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CBD and sports: 6 athletes who use CBD products

Cannabidiol (CBD) products are starting to gain traction in the world of sports, following the World Anti-Doping Agency’s decision to allow athletes to take CBD during competition. This has been a big breakthrough for CBD, and medical marijauan advocates within sports. For some sportspeople, CBD is simply a safer alternative than the drugs typically prescribed for pain and inflammation. For others, CBD is a unique tool for recovery, that can help to increase overall performance.

CBD is also much more accepted in society than it was a few years ago. Back in 2017, NASCAR stopped racer Carl Long from having a logo for the CBD company Veedverks on in car. Two years on and CBD manufacturers are starting to sign high-profile sponsorship deals with professional athletes. These include tennis star John Isner. 

In this post, we’ll introduce you to six athletes who compete in professional sports, and are currently taking or have advocated for CBD. We’ll focus on their story, and also look at whether the science backs up their reasons for using products. 

UFC: Nate Diaz 

Nate Diaz has never shied away from his support of not just CBD, but cannabis in general. And he made the headlines in a big way after losing to Conor McGregor at UFC 202. In the post-fight conference, Diaz was vaping in front of the press, who unsurprisingly wanted to know more. While there was some speculation afterwards that Diaz was actually vaping weed, he insisted at the time that it was a legal CBD-infused e-liquid. 

Diaz then proceeded to give the press a rundown on what CBD is and how it is beneficial for people like him. The champion fighter explained how CBD oil is good for recovery, and as a substitute to opioid pain medications. Opioid addiction has been a problem for multiple UFC competitors, including Bas Rutten. These drugs are generally effective at reducing pain. But it’s the side effects, and addiction and overdose risks that are putting off both sportsmen and the general public. 

Adding to the concept of CBD for recovery, Diaz said that products could be used for the “healing process and inflammation”. And it is true that CBD has a novel therapeutic effect on inflammation. This potentially makes it safer and more effective than other drugs. CBD exerts anti-inflammatory effects by interacting with the endocannabinoid system (ECS). In turn, the ECS transmits messages to the immune system. 

In a physical and intense sport like mixed martial arts, getting the recovery right and learning how to manage pain is essential for long-term success. However, that didn’t stop Diaz from getting into trouble at the time – back in 2016 – for using CBD. The cannabinoid had not then been removed from the anti-doping agency WADA’s banned list. Diaz did avoid the one-year suspension that was originally mooted for his violation. He was ultimately just given a reprimand, escaping further punishment. 

Tennis: John Isner

John Isner is one of America’s most popular tennis players, reaching the top 10 on the ATP Tour and winning the coveted Miami Open in 2018. Isner is renowned for his huge, booming serve. He played the longest match in tennis history at the Wimbledon Championships in 2010 against Nicolas Mahut. The match ended with Isner winning 70-68 in the fifth set, lasting for more than 11 hours in total. But while the focus on Isner is usually for what he does on-court, the North Carolina athlete has recently been making headlines for his endorsement of Defy, a United States brand that makes a CBD sports drink. 

Isner talked about the relationship between CBD and athletic performance. He commented that he “plays a sport where taking a single point off can be the difference between winning and losing a match”. It’s for that reason, the American says, that he uses the Defy sports drink. Isner’s link-up with Defy is the first such CBD endorsement deal in sports. 

At 34, Isner’s best tennis days may be behind him. However, he is part of a trend as far as older sportsmen embracing CBD goes. Recovery and pain management becomes more difficult with age. Hemp CBD products like CBD sports bars are helping millions of people suffering from all kinds of discomfort. If a dose of Defy enables  Isner to deal with physical health issues and maintain focus, he may yet achieve even more success in his tennis career.

World’s Strongest Man: Eddie Hall  

Eddie Hall realized his dream in Botswana in 2017, when he won the World’s Strongest Man title for the first time. The Briton became the first from his country to take the crown since Gary Taylor in 1993. In the past couple of years, Hall has not just been getting coverage for his remarkable in-competition exploits, but for his CBD advocacy, too. 

As with so many pro athletes, Hall loves CBD hemp oil because it is a natural option for recovery and pain relief. He also says that it helps him with inflammation and swelling, and for improving sleep. Eddie notes that he is getting results with different types of CBD products, including vape juices, tincture oils and drinks in a video on his Facebook page. As with many CBD users, the strongman takes CBD at regular intervals, so that he can keep his levels topped up. 

Hall is also keenly aware of how important it is to only buy CBD products from quality brands. The emerging industry has led to so many companies getting in on the market boom. CBD users in the United States know this more than most. This ie because the Food and Drug Administration does not – as of August 2019 – regulate CBD products. 

