What are its benefits from sport to health?

What is CBD oil? What is all the hype about?

CBD (cannabidiol) is one of over 100 chemical compounds (cannabinoids) originally derived from the cannabis plant. It influences our endocannabinoid system (ECS), a physiological system within the human body that receives and translates signals from cannabinoids. It helps to regulate functions such as sleep, pain and immune-system responses. Cannabidiol works to inhibit or activate certain compounds within the ECS. For instance, by limiting the absorption of anandamide (a pain regulation compound), CBD has been shown to limit inflammation in the brain and nervous system, which can lead to relief from chronic pain or even insomnia.

How is it made?

To make CBD oil, CBD is extracted from the plant and then added to a carrier oil. It is naturally occurring and offers a wide range of health benefits. And don’t worry, it is not psychoactive, unlike THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) which is the chemical compound in cannabis that results in the feeling of being intoxicated or ‘high’.

In the past, CBD oil was recommended to patients suffering from chronic pain or serious illness. However, today it is used to help them with all manner of conditions, such as anxiety, arthritic pain, smoking cessation and even the reduction of the effects of Alzheimer’s. CBD is an anticonvulsant and has been used successfully in the treatment of some forms of epilepsy.

What links have been found between CPD and health?

Cannabis has been used as medicine for thousands of years, with recent research discovering many new uses for CBD oil. The cannabinoid affects the neurological receptors in the body (which is more easily defined as “where body meets mind”). CBD is becoming increasingly popular as a preventative medicine and it will continue to focus heavily in the press as more and more beneficial health links are discovered. Below is a list of 5 health benefits which can be gained through the use of CBD:

1) Reduced risk of obesity and diabetes - Several studies have shown that regular cannabis users have a lower body mass index, smaller waist circumferences, and reduced risk of diabetes and obesity. One 2011 report concluded that rates of obesity are about one-third lower among cannabis users. This is despite the findings that participants tend to consume more calories per day. This could be explained by THC’s stimulation of ghrelin, a hormone that increases appetite, but simultaneously increases the metabolism of carbohydrates. CBD on its own was shown in 2006 to lower the incidence of diabetes in lab rats, and since then, trials have begun to see how CBD can be used to treat diabetes. Research has demonstrated that CBD benefits weight loss by helping the body convert white fat into weight-reducing brown fat, promoting noatherogenesis insulin production and sugar metabolism.

Further research has found that current cannabis users have fasting insulin levels up to 16 percent lower than their non-using counterparts, higher levels of HDL cholesterol that protects against diabetes, and 17 percent lower levels of insulin resistance. Those who have used cannabis previously, but are not current users, show similar but less-pronounced associations, indicating that the protective effect of cannabis fades with time.

Excess insulin promotes the conversion of sugars into stored fat and contributes to weight gain and obesity. The research emerging about the interplay between cannabinoids and insulin regulation may lead to some major breakthroughs in the prevention of obesity and Type 2 diabetes.

2) Anti-inflammatory benefits of CBD - Cannabinoids have been proven to have an anti-inflammatory effect. CBD engages with the endocannabinoid system in many of our body’s organs, helping to systematically reduce inflammation. The therapeutic potential is impressively wide-ranging, as inflammation is involved in a broad spectrum of diseases.

3) Protects and heals the skin - The skin has the highest amount and concentration of CBD receptors in the body. When applied topically as an infused lotion, serum, oil, or salve, the antioxidant in CBD oil (a more powerful antioxidant than vitamins E and C) has many benefits and can repair damage from free radicals like UV rays and environmental pollutants. Cannabinoid receptors can be found in the skin and seem to be connected to the regulation of oil production in the sebaceous glands.

Cannabis-based topical products are being developed to a range of issues from acne to psoriasis, and can promote faster healing of damaged skin. In fact, historical documents show that cannabis preparations have been used for wound-healing in both animals and people in a range of cultures spanning the globe and going back thousands of years. The use of concentrated cannabis and CBD oils to benefit and treat skin cancer is gaining popularity, with a number of well-documented cases showing that people have cured both melanoma and carcinoma-type skin cancers with the topical application of CBD and THC products. Best known is the case of Rick Simpson, who cured his basal cell carcinoma with cannabis oil and now has a widely distributed line of products.

What the relationship with exercise? Does it enhance performance? Recovery?

CBD is very new to the mainstream and science-based studies are still in development at this stage, however numerous sport athletes and powerlifters are using CBD oils and creams.

During an intense workout, you increase levels of testosterone, which is ideal for building muscle mass. Levels of cortisol (stress hormone) will also increase during this workout, but will have the opposite effect on the body. CBD has been shown to regulate the levels of cortisol and assists your body in reducing inflammation. This results in being able to lift more, for longer, while keeping your body strong. Win-win.

The long term results of reduced cortisol levels will result in making you more focused in each moment and movement of a workout, leading to a fuller more productive experience in your sessions. Reducing this stress will promote a longer, deeper REM sleep, which is when our body traditionally recovers to its fullest. To aid our recovery, applying CBD creams to problem areas, such as stiff joints and tight muscles, can reduce DOMs (delayed onset muscle soreness) and improve flexibility.

What sports are using it and what benefits are they finding?

You have probably heard of sports teams using cannabis and thought to yourself, “Really?! Isn’t that illegal? Doesn’t that go against drug use in sports?”. As it turns out - no, it doesn’t. First things first - CBD does not provide you with euphoric highs like THC (another form of cannabinoid) does. CBD provides natural anti-inflammatory effects in the body and has been referred to as being the best long term anti-inflammatory drug, as it is natural and can be taken for long periods with no bad side effects.

Athletes in the USA, including basketball teams, hockey teams and baseball teams, have been given the go ahead by sports organisations to use CBD for anti-inflammatory purposes. Almost all athletes at some stage of their career will have to deal with injuries due to the competitiveness and intense nature of their job. Over time, aches and pains can become chronic and very frustrating. These athletes are now increasingly turning to CBD to help manage these conditions by reducing inflammation, which in turn help them feel less pain, move better and ultimately perform better. Although CBD use in sports is relatively new, it is thought that it will continue to gain traction over the coming years.

Interestingly, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) removed CBD from its prohibited substance list in 2018 (as long as there's no THC).

Where next for CBD?

When protein supplements were first introduced, they were something only taken by the likes of bodybuilders and athletes. These are now sold extensively and taken in some form or another by many regular gym users (whether it's protein powders, protein snacks, BCAAs or creatine).

CBD oil looks set to follow a similar path. Originally a supplement intended for specific mental and physical symptoms, CBD oil is now taken by a rapidly expanding section of the population for a variety of reasons: from arthritic pain relief to managing psoriasis; from reduced depression and anxiety to better sleep. This supplement is now sold in Holland and Barrett, alongside other regular supplements.

We think CBD oil is a subject to watch over the coming year. Watch this space to find out more as we are keen to keep an eye on the subject. So, follow us as we learn more about it!

Co-written by our trainers. Find them on Instagram at:







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Published on 08th Feb 19