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CBD for athletes is on the rise, and several studies have shown that cannabidiol (CBD) has many beneficial effects on the human body. As a result, CBD is increasingly accepted and used in the sports world. 

CBD is a naturally occurring compound found in the cannabis plant. Unlike tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, CBD doesn’t have an intoxicating effect. That makes it a good choice for people who want pain relief without the “high” associated with THC.

CBD is primarily focused on the active substances that have a positive effect on your body. In this article, we will take you through the different reasons why athletes and fitness enthusiasts are choosing to use CBD to improve their performance and recovery.

Is CBD legal for athletes?

The answer is yes. In 2018, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) removed CBD from the list of prohibited substances for professional athletes. This happened after the recognition of the many beneficial effects that CBD has on the human body.

Furthermore, WADA increased the urinary threshold of 150 nanograms per millilitre for THC from the previous and lower 15 nanograms per millilitre. Professional athletes who undergo regular testing for illegal substances can now use CBD with peace of mind.

However, it is important to understand that extracting CBD without any traces of THC is almost impossible. Carefully choosing and reading about a brand before purchasing is the best way to ensure that the product or oil contains minimum THC levels and does not lead to a violation of anti-doping rules.

How does CBD work?

We now know that athletes can legally consume CBD, but how does it work, and what does it do to the body?

The human body contains a specialized system called the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is an important signalling pathway that regulates stress, inflammation, anxiety, and depression. While THC and CBD have the same molecular structure, slight differences in the arrangement of their atoms impart very different effects on the ECS.

THC is known for producing psychoactive effects in the body through the activation of two receptors in the central nervous system called CB1 and CB2. The activation of these receptors triggers physiological processes across multiple organ systems, most notably the release of neurotransmitters from the central nervous system that impart the psychoactive effects associated with feeling “high”.

CBD binds to CB1 and CB2 at a much slower rate than THC, which results in the activation of similar physiological processes without the psychoactive or “high” effects. These physiologic effects make CBD promising for clinical benefits.

Due to the highly addictive nature of modern pain medication, alternative therapies for pain management are of particular interest. Some small-scale studies suggest that, while CBD is not effective for the management of acute, short-term pain, it may play a role in chronic, long-term pain.

As an athlete you, apply a fair amount of stress to your body, leading to pain and inflammation greater than what your endocannabinoid system can handle. Adding inhibitory CBD may help this overloaded system get your neurotransmitters back under control. Consuming CBD could be thought of as supplementing or increasing the activity of your body’s existing endocannabinoid system.

It’s worth remembering that there’s still a lot about CBD that we don’t know. As the industry continues to grow, researchers will likely conduct more studies on CBD, and the benefits it has on the human body will become more conclusive.

Benefits of CBD for athletes

Pain Management

Many studies are showing that CBD may have anti-inflammatory properties to help target your inflamed and aching muscles, as well as stiff joints. These incredible benefits help to speed up recovery and relieve pain. Despite the lack of hard evidence on pain management specifically, CBD does appear to relieve pain effectively for many athletes.

CBD interacts directly with the endocannabinoid system (ECS) in the body, eliminating free radicals, restoring balance, and reducing inflammation. For athletes who participate in intense exercise or high-impact movements, CBD can be a great natural option for relief.

CBD is ideal for athletes because it does not create a dependency like some prescribed pain management medications can. In fact, some research suggests that CBD could be used to treat addiction to opioids or similar substances, with minimal side effects.

Reduce Inflamation

One of the best features of CBD is that it can have an anti-inflammatory effect. CBD bound to CB2 receptors helps suppress the symptoms of inflammation after intense workouts. This way, the body ensures that no injury or muscle strain occurs.

Inflammation is a natural response of the body to injury or excessive exertion during strenuous workouts. Although, a little bit of inflammation can be good for athletes and help stimulate positive training adaptations. Too much inflammation hinders recovery and hurts performance. It may even prevent athletes from participating in competitions or following through with their regular training program.

The best athletes know how crucial recovery and sleep are when trying to achieve optimum performance day after day. Studies show that CBD gives you a certain calmness that is necessary for a good and relaxing sleep. Providing the body with the rest it needs gives it the time to heal itself in preparation for the next training load. When your body does not recover well, it cannot repair itself and become stronger, potentially leading to injuries and a decline in fitness.

CBD helps athletes to stand up energetically and rested with the feeling that they are ready to win.


Currently, what we know about CBD is that it offers many potential benefits and few risks. CBD is a great alternative for athletes and active people when it comes to recovering from training stress by helping with chronic pain, reducing inflammation, and improving sleep quality. Because the compound is naturally derived it can serve as an ideal replacement for traditional medications but should still be treated as potentially appearing on a drug test.

Although CBD and THC are different and with varying effects, there is an association of one to the other, especially in sports. When turning to CBD as an athlete, be sure to always turn to reliable products and companies with accurate label claims and third-party lab test results.

It’s worth remembering that there’s still a lot about CBD that we don’t know. As the cannabis industry grows, researchers will likely conduct more studies on cannabis and its derivatives.

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