What athletes should know about CBD

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The cannabis compound can help on a number of levels

In another example of the growing acceptance of cannabis, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has determined that cannabidiol (CBD) no longer needs to be a banned substance. This is good news for athletes around the world, given the long list of benefits CBD can provide to runners, swimmers, bikers and everyone in between.

Unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the cannabis compound that results in the “high” sensation, CBD is straightforward, providing relief to a range of ailments that are particular common among athletes. If a muscle tightens up during a long run, CBD can help relief the stress on the muscle. If a back spasm is causing difficulty with the butterfly stroke, CBD is there.

In addition, after an event or a workout, CBD can help relieve any pain or inflammation. It can also improve cognitive function, which can be helpful when making calculations during a grueling triathlon.

NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) have long been identified as sources of relief for inflammation and chronic pain. However, they work by suppressing the brain’s ability to interpret the pain – not by actually eliminating it. As the founder of CBD-based product manufacturer Shea Brand, Austin Katz, explains, “NSAIDs and paracetamol are great for addressing inflammation and chronic pain, but are essentially suppressants that make the brain feel less pain by producing certain enzymes. Cannabinoids, on the other hand, essentially cut out the middle man by binding directly to receptors that are either located on the affected area or are responsible for controlling certain functions like pain, immunity response, and inflammation.”

Hank Berger, Olympic weightlifter and co-founder of the Altrufuel CBD company, explains how to determine which products might be the best solution. He asserts, “One of the biggest mistakes is taking a product where you don’t know where it’s from — not everyone is following the standards that are set out. There’s a really specific compliance you have to follow. The actual CBD or hemp has to be tested by a third party lab, so as soon as it comes off the flower it has to go to a lab and then if it has greater than 0.03 percent THC, then it’s really not acceptable for commercial use.”