Athletes and fitness enthusiasts alike know that supplements can help their bodies perform better. Many are considering adding CBD fitness supplements to their daily routine as they add stress to their bodies through exercise.
Stress that builds muscle fibers and improves physical performance involves muscle breakdown and other processes to remodel the body. This stress can lead to fatigue, injuries, pain, and even mood disruptions. So should you add CBD to your fitness routine?
What is CBD?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a compound extracted from the Cannabis sativa variety known as hemp. Research has suggested that the natural plant compound offers impressive health benefits without the intoxicating effects of the THC. Research has observed human health benefits that include:
- Reduction to inflammation
- Combat oxidative damage
- Improvement to mood and reduced stress
- Enhanced blood flow
- Protection to brain health and function
- Reduction of pain sensation
What Are CBD Fitness Supplements?
The FDA has made clear that it will not consider CBD a dietary supplement at this time. CBD products have faced an identity crisis as they are used in a manner like dietary supplements, yet aren’t technically drugs if taken in the natural form. However, the FDA considers pure CBD isolate to be a drug. “Hemp extract” is yet unclassified. Both potentially have unknown CBD brain effects. Whatever classification the government agrees on, however, hemp-extracted products with CBD are federally legal under the 2018 Farm Bill.
CBD for Health
As a CBD fitness supplement, a hemp extract product could provide cannabinoids that supplement the body’s natural endocannabinoid levels. Broadly, this means CBD products from hemp may increase homeostasis in the body’s endocannabinoid system. As far as how that looks, it is a more complicated matter because the endocannabinoid system regulates and influences a variety of functions through neurotransmitters. So seemingly unrelated symptoms like inflammation and mood may be affected by cannabinoids like CBD.
CBD for Inflammation
Inflammation-related pain is a common ailment experienced by athletes and fitness enthusiasts. Over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like Advil (ibuprofen) or Aleve are commonly used to treat pain associated with inflammation. However, research suggests that using CBD oil for pain is an even stronger anti-inflammatory compound with less long term risk.
CBD vs Ibuprofen
Long term use of NSAIDs can be very damaging to the body since athletes experience inflammation at a high rate and have a greater need for anti-inflammatory compounds. Therefore, they may be at a higher risk of experiencing the detriments of long term NSAID use.
CBD for Inflammation Side Effects
CBD oil is strikingly lacking in side effects and has shown little to no evidence of long term use risks. This lack of CBD side effects makes taking CBD as a fitness supplement an appealing natural option for athletes. Those who cannot risk the health of their heart, kidneys and gastrointestinal tracts for the sake of long term inflammation relief may benefit tremendously.
CBD for Weight Loss
As discussed in our article “CBD Oil for Weight Loss: Scam or Miracle?” CBD can affect physiological processes that support weight loss. One of the most powerful ways CBD supports weight loss is by promoting fat browning.7 Fat browning is the process of turning white fat that the body stores into brown fat that the body burns for energy. By converting white fat to brown fat, CBD can make more energy available for use and reduce the amount of fat the body stores.
CBD for Pre-Workout Energy
Mood and motivation can be significant obstacles to exercise. Day to day stresses and mood disorders can make it challenging to find the mental energy to train the body. Even when you force yourself to go to the gym, being in a poor mood can lower your performance, causing an unsatisfactory workout. Athletes can also experience anxiety and other psychological symptoms from pre-performance stress and high expectations for their performance.
A large body of research supports the anti-anxiety and mood-enhancing effects of CBD.2 Researchers have emphasized that CBD has fewer disruptive side effects than many traditional anxiety pharmaceuticals and may control symptoms better. Many athletes cannot risk motor impairment linked to many anti-anxiety medications. Therefore, taking CBD oil for anxiety is a natural option for elevating mood and motivation that does not impair motor function.
CBD for Rest and Relaxation
CBD oil’s ability to ease stress and anxiety and alleviate pain also play a role in improving sleep. Rest is vital for athletes and gives the body time to recover from working out. Increasing the quality of sleep is another way that CBD may help promote athletic performance.
CBD for Post-Workout Muscle Recovery
CBD may speed recovery and fight fatigue by reducing oxidative damage in the body. Working out results in physical stress that can increase oxidative damage that slows healing and may reduce physical performance. Physical fatigue can also lead to mental fatigue, so athletes must manage oxidative damage. CBD has demonstrated potent antioxidant activity and the ability to combat reactive oxygen species (ROS), which makes it an exciting natural option for fighting fatigue and reducing oxidative damage from exercise.
Risks of Taking CBD for Athletes
Athletes are permitted to use CBD, according to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). Athletes subject to anti-doping rules must be careful because all other cannabinoids are still prohibited in-competition. CBD products may even contain prohibited cannabinoid components, such as THC, and may yet fall within legal limits making CBD legal to order online.
Athletes should avoid Full-spectrum CBD products as they are liable for any substance found in their blood or urine. CBD isolate products contain 0% THC, making it less of a risk.
CBD Fitness Supplements: Final Thoughts
Because CBD can address multiple symptoms that are inherent in having an athletic lifestyle it could be a great natural care product for athletes. From mood to inflammation reduction, CBD could boost an athlete’s overall health and wellness. The risk of drug test failure from CBD is of concern, though. The appeal of CBD will broaden for athletes as laboratory testing and isolation techniques advance.
Best CBD Products
Since athletes generally suffer from the same symptoms, these are the best CBD supplements for fitness enthusiasts:
If you’re considering taking CBD then make sure you also understand how much you should be taking. We’ve written an extensive CBD oil dosage guide that will help you navigate the new waters of taking this incredible supplement.
- Costa, B., Trovato, A. E., Comelli, F., Giagnoni, G., & Colleoni, M. (2007). The non-psychoactive cannabis constituent cannabidiol is an orally effective therapeutic agent in chronic rat inflammatory and neuropathic pain. European journal of pharmacology, 556(1-3), 75-83.
- Crippa JA, Guimarães FS, Campos AC, Zuardi AW. Translational Investigation of the Therapeutic Potential of Cannabidiol (CBD): Toward a New Age. Front Immunol. 2018;9:2009. Published 2018 Sep 21. doi:10.3389/fimmu.2018.02009.
- Grotenhermen, F., & Müller-Vahl, K. (2012). The therapeutic potential of cannabis and cannabinoids. Deutsches Arzteblatt international, 109(29-30), 495-501.
- Hartsel, J. A., Eades, J., Hickory, B., & Makriyannis, A. (2016). Cannabis sativa and Hemp. In Nutraceuticals (pp. 735-754).
- Iffland, K., & Grotenhermen, F. (2017). An Update on Safety and Side Effects of Cannabidiol: A Review of Clinical Data and Relevant Animal Studies. Cannabis and cannabinoid research, 2(1), 139-154. Hosking, R.D., Zajicek J.P. 2008 July 1. Therapeutic potential of cannabis in pain medicine. BJA: British Journal of Anaesthesia, Volume 101, Issue 1, 59–68.
- Nagarkatti, P., Pandey, R., Rieder, S. A., Hegde, V. L., & Nagarkatti, M. (2009). Cannabinoids as novel anti-inflammatory drugs. Future medicinal chemistry, 1(7), 1333-1349.
- Parray HA and JW Yun. Cannabidiol promotes browning in 3T3-L1 adipocytes. Mol Cell Biochem (2016) 416:131–139.