Sports enthusiasts and athletes are typically results-driven, so it’s no surprise they are often looking to enhance their performance. This usually means pre-workouts and supplements that, most importantly, must conform to World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) requirements.
At the same time, these pre-workouts should be safe, effective, and preferably natural.
Indeed, finding performance enhancers that tick all these boxes can be challenging, especially if you haven’t heard about cannabidiol, aka CBD.
CBD is a cannabinoid compound derived from cannabis sativa – one of the three major species of the Cannabaceae family. It is thought to have beneficial properties that may influence things like pain, stress, sleep management, and seizure control.
For these and other reasons, CBD is all the rage in competitive sports and health and wellness spaces.
In 2019, it was removed from WADA’s list of banned substances after research showed that it was generally non-psychoactive and posed minimal health risks to athletes. Due to these, CBD has become ever more popular among athletes.
But for now, let’s see how it can help with athlete recovery.
Does CBD help athletic performance?
Recovery is a critical component of modern sports because it determines physical, cognitive, and physiological performance, given the intensity and frequency of competitive sports.
As a result, coaches, trainers, and researchers increasingly focus on planning and recovery strategies as part of general training.
The effort applied by athletes, which typically transcends the cognitive, physical, and physiological faculties, provokes a litany of functional and structural changes that must be identified and monitored to maintain the athlete’s optimal functional capacity.
Physical exercise-induced peripheral and central fatigue commonly manifests as pain and inflammation, muscle weakness, functional immobility, reduced focus and concentration, tiredness, and low force generation.
Over the years, various recovery strategies have been tested, including plant-derived supplements such as green tea, ginseng, curcumin, beetroot, and cherries. These have shown wide-ranging antioxidative, analgesic, and anti-inflammatory effects that enhance fast recovery from exercise-induced fatigue.
However, with the removal of CBD from WADA’s denylist, the search for recovery strategies could have become easier. Unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD does not cause significant psychoactive responses in users.
Further, to date, there is no evidence of abuse or dependence, notwithstanding infrequent minor side effects.
As a result, CBD is not only used by athletes; it’s rapidly gaining traction among the general population thanks to properties that could help manage symptoms associated with chronic pain, sleep disorders, mood, inflammation, anxiety, and immunodepression.
These properties could also accelerate recovery after prolonged and intense exertion in sports.
Because CBD has typically been used for recreational and medicinal purposes, its use in sports is growing. Nonetheless, its action mechanisms are not always understood because of the scarcity of CBD research.
For this reason, researchers argue that it may be premature to accept all the mentioned benefits of CBD as accurate.
What does CBD do for athletes?
Consider the following research perspectives: CBD use among athletes and people with active lifestyles is accelerating.
Furthermore, cannabinoids rank second after nicotine as the most used substance among contact sports athletes. Studies indicate that cannabinoid use is prevalent among athletes over 40 years and that 25% of university-level athletes use cannabis-based products.
Moreover, CBD use is widespread in contact sports among aging athletes, with sleep improvement and pain relief cited as perceived benefits.
What we are trying to say is simple, there is almost no doubt that CBD does something to athletes.
Among the effects that have been studied include:
Many acute and chronic health conditions are brought about by oxidative stress and inflammation. Exercise-induced fatigue and damage are also known to mediate the proliferation of inflammation and oxidative stress.
It is, therefore, believed that CBD’s antioxidative and anti-inflammatory properties could have therapeutic potential in sports.
This is based on studies that show that CBD could potentially regulate the release of cortisol, thereby controlling inflammatory responses to injury. It can do this due to its interaction with the endocannabinoid system (ECS), particularly the CB and adenosine receptors, to reduce cytokine levels and downregulate overactive immune cells.
Protection from gastrointestinal damage
Intense physical exercises increase blood flow to vital body organs like the brain, skin, the cardiopulmonary system, and skeletal muscles.
However, other tissues and organs like the gastrointestinal tract experience reduced nutrient and oxygen delivery. This is known as gastrointestinal ischemia or GI ischemia.
In longer exercises that last over 40 minutes, the oxidative stress and inflammation that typically accompanies reperfusion could adversely affect epithelial integrity.
