At Amma Life, we’re passionate about maintaining a balanced, healthy lifestyle. One of our favourite health-boosting habits is regular physical exercise, particularly when combined with CBD. That’s right, CBD for fitness, used either before or after a workout, is rapidly proving to be a winning formula.
What is CBD?
CBD (Cannabidiol) is a type of compound called a cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant. Unlike its more famous cannabinoid cousin, THC, CBD does not have any intoxicating effect. In fact some people report it can actually aid concentration and focus.
Scientists are currently studying CBD to find out what effects it has on the body. They have observed that CBD may boost the human endocannabinoid system (ECS) – the vast network of cell receptor sites and cannabis-like chemicals found in the brain, central nervous system, peripheral nervous system, and gut. The endocannabinoid system is involved in regulating every aspect of our health including appetite, reproduction, mood, sleep, cell growth, and the immune system. It’s clear then, how important it is to maintain full ECS function, particularly when it comes to maximising sports performance.
In fact, there is a direct relationship between the ECS and intense cardiovascular activity. Many of us will have experienced the runner’s high – that feel-good sensation after rigorous exercise attributed to the production of endorphins. Only, scientists now know that endorphins are only partly responsible.
Studies on animals and humans show after extended cardiovascular exercise, there is a spike in the endocannabinoid, anandamide, which seems to correlate with feelings of increased wellbeing. Anandamide is also thought to have a pain-reducing and anti-inflammatory effect, potentially aiding the recovery process after exercise.
Researchers believe CBD increases levels of anandamide by blocking the enzyme responsible for breaking it down. So in effect, any anandamide produced gets to hang out in our body a little while longer working its magic. CBD also activates non-endocannabinoid system receptors responsible for mood, pain perception and inflammation, as well as blocking receptors linked to the spread of cancer cells.
CBD is unique in its ability to produce many physiological effects at the same time through multiple molecular pathways. On the one hand, this makes CBD an incredibly versatile nutritional supplement targeting several biological systems at once. However, in scientific terms, really understanding CBD’s health benefits is proving a never ending task, as researchers continually uncover new discoveries about its mechanisms of action and effects on the body.
In the UK, CBD is sold as a nutritional supplement, often in oil or paste form. Another popular CBD delivery method in the sports community is CBD E-liquid, considered the quickest way to get CBD into the bloodstream. But a word of caution, there are many CBD brands out there selling products made from CBD isolate, which is a purified form of CBD. Contrary to what you might believe, the best CBD products contain the full spectrum of active ingredients, often known as Whole Plant CBD oil, due to the unique synergy between the hundreds of molecules in the cannabis plant
CBD – Before and After a Workout
For many of us, just getting to the gym is a miracle in itself, so once we’re there we want to make the most of our workout. How does CBD fit into this?
As there is very little scientific research into CBD and Sport, we have to rely on anecdotal evidence. However, the overwhelming consensus is that CBD improves concentration, focus, and stamina – all key components of an effective workout.
CBD is also finding a natural home within the bodybuilding community, as it may promote the creation of muscle mass. The body produces certain catabolic hormones that, rather than building muscle, actually break it down. Chief amongst them is the stress hormone, cortisol. CBD is thought to be anti-catabolic because it decreases cortisol levels in the blood. It’s theorized that by decreasing cortisol, CBD may actually encourage the growth of muscle mass. As an aside, if using CBD as an anti-catabolic, stay clear of energy drinks containing caffeine, which increase cortisol levels in the body.
CBD may also give that extra boost to a work out by allowing athletes to push through the pain barrier. While pain is there for a reason, i.e. as a warning signal that we are reaching our physical limit, for some sports, pushing past this pain is necessary.
CBD, rather than reducing pain, seems to mediate our relationship with it. A recent study showed that cannabinoid drugs make pain less unpleasant and more tolerable. This subtle difference could be enough to transform an average sporting performance into an exceptional one.
And what about CBD and recovery? A common consequence of hard exercise is muscle stiffness and fatigue. CBD for DOMS (delayed onset of muscle soreness) is another area where anecdotal reports are positive. Inflammation is a necessary part of the recovery process, but excess inflammation can cause secondary muscle damage due to the release of free radicals from active neutrophils (white blood cells). It’s thought CBD’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidant nature, may help reduce this excess muscle soreness. Indeed, CBD topical creams, perfect for applying after a serious training session, are proving very popular with the sports community.
CBD on Competition Day
It’s not surprising then, that CBD is now an accepted part of many professional athletes’ training regime, reducing pre-competition nerves, aiding sleep, maximising competition day focus, and easing the post-competition, recovery process.
This general acceptance into the sporting world got a boost last year (2017) when the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) took CBD off list of banned substances. However, any CBD used by athletes must contain less than 0.2% THC.
The best way to ensure the CBD oil you are taking fits these WADA guidelines is to buy CBD products extracted from legal Cannabis sativa, sometimes known as hemp, as they will not exceed the legal 0.2% legal THC limit. At Amma Life, we go out of our way to ensure our CBD products are safe and legal to use, providing third party lab tests to show not only CBD content, but that our products are free from heavy metals, pesticides, and mould.