Ok, so here we have a little bit of a controversial one, (well, controversial for some). This short piece is going to look at the therapeutic aspects of cannabidiol, or more commonly known; CBD. Although there will be focus on how this helps specifically the athlete, much carries over for your every day Joe and Joanne.
CBD is a product of the hemp plant, which most will associate to Cannabis. Cannabis is an illegal drug in the UK, and as such, I would not promote its use.
Cannabis is heavy in the psychoactive cannabinoid named tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. CBD however is a different kettle of fish.
CBD is not illegal, as contains none of the psychoactive properties from Cannabis. CBD and THC are both cannabinoids. THC is the psychoactive cannabinoid within cannabis which delivers the “stoned”/ ”high” effect.
Hemp however is not high (pun intended) in THC, with the CBD cannabinoid present in a far higher ratio.
CBD is getting a bit more exposure now in the sporting world. For example, after his recent loss to McGregor, Nick Diaz was seen to be chugging, sorry ” vaping ” , on a CBD vaporiser.
How the hell does this stuff work then? Enter the Endocannabinoid system (ECS).
The ECS is one of science’s newest and most exciting discoveries. The ECS regulates relaxation, eating, sleeping, certain inflammation responses and even cognitive function. Within a nutshell, your ECS is responsible for making sure your entire body is working optimally – no small task!
The ECS is a group of endogenous cannabinoid receptors located throughout the central and peripheral nervous systems and in the mammalian brain. The mammalian brain is the primary centre in your noggin for the regulation and control of bodily activities, receiving and interpreting sensory impulses, and transmitting information to the muscles and body organs. It is also the seat of consciousness, thought, memory, and emotion.
Anyways, within the ECS there are two types of cannabinoid receptors found throughout the body (CB1 and CB2), but they are most abundant in the brain and immune system respectively. This system consists of a series of receptors that are configured only to accept cannabinoids, especially THC and CBD. This basically means the body is set up specifically to use these substances to effect the body in multiple holistic ways.
So we’ve heard how the body uses this bad boy but why is this substance associated with the often demonised cannabis, making waves for athletes? Let’s have a look at some of the key reasons that CBD should be given some serious consideration in your rest and recovery routine;
Inflammation: CBD is extremely effective in managing inflammation post exercise. Cannabinoids are potent anti-inflammatory agents and they exert their effects through induction of apoptosis, inhibition of cell proliferation, suppression of cytokine production and induction of T-regulatory cells (Tregs).
So I appreciate that that the explanation is a bit, well, wordy. Although after weight training, for example, some inflammation is necessary. However, CBD can help reduce symptoms from both acute and chronic inflammation. For example, a fighter getting banged up in a training camp whilst also consuming a sugary, heavy carbohydrate diet high Omega 6 oils.
Sleep and Relaxation: Cannabinoids are known to have both relaxing and sedative effects on users. In fact, the cannabinoid CBN can be useful in treating insomnia. Getting the required sleep each night is perhaps the most important aspect of being a healthy athlete; muscles grow and recover best during deep sleep.
Decreasing Nausea: Cannabinoids have anti-emetic effects, helping athletes reduce nausea during and after exercise. In fact, many studies have shown that for treating nausea and vomiting, cannoids are more effective than certain prescription medications.
I personally haven’t suffered greatly with nausea when training, (but hell yeah, I do and have gone hard!). It’s worth noting though that if you are experiencing a great deal of nausea whilst regularly using ibuprofen and/or aspirin to deal with injuries, this could be having a negative effect. These two readily bought pharmaceutical drugs are now being associated with (somewhat ironically) increasing inflammation and subsequently could be inducing nausea.
Reduction of Muscle Spasms: Cannabinoids are known to have antispasmodic properties. Some causes of muscle spasms in athletes include straining of a muscle, dehydration, trauma, and damage to nerves or to the spinal cord.
This reduction is worth keeping in mind when considering on getting the maximum out of stretching and yoga routines to aid recovery.
Perhaps the biggest and most exciting scientifically proved results that have been seen from CBD are the neuro-protective ones. Former Glory kickboxing welterweight champion Joseph Vallatini recently highlighted this on the Joe Rogan Experience pod cast.
Vallatini sadly needed to retire following his championship winning fight due to the impact of concussions which led him to not even be able to tolerate a phone charger light on in his darkened hospital room (!). What, according to Vallatini, helped to reduce the severity of these symptoms, was the use of CBD.
Unlike THC, which causes the brain chemistry to change and crave more of the drug itself, CBD actually protects the brain’s neurological function and improves healing speed after concussive injuries. While it may sound like a miracle cure, it’s actually very close.
So, sound like it might just be worth a look? High-quality CBD can be taken in a variety of safe and legal ways that do not include smoking cannabis. From CBD oils, to creams and vaporizers, it’s worth doing a bit of research to best meet your required primary need.
What can clearly be seen is that post-routine CBD use can be tremendously effective for reducing athletic-related injuries and improving the healing process so you can get back to the game. Whether in martial arts or any other athletic endeavors, CBD looks like its not going to go up and away in a puff of smoke anytime soon..