This can negatively impact performance and post-workout recovery due to gastrointestinal stress—typified by nausea, abdominal angina, vomiting, and bloody diarrhea—and diminished nutritional uptake.
However, CBD may potentially mitigate exercise-induced gastrointestinal damage. In vivo preclinical studies have demonstrated that CBD reduces tissue damage produced by acute, peripheral ischemia-reperfusion and colitis.
These effects are generally linked to CBD’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
Further, an in vitro study showed that CBD might help reestablish intestinal permeability after exposure to Clostridium difficile bacterium, pro-inflammatory stimuli, and Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid.
Nevertheless, it’s prudent to acknowledge the lack of sufficient evidence on CBD’s therapeutic effect on GI damage.
In fact, two clinical studies, one probing the effect of CBD on reducing the severity of Crohn’s disease symptoms and the other investigating the effect of a CBD extract on ulcerative colitis, were unable to prove any protective impact on disease markers, e.g., pro-inflammatory cytokines, fecal calprotectin, and C-reactive protein.
The implication is that more research is required on the effects of CBD on an exercise-induced gastrointestinal injury.
Aids healing of skeletal injuries
The skeletal system comprises the bones and connective tissues (e.g., muscles, cartilage, tendons, and ligaments) and basically gives humans their shape. It undertakes many functions, including facilitating movement, producing blood cells, protecting and supporting organs, and storing minerals.
Exercising is one thing you need to do to keep your skeletal system healthy. Paradoxically, strenuous exercises are also responsible for skeletal injuries and can impair muscle function and initiate inflammatory responses.
Although inflammation is vital to muscle repair and regeneration, too much can prolong muscle soreness and delay recovery.
CBD may modulate inflammatory responses by attenuating immune cell accumulation, stimulating the production of anti-inflammatory cytokines, and preventing the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines and reactive oxygen species.
Be that as it may, CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties are generally noticeable at higher doses, although some studies have shown that lower doses can also be effective.
And so, while CBD may substantially benefit muscle recovery, NSAIDs have also been noted to reduce skeletal muscle adaptation due to exercises.
The exact science behind these effects is not yet well-known, but researchers suspect that reducing inflammation may inhibit skeletal muscle hypertrophy and angiogenesis.
Besides, NSAIDs like ibuprofen have been shown to not influence EIMD, muscle soreness, and inflammation. So if CBD works similarly, researchers hypothesize it may attenuate training benefits without impacting soreness and muscle function.
Boosts mental performance as a stress & anxiety relief option
Highly competitive sports can create sports performance anxiety (SPA) and affect athletic performance. It is an impairment that researchers attribute to both direct and indirect effects of SPA, such as poor sleep, reduced nutritional uptake, and higher energy expenditure.
Needless to say, the implications of these effects on mental performance are adverse.
In most cases, behavioral therapies (e.g., cognitive behavioral therapy) are preferred treatment options, but pharmaceutical interventions are also common.
Clinical trials investigating the effects of CBD on anxiety in normal people and those with social anxiety disorder (SAD) and paranoia suggest that CBD has minimal impact on “low stress” anxiety in healthy people.
However, numerous studies have showcased the anxiolytic effects of high doses of CBD (300-600mg) in “stress-inducing” circumstances in people with SAD and healthy individuals.
For example, during a simulated stressful condition (public-speaking), 300mg of CBD was shown to have the same effect as 5mg of ipsapirone – a 5-HT1A agonist.
Other studies found no “substantial effect” of 600mg of CBD on individuals with high levels of paranoia.
Another group of researchers observed a U-shaped response-dose relationship between subjective anxiety and CBD treatment, whereby 300mg of CBD had a stronger anti-anxiety effect than both 150 and 600mg of CBD. This phenomenon is known as the biphasic effect.
The biphasic effect in cannabinoids is well-studied and is manifested in processes like motor activity, anxiety responses, feeding, and motivation.
For example, in a 2012 study, two different doses—1 and 50 μg/kg—of a synthetic CB1 cannabinoid were given to mice with anxiety via different pathways, i.e., glutamatergic and GABAergic neurotransmission.
The results shed more light on the biphasic effect of cannabinoids, especially in anxiety treatment. They showed that GABAergic neurons activate CB1 receptors after a high cannabinoid dose to induce anxiogenic-like behavior.
