Once believed to be used solely for its psychoactive effect, cannabidiol (CBD) is now rising in popularity as a wellness product, thanks to research on the fitness benefits of incorporating cannabis, in particular, into your health routine.
The use and advantages of CBD oil range from reducing anxiety and treating seizures and diabetes to fighting pain and inflammation, so it should come as no surprise that athletes and fitness fans are flocking to the oil to help address the many discomforts that come with a strenuous workout routine.
After an extra hard run or a high-impact interval training (HIIT) session, your muscles might be seriously screaming for relief. For many athletes and fitness enthusiasts, popping a couple of Ibuprofen or over-the-counter painkillers is often the go-to method to speed up recovery. But for those looking for a more natural and homeopathic solution to their post-workout aches and pains, CBD oil might just be the answer.
“CBD is known for its anti-anxiety properties by reducing cortisol levels in the body, but I also recommend it for numerous other purposes,” says Bindiya Gandhi, MD, who is certified by both the American Board of Family Medicine and the American Board of Integrative and Holistic Physicians. “CBD oil also has numerous anti-inflammatory properties. I recommend CBD oil for chronic pain, fibromyalgia, neurodegenerative conditions, autoimmune conditions, and diabetes, to name a few.”
Here’s what you need to know about using CBD oil in your fitness routine:
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1. CBD is not THC
While CBD and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are both cannabinoids, they’re not created equally. THC is the primary compound found in marijuana, and is what contributes to the “high” people experience after ingesting it.
CBD, on the other hand, is used for medicinal and therapeutic purposes and does not have the same intoxicating effect as THC. Because it is extracted from the cannabis plant and formed into an oil, it can be used orally or topically.
“CBD is used for its medicinal properties,” explains Dr. Gandhi. “CBD does not increase your appetite nor is a psychoactive making you high. There is no concern for addiction. CBD oil works on signaling the C2 reception to regulate pain, inflammation, and more.”
2. It can be incorporated into your pre- and post-workout routine
“CBD oil helps control appetite, boosts energy, and metabolism,” Dr. Gandhi adds. “CBD oil increases endurance, helps muscle recovery, pain tolerance, pushes you during a workout, as well as keeps you focused and in the zone.”
The pain-relieving and anti-swelling benefits of CBD oil are the primary uses for its surge in popularity with athletes. While some workout devotees might opt for foam rolling (another great way to relieve tension and help ease sore muscles after a hard session), CBD treatments have been proven to reduce muscle spasms and calm inflammation, two of the main post-workout issues athletes have to endure.
But CBD’s benefits go a bit beyond just the physical recovery boost. As Dr. Gandhi notes, cannabidiol can also help to protect your muscle mass, all the while also maintaining healthy blood sugar levels that manage diabetes and encourage healthy weight loss.
“CBD has anti-catabolic properties, so it helps break muscle down while rebuilding it at the same time,” Dr. Gandhi adds. “CBD regulates blood sugars so you are burning fat effectively and not having insulin spikes, therefore burning glucose and more fat.”
Apart from the direct fitness-related benefits of CBD oil, studies have also described its effect on sleep quality, showing that regular use of CBD can help improve the length and quality of your snoozes. And since insufficient and improper sleep directly contributes to irregular weight loss and muscle loss, finding ways to improve your slumber can have a positive effect on your workout efforts.
3. How to take it
CBD oil can be absorbed by the body both topically or orally, and if you’ve been keeping an eye on the growing market of CBD products, you’ll notice that it comes in the form of roll-on oils, in tablets, sprays, and even in coffee or chocolate pieces.
“Topical is great to use when targeting local inflammation or pain because absorption is faster directly on-site,” Dr. Gandhi adds, noting that topical applications don’t enter the bloodstream, but have a fast onset. “Orally, patients can take them sublingual [dissolvable] or as a swallowed tab. Sublingual is absorbed by the mucous membranes and swallowing is absorbed in the bloodstream after it passes the liver. It can, however, take up to two hours to start working based on absorption.”
No matter your product of choice, whether it’s ingestible or topical, be aware that CBD-loaded products are still in a bit of a legal limbo. For the states that have legalized recreational marijuana, CBD items are available in stores and online, but out-of-state shoppers should opt for hemp-derived CBD, which is widely available in all 50 states.
Note: If you’re considering using CBD oil as a workout-pain treatment, make sure to check with your doctor first, as it may be incompatible with some medications.
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