There is always something new creating buzz in the fitness industry. From coconut oil, to apple cider vinegar, to low carb and ketogenic diets, to fat burners, and more… there is always something to talk about that creates some controversy! One of the newest things being talked about in fitness industry is CBD oil. Cannibidiol is one of the many compounds found in the cannabis, or marijuana, plant. All compounds found in this plant fall under the umbrella of “cannibinoids”. Until recently, the most well known cannibinoid was THC or delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, which is the most active ingredient in marijuana and what causes people to feel high when ingesting it. Unlike THC, CBD is not a psychoactive compound. This means that CBD does not cause you to feel high, but it does appear to cause significant changes in your body and has shown promise in treating medical conditions.
Cannibidiol works by attaching itself to certain receptors in your body. Because our bodies actually produce certain cannibinoids on their own, we already have two different cannibinoid receptors. CB1 receptors are found all over our body, but are mostly located in our brain. They help with many different functions from coordination and movement, to emotions and mood, to appetite, to pain, to memories, and many more. CB2 receptors are mostly found in the immune system and play a role in inflammation and pain. It was initially thought that taking CBD affected your CB2 receptors, causing decreases in inflammation and pain. Recently, it has been discovered that taking CBD does not appear to directly influence either receptor, but instead encourages our bodies to use more of our own naturally produced cannibinoids.
As more research comes out regarding the benefits of CBD, the more we are seeing the stigma behind it fade. CBD is used to help treat a variety of medical conditions including epilepsy, cancer, anxiety, acne, type 1 diabetes, Alzheimer’s dementia, chronic pain, and even drug withdrawal. People in the fitness and bodybuilding industry have started to take notice of the benefits CBD has to offer and are implementing them into their daily routine in order to gain muscle, aide in recovery, and much more.
CBD offers many benefits including decrease in inflammation and pain; lowered blood pressure; more controlled appetite; lowered cortisol levels, decreased anxiety, and improved sleep; and can help boost your immune system. Let’s take a closer look at how each of these benefits can be utilized to help you achieve your fitness goals…
- Decreased inflammation and pain: Studies have found that in mice, CBD has helped to decrease chronic inflammation, which makes it a promising alternative to long term use of opioids and other pain relievers. Several human studies have shown that a combination of CBD and THC has been effective at reducing pain in individuals with multiple sclerosis and arthritis. Some people feel the use of CBD is a more natural way to help with chronic joint pain and stiffness. Inflammation and joint pain are also common complaints of those doing heavy weight lifting and vigorous exercise. Some fitness professionals are utilizing CBD to aide in joint recovery and reducing inflammation post workout, in theory speeding up their recovery time and hopefully preventing or slowing down long-term effects on joints and muscles.
- Lowered blood pressure: Research has linked CBD use to multiple benefits for the circulatory system and overall heart health, including lowering blood pressure. High blood pressure is linked with many serious health conditions such as heart attacks and strokes. Studies have shown that men who consumed a one time dose 600mg of CBD has significantly reduced blood pressure when compared with a group who took a placebo. It is believed that this is due to the calming and anti-anxiety effects of CBD. Several animal studies have also shown that CBD may help reduce inflammation and cell death associated with heart disease due to its powerful antioxidant and stress reducing properties. If CBD can help maintain healthy blood pressure, along with decrease damage caused to the heart muscle, it likely has these same benefits on other muscles in our body making is appealing to those working out frequently.
- Controlled appetite: While the compound THC is often associating with increased appetite, CBD has shown promise in controlling appetite and increasing metabolism. CBD stimulates proteins that increase oxidation and fat breakdown in our bodies, which increases the amount of fat our body is able to break down. At the same time, CBD enhances the activity of our cells powerhouses, the mitochondria, which increases energy expenditure and calories burned at the cellular level. By helping to regulate the hormones that control hunger and satiety, CBD can help establish a healthy appetite that is actually based on the needs of your body. It’s pretty easy to see why CBD would appeal to those trying to lose weight and drop body fat!
- Lowered cortisol levels, decreased anxiety, and improved sleep: CBD has also been shown to help regulate cortisol levels, which plays a big role in recovery, energy, and sleep. In many studies, CBD has been associated with lower levels of anxiety. It is used as adjuvant therapy in many anxiety related conditions such as general anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). CBD oil also has a strong sedative quality, which makes it ideal for those suffering from insomnia, interrupted sleep, restless leg syndrome, PTSD, and many more nighttime ailments. Rest and recovery are a huge part of reaching your fitness goals and maintaining a healthy body, so supplementation with CBD is often used for this reason specifically.
- Immune system boost: Because it has been shown to help regulate an overactive immune system, CBD is often used to relieve allergies and shows promise for aiding in treatment of autoimmune disorders. When working out, dieting, and putting strain on your body you naturally put yourself at risk for getting sick or injured. Similar to taking a Vitamin C supplement daily, some people find CBD a more natural way to give their immune system that extra boost.
Just like any other supplement, taking CBD does come with a few risks and side effects that are important to consider. While CBD is generally well tolerated and safe for daily use, some reported side effects include fatigue, dry mouth, nausea, diarrhea, dizziness, and changes in appetite. While there are many studies being done on the benefits of CBD, there are minimal long-term studies that have been completed so far, so we still don’t know potential long-term side effects of CBD use. CBD can interact with certain medicines as well, so make sure to check with your primary care provider prior to starting any new supplements. Laws differ from state to state on how CBD can be purchased and sold. Some states require a prescription to purchase CBD, while others allow anyone over the age of 18 to purchase it. The FDA has not approved CBD for the treatment of any health conditions and studies are still ongoing.
The moral of the story? The evidence is piling up that CBD can help heal our bodies and prevent unpleasant symptoms, but there are always side effects to consider. If you think you may benefit from CBD, make sure to do your research and choose a product that fits your lifestyle and needs.
Image by: Don Bersano. Bersano Photography. September 2017.