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cbd and athletic performance

Many athletes may find themselves getting stressed out before a game or event. As stress can impact performance adversely, CBD could be an option for mitigation. To manage game day stress as well as preparation, CBD is a great natural alternative.

CBD for Athletes: Up Your Performance Naturally

Similarly, after an athletic session, game, or heavy workout, it’s important for athletes and active people to get adequate sleep, so the body has time to heal on its own. A tiring day should normally put an athlete to sleep easily but pre-existing sleep issues or heightened stress levels may lead to a struggle getting to sleep at night. CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system to regulate mood and even behavior similarly to pain, helping you stay active during the day and get good sleep at night.

CBD is making waves among athletes and sports enthusiast who claim the benefits can vary from accelerated recovery, to better sleep, to less stress of upcoming events. Though many organizations still consider THC, the often-better known cousin of CBD, to be an illicit substance the World Anti-Doping Agency does permit the use of CBD for athletes. It’s always best to check with your particular sports and leagues rules, but overall, CBD is gaining more and more popularity among athletes since being removed from the WAD’s list of controlled substances. Let’s take a closer look at why, and how CBD could benefit your athletic routine:

In a 2020 review published by Sports Medicine, preclinical animal studies and clinical trials with non-athletes, researchers found that CBD could help promote both physiological and psychological as well as biochemical benefits that could help athletes. A key factor in this was found directly linked to CBD’s ability to alleviate inflammatory pain linked with tissue damage, and neuropathic pain due to nerve irritation or damage. This could be a gamechanger for action and endurance sport athletes who are subject to high-intensity and impact movements as well as repetitive and long-distance workouts that can lead to inflammation and irritation or injury.

What Is Cannabidiol?

CBD for Athletes

CBD interacts directly with the human body’s endocannabinoid system, or the ECS. This bodily system is known for controlling and contributing to things like appetite, mood, pain and inflammation. By interacting with the receptors within the ECS, cannabidiol is able to impact the body and brain’s response to a number of things. This interaction has proven beneficial for people from all walks of life, including athletes.

160 μM CBD) [179]. In the latter, CBD indicated anti-viral activity against the hepatitis C virus (EC50 = 3.2 μM) and the Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (EC50 = 2.1 μM), but not the hepatitis B virus [119, 122]. While these findings hint at some promise, others caution that CBD could potentially weaken host defence against invading pathogens because of its tendency to modify the function of various immune cells (see also section “Exercise-Induced Muscle Damage—Muscle Function, Soreness, and Injury”) [136, 147]. Importantly, a systematic review of studies investigating the safety of CBD in individuals with intractable epilepsy found that upper respiratory tract infections were similarly infrequent in participants who received the active treatment (5–20 mg·kg −1 ·day −1 ) and placebo (approx. 10% of individuals) [107]. Further research to develop a better understanding of “if” and “how” CBD influences the development and progression of illness and infection in both athlete and non-athlete populations would be useful.

While CBD could potentially aid in muscle recovery, other anti-inflammatory agents, such as ibuprofen (a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug [NSAID]) have been reported to attenuate exercise-induced skeletal muscle adaptation [120]. The precise mechanism(s) underpinning these effects have not been fully elucidated, although it may be that the prevention of inflammation inhibits angiogenesis and skeletal muscle hypertrophy [120]. Human trials also suggest that ibuprofen may not influence EIMD, inflammation, or soreness [144, 175]. Thus, if CBD exerts its effects via similar mechanisms, it could possibly attenuate the benefits of training without influencing muscle function or soreness. Future studies investigating this are clearly warranted to clarify such issues and elucidate the potential benefits of CBD.

While the beneficial effects of high-impact exercise on bone health are well established [38], other factors within the sporting context (e.g. traumatic injuries, low energy availability [117]) may cause or contribute to reduced bone health and the development of fractures in athletes.

14–17 h. Although tmax did not increase dose-dependently in this investigation [170], another study [19], involving a much lower oral dose of CBD (300 mg), did indicate a shorter tmax (i.e.


Recently, interest in CBD has intensified among the general population as evidenced by an exponential rise in internet searches for ‘CBD’ in the United States (USA) [108]. Some professional athletes (e.g. golfers, rugby players) also appear to be using CBD (e.g. ‘Team cbdMD’, despite there being no published studies demonstrating beneficial effects on sport or exercise performance. In many jurisdictions, including the USA and Europe, access to regulated, prescription CBD (i.e. Epidiolex®) is limited to patients with intractable epilepsy. However, a wide range of low dose (e.g. 5–50 mg·d −1 ) CBD-containing “nutraceuticals” (primarily in oil or capsule form) have become readily available online and over-the-counter (e.g. pharmacies, health food stores) [20, 125]. This includes some varieties that are marketed specifically to recreational and elite athletes (e.g. cbdMD, fourfivecbd). The use of these products is likely to become even more widespread if the World Health Organization’s recommendation that CBD no longer be scheduled in the international drug control conventions is adopted by the United Nations member states [201].