Golf: Bubba Watson 

Bubba Watson is known for being one of the most mercurial golfers on the PGA Tour. His unique style of play led him to victory at the prestigious Masters tournament in Augusta, Georgia, in 2012. He then repeated the feat two years later. And, always looking to take his game to the next level and find that crucial edge over his opponents, Watson is now using CBD. The Florida star signed a multi-year deal with cbdMD in May 2019. He is perhaps the most well-known active golfer to be taking and publicly supporting CBD products.  

In a CNN interview, Watson talked about how it’s important for golfers to avoid injuries and to get enough sleep, particularly with age. The PGA Tour, however, has voiced concerns about players taking CBD, since the industry is unregulated. But Watson is confident that he has done the necessary research, and has a product that will keep him safe for drug tests. Indeed, he went so far as to say that taking CBD has been a “no-brainer” for him. 

CBD is still the only cannabinoid permitted by WADA. The crucial compound to avoid is psychoactive cannabinoid THC. Bubba, 40, hopes that he’ll still be competing for tournament wins at the age of 48, like five-time major champion Phil Mickelson. CBD is just one extra tool to help get him there. 

Darts: Gary Anderson 

Gary Anderson is a two-time world darts champion from Scotland, and is still performing at the highest level well into his 40s. This isn’t as surprising as it would be in other sports. Throwing darts is a fairly stationery activity. But it’s still important to feel physically and mentally fit on stage. Just a small percentage drop-off in performance can be the difference between victoryr and defaeat. Recently, Anderson has been struggling with back problems. But he has spoken on social media about how CBD oil is helping him to return to fitness. 

Having had to pull out of the Premier League and other important tournaments in the 2019 season, his CBD discovery has come at the right time for Anderson. On Twitter, he amusingly said that his whole family – including the dog! – had been using and benefitting from products. As well as relieving pain, there are a couple of other ways that CBD may help in precision sports like darts. CBD is possibly helpful for concentration, and its anxiolytic qualities may be useful for those with sports anxiety. Historically, players have settled their nerves with a couple of beers. But darts is a more serious and professional sport nowadays. And throwers seeking a competitive advantage may be able to harness CBD as a performance enhancer. 

NFL: Derrick Morgan 

NFL players have had it tougher than perhaps any other sportspeople when it comes to finding the right medication. Extreme pain is a fact of life for those involved in this extremely physical sport, and many players have called for the NFL to allow medical marijuana and CBD use, as an alternative to opioids. Many American footballers are also worried about the long-term effects of head injuries and concussions. That’s why Derrick Morgan and others are turning to CBD as a safer form of sports medicine. 

Morgan is a linebacker who has become concerned about chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a neurodegenerative disease that affects many former NFL players. The disease is caused by repeated head injuries. After doing his research, Morgan decided to start taking CBD, since it can help “protect your brain and protect your body”. The appeal of CBD for Morgan is that it’s non-intoxicating. This is the case with so many who use CBD but not cannabis. 

The American is hoping to increase the profile of CBD in NFL with his advocacy in the coming years. Morgan is clear that he’s not calling for players to be allowed to use the cannabis plant in the traditional sense and “get high”. Instead, he is stressing the importance for more research into an injury that affects – and is devastating – for many NFL players. Morgan is following in the footsteps of Eugene Monroe. The latter became the first active NFL player to speak out in favor of medical cannabis, back in March 2016. 

Do athletes need to be worried about taking CBD?

CBD products are not a typical medicine. They are actually sold as food supplements in an unregulated market. Therefore, many sports bodies are warning that CBD use could land athletes in hot water. However, this says more about their lack of understanding of the CBD industry than anything else. Players do have to be careful about ensuring they get products made with pure CBD extracts. But there are plenty of high-quality brands nowadays.

Just to recap. Here are the reason why sportspeople are using CBD:

  • For sleep
  • To ease pain
  • For recovery
  • For head injuries
  • To improve overall performance

CBD is available in 100% non-intoxicating form with CBD-isolate products – these contain 0% THC. Moreover, even though the FDA doesn’t regulate products, the best manufacturers hire labs to do this. A third-party seal of approval and a publicly available lab report is essentially a guarantee that a CBD product is safe. 

Athletes are no strangers to taking drugs and going close to the legal lines but not crossing them. Doing so is often necessary for success in hyper-competitive environment. For that reason, CBD and sports will likely have a fruitful relationship going forward.

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CBD health benefits for physical wellness

If you are yet to use a hemp-based cannabidiol (CBD) product, then you’re missing out! This non-psychoactive compound is being used to manage a range of illnesses and health issues, from arthritis to acne, and depression to migraines. CBD is even helping some people to give up smoking, and may be effective for other addictions, too.

