The mainstream interest in the health benefits of CBD have not gone unnoticed in the world of professional sports. With athletes pushing their performance to the next level and placing high-intensity stress on their bodies, pain and inflammation is a given.
For years, athletes have unofficially used cannabis for pain management. Now, as legalization sweeps America, athletes are finally looking into CBD as a safer alternative to opioids and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
The safe and effective use of CBD, as stated by WHO, has changed the general attitude towards cannabis. The starting point of the shifting paradigm in sports medicines was when the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) crossed off cannabidiol from its Prohibited Substances List in 2018. This change of policy opened up new opportunities not only for athletes in need of pain management but also for cannabis companies.
Does CBD support pain management?
Here’s what science tells us:
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) in the human body regulates a variety of functions, like sleep, pain and immune system response. Studies have shown that CBD works in sync with the ECS, interacting with the neurotransmitters to help reduce inflammation and support pain relief.
A study has even shown the potential beneficial effects of cannabis as part of a pain management protocol that includes reduced concussion-related symptoms. The evidence for efficacy is limited but promising for chronic pain management.
Clinical data from relevant animal studies suggest that CBD shows promise in reduced pain, which could be useful for athletes that participate in intense exercise.
Additionally, some research suggests the potential CBD usage in managing opioid addiction, which kills tens of thousands of people each year. While CBD is a psychoactive substance, it doesn’t get you high.
While there is a lot of research that supports CBD’s role in pain management, a lot more clinical trials need to be performed to prove its efficacy.
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CBD and sporting leagues
Professional athletes have begun to endorse CBD as an alternative to prescription painkillers that are beginning to reveal themselves as silent, highly addictive killers. Former NFL quarterback Jake Plummer is one of the many NFL athletes that are leading the charge forward in CBD education.
While major sporting leagues don’t allow players to use cannabis products, it seems like they may be coming around to the idea as more and more former and current players acknowledge the value of CBD in sports medicine, in addition to its purported potential to combat the increasing opioid epidemic.
The Pain Management Committee of the NFL and the NFL Players Association held a forum to discuss the use of CBD for pain management in sports medicine in January 2020. This was a great leap forward in recognizing the importance of CBD in sports medicine.
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