How CBD can help you as an athlete, and in everyday life

For weekend warriors and wellness seekers, it's important to get the right CBD

Cannabidiol (CBD) has exploded onto the wellness scene. Remember not so long ago when people couldn’t get the letters straight, and sometimes called it CDB? Now CBD is the new pumpkin spice, being sold in trendy boutiques across the U.S., and everywhere online. In addition to the standard tinctures, capsules, topicals and vape products, you can now find CBD in coffee, muffins, um, pillows, beer, and I predict it’s only a matter of time before we see it in tequila. 

As more people learn about the benefits of CBD, it’s likely you’ve heard friends and family extol its virtues for relief from anxiety, insomnia, pain and other conditions. If you’re a gym rat (ah, the good old days) you’ve probably heard about CBD from fellow fitness freaks, or some of the many celebrity athletes now pitching various brands.  

So if you’re an athlete, is CBD a good idea? Even if you’re a weekend-warrior type of athlete, or a walk-the-dog kind of athlete? Is it a good idea to integrate CBD into your diet, your training or exercise routine, or your recovery regimen?

First, let’s take a closer look at CBD

Everyone knows CBD is related to marijuana; they are chemical cousins of the cannabis plant. CBD and THC are both cannabinoids  — there are at least 113 known cannabinoids. THC is what gets you high, and full-spectrum CBD legally cannot contain more than 0.03% THC, which is not enough to give you that feeling of being intoxicated. Broad-spectrum CBD and CBD isolate contain no measurable THC.  Further, CBD is extracted from hemp plants, which are not bred for THC.

So it’s the cannabinoid that doesn’t get you high, but what makes CBD so powerful as a medicine? How can it possibly treat all the conditions people are using it for? 

Decades ago, Israeli scientists led by Dr. Raphael Mechoulam discovered that a) we produce our own cannabinoids, and b) we have an endocannabinoid system, made up of receptors (called CB 1 and CB 2) throughout our bodies. Our endocannabinoid system regulates sleep, pain, mood, appetite and other functions. Most importantly, it helps us maintain a state of balance, or homeostasis. This is how CBD can help settle us down when we have anxiety, find sleep when it eludes us, and even protect young children from the danger of a disease like Dravet’s Syndrome, which causes epileptic seizures.  

CBD for inflammation

There’s no doubt that CBD is a versatile and effective medicine. But the property that makes it so attractive to athletes — even the legend-in-your-own-mind kind of athlete — is its ability as an anti-inflammatory agent.

 

You know what happens when you twist an ankle, or over-do it with the weights: That ankle swells up, or your muscles get sore. This is inflammation, and it’s part of our immune system’s response to illness or injury, perceived or actual, and CBD helps your body regulate that inflammatory response. So whether you’re a hard-core athlete, or just trying to stay healthy through another day, month and year, CBD might be your best friend on the inflammatory front.

Not just any CBD though. Because the hemp plant is a phyto-remediator, meaning it pretty much sucks toxins like lead and mercury out of the ground, you want to make sure the CBD you’re taking has been tested and proven to meet the strictest standards, so you're not unintentionally dosing yourself with unwanted toxins. The FDA does not require CBD brands to comply with testing standards, but a trade organization called the U.S. Hemp Authority has certified a handful of the hundreds of brands now on the market as safe and effective, including all of the the CBD products listed here.  

CBD capsules like CBD Oil Liquid Capsules from Charlotte’s Web or CBD Softgels from CBDistillery are a convenient way to get your daily dose of high-quality CBD — and keep your body in balance.  

When it’s a sore calf or a tight shoulder, a topical like Elixinol’s Sports Gel, formulated with capsaicin and arnica, inaddition to 1,000 mg of CBD, can help you attack inflammation. CBD Cooling Cream from Medterra also includes arnica and menthol in a THC-free formula.   

CBD and CBN for sleep

At bedtime, Elixinol’s Good Night capsules contain 15 mg of CBD, and melatonin to help you fall asleep and stay asleep. Or try American Shaman’s CBNight Water Soluble CBN Oil, which includes cannabinol, thought by many to promote sound sleep. 

Elixinol Good Night

A note: We each have a unique genetic profile, which means we may each react differently to the various cannabinoids and compounds in hemp. In practical terms, you may need to test several products before you learn how to optimize the medicinal potential of CBD for your particular body.

It’s important to choose CBD products that are safe and effective, and the best measure for that is certification by the U.S. Hemp Authority, which all of the products above have earned. With the products listed here you can be confident you’re taking the right steps to help your performance as an athlete — and as a well-balanced human.

 

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