There’s tons to discuss regarding CBD’s natural health benefits. In this article, we will focus on how CBD can be used to improve physical wellbeing. When you’ve finished reading, you’ll be familiar with the following:

  • How CBD helps to relieve pain
  • The benefits of CBD as an anti-inflammatory
  • CBD’s anti-addictive properties
  • How CBD is helpful for the skin
  • Which CBD products work best for various conditions
  • How CBD boosts your endocannabinoid system

And we’ll also briefly go over some other illnesses, such as epilepsy and fibromyalgia. But first, let’s look more closely at what CBD is, and get a basic idea of how it influences the body.

What is CBD and how does it work?

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a natural cannabinoid that enhances health by interacting with receptors in the body. The subtle direct and indirect effects of CBD produce a number of therapeutic effects, inside and outside of the endocannabinoid system (ECS). CBD is not like standard cannabis, in that it doesn’t make you ‘high’ or ‘stoned’.

In fact, CBD products are not made from the usual marijuana that people smoke for the euphoric effects, but hemp. This is a cannabis plant that has hardly any of the intoxicating tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) necessary for a psychoactive response. CBD used to be prohibited by the United States federal government, since it is a natural derivative of cannabis.

But hemp reform now permits CBD from the Cannabis Sativa L. plant, and hemp products are not restricted if they have less than 0.3 percent THC content. This has opened the door for a booming hemp-derived CBD market, which has shone a light on CBD oil’s benefits for physical conditions.

What are the health benefits of CBD?

CBD has numerous potential benefits, although there are currently a lack of clinical trials to confirm its therapeutic value. This section features some of the most common uses for CBD, paying attention to the existing science.

CBD for optimized health via endocannabinoid system regulation

What makes CBD a natural health supplement primarily is the beneficial effect it has on the ECS. CBD hemp oil is great for improving physical health, with ECS regulation helping to decrease sensitivity to pain and boost the immune system. The chemical is also good for bone and reproductive health, and can improve cognition and memory.

CBD provides these effect by promoting balance at the CB1 and CB2 receptors. The impact of CBD is more natural than that of THC. The former doesn’t disrupt the chemical makeup of the ECS, but nurture it for optimum functioning.

CBD oils and capsules are often used for ECS regulation as they are healthy products to take, in comparison to smoking hemp flower and consuming sugary infused edibles. If using CBD as an ECS supplement, a steady daily dose is perhaps the best way of enjoying the effects.

CBD for chronic pain

Existing medication for pain relief tends to work, but usually comes with side effects that makes these treatments unpalatable. For instance, opioid drugs efficiently dampen pain signals, but the body becomes tolerant quickly. Even worse, these painkillers can be physically and psychologically addictive which, coupled with an overdose risk, makes them highly dangerous.

CBD vaping products and more have grown in popularity as treatments for pain. First off, CBD doesn’t come with tolerance or addiction issues. For many, it’s also preferable to cannabis with THC, as there are no mind-altering intoxicating properties to worry about. A non-psychoactive CBD remedy manages pain perception by regulating CB1 receptors, and binding to vanilloid receptors.

Vaping and smoking CBD rapidly suppresses intense pain, while orally-taken products are well-suited to tackling chronic pain. CBD creams can be used to complement the pain relief of other CBD products, or as a solo treatment for localized analgesic benefits. Those using CBD for pain should mix and match with different products and doses to find the best therapeutic combination.

CBD for inflammatory illnesses

As with pain, the effectiveness of traditional anti-inflammatory drugs is limited due to the potential side effects they cause. Studies have shown that non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) heighten the risk of stomach bleeding and ulcers. Aspirin could be useless and even unhelpful for elderly patients with inflammatory conditions.

CBD’s anti-inflammatory qualities have not received the media focus that the compound’s other properties have, but this could be the most profound benefit offered by CBD. Researchers studying the ECS have found that CB2 receptors in the peripheral nervous system can be harnessed to send anti-inflammatory messages to the immune system.

Keeping the immune system balanced and regulated is difficult, hence the proliferation of inflammatory illnesses and autoimmune diseases. But CBD’s indirect regulation of CB2 receptors, and the anti-inflammatory effects of other cannabinoids, mean that organic CBD oil from a full hemp extract is uniquely placed to manage immune system volatility.

CBD products are taken more for arthritis than any other condition besides chronic pain, according to a 2018 questionnaire. This was the first comprehensive survey of its kind on American CBD usage. CBD creams may relieve symptoms of psoriasis, and edibles and CBD vape juices could be effective for lupus, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and more.

