You may have heard about the health benefits that CBD provides. But did you know that it can also play an important role in sports performance and recovery to increase your athletic ability?
CBD works promotes several aspects in the body’s function helping make users more capable when engaging in physical activities. It also works to decrease pain and inflammation speeding up recovery times. Here’s a bit about how it works.
CBD (cannabidiol) is one of the unique compounds derived from the cannabis plant. There is a lot of controversy surrounding the compound due to its relation to THC, another compound derived from the plant. However, unlike THC, CBD does not provide any mind altering effects. Rather, it can provide a number of health benefits including a reduction in anxiety, pain relief, a decrease in symptoms related to many serious diseases and more.
How Can CBD Improve Athletic Performance?
There are many ways CBD can improve athletic performance. Here is some of what you can expect when using it to increase your performance.
Cortisol Reduction: Cortisol is known as your body’s main stress hormone. It is made by your adrenal glands and helps to fuel your fight or flight instinct. Cortisol has a catabolic effect on tissue working to break down muscle and is associated with a decrease in anabolic (muscle growth hormones) like IGF-1 and GH. Because of this, athletes will want to keep levels of cortisol low.
CBD has been known to decrease cortisol levels by interfering in cortisol secretion. Studies were conducted to determine CBD’s effects on cortisol levels. These studies involved 11 healthy volunteers, some of whom were given a placebo, and others who received doses of CBD measuring 300 mg and 600 mg. Those who received the placebo experienced no notable changes, but those who received the CBD experienced a reduction in cortisol in direct relation to the amount they were given.
Cortisol also plays a role in mood, sleep and sex drive. Excessive levels can lead to mental stress, weight gain and other health issues that can affect athletic performance. Respectively, CBD effects in keeping these low are even more beneficial.
Weight Management: Many of us associate THC with weight gain because it causes munchies. Oddly enough, CBD has the opposite effect. It actually suppresses appetite.
It works by increasing the level of mitochondria found in the body allowing it to burn more calories. It also stimulates genes and proteins that break down fat cells reducing the amount of new fat cells that are generated.
The way CBD works in the body to keep weight into control is often known as fat browning. In this process, white fatty tissue is converted to brown or beige fatty tissue. The tissue turns from white to brown once it is cleansed of all its toxins. Once the toxins are removed, the white fatty tissue no longer has the need to build up.
Studies support CBD effectiveness in weight loss includes one published in the Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry journal. Here, Korean researchers studied the effects of CBD administration on immature fat cells. Results showed that CBD was effective at reducing these fat cells.
Athletes who are best able to manage weight will experience an increased ease of movement and agility as well as less stress on the joints.
Restful Sleep: Never underestimate the benefits of a good night’s sleep. In the case of athletic performance, an athlete who gets a good night’s sleep will be able to perform at their best.
CBD helps to promote a better night’s sleep. Although research is still being conducted to determine exactly how CBD works within the body, we know it interacts with different receptors, proteins and other chemicals in the brain to create changes in the activity of neurotransmitters, hormones and other cells. These interactions affect many of the body’s functions helping to ease anxiety that may keep us awake at night and regulating the sleep wake cycle.
It also works as a pain reducer helping those who are unable to sleep due to chronic pain.
One study conducted in 2013 looked at how CBD can benefit sleep in Wistar rats. Rats were given different doses of the compound and those given doses of 10 and 40 mg. experienced increases in total sleep time as well as increasing sleep latency in the light period of the day.
This means that not only can CBD work as a sleep aid, it can also increase alertness during non-sleeping hours which can aid athletic performance.
Insulin Sensitivity Promotion: Insulin is a hormone produced in the pancreas that regulates the amount of glucose in the blood. If you have low insulin sensitivity, you may not be able to get rid of excess fat, even if you eat right and exercise regularly. Insulin should be low most of the time and work more the less it is used.
High sensitivity to insulin promotes the storage of excess glucose as glycogen in the liver and muscles. Low sensitivity leads to storage of glucose as fat making it difficult to turn glucose into muscle.
It is unknown exactly how CBD works to promote insulin sensitivity, but it is believed to be linked to its anti-inflammatory properties. Studies have shown a connection between chronic inflammation and insulin resistance. When inflammation is reduced, the immune system and cardiovascular system can function better, and cell growth and sugar metabolism are improved.
When all these bodily systems are working as efficiently as possible, the chance of developing insulin resistance and diabetes decreases.
One study that shows the effects of CBD on insulin was conducted in 2006 on non obese, diabetic mice. Results indicated that CBD can inhibit and delay destructive insulitis and inflammatory Th-1 associated cytokine production in the mice. This works to promote insulin sensitivity and lowers the risk of diabetes.
How Does CBD Increase Athletic Recovery?
Not only can CBD help you to perform at your best, it can also help you to recover from athletic activity. Here are some ways it can be used in recovery.
Pain: After some workouts, we can certainly feel it in the morning. CBD can be effective at treating pain. It can help soothe muscles that have become sore during a workout and can also treat chronic pain that may be associated with athletic activity.
The way CBD works to relieve chronic pain is still being investigated, but it seems to react with the receptors in the brain and immune system that receive chemical signals from stimuli and help cells respond. This creates a pain killing effect that helps with pain management.
One study conducted on CBD and pain looked at the effects on the ON and OFF neurons in anaesthetized rats. Results showed that the compound stimulated descending pathways of antinociception and caused analgesia by interacting with target proteins involved in nociceptive control. In plainer English, the compound might be useful in treating pain.
Anti-Inflammatory: Inflammation can occur throughout the body. It is often associated with pain and can occur in sore muscles that may be affected by an intensive workout. Inflammation can also be associated with a number of issues that can affect overall health and limit athletic ability.
The way CBD works to reduce inflammation is due to how it works with the CB2 receptor in the nervous system. This receptor affects the immune system. Since inflammation is an immune response, compounds that activate the CB2 receptor will be effective in reducing inflammation.
A study was conducted in 2013 to investigate the benefits of CBD as an anti-inflammatory agent. Here, mice were induced with pancreatitis and then administered CBD in varying doses. Results show the inflammation was reduced in mice that was treated with CBD.
Muscle Spasms: Muscle spasms are involuntary contractions that happen when muscles are stiff. They are likely to occur in athletes as a result of strained muscles, dehydration, trauma or nerve damage. CBD has been shown to reduce the occurrence of muscle spasms in the following way:
CBD works with the CB1 and CB2 receptors to regulate the excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmitters necessary to curtail spasms. This can result in a lowering in the intensity and frequency of spasms in athletes as well as those suffering with multiple sclerosis.
In one study conducted in 2017, mice were injected with Experimental Autoimmune Encephalomyelitis (EAE), the most common model of MS. They were then given 10 mg of CBD to determine the reaction. The PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway, which plays a key role in regulating the cell cycle, was studied specifically. Findings showed that the compound worked to reduce pro-inflammatory cytokines and inhibit kinases to reduce seizures.
Recommended Products for Athletes.
CBD can be used in a variety of forms and can be taken orally or applied topically. Both are potent options to provide pain reducing, anti-inflammatory and health benefits. Although applying topically to affected areas may produce longer and more immediate relief. However, it is recommended that athletes experiment to find what works best for them and best suits their lifestyle.
As an athlete, your workout means a lot to you. You want your routine to be as effective as possible and for recovery to be swift, so you can maintain your level of fitness. CBD is a natural option that can minimize pain and inflammation and keep you in fighting shape. Use it to improve your quality of life and help you reach your goals.