In contrast, glutamatergic neurons activate CB1 receptors after a low cannabinoid dose to mediate anxiolytic-like effects.
In sum, it would appear that low to moderate doses of cannabinoids may lessen anxiety in stressful circumstances, thus enhancing mental performance. Though limited, studies on the effect of CBD on psychomotor and cognitive function suggest minimal influence.
A recent study showed that CBD (16mg) improved emotional recognition, even if the relevance of this ability in a sporting context is limited.
However, another study’s finding that may perhaps be applicable indicated that CBD does not affect coordination and balance in healthy individuals.
Of course, keep in mind that studies on CBD’s effect on cognitive functions are relatively few, so more research is required.
Best CBD for athlete recovery
As the popularity of CBD grows, it’s inevitable for substandard CBD products to flood the market. As a result, it’s getting even harder to get genuine, high-quality CBD.
This problem is compounded by the fact that CBD is unregulated, so it’s up to manufacturers to ensure they provide the market with high-quality CBD.
You can also conduct a few checks to determine if a CBD product is of the right quality. For example, make a habit of checking the product’s label to access the following information:
- Manufacturer’s or distributor’s name
- Cannabinoid content and profile
- Production date
- Expiration date
- Ingredients (including additives)
- Dosing information
- Use instructions
- Net quantity
- Batch number
It also helps to verify the product’s Certificate of Analysis (COA). Third-party certifications ensure that the CBD product is safe and accurately labeled.
Most CBD products are inaccurately labeled, which may be a problem when dosing.
To be sure you get the best CBD, ensure you:
- Buy your products from reputable vendors and licensed dispensaries
- Go for domestically grown CBD
- Buy organic products
- Select the correct spectrum
- Verify the COAs
- Ensure it has no additives
- Buy products in glass packaging
Best CBD oil for athletes
In the real sense, the best CBD oil for athletes is high-quality CBD. Of course, “best” is a relative term in CBD use because people have different preferences.
Some people prefer full spectrum CBD oil, while others attest to the effectiveness of broad spectrum CBD oil. Yet, for others, nothing beats CBD isolate. It’s a niche where the saying “to each his own” makes perfect sense!
Nevertheless, our Premium CBD Drops are a high-quality CBD oil that helps calm the mind and relax the body. These drops, available in broad spectrum and full spectrum formulations, contain premium CBD to help recharge your hugely important endocannabinoid system and enable you to manage stressors like physical pain, sleeplessness, and anxiety.
Will CBD oil show up on a drug test?
No, as long as you're not using very large quantities of a full spectrum products. CBD does not show up in drug tests because the tests are designed to detect THC (or its metabolites), not CBD.
This essentially means if you’re using full spectrum CBD oil with higher THC concentrations (>0.3%), it may show up during a test. So, it’s possible to use CBD and fail a drug test depending on the product’s composition and quality.
Best CBD gummies for athletes
A high-quality CBD product we recommend for athletes is our Premium CBD Gummies. Why? Because these gummies are made with organic ingredients and premium CBD sourced from the USA.
They’ve also undergone rigorous third-party testing to ensure the highest quality safety standards. So, if you’re an athlete looking for the best CBD to help relax your muscles, calm your mind and sleep better, these gummies are a sure bet.
Will CBD gummies show up on a drug test?
Same rule applies for gummies as it does for oils. As long as you're consuming isolates or broad spectrum gummies, you should not worry about drug tests.
This changes if you're consuming full spectrum products as these have THC in them, even small amounts, which may make you fail certain types of drug tests.
Best CBD supplements for athletes
After a strenuous workout session, you need to rest well. But sometimes, fatigue, muscle soreness, and pain can affect your sleep and prevent you from getting sufficient rest. This is why we recommend FOCL Night.
Inside these capsules are five different soothing botanical extracts and premium hemp CBD, expertly formulated to repair your body and relax your mind to help you sleep better.
Best CBD topical for athletes
It’s conceivable that on certain days, your workout sessions will leave you with sore muscles and joint pains that will question your commitment to your workout program. However, FOCL Relief Cream is just the solution you need.
Brimming with 500mg of premium hemp CBD and powerful soothing botanicals, this cream is designed to eliminate aches and pains quickly and fast-track your recovery.