Cannabidiol (CBD) has been increasingly sought after in the medical realm thanks to its natural healing properties, and now athletes may be able to add CBD to their repertoire legally.
CBD, a cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant, has been linked to the alleviation of several medical issues that cause chronic pain. Mounting clinical studies suggest that CBD has the power to naturally fight pain, inflammation, anxiety, seizures and memory problems among others. This is why more and more people are turning to CBD as a natural alternative to pharmaceuticals.
Some athletes have already been using pure CBD oil as a means of alleviating pain, reducing inflammation, speeding up recovery and treating brain injury, but have been shunned in some circumstances. This is because up to now, the cannabidiol has been on the World Anti-Doping Agency's (WADA) list of prohibited substances.
Not long ago, UFC Fighter, Nate Diaz was investigated by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency after he admitted to using CBD at a post-fight press conference to help with healing and to speed up recovery after fights and vigorous training sessions. The agency ended up letting Diaz off with nothing more than a warning, but the message was clear: CBD had no place in the world of sports.
Other professional athletes have also come out to tout the use of CBD hemp oil and how it can help athletes in terms of alleviating pain and inflammation as well as potentially treat brain trauma. Eugene Monroe, a former NFL offensive tackle, was the first professional football player in the NFL to praise the benefits of CBD oil products and continues to be an advocate for the cannabinoid.
Another professional NFLer, Derrick Morgan, also recently announced his use of CBD as part of his training protocol and has been speaking out about the benefits of CBD particularly among professional athletes in contact sports.
Athletes like these have been fighting against the prohibition of CBD. As of late, WADA has removed CBD from its list for 2018.
Each year, the WADA puts out its review on any changes they decide to make with their list of prohibited substances. This yearly assessment adds prohibited substances and involves the review of current regulations on substances that are already listed.
Related: The Ultimate Beginners Guide To CBD
Athletes Must Still Be Wary of THC Levels
While CBD has been removed from WADA's list of prohibited substances, athletes must also be wary of CBD products that may still contain some trace of THC, which is considered a prohibited substance.
THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is one of the many compounds found in the cannabis plant and is what causes users to get "high" as a result of its psychoactive effects. Because of the mind-altering effects that THC induces, it is still a prohibited substance according to WADA and remains illegal on a federal level.
On the other hand, CBD offers several medical and health benefits without getting users stoned. That said, the some CBD products may still have concentrations of THC, depending on the cannabis plant and the extraction process used to make it. It's crucial for users to read labels carefully to identify if there is a presence of THC, and even obtain lab reports from manufacturers that detail exactly what is in a bottle of CBD oil, the purity of the product, and whether or not there are any harmful toxins present.
Athletes who want to incorporate CBD into their regimen should stick with hemp-derived CBD oil, which is typically entirely free of THC or may have extremely low concentrations of it.
Hemp-derived, THC-free CBD products are in compliance with WADA’s standards and are what athletes should be using.
How Can Athletes Benefit From CBD?
Many athletes who suffer a serious injury as a result of sports participation are often prescribed opioid medications to deal with their pain while they heal. But opioids are highly addictive and many athletes have quickly found themselves addicted to such pharmaceutical medications.
The effects of CBD have been found to rival the pain alleviating effects of opioids, but without the risk of addiction. In fact, some studies suggest that CBD can actually help reduce the addictive use of opioids by blocking the reward pathways that can cause addiction.
Perhaps the most common reasons for athletes to use CBD oil is for pain relief, to reduce inflammation and speed up the recovery process. CBD is able to do this by interacting with the CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors of the endocannabinoid system in the body, which are responsible for pain perception, memory, mood and appetite among other functions.
But perhaps the more exciting promises of CBD is its potential to treat head trauma and protect the brain against concussions. This is particularly exciting for those in contact sports, such as football, boxing and martial arts.
Animal studies have already been done that show the neuroprotective properties of CBD, meaning it may be able to protect against cell death in the brain and boost the survival rate of existing cells. This is great news, especially considering the extremely damaging consequences of repeated concussions, such as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).
CBD has already been shown to have several applications in the medical world. From reducing pain and inflammation to alleviating anxiety and depression to minimizing the frequency and severity of seizures, pure CBD hemp oil products certainly have their place in the world of alternative medicine. But up until recently, athletes who sought out CBD to incorporate into their regime have been faced with roadblocks. With the recent lifting of WADA's ban on CBD, athletes can be free to use compliant products without fear of repercussion.