The world of sports and fitness has witnessed a growing interest in the potential benefits of CBD supplementation for athletes. Cannabidiol (CBD) has gained attention for its ability to support physical recovery, reduce inflammation, and promote overall well-being. As athletes constantly seek new ways to optimize their performance and recovery, it is pertinent that they understand the science behind CBD supplementation.
CBD use in athletes has gained popularity since the World Anti-Doping Agency removed it from its list that prohibited its use among athletes.
CBD has shown some evidence that its use can assist athletes in treating anxiety, depression, inflammation, and fatigue and provide antioxidant effects.
The FDA does not regulate CBD, and evidence has shown that some CBD products contain high tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) levels.
Since the World Anti-Doping Agency prohibits THC, athletes should use CBD cautiously.
This article will explore the potential advantages, considerations, and current research surrounding CBD supplementation for athletes.
What are CBD supplements?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a chemical compound found in the cannabis, or marijuana, plant. The use of non-Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved CBD has gained popularity for various health conditions. Epidiolex, a pharmaceutical-grade CBD oral liquid used for treating rare and severe forms of seizure disorders, is the only FDA-approved CBD product.
When CBD binds to receptors in the brain, it creates various effects. CBD comes from hemp and typically has low levels of THC, the psychoactive compound in cannabis.
CBD can be found in products such as lotions, oils, creams, chocolate, gummies, candy, tea, cosmetics, fabrics, and pet products.
Benefits of CBD supplements for athletes
The World Anti-Doping Agency recently removed some products from its list of prohibited substances for athletes, and CBD was one of the substances removed. Studies have shown that CBD does not cause psychotomimetic and psychotropic reactions, and there is no evidence of dependence or abuse. CBD has also been shown to have properties that treat chronic pain, spasticity, mood and sleep disorders, immunosuppression, inflammation, oxidant effects, and anxiety.
While CBD's physiological, physical, and cognitive effects are not fully understood, CBD is widely used among individuals, including athletes.
CBD is usually derived from the hemp plant; when it is pure, it does not produce any psychoactive effects. However, CBD products are not FDA-approved, so no federal standards exist for their content purity or potency. This means that the concentration of CBD may be more or less than the advertised product. Due to a lack of quality control, the manufacturing process may also introduce harmful biological and chemical contaminants, including the psychoactive delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (delta-9 THC). This may lead to additional concerns for unintended intoxications.
Potential risks and harms associated with CBD use include:
- Adverse drug interactions
- Liver toxicity
- Reproductive and developmental effects
Additionally, potential side effects of CBD include a decrease in alertness, changes in mood, decreased appetite, and gastrointestinal distress. Psychotic effects or cognitive impairments may also be produced from CBD if used by individuals who regularly use delta-9 THC products.
The risk of delta-9 contamination in CBD-labeled products may pose a potential threat to a user's current or prospective employment. It can also lead to inaccurate medical tests or unintended drug interactions. Further research is required to establish the safety and efficacy of CBD products as treatments.
Use with caution
While cannabis in its pure form does appear to be safe and can provide many benefits to individuals, it is not an FDA-regulated product. As a result, certain CBD products have been found to contain high amounts of prohibited cannabinoids such as THC.
If athletes choose to use CBD, they should get more information and advice on the product before use, as product labels can be misleading regarding whether or not they contain THC, which could result in an unintentional violation of anti-doping rules.
- SAMHSA Advisory. Cannabidiol (CBD) Potential Harms, Side Effects, and Unknowns.
- National Library of Medicine. Potential Role of Cannabidiol on Sports Recovery: A Narrative Review.