Can Athletes Use CBD?
In 2018 the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) removed CBD from their list of prohibited substances, allowing CBD to be used in- and out-of-competition. After the WADA made this change, the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) followed suit. It’s important to note that while the WADA and USADA had removed CBD from their prohibited substances list, they had not removed THC. Nevertheless, these agencies dramatically increased the “allowed” nanogram-levels of THC within an athlete’s urinary test. The previous limit was 15 nanograms of THC per mL, while the new threshold sits at 150 nanograms per mL. This new limit was intentionally established to decrease the number of potential athletes who may test positive due to casual use of products containing THC out-of-competition, while also allowing athletes to use more hemp-based products to support their physical well-being and post-workout recovery.
How is CBD Use Regulated By Professional Sports Leagues?
Despite the World Anti-Doping Agency removing CBD from the list of prohibited substances, THC is still considered prohibited, preventing athletes to use any products containing more than 150 nanograms per mL of THC. Individual leagues, however, have the flexibility to further define these related rules specific to its own athletes. For example, the NCAA has been known to have some of the strictest regulations concerning cannabis use. In the past, they’ve enforced penalties onto athletes who’ve tested positive for cannabis. Although the newest NCAA 2019-2020 Banned Drugs List doesn’t include CBD directly, it does include Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) as well as cannabis. It even goes one step further to establish that any chemically-related substances to those indicated on the list are also banned. This unfortunately leaves the door open for misinterpretation as to whether CBD products derived from hemp are legal since hemp is different than cannabis. As such, many collegiate athletes tend to shy away from using any and all CBD-related products, despite the potential benefits for post-workout recovery, pain management and inflammation.
While the NCAA doesn’t seem to be encouraging CBD use amongst its athletes, there is a sports league that has been very intrigued by the potential health benefits derived from CBD and cannabinoids. The UFC has partnered with Aurora Cannabis to perform clinical studies on the effects CBD has on athletes during their recovery-phases. Aurora and the UFC are hoping to prove that the medicinal benefits of CBD may undoubtedly assist with and support wound care, recovery, injury and pain from competition—all of which UFC fighters know too well.
How Can Athletes Benefit from CBD?
Athletes are no strangers to challenging workouts and training regimens. Pushing their limits and putting their bodies through pain is just another day at the office. CBD has shown great potential to support these athletes in their training recovery, and studies have shown that microdosing CBD can effectively reduce musculoskeletal pain from exercising and exertion, as well as reduce the impact of stiff joints.
CBD for Reducing Inflammation
Athletes perform at extraordinary levels, and train hard to achieve peak athletic performance. With these demanding training schedules come inflammation and pain. It’s second nature and to be expected. Athletes suffering from constant inflammation will experience prolonged recovery time, impacting their trajectory for greater athletic success.
CBD Instead of Ibuprofen
Athletes typically use over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)— with the most popular being ibuprofen—to combat inflammation. While ibuprofen is anti-inflammatory, it carries serious risks that do not allow athletes to use this medication during long training sessions as it can cause kidney damage or increase chances of a heart attack. Thus, athletes have been looking for an alternative to NSAIDs and many have been using CBD. CBD is being adopted by athletes in place of NSAIDS, and more specifically iburpofen, due to the low-risk factors associated with CBD.
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