Can athletes take CBD oil?

When it comes to recovering from injury, athletes have many options available to them; from physiotherapy, medical treatment, or medication. But, with teams looking to minimise the risk of addiction or surgical complications, CBD is increasingly showing promise and potential as a multi-purpose solution to their problems.

So, can and should athletes take CBD products and what potential benefits do they carry for consumers?

Can athletes take CBD oil?

Personally, absolutely. Professionally…it’s a little more complicated.

If an athlete is an amateur or hobbyist, CBD is absolutely fine to take and potentially carries little to no issues for users. CBD is primarily derived from hemp and enjoys a naturally low level of THC throughout it. THC is the psychoactive chemical in cannabis or hemp that makes you feel ‘high’ and would easily impair performance or have other negative effects if the user was trying to treat physical injury or fatigue. Despite this, CBD has been on the blacklist of harmful substances since it was first discovered in the 40s.

But now professional bodies are taking less of a dim view of the substance.

As of 2018, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) removed CBD from its list of banned substances. This means that it is now able to be used in any number of professional games. However, it is listed as a ‘threshold substance’ which means that if the THC content is too high, the player using it could be subject to fines, suspension, or find themselves levied with a permanent ban. 

How does CBD potentially help?

CBD products are increasingly popular for athletes as they can potentially provide numerous useful benefits in one simple solution. Some of these include-

Pain management: The cannabinol present in CBD binds to the body’s CB1 and CB2 receptors and can help soften neuropathic and physical pain. This can help athletes manage long-term injuries that could hamper their performance alongside simpler game-to-game injuries. While this is not as powerful as a course of full medical treatment, it is a useful supplement that can provide relief when it is needed most. 

Inflammation reduction: Research around CBD has shown the potential to provide powerful anti-inflammatory properties, making it useful for treating common conditions such as muscle strain, tendinitis, and the repetitive strain injury that can often stem from heavy training. This can be especially useful for specialised sports such as basketball that require repetitious shot-taking or in helping tennis players address the damage that returning repeated, high-speed shots does to the human body. 

Addiction free: As we currently understand it, CBD is non-addictive and non-harmful. Many sports injuries can be severe and take a long time to recover from, with treatment commonly involving painful surgeries and debilitating physical therapy. Full courses of painkillers can help treat the pain but also carry a high risk of addiction and decreased performance. Choosing CBD eliminates that risk and potentially allows athletes to manage their pain without worry.