Many athletes may find themselves getting stressed out before a game or event. As stress can impact performance adversely, CBD could be an option for mitigation. To manage game day stress as well as preparation, CBD is a great natural alternative.
What Is Cannabidiol?
In a 2020 review published by Sports Medicine, preclinical animal studies and clinical trials with non-athletes, researchers found that CBD could help promote both physiological and psychological as well as biochemical benefits that could help athletes. A key factor in this was found directly linked to CBD’s ability to alleviate inflammatory pain linked with tissue damage, and neuropathic pain due to nerve irritation or damage. This could be a gamechanger for action and endurance sport athletes who are subject to high-intensity and impact movements as well as repetitive and long-distance workouts that can lead to inflammation and irritation or injury.
Similarly, after an athletic session, game, or heavy workout, it’s important for athletes and active people to get adequate sleep, so the body has time to heal on its own. A tiring day should normally put an athlete to sleep easily but pre-existing sleep issues or heightened stress levels may lead to a struggle getting to sleep at night. CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system to regulate mood and even behavior similarly to pain, helping you stay active during the day and get good sleep at night.
For most athletes and sports enthusiasts, the search for performance enhancing additions to add to your routine can be undying and often challenging. Because supplements and substances used by athletes – especially professional ones – must conform to anti-doping laws, be safe while effective, and these days are preferably natural, there is a new player in the field. Enter CBD, or cannabidiol.
CBD interacts directly with the human body’s endocannabinoid system, or the ECS. This bodily system is known for controlling and contributing to things like appetite, mood, pain and inflammation. By interacting with the receptors within the ECS, cannabidiol is able to impact the body and brain’s response to a number of things. This interaction has proven beneficial for people from all walks of life, including athletes.
CBD for Athletes
For athletes in any sport, CBD could be a beneficial addition to your training regimen for a few reasons. By interacting specifically with the CB1 and CB2 receptors within the endocannabinoid system, CBD can aid in reducing the pain and inflammation associated with athletic injury or irritation. For athletes this can lead a shorter recovery period with increased comfort. CBD for athletes is commonly consumed through sublingual methods, like an oil or tincture, as well as applied topically with a cream or lotion. Topical application can target specific areas, while sublingual consumption can bring a sense of overall body and mind wellness.
Cannabis has been prohibited in all sports during competition since the World Anti-Doping Agency first assumed the responsibility of establishing and maintaining the list of prohibited substances in sport 15 years ago . In 2018, however, CBD was removed from the Prohibited List , presumably on the basis of mounting scientific evidence that the cannabinoid is safe and well-tolerated in humans [16, 169], even at very high doses (e.g. 1500 mg·day −1 or as an acute dose of 6000 mg) . While several recent reviews have described the impact of cannabis on athlete health and performance [99, 176, 188], the influence of CBD alone has yet to be addressed.
Cannabidiol (CBD): Molecular Targets, Pharmacokinetics and Dosing
Other preclinical studies have investigated the impact of CBD on different animal models of acute neuronal injury, in particular, acute cerebral HI [4, 13, 31, 68, 69, 80, 81, 83, 100, 105, 127, 129, 142, 143, 153]. Studies administering a single (acute) dose of CBD shortly post-HI (e.g. ≤1 h) have produced inconsistent results. For instance, while Garberg et al. [68, 69] found no effect of CBD (1 or 50 mg·kg −1 , i.v.) on HI-induced neuronal damage in piglets, others observed neuroprotection at similar doses (e.g. 1 mg·kg −1 , i.v [105, 143]., 1 mg·kg −1 , s.c [127, 142]., and 5 mg·kg −1 , i.p .) in piglets and rats. When given chronically, or repeatedly within a short timeframe proximal to the HI event, however, CBD appears to be neuroprotective. Effective dosing strategies have varied and included initiating treatment several days pre-HI (e.g. 100 or 200 μg·day −1 , intracerebroventricular 5 days; Wistar rats ), shortly pre- and/or post-HI Footnote 1 , and up to 3 days post-HI (e.g. 3 mg·kg −1 ·day −1 , i.p. 12 days; ddY mice ). Thus, chronic CBD treatment may be more effective than acute intervention. While “pre-incident” dosing might also be beneficial, it is noted that in practice, this would require humans at risk of TBI to use CBD chronically as a prophylactic.
