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Why Are More Athletes Choosing CBD for Pain Over NSAIDs?

Athletes are susceptible to experiencing a certain degree of chronic pain as a result of their vigorous sporting activity, and the traditional means of alleviating such pain is to take pharmaceutical medication like ibuprofen or acetaminophen.

But non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can cause harmful side effects, prompting many athletes to start seeking more natural alternatives, including CBD oil, for pain and inflammation.

NSAIDs May Cause More Harm Than Good

NSAIDs are quite popular because of their effectiveness interacting with prostaglandins, which are chemicals that are naturally produced in the body to stimulate inflammation that is required for healing.

However, inflammation can also cause pain and fever. When present for a long period of time, the symptoms of inflammation can become debilitating. While acute inflammation may be necessary for healing the body, chronic inflammation can become a real problem. NSAIDS work to counter such inflammation.

NSAIDs are very easily accessible and many doctors prescribe them to athletes instead of opioids to combat pain. But while these NSAIDs can definitely be effective at reducing pain and inflammation, they also come with a certain set of potential dangers particularly when it comes to their impact on the gastrointestinal system.

Prostaglandins protect the gut wall, which is often vulnerable in athletes when they engage in vigorous activity. During extended periods of energy expenditure, the blood that would typically be present in the gut is sent to other parts of the body where required like the muscles. As such, digestion takes a back seat during strenuous activity.

When blood that should typically be present in the small intestine is sent elsewhere,  the lining of the gut weakens. Such a lack of blood supply in the gut during activity can damage gut cells leading to leakage and permeability in the gut lining.

Prolonged use of NSAIDs has also been shown to cause systemic inflammation, stomach ulcers, kidney damage and sometimes even liver failure. Some people may even become dependent on pain medication.

In an effort to steer clear of such potential side effects of NSAIDs, many athletes are reaching for natural alternatives for pain management that includes CBD hemp oil products.

Related: The Ultimate Beginners Guide To CBD

Can NSAIDs Actually Hinder Recovery?

Many athletes have taken NSAIDs before participating in their sport in an effort to keep inflammation and pain down to boost their performance. Many athletes go into competition with an injury so in an effort to mask the pain, they'll take NSAIDs to dull the pain.

Yet while NSAIDs can certainly provide pain relief, they may actually be linked with a slowed recovery after activity. Upon assessment of the impact of prostaglandins on the recovery of muscle tissue, it was discovered that they play a key role in the stimulation of stem cells to regrow tissue. However, NSAIDs were found to reduce the number of stem cells that promote recovery.

Further, another study suggests that athletes who use NSAIDs may experience lingered inflammation long after activity has ceased. One particular study followed marathon runners and discovered that not only did NSAIDs not have any benefit to improving the athletes' performance, but also they were also linked to higher inflammation levels in the days following the race.

How Does CBD Reduce Pain and Inflammation?

Mounting evidence continues to suggest that the effects of CBD oil can be used to effectively reduce pain and inflammation, and can be used as a safer and even more effective alternative to NSAIDs. The cannabinoid (also known as cannabidiol) does this by interacting with the receptors of the endocannabinoid system in the body, which is responsible for regulating factors such as pain, mood, appetite and memory among others.

Cannabinoids are naturally occurring in the body, but adding CBD hemp oil into the mix can give the system a boost. By introducing cannabinoids from external sources, the endocannabinoid system can be manipulated to alleviate several medical ailments. The endocannabinoid system involves two main receptors that bind to cannabinoids: CB1 and CB2.

But rather than bind directly to them, CBD serves to stimulate activity in these receptors, causing changes in any cells that have either one of them. The effects of CBD are systemic since both CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors are located all over the body.

CBD For an Active Lifestyle

Athletes can use CBD in various forms including topicals, tinctures, edibles and vapes. The exact consumptions method chosen will depend on the users’ reason for using CBD as well as what fits well with their lifestyle.

Whether for mental recovery, physical recovery, pain relief, inflammation alleviation or relaxation, CBD can be incorporated into an athlete's daily regimen to provide the effects they would otherwise seek in pharmaceutical medication. And thanks to the fact that CBD is a natural substance, athletes can reap the rewards the benefits of CBD offer without the harmful side effects that tend to come with NSAIDs and other medications like them.

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