Just wait a second. Before you jump into the deep end of the pool and head to your physician to get your prescription for medical grade weed, the answer is no. No what? No to that fact that we are not encouraging you to go out and actively start smoking and eating weed, but rather to consider taking advantage of an underappreciated compound found in the cannabis plant.
That compound? Introducing Cannabidiol, which we shall affectionately refer to as just CBD from here forward. Excited to take your performance to new highs? (Yes, pun very intended.) Then let’s get right into it.
Isn’t CBD “Technically” Weed?
Not at all. Weed, as we know it, is cannabis cultivated for high levels of its psychoactive constituent, known as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Arguably, without the presence of this compound, the bioactive effects of weed changes altogether, from what we know it to be, to something that holds great promise to athletes.
This is what CBD is. CBD is obtained from cannabis plants raised to have low levels of THC (less than 1%) and is not illegal to possess. Possessing cannabis with high THC content is the topic for another discussion altogether, but just know it is illegal in many places.
So now that you understand that CBD isn’t technically weed, it’s time to explore how this compound can affect your athletic performance. And yes, it’s for the better (in stark contrast to THC’s negative effects on athletic performance).
CBD Oil Reduces Cortisol
CBD oil (that’s the form of the most popular CBD extracts) has a surprising effect in terms of its ability to reduce stress. Typically, standard weed with a high proportion of THC (20-30%) can induce anxiety, mania, and increase the action of the body’s adrenal system, causing a large influx of cortisol into the bloodstream. However, CBD is not like his better known cousin. In fact, CBD was found in a study to interfere with the secretion of cortisol, reducing blood levels significantly.1
Though the study that found these results included only 11 subjects, even without the scientific verification, anecdotal evidence has revealed that people who use THC rich cannabis strains are known to supplement with CBD to reduce the effects of anxiety and increased adrenal function that occurs.
CBD Can Promote Restful Sleep
Are you hoping to build the body of a god on four hours sleep per night? Not likely. While we aren’t blaming you per se for your inability to sleep enough (as there may be other factors), if you struggle to sleep as a result of potent stims, or worse, then you are doing yourself a disservice by not even trying to remedy the situation.
CBD oil can help. It has a rather contradictory mechanism, as it is not a potent sedative, and should really even be classified as a stimulant. CBD in very low doses activated the same adenosine receptors as caffeine, blocking the action of its substrate and preventing sleep. However, at moderate to high doses (which is the dose normally consumed for therapeutic benefit), it holds good potential as a sleep promoting agent.2
CBD Can Help Manage Weight
The use of weed is associated with increased hunger, or what we know as “the munchies.” However, this is not the action of CBD itself, but rather the THC. CBD once again has shown itself to have the opposite effect of THC, suppressing appetite and lending itself for use as an anti-obesity agent.3 If you are overweight, and finding it hard to restrict calories to achieve your dream body, CBD would probably be worth a shot.
CBD Possesses Anti-Inflammatory Potential
Inflammation is ongoing every minute of the day. In a way, inflammation is what is responsible for shortening of our lifespan, being responsible to a large degree for many of the chronic diseases that are the most common causes of mortality. Which begs the question: slowing down inflammation will prolong our life, right?
Generally speaking, yes. But life-extending benefits aside, we are more interested in keeping our bodies working at peak efficiency, since our goal is to enhance athletic performance.
So how does CBD help us along the yellow brick road? For one, CBD can help relieve the inflammation that occurs in joints as a result of heavy weights or constant use (wear and tear injuries).4 Inflammation will lead to pain and will prevent you from training for prolonged periods of time.
CBD Oil Can Promote Insulin Sensitivity
You can have your diet on point, along with a top quality workout program, but yet it looks like your body refuses to part ways with your surplus of fat, nor is it willing to build muscle very fast. If this describes you, low insulin sensitivity is probably at fault.
Optimally, your insulin should be low the majority of the time. Why? Because insulin becomes more efficient the less it is recruited. This simply means that eating a single donut should not elicit the same response as eating five donuts. People with high insulin sensitivities promote storage of excess glucose in muscle and liver as glycogen, as opposed to being stored in fat.
People with poor sensitivities also have difficulty shuttling glucose into muscle, and instead, store it as fat. Marijuana use as a whole has been associated with lower body mass, but especially when the CBD component is present. CBD use has been found to be associated with lower levels of insulin, and a corresponding lower waist size.5 This probably explains why your stoner friend can eat a ton of crap and not get fat. Insulin could be the swing vote.
The Only Caveat, Absorption
Yes, there had to be a catch. This time, it comes in the form of a sucky absorbability profile. However, it is possible to enhance its absorption with turmeric and black pepper. Black pepper is included in a variety of supplements for that exact same reason and appears to offers a simple workaround here. The only problem? The taste might not be very good. But besides that, you can’t go wrong.
CBD not only holds extreme potential in helping you reach your body goals but can also improve overall health and well-being. Plus, CBD oil is legal to purchase and use, as it contains the approved levels of THC. You will not get high off of it, but may reach new heights never before achieved. Just be sure you use only high quality CBD extracts, in your preferred form.
1. Effect of Cannabidiol on plasma prolactin, growth hormone and cortisol in human volunteers.[ Braz J Med Biol Res. 1993] PubMed-NCBI.
2. Cannabis, Cannabinoids, and Sleep: a Review of the Literature.[Current Psychiatry Reports.2017] PubMed-NCBI.
3. Cannabinol and cannabidiol exert opposing effects on rat feeding patterns.[Psychopharmacology.2012] PubMed- NCBI.
4. Cannabinoids suppress inflammatory and neuropathic pain by targeting α3 glycine receptors.[ Jour. Of Exper. Medicine.2012] PubMed-NCBI.
5. The impact of marijuana use on glucose, insulin, and insulin resistance among US adults.[Am. Jour. Of Medicine 2013].