Research suggests that CBD shows promise in helping relieve pain and reduce inflammation, which could be useful for athletes participating in intense exercise. While THC can also be used to treat pain, it may cause unwanted side effects and could affect athletic performance as a 2004 study on lab rats suggests that THC may impair short-term memory, whereas CBD doesn’t appear to. 1
Among some medical circles, there’s controversy over CBD’s “nonpsychoactive” label, since it does technically act on the same cannabinoid type 1 (CB1) receptors in the brain as THC. CBD has been shown however, to work differently on those receptors yielding different effects. It won’t get you high, but some have noted side effects such as fatigure, diarrhea, changes in weight and appetite. These seem to isolated and in general, the often described favorable safety profile of CBD in humans was confirmed. In comparison with other drugs used to treat syptoms such as epilepsy and psychotic disorders, CBD has a better side effect profile. 5,6
Despite CBD’s relatively mild side effects and natural roots, you should still seek medical advice before trying it. This is especially true if you have a medical condition or are taking other medication as CBD may interact with some medications, changing the way the body breaking them down.
This is especially true of drugs that are processed by the liver. 7
Legality for athletic events
In 2018, the World Anti-Doping Agency removed CBD from its list of prohibited substances. However, most major sports leagues and athletic organizations, with the recent exception of Major League Baseball, still prohibit the use of THC.
Taking CBD shouldn’t cause you to test positive for THC, especially if you choose Broad spectrum or isolated CBD products instead of full-spectrum products. If you’re an athlete who has to be drug tested, be sure and read product labels and do your research to be sure you’re getting a high-quality product.
If you’re new to CBD, start with the recommended dose and don’t use it before an athletic competition. When you grow comfortable with its effects, you can start to use higher doses and consider taking it before or even during physical activity. Topical CBD is thought to provide the same benefits as other ingestion methods and new products to relieve muscle soreness are improving every day.
There are still a lot of unknowns about CBD and its impact on athletes, but initial research indicates that it’s at least worth further exploration. It may become the secret weapon in your gym bag !