CBD for addiction

The devastating impact of some addictions are obvious, such as alcohol, cigarettes and heroin. Meanwhile, the likes of gaming and internet addiction are more subtle, but can be debilitating in their own way to quality of life. CBD research is finding that the cannabinoid may interfere with reward pathways formed by the brain, and that this could help to safely wean people from their addictions.

A 2019 study on heroin revealed that CBD treatment could alleviate anxiety and cravings, which in turn reduces the likelihood of relapse and overdose. This effect may also help people who are addicted to prescription opioid drugs (e.g. Vicodin and OxyContin). The investigation showed that the CBD group enjoyed a two-to-three-fold drop in cravings compared to the placebo group.

A previous pilot, randomized, double-blind study in 2013 documented how giving smokers a CBD inhaler reduced cigarette intake by 40 percent over the course of a week. Twenty-four smokers took part in the research – 12 were given CBD while the other 12 had a placebo. The researchers suggested that the potential of CBD for nicotine addiction “warrants further explanation.”

CBD for skin care

CBD for hemp health doesn’t just apply internally, but externally, too. The skin is a living organism, and CBD topicals can be applied lavishly for various health effects. The anti-inflammatory properties shine through to reduce swelling and bruising, and also to manage the redness and skin patchiness that comes from psoriasis. CBD creams also provide natural acne relief, resetting sebum production to a healthy level.

Some swear by the anti-aging effects of CBD, according to the free radical aging theory. Scientists have debated this concept hotly. The logic is that CBD – an antioxidant – puts the brakes on external aging by neutralizing free radicals. CBD certainly has a nourishing and moisturizing effect on the skin, which preserves a youthful, vibrant appearance.

CBD for epilepsy

Epilepsy is the illness that CBD research has got the furthest in. So far, in fact, that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have approved an epilepsy drug made with a pure CBD extract – Epidiolex, from GW Pharmaceuticals. Epidiolex is used to treat Dravet syndrome, a rare form of epilepsy. Standard epilepsy drugs cannot efficaciously manage the condition. There are also signs that CBD helps with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, a similar type of intractable epilepsy. These conditions can cause hundreds of seizures a week in children. In some cases, CBD has reduced that number to single figures or even zero.

CBD treats convulsive seizures efficiently, as does cannabidivarin (CBDV), another non-intoxicating from hemp. Eliminating seizures helps to improve sleep patterns and behaviour in patients, and generally enhance quality of life.

CBD for fibromyalgia

The ECS is breathing new life into research for a fibromyalgia remedy. This bizarre illness causes physical and mental symptoms, from intense pain in specific areas, to cognitive decline known as ‘fibro fog’. Other symptoms include stiffness, fatigue, insomnia and headaches. The unusual set of symptoms have baffled experts, but ECS scientists may be piecing things together.

It just so happens that nearly, if not all fibromyalgia problems can be traced back to ECS issues. This has led to a theory that it is chronic dysfunction in the ECS – referred to as Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency (CED) – that causes fibromyalgia. And indeed, early indications are that CBD can ease symptoms, by regulating the ECS.

CBD for sleep

Make insomnia and fatigue a thing of the past by using CBD products for sleep. By relaxing the muscles and the mind, CBD puts the user into a state of calm that promotes sleep. For insomnia, a quick hit of CBD from a vape pen or tincture oil may do the trick.

Capsules are better for all-night relief if you are waking up during sleep. CBD works to eradicate fatigue not just by increasing sleep duration, but by enhancing the amount of deep sleep. This is the phase where the body and brain waves slows right down, and we relax and repair for the day ahead.

Is CBD better for physical health than THC?

CBD is definitely a more viable form of treatment for physical health problems than THC. The intoxicating effects of the latter mean it simply doesn’t work well for those who have to work, and be in full cognitive and physical control. The therapeutic effects of CBD – and a combo of THC and CBD – are undeniable, however. THC delivers potent relief and be very effective when used responsibly.

CBD oil’s benefits are great everyone, though. And studies are starting to reveal that it can be used as an isolated treatment. This is handy for those who have reservations about drug tests, and want to avoid all products with THC.

Final thoughts

CBD will transform healthcare in the next couple of decades. Now that experts are studying the endocannabinoid system, they are getting new ideas about how to solve illnesses. ECS manipulation is not just helpful for physical illnesses, but has huge potential for anxiety, PTSD and depression, too. The onus is now on politicians to make CBD research easier for scientists to conduct, and for the FDA to carry out clinical trials on CBD for various ailments.

Have a story to share about how CBD has helped you? Please leave a comment below!