Medically reviewed by Susan Kerrigan, MD and Marianne Madsen, University of Utah
CBD, the non-psychoactive compound in the Cannabis sativa plant, has been appearing more and more in the media as of late. Proponents say it can be used for everything from a pain reliever to an antidepressant. You’ll find bottles of CBD oil at gas stations and supermarkets, promising to cure any ailment you might have. Some restaurants even serve food infused with CBD. But is this compound really a panacea?
Well, no, it’s not a miracle cure, but it does offer a wide range of benefits. Especially when it comes to exercise injuries. For starters, CBD has been proven to reduce inflammation and reduce general pain. One way that CBD can reduce inflammation is by blocking the COX2 eicosanoid enzyme, working similarly to medications such as Advil or aspirin. CBD also affects a class of molecules called cytokines. It decreases levels of cytokines in the body, which in turn reduces inflammation.
The main way CBD helps with recovery is by alleviating soreness in your muscles. Many athletes rub CBD oil or lotion on their sore muscles. It is thought that the anti-inflammatory effects of CBD, as mentioned above, help to relax your muscles, allowing you to prepare for your next workout session and recover faster. A CBD ointment would be the most effective for muscle pain because you’re applying it directly to the source, whereas if you take it orally, you’ll have to wait for it to be absorbed into the bloodstream.
Another great benefit? CBD can also help with sleep. If you haven’t been sleeping well lately, you won’t find the motivation to go to the gym. Taking CBD oil before bed can ensure that you get a good night’s sleep and wake up feeling refreshed. And if you find yourself unable to fall asleep after an intense workout (exercise can raise body temperature and produce stress hormones), a few drops of CBD oil may be just what you need to drift off.
However, everyone responds differently to CBD. Some people find it works wonders for them, while others claim that it does nothing. Due to the confusing legality of CBD, it is hard to study the compound, which is why we don’t have hard scientific evidence about its benefits. As restrictions gradually become more relaxed, we can expect to understand more about CBD over time. But there are things you can do to ensure that you’re getting the most out of your CBD:
- Make sure you are buying CBD from a trusted source. Many suppliers are dishonest about their products. Some oils may contain other chemicals besides CBD, and some may have very low levels of the desired compound itself.
- Use CBD in different ways. Add some to your protein shakes, take it in capsules, or apply the oil to your skin. When you find the method of administration that works best for you, stick with it.
- Try a few different CBD products. You have a large selection of CBD items to choose from, so experiment with products from a few different manufacturers and see which one is most effective for you.
In a nutshell, CBD in combination with exercise can be beneficial. If you’ve been experiencing muscle pains or decreased sleep quality after a particularly intense workout, you might want to try CBD and see if it works for you.