Differences between systemic and oral dosing should also be considered [9]. Intraperitoneal (i.p.) dosing is often used in animal studies and has been reported to elicit Cmax values

That said, a mechanistic understanding of these effects of CBD on feeding behaviour remains to be established. Other cannabinoids with CB1R agonist effects (e.g. Δ 9 -THC, AEA, cannabinol) reliably induce hyperphagia when administered exogenously [58, 197, 198]; but CBD lacks such an effect. Ignatowska-Jankowska et al. [93] did report that the selective CB2R antagonist, AM630, prevented CBD-induced BM changes; however, CB2R has not generally been linked to feeding behaviour, and if CBD is indirectly increasing endocannabinoid tone (i.e. via AEA) [92], this might be expected to promote feeding behaviour (via indirect CB1R agonist effects) [197]. A role for GI side effects in affecting appetite therefore cannot be ruled out [107]. Further preclinical research appears to be required to clarify the mechanisms underlying these functional effects on feeding. Controlled trials are also needed to determine whether CBD influences appetite and dietary behaviour in humans, particularly during the pre- and post-exercise period, where nutrient provision is critical.

Neuroprotection—Concussion and Subconcussion

In addition to “resting” CV parameters, a recent meta-analysis (of largely preclinical studies) found that CBD attenuated “stress-induced” (e.g. via fear-conditioning or physical-restraint) increases in HR and BP (BP −3.5 mmHg; 95% CI −5.2, −1.9; I 2 = 73%; HR −16 mmHg; 95% CI −26, −6; I 2 = 92%) [165], that said, most studies measuring CV responses to CBD (150–600 mg) under “stress-inducing” conditions in humans (e.g. public speaking) find no effect on HR or BP [15, 116, 207]. One placebo-controlled, double-blinded (single-dose) crossover trial of healthy males (n = 9) [95] did report that CBD (600 mg) increased HR in the presence of certain stressors (i.e. a mental arithmetic test, an isometric contraction on a hand-grip dynamometer, and cold exposure); and, at times, reduced systolic and diastolic BP. However, these differences were apparent at baseline (pre-stress) and the data were not standardised to account for this, making interpretation difficult.

While CBD could potentially attenuate exercise-induced GI damage, it is important to note that other anti-inflammatory agents, such as the NSAID, ibuprofen, have been reported to exacerbate exercise-induced GI damage and impair gut barrier function [181]. The precise mechanism(s) underpinning these effects have not been fully elucidated. However, NSAIDs have been suggested to augment GI ischemia by inhibiting the COX1 and COX2 enzymes and interfering with nitric oxide production [180]. Some in vitro research similarly suggests that CBD partially inhibits COX1 and COX2, although this effect has only been reported at supraphysiological concentrations (e.g. 50–500 μM CBD) [92]. Thus, the effect of CBD on exercise-induced GI damage warrants clarification.

Cbd and athletic performance

Interestingly, WADA set a urinary threshold of 150 nanograms per milliliter for THC, which is substantially more lenient than the previous limit of 15 nanograms per milliliter. The higher threshold is designed to lower the risk of an athlete testing positive due to casual use outside of competition. A USA Today article in 2016 quoted Ben Nichols, a spokesperson for WADA as saying, “Our information suggests that many cases do not involve game or event-day consumption. The new threshold level is an attempt to ensure that in-competition use is detected and not use during the days and weeks before competition.”

CBD Basics

Yes. Starting at the beginning of 2018, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) removed CBD from the list of prohibited substances – in or out of competition. (Here is the 2020 WADA Prohibited List.) The US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) did the same, and they provide a “Marijuana FAQ” page to clarify the rules. There is an important caveat: ONLY CBD was removed from the prohibited list. The psychoactive component of marijuana, THC, is still prohibited in competition, as are synthetic cannabinoids. The specific wording is: “All natural and synthetic cannabinoids are prohibited, e.g.: In cannabis (hashish, marijuana) and cannabis products. Natural and synthetic tetrahydrocannabinols (THCs). Synthetic cannabinoids that mimic the effects of THC. Except: Cannabidiol.”

6 Benefits of CBD for Athletes

New CBD-containing products hit the market every week. You can get ingest CBD through capsules, pills, or as an oil. You can inhale it as a vapor. It has been infused into sports drinks, recovery drinks, and all manner of edibles. There are also topical creams and lotions that contain CBD oil, as well as tinctures/drops that can be placed under your tongue.