Cannabidiol (CBD) is a compound, or “nutrient”, which is naturally found in the cannabis family of plants. CBD belongs to a family of “nutrients” called cannabinoids; phytocannabinoids to be specific, as they are found in plants. CBD is one of the most well-known phytocannabinoids, along with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). While both are phytocannabinoids, their respective actions are vastly different. Unlike THC, CBD has zero psychoactive properties when administered. Simply put; you won’t “get high” by ingesting products containing CBD. This compound has been gaining popularity at an accelerated rate as more data emerges on its’ positive health benefits that include, but are not limited to, pain relief, healing, recovery, improved sleep, and reduced anxiety. CBD derived from hemp -following specific guidelines, is actually 100% legal. As the stigma in the general public regarding cannabis begins being replaced by education of its components, their differing effects, and actual legality, we will see a rapid increase in its use across a variety of markets.
We live in a time where the potential benefits of Cannabidiol can no longer be disregarded or disputed. Many independent, as well as state-sponsored institutions, such as private labs and universities, have conducted research and clinical trials that show the efficacy and usefulness of CBD for many different purposes. A quick online search of “cannabidiol” on any noteworthy medical journal site results in countless studies and articles conducted and/or written by these accredited institutions. Therefore, rather than focusing on theories and conjecture, we are going to focus on scientific findings in this discussion. We’re going to approach the application of CBD, for athletic purposes, from a factual perspective based on research.
Relevancy to Athletes
Those of you reading this are probably an athlete to some extent, or at minimum, lead an active lifestyle. Whether you play professional sports, are a competitive bodybuilder, or just a regular at your local gym; you probably understand the importance of rest and recovery. Your muscles do not grow or become stronger in the gym or on the field. Your muscles grow when you are at rest. When growth is stimulated, via intense training, protein synthesis initiates immediately. However, this protein synthesis becomes most elevated at night as you sleep. If you want to get bigger, faster, or stronger, there are three fundamentals that you MUST master as an athlete: Diet, Training, and Sleep. Without a solid balance of these fundamentals, you will not achieve optimal growth or performance. First you’ve got to train hard enough to stimulate growth. Then you must give your body the nutrients it needs to rebuild itself. Finally, you need to give your body plenty of time to rest, recover, and rebuild itself. As I used to tell my clients; “Always remember the tri-fecta: Diet, Training, and Sleep” If any one of those is out of balance, your results will be sub-optimal at the very least.
CBD plays an active role in each tier of the “tri-fecta”. Where CBD seems to shine most is with its noticeable influence on the body’s recovery mechanisms. CBD has been shown to enhance recovery processes that might be induced after a strenuous workout. The researched and discovered calming effects of CBD may also promote better sleep rhythms. Most can agree that improved sleep positively impacts recovery. Thus, it can at LEAST be presumed that CBD “helps us recover quicker” right? However, we are going to leave the conjecture out of the equation and we’re going to focus on the facts.
The University of Reading, in Berkshire UK, collected data that showed how various cannabinoids were able to mitigate muscle-wasting side-effects that occur in up to 80% of cancer patients. This data also showed that oral administration of cannabinoids reversed muscle-loss caused by cancer. CBD has furthermore been shown to mitigate and reverse muscle-loss and spasticity in patients with multiple-sclerosis. We may not yet fully understand how cannabinoids such as CBD help in muscle recovery and/or retention, but overwhelming positive clinical results continue being published. More studies are being performed on the exact mechanisms by which cannabinoids are positively impacting lives. While one can’t say that mitigation or reversal of muscle loss, improved sleep, and pain reduction found in one specific disease state can be extended to all states or situations in the human body, one can make a compelling argument that it’s worth checking out!
CBD Enhances Glycolysis
Another interesting study conducted by scientists at the National Natural Science Foundation of China also revealed similar positive effects on the body’s recovery and defense mechanisms.
What makes this study spectacular is not just the granularity of the information and evidence gathered, nor the precise methods by which the study was conducted; but three measurable and noticeable (positive) effects that the consumption of CBD had on three physiologically-related processes or mechanisms: Immunomodulation, neuro-protection and glucose metabolism. To put it simply, CBD was shown to enhance the body’s immune system, protect neurons vital to the nervous system and brain, and even facilitate glycolysis. To keep things within the scope of the article, we are going to focus on the last process, but please take a look at the full study; it’s fantastic!
