How Can CBD Help Athletes?

The world anti-doping agency just removed CBD as a banned substance. And then, the US anti-doping agency also just removed it last year in 2018.

So, what that’s showing us is that CBD is no longer viewed as something that’s harmful or bad, or even as a performance enhancer. It’s something that can truly help an athlete, and something that can help them recover and get the most out of their body and the most out of their workouts. So, this is all really good news, especially when we’re living in a world where the chronic use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories is just becoming more and more prevalent.

And what I mean by that is, in this day and age, athletes are pushing themselves to the limit more than they could ever have imagined. Okay? We’re pushing ourselves all the time, which means in order to level up and just stay strong with the competition, we have to get through the pain. And that means lots of ibuprofen, lots of aspirin. These are known as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Now, these work on the body in a very unique way.

CBD and Muscle Pain

Sure, they help get rid of some of the pain. But they also have some pretty gnarly side effects when they’re used for an extended period of time. You see, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories a work on something called the COX-1 and COX-2, cyclooxygenase 1 and 2 enzymes within the body. COX-2 enzymes affect overall systemic inflammation, predominantly in the joints. COX-1 enzyme activity helps promote the inflammation within our gut that we need in order to protect our gut.

That’s why they say ibuprofen is bad because ibuprofen lowers COX-1 and 2, making it so that you’re susceptible to stomach bleeding. No good, right?

You just want to get rid of the pain. You don’t want a bleeding stomach, but the nice thing is, CBD ends up having a positive effect on reducing overall COX-2, while not reducing COX-1. What this means is, you get the anti-inflammatory pain-reducing effects throughout your body, but you’re not getting rid of the overall mucosal layer that you need to protect your gut. In fact, it has a nine times higher affinity for the COX-2 enzyme than it does for the COX-1 enzyme.

Now, here’s something cool. For those out there that think that CBD is the same thing as cannabis, or the same thing as THC, no, not at all. You see, CBD is not THC. In fact, THC has little to no effect on the cyclooxygenase-1 or cyclooxygenase enzyme 2. So, why even bother with that? All you’re getting out of THC is a psychoactive effect.

That’s not what we’re after here. CBD is all about promoting the internal, the endogenous endocannabinoid system. Okay? That’s the system within our bodies that allows us to feel bliss, allows us to feel good. So, CBD just allows our body to produce more of what is naturally occurring. We’re not exogenously bringing a drug in.

We’re bringing in something that helps the body promote more of a good thing that already exists. So with that, let’s look at the overall effect of exercise and stress on the body. Again, we’re beating our bodies up, which means not only are we having pain, but we’re having neurological stress and we’re having mental stress. We need more bliss. We need more relaxing attributes, right? And that’s where CBD comes in hand.

CBD is going to help promote that endocannabinoid system to produce just that, endocannabinoids. And in this particular case, we can talk more about what’s called anandamide. Anandamide is the main endocannabinoid that we’ll refer to when we talk about the feel-good effects of CBD. Now, anandamide comes from the Sanskrit word meaning bliss, so quite literally even in the word, it’s there to help promote a blissful feeling. This helps us relax.

And again, as athletes, we’re constantly in what’s called the sympathetic nervous system. Okay. We’re constantly in this mode where we’re just trying to, we’re just wanting to go, go, go. We’re constantly in fight or flight. We need something to help us turn that off at an internal level so we can actually relax, sleep, recover so that we can work out at our best again now.

Now, anandamide has some other effects outside of just helping you feel more relaxed. It actually modulates inflammation within the body through other mechanisms outside of COX-1 and 2.

You see, it affects tumor necrosis factor one alpha, which is one of the primary inflammatory markers that we need to be looking at when we’re looking at recovering from a workout. Lessen the inflammation, you’re more recovered. But another thing that it does is, it reduces or helps inactivate what are called mitogen-induced T- and B-cell proliferation.

Now T-cells and B-cells are cells that are involved in our immune system, right? We’ve heard of T-cells before. Maybe you’ve heard of helper cells and killer cells.

They’re little cells that go around and label things that are bad in our body to be attacked by the immune system. Well, sometimes those immune cells become overactive. And when they become overactive, we have chronic states of inflammation, because our immune system’s just turned on.

It usually happens when we’re worn out and our resistance is low. CBD helps turn that unnecessary process off.

Okay. Now, let’s jump real quick to performance anxiety. If you’re an athlete and you actually want to get more effect during competition, maybe you want to reduce your performance anxiety so you can focus on your task at hand and not worry about your competition all the time.

Well, CBD has a powerful effect there. You see, CBD works on the 5-HTP receptors, as well. So, we’re looking at 5-HT1. We’re looking at these receptors that actually help promote serotonin within the body. It helps you feel good, it helps you be a little bit less stressed out, but not so much that you lose your edge that makes you competitive and makes you a good athlete.

It just helps you stay a little bit calm, cool, and collected. Now additionally, it activates what is called an adenosine receptor. So, let me tell you when an adenosine receptor is by giving you an example of what stops adenosine. Caffeine blocks an adenosine receptor. Okay? So, although caffeine gives you energy, it makes you a little bit nervous, right? Makes you anxious.

So, if we block adenosine, that’s the effect of caffeine. But if we turn on adenosine, we get the opposite. And the opposite of caffeine is not drowsy. The opposite of caffeine is more GABA, and more relaxation, and less glutamate. Okay? So, less glutamate activity in the brain, which means less brain fog, which means more mental clarity and overall, just less anxiety.

Now, we’re just scratching the surface with CBD, and we’re just scratching the surface entirely when it comes down to CBD and the athlete. But, as we start to learn more about CBD, and as we learn more about how it’s safe and effective, and how it can be properly utilized, we’re going to find that it might just be the way of the future for overall athletes, but also recreational lifters, recreational runners, and people that are just trying to get healthy and fit.

So, as always, make sure you’re keeping it locked in here with Love Kitchen.

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