Even though cannabis has long been here, it gained popularity and use in medical and other fields only recently. While it is a highly popular way for athletes and people to maintain wellness, the industry still needs time to develop fully. In addition, there are many types of cannabis products that differ in their cannabinoid content and effectiveness.
The market is challenging; not every product suits consumers. However, cannabis is now legal in most US states, though some people still have several myths about marijuana. The stigma around this space is beginning to loosen, so athletes and regular people now have an opportunity to achieve well-being and improve health using cannabis-based products.
Although athletes report that cannabis helps them to achieve better athletic performance, boost mental sharpness, speed up the recovery process and offer much more benefits, not everyone understands how it works. Let’s explore what compounds in cannabis are responsible for its benefits and what are product types athletes can find today.
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How does Cannabis Work?
Cannabis is a plant containing over 100 cannabinoids. The most prominent cannabinoids are cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). While THC is known for the psychoactive and intoxicating effects associated with recreational marijuana consumption, CBD is a safe and non-addictive cannabinoid. However, small amounts of THC present in some cannabis products will not be intoxicating yet contribute to a more effective result.
When consumed, inhaled or applied, cannabinoids in the plant interact with the endocannabinoid system, also known as ECS. It is the inner system in our bodies containing receptors CB1 and CB2 located throughout the body and skin. Interacting with these receptors, cannabinoids help promote homeostasis in the body and deliver other benefits.
What Products are Safe for Athletes?
Since the market is moving, professional athletes can find various products and supplements designed for their physical and mental performance. However, not every product is safe for all consumers. Since athletes may be required to pass a drug test, they should use THC-free products to improve wellness and athletic performance. These include CBD oil, CBD capsules and topical products, like creams and lotions. However, athletes are prone to get injuries and mental burnout, so in some cases, they may require medical cannabis since it is more effective and sometimes prescribed by doctors to soothe symptoms or treat some conditions.
5 Ways Cannabis Can benefit Athletes
1. Reduce Inflammation
CBD and medical cannabis are both known for reducing inflammation. Scientists believe that reducing muscle and joint inflammation is one of the most promising areas for research. Several studies have found that cannabis consumption, especially CBD, as a non-psychoactive cannabinoid, helps lessen or reduce inflammation.
Even though this benefit has already been proven by some athletes, scientists are now looking for cannabis potential to treat autoimmune diseases like Crohn’s disease and psoriasis. For those athletes who want to reap the benefits of CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties but are not keen on smoking it or getting high, experts recommend topical products. In fact, topicals and tinctures are best for locally targeted recovery in highly concentrated doses, which aids in efficiency.
2. Treat Muscle Spasms
Even though more research is needed to make any claims, some doctors have already used cannabis and CBD in treating muscle spasms. Scientists believe that cannabis may be effective in easing pain and treating muscle spasms associated with diseases like multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s, but it has more potential in helping athletes suffering from spasms as well. There are several studies in rodents that have shown some beneficial effects in muscle recovery and muscle spasm reduction, mainly due to the anti-inflammatory properties that cannabis provides.
3. Improve Sleep
Sleep is essential for any athlete. However, it might be hard for them to achieve quality night rest due to stress, pain and too much physical activity during the day. It isn’t surprising that THC is known for better sleep thanks to its psychoactive properties and sleep-inducing effects. However, not only THC can help with sleep issues. As we mentioned, CBD binds to receptors in the ECS. And ECs, in turn, are responsible for many vital functions, including sleep.
In addition, CBD may help reduce stress and improve mood while also maintaining inner balance. As a result, medical cannabis and CBD supplements effectively treat sleep conditions like insomnia. However, some cannabis strains may deliver the opposite effects, so do not try smoking marijuana for sleep without consulting with a healthcare provider.
4. Ease Soreness and Pain
Thanks to cannabis’s anti-inflammatory properties, CBD products have also been shown to reduce or lessen pain. This is another area of research that has shown positive results in studies. Medical cannabis is believed to alleviate pain caused by many factors, including acute pain from muscle spasms after workouts and chronic pain. Scientists have found that medical cannabis is an excellent option for anyone looking for alternatives to dangerous, habit-forming opiates.
5. Improve Mental Acuity
Professional athletes are looking for better focus and concentration. That is because increased mental sharpness also leads to better athletic performance. Even though some people still think that marijuana and medical cannabis are more about complete relaxation, the truth is that stress, anxiety, and racing thoughts distract people from feeling concentrated. Regular yet low doses of medical cannabis and CBD may restore cognitive function in old mice, based on a study published in Nature Medicine. Consumers have also reported that medical cannabis is an excellent way to calm down after a stressful day, get quality sleep and, therefore, achieve much better concentration for days ahead.
Cannabis is a popular alternative option for people struggling with various health issues. While some people still associate cannabis with intoxication, scientists found out that CBD and medical cannabis can be helpful in soothing stress and pain, promoting mental sharpness and being especially effective for professional athletes seeking improved performance.