is supporting these claims through both extensive research and successful product development. In 2018, the FDA approved its first CBD-based drug to treat certain types of pediatric epileptic seizures. Prior to that and since, clinical studies have found CBD effective in relieving severe inflammation and pain, as well as presenting neuroprotective properties.
But what does all this mean for athletes? Simply put, athletes place an extraordinary amount of stress on their bodies, and do so at the risk of potential injury, pain, and inflammation. Athletes seek out options for relieving acute, temporary pain and those often include NSAIDs and opioids. However, neither are safe for extended use. NSAIDs can lead to gastrointestinal bleeding, heart attack, and stroke, and opioids are highly addictive, often leading to overdose and overuse. Meanwhile, the World Health Organization has reported that CBD is “…well tolerated with a good safety profile.” This means CBD is a viable option for safely reversing the effects of chronic pain, inflammation, and even oxidative stress, thanks to its anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and antioxidant properties. This is especially true for high impact sports like grappling, wrestling or football.
Here are five amazing benefits for athletes using CBD:
1 – CBD aids in muscle relaxation
We all need to relax, right? CBD has an interesting relationship with an amino acid produced by your brain called GABA (gamma-aminobutryric acid)... YO GABA GABA! Okay, that’s something else very complicated, and hard to understand, but we digress. GABA has a core function, and that is to help your body enter a relaxed state - facilitating sleep, reducing mental and physical stress, and getting that anxiety down. It also regulates muscle tone, meaning low GABA activity can result in muscle pain, spasms and/cramping. Research indicates CBD enhances the efficacy of GABA by acting on certain receptors in your body. To take advantage of these benefits, try supplementing with 20mg of CBD each day. A CBD topical applied directly to the muscle or joint should also help in reducing localized inflammation and pain.
2 – CBD reduces inflammation
When you workout, you are damaging muscle fibers that require repair and replacement. This cellular process where muscle fibers are repaired, requires an adequate amount of time for rest and recovery. Inflammation is one of the biggest barriers to recovery, which is why athletes have historically used NSAIDs like ibuprofen both before and after their workouts. However, as we’ve discussed, prolonged use of NSAIDs has been connected to gastrointestinal bleeding, heart attacks, and strokes. For chronic pain and inflammation, something more natural and therapeutic is needed, and that’s where CBD comes in. Many athletes have found CBD (if used consistently) as an effective replacement for NSAIDs, even in small amounts (10-20mg). For a faster recovery time, try 10mgs before your workout, and 10mgs after your workout.
3 – CBD reduces oxidative stress
What is oxidative stress? Your body is constantly seeking balance, but athletes, often through intense training, can knock that balance off. Oxidative stress is an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants in the body. Free radicals regulate tissue growth. However, free radicals in excess can damage fatty tissue, DNA, and proteins, which can lead to a number of inflammatory conditions. Exercise increases free radical formation, but also stimulates antioxidant production. Here’s the thing, intense training (common among elite athletes) often results in an abundance of free radicals, leading to that imbalance and resulting in oxidative stress. To mitigate this issue, antioxidant powerhouses like vitamin-C and vitamin-E are often recommended, however studies have shown CBD to be far superior as an antioxidant. With less oxidation comes faster recovery times, and less muscle soreness. The more intense your workout, the more inflammation you may experience. As a preventative, we recommend 10mg before your workout, and 10mg after, although you may require more, depending on the intensity of your training.
4 – CBD alleviates anxiety
So many of us suffer from anxiety and athletes are no different. The pressure to excel in training and in competition can be a challenge for some competitive athletes. However, the side effects of anxiety medications (drowsiness, dizziness, weight gain, insomnia) can hinder, more than help one’s performance. Many athletes have found great benefit in consuming small, but consistent doses (3-10mgs) of CBD prior to intense workouts and competitions.
5 – CBD improves quality of sleep
Sleep is a necessity for everyone, but that is even more true for competitive athletes. The more frequent, and the more strenuous your workouts, the more time it takes for your body to repair and rebuild muscle. As such, competitive athletes often tout a minimum of 10-12 hours of sleep per night. If you are one of the many not getting enough sleep – you aren’t alone, and CBD can help.
Studies indicate CBD lowers stress hormones like cortisol, which could potentially interfere with sleep cycles. Additionally, CBD enhances the efficacy of GABA, which facilitates sleep. As a result, users often report a more restful night of sleep following just a single use. If sleep does not come easy, consider taking 10-20mgs of CBD, 1-2 hours before bed.
Is it safe for professional & amateur athletes?
Here's the bottom line...there is no regulatory oversight in the CBD industry. Not the FDA, not the DEA, and not the Department of Agriculture. There are over 3,500 companies selling CBD products today, in a totally unregulated market. This means many companies, without any scientific expertise, are making downright unsubstantiated, and often harmful claims. If you are an athlete interested in CBD, consider products from a reputable company like Rx Sports. Their team includes two (2) M.D.s, and six (6) Ph.D. scientists, along with their Chief Science Officer, a board-certified toxicologist and pharmacologist, and formulator of all products.
This team believes formulating products isn’t as simple as adding CBD to a bottle or a tin container. They consider cannabinoids (like CBD) to be medicine. And they believe there is a significant amount of medicinal science to be understood and applied in product development. We think that’s pretty clear, once you dig in on how CBD actually works.
If I'm an athlete, is it legal for me to use?
Good news... but with a caveat. In 2018, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) removed CBD from the list of prohibited substances – in or out of competition. Bonus news! The US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) also removed CBD from their list. There are TWO important caveats:
1 - ONLY CBD was removed from the prohibited list. Some products in the marketplace also include the cannabinoid, THC, which is still a prohibited substance. Products at Rx Sports are THC-free, which is confirmed by their third-party test results.
2 - As for legality outside of sports, well, that's where things get a little dicey. The federal, state, and local laws and regulations regarding cannabis and related products varies widely and can be confusing. While CBD products are clearly gaining popularity, be sure to check your state laws regarding CBD.
Why should athletes consider RX Sports products?
Rx Sports products include nothing but cannabinoids, terpenes, plant extracts and essential oils. Or more simply put... they are all-natural with no synthetic ingredients. Many companies speak on the anti-inflammatory, anti-anxiety, and analgesic properties of CBD, but few companies address the benefits and importance of terpenes like Rx Sports.
As we’ve discussed above, CBD is a powerful combatant against a variety of ailments, but it is far more effective when combined with the therapeutic benefits of terpenes and other plant compounds. Terpenes not only make CBD more effective due to their synergistic relationship, but at high concentrations, they also have their own therapeutic properties.
Rx Sports is the only company combining the benefits of concentrated CBD + concentrated terpene profiles to ensure maximum relief from pain and inflammation.
We mention concentration because if active ingredients (like CBD and terpenes) are not added at high concentrations, then you will likely metabolize those active ingredients before you experience any therapeutic benefit. Similar to alcohol, two shots of straight whiskey will not affect us in the same way as two whiskey and cokes. And that's because -- concentration affects absorption.
Let's summarize - CBD offers tangible health benefits for a wide variety of athletes. And although CBD is used by athletes across the spectrum, the folks at Rx Sports have found athletes participating in high-intensity or high-impact sports (like grappling and football) stand to benefit the most. As research continues, and as CBD gains acceptance in the sports industry, we may find CBD is not just a preference, but a necessity for athletic peak performance.
Oh... and we don't recommend CBD for your hair but it would make a great story!