Does CBD (Cannabidiol) help Athletes?

Posted By: Stella Pike | August 17, 2018

The effects of Cannabidiol (CBD) can be somewhat subjective, as to the time in which the compound takes effect on the body after it is consumed. But, almost every person who has taken professionally extracted CBD oil, which contains less than 0.3% THC can attest to the fact that there are no psychoactive effects whatsoever. The objective effects of CBD take place on a cellular level, and the effects of which have generated a lot of interest in the medical and athletic communities. CBD’s therapeutic properties are showing great promise in recent studies, to the point where top tier athletes are starting to take notice and are currently supplementing CBD into their daily routines. Athletes looking for a non-toxic alternative to traditional pain killers or anti-inflammatories are looking to CBD to help them with a variety of different ailments. Athletes in high impact sports, especially those performing at the professional levels, take a massive toll on the human body. Individuals who perform at this rigorous pace, see accelerated cases of cartilage depletion and a very high percentage of them have inflammatory pains throughout their body and are at much higher risk of long term injuries. To combat this unfortunate reality, many professionals are looking for alternative medicines and or therapies to assist them in adding performance as well as minimizing their down time due to injury and fatigue. What the pre-clinical research suggests is that CBD can assist athletes in injury prevention as well as faster recovery times during training.

CBD and the Olympics

The World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) announced on the 29th of September that CBD (Cannabidiol) will no longer be banned from use, effective January 1st, 2018. WADA published in their Summary of Major Modifications and Explanatory Notes under Prohibited List, they wrote, under Substance 8: “Cannabidiol is no longer prohibited”. This change in sentiment is a massive validation as to the medical benefits of CBD, as well as separating it from its sister compound THC, which is still considered a banned substance.

The World Anti Doping Agency and the United States Anti Doping Agency are responsible for setting regulations and testing Olympic athletes, but they are also responsible for other forms of athletics such as: the UFC, boxing, bodybuilding, dance, and many others. The new policy allows for these athletes to supplement with CBD as part of their overall fitness routines. What a lot of athletes are starting to better understand is that by supplementing with CBD, their need for prescription drugs seems to be on the decline. “It’s both exciting and a testament to how CBD is growing exponentially, to see UFC fighter Nate Diaz openly vaping CBD oil during press conferences” says Cody Bollerman, owner of Japa Organics. When Nate Diaz was asked about his vaping habits he responded, “It’s CBD… you wanna get these for before, after the fight, training. It’ll make your life a better place…”

Former 1998 Winter Olympics gold medal winner Ross Rebagliati thinks the WADA ruling is a step in the right direction. Rebagliati, “CBD is one of the most effective substances for treating inflammatory issues, aches and pains caused by the physical punishment world-class athletes must regularly endure to train and compete at a high level”. This is still early days in order for CBD to experience wide spread acceptance among professional and amateur athletes. But, this step will bring much needed attention to the medicinal benefits of CBD as well as potential money to fund large scale human research studies.

CBD a closer look

Why does WADA give CBD a free pass but THC is still in the dog house? It really comes down to THC producing a psychoactive effect while CBD does not. So what’s the difference? It’s all about our CB1 receptors, which are located in your brain and throughout your central nervous system. To produce a psychoactive effect, as THC does, a molecular compound has to bind to your CB1 receptors. Simply put, CBD does not bind well with your CB1 receptors. The THC molecule, in contrast to the CBD molecule, just fits (though not perfectly) and thus stimulates to your CB1 receptors, resulting in the “high” you experience when ingesting or smoking straight marijuana.

CBD binds with our CB2 receptors, which effect the nervous system as a whole and are generally located in the peripheral nervous system. When CBD is consumed, this activates the CB2 receptors in our central nervous system, which then go to work by reducing inflammation and increasing blood flow. Cannabidiol (CBD) is the only cannabinoid in cannabis which interacts with our CB2 receptor and thus may have ability to treat a number of inflammatory related diseases and disorders. Disorders like: rheumatoid arthritis, types 1 and 2 diabetes, atherosclerosis, Alzheimer disease, hypertension, the metabolic syndrome, ischemia-reperfusion injury, depression, and neuropathic pain.

According to patent 6,630,507 issued with the USPTO, CBD is also an effective antioxidant and neuroprotectant. Due to this type of research, CBD oil is now being linked as a possible protectorate against neurodegenerative diseases. High quality CBD oil exerts antioxydant affects, minimizing the effects of free radicals or oxidative stress in the body. This could prove to be incredibly useful for athletes in high impact sports who can suffer from long term neurological disorders. CBD is able to provide these benefits by interacting with our brain’s endocannabinoid system, which is the vital molecular system for helping maintain healthy homeostasis. This communication between cannabinoids and our endocannabinoid system, helps our body remedy any deficiencies or fix potential issues in our body’s ability to maintain a healthy balance. In recent studies, CBD has been shown to enhance the action of cannabinoid receptors in the brain. These cell receptors make up our endocannabinoid system which is responsible for controlling functions such as: sleep, appetite, mood, pain, bone growth, immune system, and pleasure just to name a few.


As the personal testimonies of the beneficial aspects of supplementing with CBD continue, it is important to understand that most of the evidence for the medicinal benefits have been derived from pre-clinical research studies. For CBD to become truly accepted in the medical and athletic communities, the large scale clinical studies need to take place. Important events like, the World Anti Doping Agency accepting Cannabidiol, are important steps forward which will bring about this paradigm shift to universal acceptance.

If you are an athlete looking to supplement with CBD to aid in your performance, it is important to understand where your CBD is manufactured and if you’re being tested, that your CBD product doesn’t contain any THC. Make sure the product has gone through the proper tests to insure product integrity and potency. Be sure to look at the milligrams of CBD in use in the product and how the product is being extracted, cold C02 extraction is preferred. As always, do your research and your CBD experience will be a good one.

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