Cannabinoids: the Secret of Athletes?

Alex Eriksson, Founder of Anabolic Health

It's true that cannabinoids are often associated with weed, which is known to have psychoactive properties. Well, it's actually one particular kind of cannabinoid, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), that induces those unwanted side-effects.

Cannabinoids come in more than 85 varieties. In fact, there's one particular kind that's becoming quite popular among athletes, mainly because it offers all sorts of benefits on performance and wellbeing. You've probably heard of it – cannabidiol (CBD).

CBD oil doesn't just come from any cannabis plant. It's extracted from specific strains – the kind that produces almost negligible amounts of THC. You'll be glad to know that CBD's popularity isn't merely based on hearsay: lots of studies have been done to find out just how potent and beneficial it really is.

Popularity from Potency

In the US, the most common ailments among amateur and professional athletes are torn muscles or ligaments and different types of traumas. Of course, one simple accident can cause long-term injury, which in turn may lead to early retirement.

The threat of being forcibly retired has paved the way for CBD's rise as the supplement of choice among athletes. No, they aren't risking being suspended for the sake of taking the compound. It's completely legal because it doesn't cause addiction and other ill effects.

Aside from being completely safe and legal, CBD is proven to help with the following:

1. Reduce Pain from Inflammation

It can be said that the compound is a potent yet safe painkiller, alleviating inflammation-induced aches during and after intense physical activity. It's even used for treating injuries, which isn't surprising given that it effectively eases muscle spasms and hastens bone healing.

CBD has antispasmodic properties as well, meaning it prevents further muscle strain. Do note though, that muscle spasms can be caused by serious problems such as spine and nerve injuries. So, no matter how potent CBD is, it's best to consult a doctor if you're having frequent muscle spasms.

2. Relax both Mind and Body

With what they routinely go through, athletes really need optimal stress recovery – in both mind and body. This is why they typically turn to supplements with relaxing effects. Truth be told though, CBD is among the best supplements when it comes to fighting stress.

The compound doesn't merely help the body cope with stress. It directly lowers the secretion of cortisol – the main stress hormone. Aside from that, you'll surely appreciate the fact that it doesn't take long for CBD's calming effect to manifest.

There's an added benefit to CBD's effect on cortisol, given that this hormone plays a role in catabolic processes. Since the compound interferes with cortisol secretion, it prevents muscles from being broken down for energy (such as when you're sick, or when you engage in intense workouts).

This particular cannabinoid also helps fight against insomnia, meaning it can help athletes in their quest to regularly get restful sleep. Getting good quality sleep is important in ensuring recovery, and by extension in preventing serious injuries from developing.

3. Curb Caloric Intake

If you want to achieve your ideal physique, it's crucial that you successfully manage your caloric intake. There's always a risk of eating too much, which translates to unnecessary and unwanted weight gain – the kind that stems from a buildup of fat deposits.

As it turns out though, CBD makes it easier to avoid overeating, effectively reducing food intake whenever it's taken in sufficient amounts. It's quite interesting that THC, the beneficial compound's psychoactive counterpart, actually boosts appetite.

Is CBD enough to solve all your weight problems though? It's safe to say that it isn't. Despite benefiting from appetite-suppressing effects, you will still have to follow a diet suited for your goals. Aiming for a caloric deficit might also be necessary if you're trying to shed some pounds.

4. Improve Insulin Levels

Taking CBD can help keep insulin levels in check. Now, why should this matter to you? Isn't this something that only diabetics have to worry about? The hormone influences both muscle development and fat buildup, depending on its amount in the bloodstream.

In terms of muscle development, whenever insulin enters the muscles, it initiates several processes that ultimately result in increased protein synthesis. The hormone's presence in the muscles also keeps muscle breakdown at a minimum.

As for fat buildup, each time your insulin levels spike (which normally happens when you eat), your body stops using its fat stores as fuel. It shifts its focus towards getting nutrients from what was just ingested. So, having greater, more frequent insulin spikes translates to faster fat buildup.

Getting Your Dose of CBD

At this point, you're probably wondering whether there are several ways of taking CBD oil. Well, there are four options available to you (and we've listed them all below). Choose the one that meets your needs when it comes to convenience and potency.

  • Oral – usually taken once or twice daily, this is quite possibly the most convenient among the choices. The problem with it though, lies in the fact that CBD by itself is poorly absorbed by the body. There's a way to improve it, however, by taking the compound along with black pepper and turmeric.
  • Sublingual – this one's hard to beat in sheer absorption speed. Often taken daily, sublingual preparations are commonly chosen by those who wish to benefit from CBD in a quick yet consistent way.
  • Topical – this offers a good balance in bioavailability, consistency and absorption speed. When taken this way, the compound enters the bloodstream within 24 to 36 hours.
  • Vapor – usually chosen by athletes who need quick relief, whether from pain or stress. As you would expect though, maintaining dosage consistency will be rather difficult.

Benefiting from the Perks

Given the advantages of taking CBD, both for physical performance and overall wellbeing, it's hard not to consider taking this remarkable compound. Also, given how safe it is (aside from it being completely legal), there's no reason not to try the compound.

Maybe it's about time that you find out firsthand why it's becoming more and more popular among top athletes.

By Alex Eriksson, Founder of Anabolic Health, a men's health blog dedicated to providing honest and research backed advice for optimal male hormonal health. Anabolic Health aspires to become a trusted resource where men can come and learn how to fix their hormonal problems naturally, without pharmaceuticals. Check out www.anabolichealth.com to learn more about Alex and his work. You can also find him on Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook