For athletes and anyone exercising, pain is often part of their sport or activity. It is often said, No Pain – No Gain. Athletes push themselves to the limit causing soreness and fatigue as a result. This inhibits their ability to perform and recover. As we age, recovery time becomes longer.
Athletes are taking advantage of cannabidiol (CBD). With its anti-inflammatory properties and studies showing it helps with pain relief. With proper education, weekend warriors and professional athletes are discovering CBD it most likely their best choice for many reasons.
Typically, after working out, ibuprofen or another type of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) is taken to reduce the pain and soreness. There is an increased risk of gastrointestinal ulcers and bleeds, heart attack and kidney disease1 from repeatedly taking these drugs. In contrast, studies2 are showing that CBD can reduce pain, with doses of up to 1,500 mg/day reportedly well-tolerated. Daily doses of NSAIDs can have severe medical side effects, but CBD has no known negative health consequences.2
I have been asked if salves or creams are available and effective. I have purchased them and tested their effectiveness. Personally, I have found oral dosages and applying the CBD liquid direct to the affected area is much less expensive and equally effective. There is evidence that a topical CBD3 has anti-inflammatory properties. I have enjoyed its effectiveness personally and with patients.
Research indicates that topical and oral CBD application has therapeutic potential for relief of arthritis and inflammation without evident side-effects. This has been my experience as well.
While this study was focused on arthritis and joint pain, there is a correlation that CBD can be effective for post-exercise recovery and reduce the inflammation brought on by it.
In the article from Medical News Today,4 the author writes, “CBD stops the body from absorbing anandamide, one compound associated with regulating pain. Increased levels of anandamide in the bloodstream may reduce the amount of pain a person feels.” The author continues by stating that CBD can limit inflammation in the brain and nervous system, helping to experience less pain. Reducing the pain levels allows recovery to begin.
THERE IS A LOT OF SCIENCE!
The human body has an endocannabinoid system (ECS) that helps regulate functions such as sleep, immune-system responses and pain. A study published in Neurotherapeutics states that CBD activates or inhibits other compounds in the endocannabinoid system5 which include pain. One of the ways CBD does this is by stopping the body from absorbing anandamide,5 a compound associated with regulating pain as stated above.
Additionally, a study by the Laboratory for Integrative Neuroscience at the National Institutes of Health6 showed that CBD “has significant anti-inflammatory properties and the ability to suppress inflammatory responses by targeting certain receptors.”
THE ONLY REAL PROBLEM WITH CBD IS PREJUDICE AND MISCONCEPTION
Police and government officials complain about the legalizing of HEMP and CBD because the Hemp plants look so much like Marijuana while in the field. Officials like to fly over an area and spot an illegal crop and close in. In my opinion, that is a very poor excuse when compared to the many, many uses of Hemp and CBD oil.
So, the problem remains that CBD has a stigma since it is closely related to cannabis or Marijuana, which is still illegal on a federal level. Yet many states have legalized marijuana for medical and personal use.
Any debate or argument over CBD has no merit, since it doesn’t have the THC that yields the psychotropic effects of cannabis. Further reducing the stigma of CBD, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) removed it from its 2018 Prohibited List7 and allows its use for athletes in and out of competition.
More and more states will legalize cannabis. It is on the forefront for consideration in many of the states in the US. With the removal of CBD from the WADA Prohibited List and the many studies showing how effective it is, the associated unfounded stigma will disappear, and the health benefits will be more widely recognized in my opinion. It is already happening.
I TAKE AND APPLY CBD DAILY AND RECOMMEND IT FOR MANY PATIENTS
When exercising, professional or amateur, pain and inflammation can result from the activity. CBD is a great alternative to NSAIDs. It can be effective on many types of more severe pain also. It has no side effects like those drugs that are addictive. Further, studies of acute and chronic pain have demonstrated the efficacy of cannabinoid receptor agonists, even in neuropathic or inflammatory pain.8
Using CBD, pain relief comes without the negative side effects of ibuprofen such as nausea, chest pain, shortness of breath, and a host of other symptoms. CBD has been shown to be safe on the stomach.
If anxiety or nervousness is an issue, CBD is also known for its anti-anxiety qualities. No one can argue they are a safer choice than Valium or Xanax. CBD does not have the same side effects, which includes headaches, nausea and insomnia. In “Cannabidiol as a Potential Treatment for Anxiety Disorders” in Neurotherapeutics,9 the authors state, “Preclinical evidence conclusively demonstrates CBD’s efficacy in reducing anxiety behaviors relevant to multiple disorders.” It can be extrapolated that CBD can help with anxiety related to athletic performance or other issues, providing a sense of calm.
If the pain or soreness is localized, a transdermal application to the area is recommended. The transdermal liquid or cream is absorbed through the skin, penetrating muscle and tissue, and enters the bloodstream. Regular creams and lotions do not penetrate the skin, staying on the epidermis.
Topical application offers greater bioavailability10 in contrast to oral CBD, which must be processed through the kidneys, losing some potency along the way.
With all of the addictions of prescription and other drugs, it seems we need to consider CBD on a wide scale.
- Bally M, et al. Risk of acute myocardial infarction with NSAIDs in real world use: bayesian meta-analysis of individual patient data. BMJ, 2017;357:j1909.
- Bergamaschi MM, et al. Safety and side effects of cannabidiol, a Cannabis sativa constituent. Curr Drug Saf, 2011 Sep 1;6(4):237-49.
- Hammell DC, et al. Transdermal cannabidiol reduces inflammation and pain-related behaviours in a rat model of arthritis. Eur J Pain, 2016 Jul; 20(6):936-948.
- Johnson J. “Does CBD Oil Work for Chronic Pain Management?” Medical News Today, last updated March 16, 2018.
- Rosenberg EC, et al. Cannabinoids and epilepsy. Neurotherapeutics, 2015 Oct;12(4):747-768.
- Nagarkatti P, et al. Cannabinoids as novel anti-inflammatory drugs. Future Med Chem, 2009 Oct;1(7):1333-1349.
- WADA Prohibited List.
- Manzanares J, et al. Role of the cannabinoid system in pain control and therapeutic implications for the management of acute and chronic pain episodes. Curr Neuropharmacol, 2006 Jul;4(3):239-257.
- Blessing ES, et al. Cannabidiol as a potential treatment for anxiety disorders. Neurotherapeutics, 2015 Oct;12(4):825-836.
- Prausnitz MR, et al. Transdermal drug delivery. Nat Biotechnol, 2008 Nov;26(11):1261-1268.