Cannabidiol (CBD) products are made from hemp, and don’t get you ‘stoned’, which makes them an excellent alternative to cannabis products, when in need of therapeutic relief. CBD is acquiring a reputation as an effective anti-inflammatory, painkiller, and stress reliever, and scientific research into the non-intoxicating cannabinoid is on the rise.
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With hemp-derived CBD legal in many countries, including the United States when sold as a food supplement, people are learning first-hand about what CBD can do, drawing from information on the internet, their friends and more. Increasingly, there is talk about how CBD can help with sport and fitness – and this applies to lifting, too. In this article, we’ll explore how CBD may ease muscle soreness, reduce stress to maximize muscle growth, and improve recovery times. We’ll also touch on the benefits of different CBD products for these issues.
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Protecting the muscles after a workout is vital, not just for wellbeing so that you can continue to train efficiently over time. Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) can occur after a long training session, and is caused by tearing of the muscles which then leads to fatigue. After a tough session in the gym, some Koi CBD can do the trick, by reducing pain and preventing inflammation.
CBD’s moderating effect on pain is still being researched, although appears to be thanks to a combination of endocannabinoid system (ECS) regulation, and vanilloid receptor activation. New research has shown that the flavonoids in hemp and cannabis are key to unlocking at least some of the pain relief that these plants provide. Therefore, a full-spectrum CBD product may be more beneficial than isolate extract products for relieving muscle soreness.
CBD works well for inflammation because of how the ECS and immune system interact with each other. Agonists of the CB2 receptor in the ECS have an immunomodulatory effect, which is crucial for lowering inflammation. CBD’s anti-inflammatory value comes from modulating these receptors, by increasing active levels of endocannabinoids. Moreover, omega-3 fatty acids appear to be involved in the synthesizing of endocannabinoids, so could also help to reduce inflammation via the CB2 receptor mechanism.
While vape juices and tincture oils are the speediest ways of getting pain relief from CBD, it is topical products – creams, salves and lotions – that tend to work best for muscle soreness. Apply the cream to the affected area once you’ve finished training, and you’ll soon start to experience lasting relief. High-quality CBD products also incorporate natural cooling agents, such as menthol, to boost the overall relief.
CBD could also be helpful for increasing total muscle growth from a lifting session, because of how the cannabinoid affects the stress and catabolic hormone cortisol. This hormone limits muscle growth due to the adverse effect it has on protein synthesis in the muscles. This is why having a good lifting routine is important, as a spike in cortisol levels will negate the benefits you get from training.
CBD, however, helps to suppress cortisol by inhibiting secretion of the hormone, according to a study published in the Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research, all the way back in 1993. In practical terms, this means that a dose of CBD perhaps before and after you train will not just help to protect the muscles, but increase overall growth. Lowering cortisol will also increase the ratio of testosterone to cortisol in the body, with the former being essential for boosting the proliferation of muscle proteins which are vital for growth.
Interestingly, a 1988 study featured in Drug Metabolism and Disposition: The Biological Fate of Chemicals showed that CBD actually slowed the breakdown of testosterone. However, this investigation was conducted on adult rats and has so far not been replicated in humans.
Should you be cautious about taking CBD?
Athletes who take part in professional competition must be really careful about what substances they take to help them with training and recovery. This is especially apparent with CBD, a cannabis sativa derivative. Marijuana may still be illegal at federal level, but the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) removed CBD from its list of prohibited substances at the start of 2018. However, this applies only to CBD, so those who are liable to get drug-tested but want to take CBD may be best sticking with THC-free, CBD-isolate products.
CBD is safe and causes few side effects, but it may interfere with the metabolization of certain drugs, such as blood-thinners, some anti-anxiety drugs, antihistamines and beta-blockers.