Nociceptive and Neuropathic Pain
6.5–6.7 h·night −1 ) and experience poorer quality sleep than non-athletes [79, 109, 152]. Factors that contribute to poor sleep among athletes include evening competitions and training sessions, pre-competition anxiety, use of caffeine, and long-haul travel (e.g. jet lag, travel fatigue) .
Also, cannabinoids and endocannabinoids are involved in brain-derived neurotrophic factor release (e.g., neurogenesis and neuronal plasticity), glucocorticoids release (e.g., mood control by suppressing depression and anxiety), dopamine release (leading to rewarding), and fatty acid amide hydrolase release (e.g., analgesic effects). All these responses overlap with the positive benefits of exercise (Tantimonaco et al., 2014). These effects are provoked by stimuli of TRPV1 ions canals (Vanilloid receptors) leading to antinociceptive effects, stimuli of CB1 and CB2 receptors causing relaxing effects via neurodepression and inhibition of cytokines release, respectively, and activation of 5HT1A receptors promoting serotonin caption in the postsynaptic neuron causing mood state regulation.
Overreaching and overtraining are often presented in athletes due to high training loads accompanied by subsequent insufficient recovery between efforts (Fox et al., 2020). These abovementioned states are usually accompanied by sleep disorders and higher sleep disturbance, leading to poor sleep quality (Hainline et al., 2017). CBD consumption could stimulate the endocannabinoid system modulating sleep disorders and the sleep–wake cycle (Murillo-Rodríguez et al., 2020). Promising, but no specific, evidence suggests using cannabinoids like CBD to reduce sleep disorders in athletes or even in healthy or pathologic humans. Endocannabinoid system receptors as anandamide and type-1 are associated with sleep-promoting effects, but the physiological mechanism is not fully understood and is based mainly on preclinical studies (Suraev et al., 2020).
Inflammation and Proliferation
Cannabidiol (300–400 mg) intake seems to have sedative effects on humans apparently acting directly on the central nervous system (Zuardi A. W. et al., 1993), supported by the idea that CBD exhibited a beneficial action over edema and hyperalgesia (Burstein, 2015; Hill et al., 2017). In this regard, drugs and substances such as Sativex, THC, and CBD are approved for the treatment of both central and peripheral neuropathic pain. This pain syndrome is associated with microglia activation and subsequent cascade of proinflammatory cytokines such as IL-6, IL-1β, and TNF (Booz, 2011). This evidence supports the idea of CBD use as an antinociceptive agent. Together with a neuroprotective quality, this effect was also found in a recent systematic review on the outcome of CBD intake in relation to its potential use as a sport-enhancing performance substance (McCartney et al., 2020). It still is unclear how CBD acts in relation to the pain cascade and pathways (Anthony et al., 2020). CBD has shown its potential to treat and manage pain in diseases and pain disorders, and based on this evidence CBD seems to have a potential effect on treating swelling and preventing soreness after strenuous exercise, but more evidence is required to make a clear statement.
Cognition and Mood
New randomized placebo-controlled studies should consider the different etiologies of fatigue and damage, individualities and disciplines, and special needs and characteristics. Other potential research areas are, but are not limited to, optimal dosing depending on physical and physiological load; effectiveness regarding administration timing; chronic and acute effects; cumulative responses with other recovery strategies; differences in tolerance and effectiveness by sex, professional level, and fitness level; and other individual conditions and situational factors. Besides, more information is needed around the understanding of CBD inflammatory signaling as an essential factor in the recovery process. The effectiveness of CBD vs. conventional medications should be assessed.