Why is CBD so popular among athletes and sportspeople?

Cannabidiol is a cannabinoid found in cannabis, more commonly known as "CBD". The latter has greatly increased in popularity in recent years. Indeed, CBD has been adopted by people of all ages looking for relief from a variety of symptoms. But the substance has also gained particular appeal among sportspeople and athletes.

Why are so many athletes and sportspeople so interested in CBD? Be aware that there is a huge amount of anecdotal evidence, and a growing body of clinical research suggesting that this cannabis compound may be beneficial for symptoms such as pain and anxiety. Today, a growing number of athletes are using and approving CBD products for this reason.

What is CBD?

CBD is one of the cannabinoids: these are the 144 active molecules found in hemp (known as cannabis), one of the oldest plants domesticated by humans. Hemp has been exploited for millennia for its industrial use (paper, plastic, building, etc.), but also for its beneficial food intake. Unlike its cousin, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the main active ingredient in cannabis, CBD is not psychoactive.

It has been discovered that the cannabinoids in the cannabis plant can interact with receptors in our body, which are naturally reserved for endogenous cannabinoids (or endocannabinoids). Together, these are known as the endocannabinoid system and are believed to modulate a number of physiological and neurological processes such as pain management, mood control, appetite, and immune system functions.

For which health problems can CBD be useful?

Although research in this area is still limited, there are a number of clinical trials and reviews that have shown that CBD can be useful in the treatment of a variety of symptoms and ailments. Among these are pain, stress and anxiety.

Anxiety: This is one of the most common "mental health" problems facing modern society, and scientists have found that CBD interacts with the CB1 and serotonin receptors, causing an increase in development of natural substances, anandamide and serotonin. These naturally occurring compounds are known to regulate feelings of anxiety and depression.

Pain: caused by a number of different illnesses or health conditions, it is also often cited as a reason for using CBD. At this level, the scientists discovered that the interaction of the compound with the endocannabinoid system interferes with the reception of pain. Indeed, the anti-inflammatory properties of CBD mean that the substance can be added to topical treatments for example.

What is the link between athletes and CBD?

Today, more and more athletes and athletes are talking openly about using CBD. Many have even approved specific CBD brands, including professional golfer Gerry Lester Watson Jr (nicknamed "Bubba"), and MMA fighter Jessica-Rose Clark. This is also the case for other professionals in the field of BMX, FMX, surfing, skateboarding and many other sports. "I have personally experienced the benefits of CBD products," said Watson, who is partnering with a brand of CBD.

Indeed, be aware that the analgesic potential of CBD can be used locally through topical lotions for muscle pain. And some users also report pain relief after taking cannabinoids sublingually in the form of oil drops or orally via capsules and edibles.

But being an athlete at a professional level can undoubtedly also be very anxiety-provoking: many high-level athletes can therefore also take advantage of the anti-stress potential of the compound.

What about CBD and sports regulations?

Recently, sports regulators have also become more liberal with regard to CBD. For example, in 2017, the World Anti-Doping Agency removed CBD from its list of prohibited substances. Then, other sports decision-making bodies quickly followed suit. However, some continue to advise against the use of CBD products.

While this remains an important issue in a large number of countries, given the emerging CBD market, it has apparently not turned off many athletes, as they maintain their confidence in the brands they support.

Sources: USADA, Canex

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