CBD oil has recently burst onto the fitness scene, however, for many, there are a lot of questions surrounding the safety and uses of this natural supplement. We take a look at the origin of CBD, dispel some myths, and highlight its benefits to help you on your way to an enhanced workout and maybe even a better life all-round.
What is CBD and where can you get it?
CBD or cannabidiol is one of the more than 100 cannabinoids derived from the cannabis sativa or hemp plants. Not to be confused with THC which is one of the other cannabinoids, CBD does not create a psychoactive reaction or ‘high’, and as you’ll see, offers a whole range of health benefits.
The second most common question with regard to CBD, after the question of the high, is whether it is legal to buy and consume. For now, legality depends on the source of the CBD; while there is still some debate about Cannabis Sativa derived CBD, CBD derived from Hemp is completely legal in all states and is considered safe for consumption. Most products can be found online or at your local health or supplement store. Depending on the application, CBD can be found in anything from oral drops to jelly baby edibles and topical muscle rubs, so you’ll need to consider where you want to focus the effects.
How does CBD work?
It is important to understand how CBD works, and while research regarding its effects is ongoing, the basic principles are clear. Our body already produces its own cannabinoids and we have two receptors that regulate them. The CB1 receptors are responsible for reacting to THC and create the stoners high. However, the CB2 receptors react to CBD oil, or as was recently discovered, the CBD tells the body to use more of its own cannabinoids. These are also the receptors which are found in the immune system that fight pain and inflammation.
Another important role of CBD for fitness is maintaining cortisol levels in the body. Cortisol is a catabolic hormone, which is responsible for the breakdown of muscle tissue. When training to build muscle mass specifically, it is often high cortisol levels that limit your muscle building potential. On the other hand, cortisol is important for toxin removal, blood sugar regulation, and memory, so eradicating it entirely would be harmful. CBD regulates cortisol, ensuring that levels do not spike throughout the day, thus aiding the muscle building process, without causing harm.
The Fitness Benefits
- The first and possibly most important benefit that we touched on above, is that CBD is a powerful anti-inflammatory. For fitness, that means CBD helps to repair the micro-tears that occur during your workout with less pain, allowing for shorter recovery times. This also means that you can ditch the NSAIDs, like ibuprofen, a common aid for athletes, but also a source of kidney strain and failure.
- Another benefit of taking CBD is it can help to lower stress levels. When the body is stressed, cortisol levels jump, by regulating cortisol you are not only reducing muscle breakdown, you are also reducing stress. This could mean getting rid of pre-race anxiety, or ensuring you can complete your yoga workout with a calm mind and a happy heart.
- Other benefits linked to cortisol regulation include improved bone-density, which is particularly important for women later in life, as well as lowering blood pressure levels. High blood pressure is the leading cause of death in the U.S. when linked to heart disease or stroke, and hypertension is the most common heart condition found in athletes.
- Though some athletes are asleep as soon as their head hits the pillow, changes in workouts or challenges in daily life can significantly affect sleep patterns. CBD can be taken to help regulate and improve sleep patterns, and we all know a solid night’s rest is necessary to repair muscle damage caused during your workout the day before.
- This may seem odd after having just mentioned how CBD reduces stress and aids sleep but it is also known to provide an energy boost when needed. As mentioned above, CBD tells our CB2 receptors when to increase or decrease the production of the body’s own cannabinoids. So, when the body is stressed, it will create calm, but it will do the opposite when you’re in need that hit of power.
- Another big benefit is, CBD can be taken to help settle your stomach. Nothing can be more disappointing than preparing for a big race, only to have your day disrupted by queasiness or jittery bowels. CBD helps calm the gut and regulates nausea on the field and off.
- It has recently been discovered that CBD may be responsible for the runners ‘high’. More specifically, while regulating the Endocannabinoid System, CBD creates the rush which leads to the sense of euphoria and pain-free calm, coupled with reduced cramping, optimal stamina and the feeling of everything ‘just being right’ particularly common for endurance athletes
But, Will CBD Work For You?
The main challenge when taking CBD is establishing your own optimal dosage as well as the best time of day to take it. This is particularly difficult when you consider that most studies are based on doses of 1000mg daily, yet only 31% of available CBD products actually contain the levels advertised. Also, the jury is out on which form of CBD, whether, oil, tincture, spray, edible or salves and creams is best to achieve the desired results, with regard to absorption levels.
As with most fitness aids, you’ll only really figure it out once you start to use it. Keep in mind that most people have reported that it took a couple of tries before they felt the effects. So, a bit of patience and trial and error may be necessary before you find your own sweet spot. The last point we’ll add here is, as with any other supplement that may affect your health or potentially interfere with your existing medication, consult with your GP to establish a safe usage plan then have fun and enjoy your new workout experience.
Samuel Njoroge is a freelance writer specializing in medical marijuana, cannabis cultivation and vaping among other topics. He understands almost every aspect of the marijuana/cannabis/vaping industry and aims to create content that provides helpful information to readers on these topics.