Part 2 : Should Athletes consider CBD ?

Benefit # 4: CBD Improves Sleep

One of the first and most obvious effects new users notice is that CBD helps their sleep. In fact, it’s not uncommon for a single first dose of the compound to result in more restful sleep that very same night!

A cross sectional study of Cannabidiol Users backs these anecdotal reports up. The study concluded that “consumers are using CBD as a specific therapy for multiple diverse medical conditions— [including] sleep disorders.”  

According to the same study, it’s working: “almost 36% of respondents reported that CBD treats their medical condition(s) ‘very well by itself’”.

Considering that intense athletic routines aren’t always good for sleep, this particular benefit holds tremendous promise for athletes.

CBD may also lower stress harmonies like cortisol that could otherwise interfere with normal sleep cycles.

There’s a reason many elite athletes sleep a lot. More sleep = more time for tired muscles to recover! Roger Federer has famously said, “if I don’t sleep 11 to 12 hours per day, it’s not right.

If you’re not sleeping enough, don’t worry — CBD may help get you there. Unlike conventional sleep aids, though, it doesn’t activate any one receptor system enough to induce drowsiness when you’re out and about during the day.

For example, 10 mg of CBD at night will likely make you much sleepier than that same 10 mg dose taken earlier would. We’ll look at why that is next…

CBD = Better Circadian Rhythm?

Another amazing fact: the endocannabinoid system is photoentrained. What does that mean? It means that the system’s functions vary with the rising and falling of the sun. Endocannabinoid production is generally higher during the morning hours, and lower later in the day.

In recent years the importance of having a healthy circadian rhythm has come to light. Disregard the cues of nature through things like night-shift work or excess blue-light exposure, and bad things happen.

But that’s probably beyond the scope of this article. More relevant is the fact that many athletes experience disturbances to their sleep-wake cycles.  These athletes may feel lethargic when they should be energized (and vice versa) and turn to excessive use of coffee or other stimulants. Depending on such substances may lead to further adrenal stress or nervous system breakdown.

We’re thankful to say that there’s a more holistic option. Taking CBD regularly may promote a type of energy balance that works with one’s environment — not against it. Athletes can consider taking an additional 10-20 milligrams of CBD an hour or two prior to bed if sleep is a problem. 

Benefit # 5: CBD Promotes Muscle Relaxation

Athletes know that post-workout feeling, after a grueling session is in the books. Muscles teeming with lactate succumb to cramps and soreness; even normal activities like walking down the stairs becomes difficult.

In these moments comes the truly hard part: recovery.

Thankfully CBD is a potent muscle relaxant. That’s because the compound seems to help GABA (the nervous system’s primary inhibitory neurotransmitter) work better by influencing GABA-A receptors. In other words, CBD may promote muscle relaxation by influencing a system that stills, quiets, and calms the body down.

Conversely, low levels of GABA have been linked to muscle spasms, cramps, and even substance use disorders. All things to be avoided by the diligent athlete!

CBD may also help active users avoid problems with their muscle and joint health. As Runner’s world reports: “‘CBD coupled with stretching, icing, and foam rolling is a common treatment plan for tendonitis injuries about the knee, such as iliotibial band syndrome’ says Charles Bush-Joseph, M.D.”

To take advantage of these benefits, try supplementing with moderate amounts (10-20mg) of ingested CBD each day. A CBD-infused topical applied directly to problem areas should also help by reducing localized inflammation.

Just keep in mind that the strength of CBD topicals varies wildly — we’d recommend something that contains 100 mg of CBD per ounce or more.

Benefit # 6: CBD Alleviates Anxiety

CBD’s impacts on anxiety are among its best known. It appears to be good for chronic anxiety, acute anxiety, and everything in between. Even those who need relief from the fear of public speaking may stand to benefit from CBD !

Athletes could benefit too. Anxiety from the pressure to perform in training and competition can present a huge challenge to competitive athletes. The same study  that recommended outlawing THC as a performance-enhancing drug praised CBD for its  “decreased anxiety and fear memories extinction after oral CBD”, which could “enhance sports performance” without any mental downsides.

Just make sure that your CBD product is of the full-spectrum variety, which is often more effective than CBD isolate for anxiety. That’s because full-spectrum hemp extracts contain valuable compounds like terpenes and flavonoids, which work together to enrich CBD’s already-impressive effects.

Not much CBD is needed to experience relief from anxiety, either. Many athletes have experienced great results from taking small but consistent microdoses of the plant compound.

When placed into a highly convenient form (like a vaporizer), CBD can even be used prior to intense workouts and competitions. Dosing in the 3-10 milligram range is usually enough to instill a sense of calm and peace.

Benefit # 7: CBD Reduces Inflammation and Oxidation

Inflammation: it’s a potential barrier to optimal health for us all. While a little bit of inflammation is actually a good thing, chronic inflammation can lead to pain, sickness, and weight gain.

None of those things are good for athletes… and for them, inflammation is one of the biggest barriers to fast recovery, too. Some turn to conventional NSAID’s to reduce pain and inflammation, but that’s not really viable, either.

Something more holistic is needed, and that something is CBD. According to a 2010 study. cannabinoids “are potent anti-inflammatory agents and they exert their effects through induction of apoptosis, inhibition of cell proliferation, suppression of cytokine production and induction of T-regulatory cells (Tregs).”

In simpler terms, CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties are complex enough to ensure that one experiences only the small, adaptogenic amount of inflammation needed. Consistent use of even small amounts of the compound may be enough to make a difference.

There’s one more type of stress athletes may benefit from avoiding: oxidative stress. Everyone knows that sufficient antioxidant intake is important, but did you know that a better route is to avoid oxidative buildup in the first place?

For this, an internal antioxidant called glutathione is needed. Rodent studies indicate that CBD may boost levels of this amazing substance, in turn reducing oxidative stress even more effectively than vitamin C or E.  Interestingly enough, other adaptogens (like milk thistle and ashwagandha) can promote glutathione production, too.

With less oxidation comes less muscle soreness, better immune function, regulation of cellular recycling, and more. Glutathione may also promote insulin sensitivity, which in turn could allow athletes to improve their body composition and more efficiently utilize carbs.  All good things for sports enthusiasts!

The more challenging your workout routine, the more inflammation you may have…and the more CBD you may need. In general 10-20 mg of the compound is an ideal dose, but more might be needed to help get you through your most intense training. 

It’s a good idea to slowly increase your CBD dose and avoid making any drastic changes, though. That’s because CBD’s pharmacological effect is biphasic — it begins to slightly diminish after a certain dose is reached.

Increasing your dosing amount and frequency slowly will help ensure you don’t overshoot the dosing range which is optimal for you. You can also consider diversifying your CBD intake. If 20 mg/day of CBD oil isn’t quite enough to reduce inflammation, try adding in a CBD topical, nighttime pain patch, and/or CBD vape pen

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