Cannabidiol(CBD) has gained significant popularity over the past few years, thanks to hundreds of publications citing its health benefits. There had been some controversy about using a cannabis compound to enhance physical and mental performance, mainly because people associate all cannabis products with getting high.
But that’s what makes CBD unique; the fact that it doesn’t cause a high, but still manages to deliver many of the therapeutic effects found in cannabis. Indeed, cannabidiol has triggered what may later turn out to be a revolutionary shift in the way people use medicine to treat conditions such as pain and inflammation.
So what exactly is CBD?
Cannabidiolis an extract of cannabis, and one of the many compounds called cannabinoids. Cannabis plants contain more than one active compound, so THC gets you stoned, and CBD actually counters the feeling of euphoria and is more of a relaxer than anything else. But aside from CBD and THC, there are many more compounds in cannabis, and what researchers are now investigating is how these cannabinoids interact with the body through the Endocannabinoid System (ECS).
The human body produces its own cannabinoids through the ECS; so many of the effects of CBD happen naturally, as if the body were generating the effects – as opposed to having a synthetic compound introduced into your body.
But does it work?
It’s important to understand how the endocrine system influences basic biological functions such as mood, sleep, appetite, and even our sensitivity to pain. The endocrine system is a complex network of glands and hormones; and is responsible for regulating quite a lot of processes in the body. CBD is a cannabinoid (much like what is produced in the ECS) and it engages brain receptors whose job is to control things like how the immune system responds to pain; or how energized (or low) you feel when you wake up.
How does this relate to exercise and muscle recovery?
To manage pain and inflammation, many people turn to common NSAIDs like aspirin, ibuprofen, ketoprofen, diclofenac, tolmetin, and sulindac. The downside is that these drugs are addictive and can have other unpleasant side effects.
CBD is anti-inflammatory, and it works by engaging brain receptors through the ECS. What this means, is that cannabidiol can be used to reduce inflammation caused by exercise, as well as minimize pain. Keep in mind that cannabis has been used throughout history for its pain-relieving properties, and it’s only now that people have started taking it seriously.
What causes muscle fatigue after exercise?
When you spend time in the gym working out, or go out for training, the muscles tend to rub against each other triggering a condition known as Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS). It is caused by the swelling of muscles from exertion, and one of the side effects is fatigue. Muscles can get damaged from too much exercise, especially if you don’t give yourself enough time to recover, or have a way to speed up recovery following every exercise routine. Inflammation must be reduced or managed to allow muscles to grow, and to prevent significant damage to the tissues.
The release of stress hormones during exercise can also have an effect on how your workouts turn out, and it’s an advantage to use CBD since one of its many benefits includes managing cortisol and adrenaline levels in the blood. Having too much cortisol in your blood can damage the muscles and put your body in a constant state of panic – which is very bad for your health.
How can I use CBD for muscle recovery?
Cannabidiol is now used by sports people from all over the world, due to its anti-inflammatory, anti-anxiety effects, and the best part is that it’s completely legal in the U.S., provided it contains no more than 0.3% THC. Start by applying CBD to your muscles and joints before and after each workout to reduce pain and inflammation. CBD is basically antioxidative, anti-psychotic, antiemetic, anti-inflammatory, and neuro-protective. It reduces inflammation when massaged on joints and muscles, and when ingested orally.
This is great because it gives you more than one way of taking CBD; because if you hadn’t noticed already, there are hundreds of different kinds of CBD products including snacks and drinks, and they all deliver the same therapeutic effects. But having said that, it’s probably more efficient to use topical products such as lotions and salves to treat localized pain in the muscles or joints.
You can also use CBD to manage several other conditions such as:
- Anxiety and depression
Anxiety affects millions of people, some of whom are professional athletes. To manage this condition, drugs like Prozac, Luvox, Lexapro, and Zoloft are commonly used. But for anybody looking to keep a clear head and avoid creating a dependency, CBD might seem like a better option.
Do you have mood problems? CBD can help you manage it by releasing serotonin and blocking some of the mechanisms that lead to mood fluctuations (most of which involves the hormones). By managing mood fluctuations, you will see improved results from your workouts.
Cannabidiol is a mild relaxer, and it doesn’t only target the muscles; it also calms the mind, making it easier to fall asleep. If your lack of sleep is caused by pain or anxiety, CBD can do a lot to calm you down.
- Loss of appetite
This is an area that plays a central role in your ability to perform physically and mentally, and to grow muscles. We know that cannabis causes people to feel hungry (sometimes), and that it regulates appetite and digestion to some extent. It’s the same with CBD. It will boost your appetite but it won’t necessarily make you gain weight.
Remember, we’re not recommending that anybody stop seeking professional medical treatment in favor of CBD. If you have a condition, it’s best to see a doctor.
Is there any evidence that CBD works?
A good place to start is with a 2018 review of over a hundred medical studies published in Frontiers in Neurology, all of which show evidence of CBD’s pain-relieving properties, and its ability to reduce inflammation in both humans and animals. There’s also evidence that CBD improves sleep, and that it’s a natural anti-inflammatory.Many more studies have been published in favor of using CBD as a supplement, however, there may be some minor drawbacks.
CBD potential side effects
Side effects are uncommon, but some have been reported. Here’s a quick list of potential side effects:
- Anxiety – though very unusual
- Dry mouth
- Hunger (or feeling full)
Use CBD to manage post workout soreness, and for the best results, use before and after each workout, and preferably, again before going to bed. It’s not possible to overdose on cannabidiol, but it’s recommended that you stick with moderate doses especially when starting out.