The New World of Weed: Can Medicinal Marijuana Improve Athletic Performance?

Several years ago Jason Rule’s teenage son, Elliott, took a hard hit to his back in a football game. The injury never seemed to completely go away, with a scan done later showing a small hairline fracture. The fracture had healed but the inflammation hadn’t subsided, causing pain and prompting the doctors to tell the then-16-year-old no more football.

Elliott wasn’t allowed to do any weight training, skiing, even boating was off-limits that summer. Jason, who had looked into cannabidiol (CBD) oil when he was first getting his company —Driven Nutrition —off the ground, dove into the latest research. He bought a bottle for Elliott, assuring his wife their teenage son wouldn’t flunk a drug test.

The results were startling. Elliott’s inflammation subsided. He returned to football. And Rule became fascinated with the growing evidence supporting medicinal marijuana’s role in aiding everything from pediatric epilepsy to sleep problems, anxiety and aches and pains.

“It has enormous benefits. Physical benefits [and] mental benefits,” said Rule, who after much cajoling was able to become a distributor for industry leader Charlotte’s Web. “I’m a big believer in CBD. The problem is it’s much like the supplement industry. It’s got people out in front doing things right and it’s got people who are [creating weaker strains and] slapping shitty labels on it.”

First things first: You will NOT get high off of it.

If you watch the Ted talk (below), Josh Stanley —one of the founders of the Charlotte’s Web strain— said he and his brothers called their plant ‘The Hippie’s Disappointment” because of it’s low Tetrahydocannabinol (THC) content. THC is what induces the physchoactive “high” feeling of marijuana, which typically has about 15-20% THC. CBD hemp seed oil like Charlotte’s Web has a less than 0.3% THC.

So, what exactly is CBD oil? Is it worth the hype? Read on to find out.

WHAT IS CBD? 

To put it simply, the cannabis plant produces chemical compounds called phyto-cannabinoids. Two of the most common compounds —that are present in the highest concentrations— are THC and CBD. Your typical marijuana user would seek out the maximum THC strands as those are the ones associated with getting high. Plants grown for maximum CBD, on the other hand, are used for medical and therapeutic purposes.

These are the strands used to make CBD hemp oil, which is extracted from those plants. This is where all the health benefits come in.

IS IT LEGAL?

Yes. Hemp-derived CBD oil is legal in all 50 states. You do not need a prescription or physician-approved card to purchase it. In fact, the World Anti Doping Agency announced in September that CBD will no longer be banned from use, effective January 1, 2018.

CAN IT HELP YOU?

Yes. Everyone can benefit from taking CBD hemp oil, whether you’re an athlete, you’re sick, or even if you’re perfectly healthy.

Why? Humans produce what are known as endocannabinoids. These compounds are key players in normal immune and central nervous system function. Hemp’s phytocannabinoids work with our Endocannabinoid System, which is a vast receptor system that helps support homeostasis and health—like metabolic rate, sleep habits, stress levels, hormone production and immune response. Because there’s very little THC (less than 0.3%), CBD oil produces all the health benefits without you getting “high.”

Charlotte’s Web made national news for it’s role in helping a young girl named Charlotte (hence the name Charlotte’s Web) with epilepsy. There’s encouraging early research on it’s role in helping stop the spread of cancer, not to mention it’s also non-habit forming.

Hemp extract oil like Charlotte’s Web is rich in phytocannabinoids and used to help support calm and focus, and—what’s of particular interest to athletes—recovery from exercise-induced inflammation.

As a supplement CBD oil is a natural source of Vitamins A, C, E, magnesium, omega fatty acids and several other essential nutrients.

DOES BRAND/DOSE MATTER?

Efficacy and quality are extremely important when you’re dealing with CBD oil. As noted above, you want a brand that has very high CBD and low THC content. Any brand lower than 3 percent THC is classified as medicinal marijuana. Charlotte’s Web’s hemp extract oil contains a range of US Government patented cannabinoids and owns a significant share of the CBD market. (Which is why we recommend it.)

Their oils are made in three different strengths, and capsules in two strengths, so you can start with 25 mg doses and see how you feel with that. After two weeks you can start to raise to find your most optimal dosage. It’s best to take it consistently, at the same time every day. There’s also topical creams which are used to apply directly to a troublesome area.

CBD oil, like any other supplement, will effect different people in different ways. Some people will required higher concentrations than others. If you want to take it to help with anxiety (it’s not a sleep aid but has worked wonders for some with trouble sleeping) take it at night. Athletes can experiment with using it around training sessions. I started using CW’s EveryDay Plus a week before surgery to help with inflammation. My doctor was amazed at what little swelling I had in the operated area.

Charlotte’s Web is an the industry leader but its not the only company doing great things in the CBD world. Do your homework and remember -like most other supplements- you get what you pay for. Cheaper is often synonymous with a weaker product and fillers. You want high CBD content and nearly no THC.

WHAT ARE THE SIDE EFFECTS?

Side effects are rare and, if you consume high-quality CBD oil and monitor dosage, most people will never have an issue. But there have been reported cases of dry mouth and worsening symptoms from Parkinson’s disease patients. Because CBD can interact with other drugs, please consult your physician if you’re taking other prescription medications to ensure you’re in the clear.

It’s important to note that there’s a lot of research yet to be done when it comes to CBD oil. But given the rare side effects and still emerging studies, it’s not going to harm you (if you can afford the price tag) to see if it’s right for you.

WHAT CAN CBD OIL NOT DO?

It’s not a substitute for a bad diet, a cure-all for not sleeping and being stressed out all the time. CBD oil can help treat those symptoms, but the best thing you can do is find ways to treat your body better overall. CBD oil promotes wellness and healing and should be taken in conjunction with a healthy diet and lifestyle.

 

 

Note: This article is not meant to treat, diagnosis or cure any injury or illness. Athlete Daily are not doctors, physical therapists or medical magicians. (But we do have some friends who are.)