Everyone is talking about CBD, but do you know what it is, and how it can be administered? That’s what we’re here for! Henri Sant Cassia at CBD Virtue provides the inside track on one of the fastest-growing trends in the health and fitness world.
WHAT IS CBD?
CBD is short for cannabidiol. It’s a natural chemical compound which is extracted from the cannabis plant – typically from industrial hemp. It is one of thousands of compounds found in the plant, some give the plant colour like chlorophyll, others like limonene give it scent. CBD is one of a special group of these compounds called cannabinoids. They are hitting the headlines in the fitness world because they have a range of beneficial effects on the body, with no side effects or addictive properties.
Our brains and bodies are full of receptors for cannabinoids. The cannabinoids bind and interact with these receptors, triggering these beneficial effects. The receptors can influence everything from memory to bone growth to reproduction. In fact, our bodies produce cannabinoids naturally. Every mammal has an “endocannabinoid system” much like we have cardiovascular or central nervous systems. It is one of the key systems in the body.
You may already have heard about THC or tetrahydrocannabinol, the most well-known cannabinoid. It is psychoactive, which means it changes the way our brains function. This causes our behaviour, mood and perceptions to alter. THC gives recreational marijuana users a high. CBD is not psychoactive, so it does not produce a high.
There is a growing body of anecdotal and scientific evidence that CBD has a huge range of health and wellness benefits. Its effects on the body and the mind can seem miraculous. Many people who take it are looking to combat a specific medical condition, from minor problems to life-changing diseases. Others want to improve their lifestyle or tackle challenges like playing professional sports.
You’ll find CBD in edible forms like gel capsules or gummy sweets, cosmetics like body and face creams, e-liquids for vaping, drinks and now an increasing number of specific fitness products. The big sellers are currently tinctures, which are little bottles of CBD extract in suspension, and protein bars with CBD additives.
SPORTS AND FITNESS
The fitness world has embraced CBD in much the same way as it did protein powders. From a small niche in North America it is now becoming popular with athletes worldwide. For fitness, competitive athletes and physically demanding lifestyles, CBD offers six key benefits: It reduces inflammation, tackles pain, alleviates gastrointestinal issues, is useful as an alternative to opioids or NSAIDs, and promotes better sleep. CBD has the potential to boost performance, aid recovery and improve results, with some sports doctors crediting it with giving users a serious competitive advantage.
The respected sports scientist Robert Gorter, MD, PhD, emeritus professor at San Francisco Medical School has stated that “after years of guiding participants in extreme sports like wrestling, martial arts, body-building and athletics, I came to the conclusion that CBD has many beneficial effects leading to significantly improved performance; often leading to medals in national championships and Olympic Games.” In fact, it has benefits for all types of activities, including gentler arts like yoga, or for elderly people looking for a way to exercise without some of the painful side effects post workout.
Hard exercise causes tiny tears in muscles. This causes inflammation which triggers the body’s repair processes, which makes muscles grow back stronger. This is the basic principle behind most athletic training, but problems arise when overexertion causes too much damage to be easily repaired. This leads to pain, strained or torn muscle tissues and poor athletic performance.
Myalgia, or muscle pain can come from overloading muscles, sustaining stressful postures for long periods, or from excessive exercise. This is known as delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) or repetitive strain injury (RSI). CBD’s known anti-inflammatory properties offer a way to prevent this kind of pain and injury, and to promote faster recovery. CBD is also anti-spasmodic, which suggests it may be helpful in reducing muscle cramps during exercise.
CBD also balances cortisol levels, the “stress hormone” which is triggered by both competitive pressure and extreme workouts. As this hormone can raise blood pressure, change bone density and consume muscle tissue, it actually reduces or reverses the beneficial effects of exercise. By balancing cortisol, CBD could keep demanding workouts effective.
CBD has been declared safe by the World Health Authority and crucially, it is allowed by WADA, the World Anti-Doping Agency in professional sports. In the US it is used by athletes from NFL players to boxers.
The World Anti-Doping Agency allows CBD for competitive athletes, and removed it from its list of prohibited substances in 2018. THC is still prohibited however. This means that dodgy products where producers aren’t concerned about purity and THC content are a potential issue. It is vital that athletes only consume pure CBD products from a trusted source with proper test certificates showing they are THC free.
The future of CBD in the fitness world will see an increasing range of products – in two key categories. The first will be products which blend CBD with other ingredients, like CBD enhanced protein shakes and pre and post workout blends. CBD will come to be a standard ingredient, used much like multivitamins as a general performance booster.
The second category will be sophisticated mixtures of CBD with other cannabinoids (which all have specific benefits) and terpenes, which are flavour and scent molecules which can boost the effects of CBD. This is known as the “entourage effect”, as these other cannabinoids and terpenes are multipliers, increasing the six key benefits by working in concert. In the USA and Canada, retailers offer specific blends and consumers are used to carefully selecting the right mix for their body type.
It is worth noting that while CBD could seem like a fad, much of the future development of CBD is science based. Hundreds of peer reviewed studies and an increasing number of clinical trials are unlocking benefits for a wide range of conditions and lifestyle challenges. We already have cannabis based medicines like Sativex and pharmaceutical companies are pouring money and resources into developing more.
JOIN THE CBD CRAZE
From lotions to sweets, CBD comes in many forms…
CBD Virtue if you are planning any features regarding CBD and the benefits for fitness – especially for recovery and injury purposes.
CBD muscle rub/gummies
This is a new product, containing healing essential oils. Perfect for rubbing into sore muscles. Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) or joint aches. Generally any pain that can be applied to directly. The gummies are the perfect choice for a post workout supplement due to a good amount of CBD and also an insulin spike from the sugar.
Nooro CBD snack bar
Their lemon + ginger bar contains 25mg, or ‘your daily dose’ of CBD, which has been mixed with plant-based nootropics – Gingko and Maca, which are great for cognitive function. The other ingredients have been chosen solely for their beneficial nature and great taste such as peanut butter, cacao nibs and oats for slow release energy.
Rigorously tested and extracted without any questions solvents, this oil can help lower blood pressure, stabilise your mood, minimise skin complaints, and more.
Apply directly to the skin for targeted pain relief of minor aches and pains. The highly effective formula will quickly absorb deep into muscle or joint pain to release the anti-inflammatory properties of the CBD and essential oil blend.
CBD Shower Gel – £19.99 for 250ml
Containing 200mg of CBD, the unscented gel absorbs quickly into the skin, helping you unwind and making every shower feel like a trip to the spa.
Ambience Everyday is a simple collection of daily use skincare products delivering CBD that’s absorbed through the skin, either as a body oil, lip balm, muscle balm, facial moisturiser, body wash and an intensive foot care moisturiser. Each contains 50mg of CBD.