An additional study was also performed that showed the same positive effects:
When we talk about protein synthesis and muscle recovery, we are inherently talking about glycolysis and ATP synthesis. These are some of the many “processes” that make up what is commonly referred to as “protein synthesis” –from the perspective of athletic performance. The replenishment of glycogen and ATP into our cells is essential for recovery and basic metabolic functions of the cell itself. ATP is essentially “fuel” or energy for our muscle cells. This is why Creatine became a popular supplement at the turn of the 21st century. Creatine had been shown to enhance the body’s production of ATP –which ultimately meant that you would feel stronger in the gym and recovery quicker after workouts. Creatine was and still is an amazing supplement that directly affects one of our body’s fundamental recovery processes. Enhanced rates of glycolysis (the conversion of glycogen/glucose to ATP) would effectively mean quicker replenishment of ATP which leads to enhanced oxygen efficiency, strength, and most importantly, recovery.
One of the ways CBD differs from creatine, is that CBD actually influences the receptor sites of not only neurons, but ALL cellular organisms with CB1 and CB2 receptors. There is no “creatine receptor” for creatine to bind. The consumption of creatine essentially gives your body some of the building blocks it needs to do its job and recycle ADP and ATP, whereas CBD attaches to a cell and stimulates a specific action or function. The effects shown within the studies above were stimulated by CBD’s interaction with the 5HT and CB2 receptors of these particular cells. Once these receptor-sites were stimulated, the cells not only became more energy efficient, but were more resistant to oxidative stress and the damage done to those cells. You can reference the article for the precise functions and results.
Supplementation of CBD for Peak Performance
Ok, so we’ve ascertained the fact that CBD has been shown to enhance recovery in the clinical trials discussed. For the competitive athlete, proper recovery is needed to achieve peak performance. So what is the most effective way to integrate CBD products into your diet and training regimen? Let’s start by thinking about our bodies’ time frame for recovery.
Processes such as glycogen replenishment and protein synthesis can take up to 72 hours. So for the best results, it would be most desirable to employ a delivery method that administered a consistent and sustained dose or “stream” of CBD over an extended period of time. However, CBD has a biological half-life of 9 hours, which means that in order to maintain consistent blood-levels, CBD must either be administered multiple times per day or delivered in a way that allows for continuous absorption.
When CBD is administered orally, some of the compound can be destroyed in our stomachs. However, when bound to the proper carrier or agent, the bioavailability of CBD is believed to be increased over standard oral ingestion. Even with improved bioavailability, you may often see gel capsules and syrups measured in higher doses. This is just to be sure that an appropriate daily amount is actually being absorbed. Delivery methods such as gel caps work extremely well for the individual who wants to use CBD on a daily basis with the simplicity of taking a pill, one to two times daily. Using syrup is close to the same, with the exception that you can get some sublingual absorption, which increases the speed of effectiveness. For that reason, syrups can be taken as needed or on a daily basis. If you are looking for an as needed or rapid delivery method, sublingual administration, such as with oil drops, has been found to be the fastest. You not only get a quick bioavailability, but also, you don’t face the degradation of the CBD as seen through typical oral administration. For this reason, you will see the CBD Drops at lower concentrations. Sublingual administration is a great option from a bioavailability standpoint, but isn’t as practical to maintain continuous levels over a period. Even so, many people are coming to like the CDB Drops and their effectiveness; you just need to take them 2-3 times per day. The most unique delivery of CBD to date is definitely the transdermal patch. The DREEM CBD patch delivers a consistent flow of CBD nutrients into the blood stream over a 24-36 hour period of time with maximum absorption and bio-availability. The transdermal delivery of this patch was actually designed and patented for pharmaceutical use and has had its delivery rates scientifically measured.
At the end of the day, all of the above mentioned delivery methods can work just as well as the next; you just need to educate yourself on the different rates of delivery and decide which one, or combination of multiple best fits your personal needs. From my personal experience, I like having one product that provides a more continuous delivery, while having a second one that is rapid into the system that I can add in as needed, especially pre or post workout. With this hybrid approach, you’re getting a sustained foundation of CBD into your body, with a boost just before a workout with the goal of reduced inflammation with increased training intensity and duration. The patches are perfect for individuals like me, who are always on the move and like the convenience of a single patch that lasts over 24 hours. For these reasons, the patches certainly have my personal recommendation. You can also take advantage of the thermogenic effects of CBD, but we’ll save that for another article.
After taking a step back and looking at this article, I’ve realized that an entire book could probably be written on this particular subject. There are so many studies out there that support the conclusion that CBD can enhance post-workout recovery. CBD is very well known for its immunomodulatory and healing properties, so, it should come as no surprise that it could have the same positive effect on your body after a workout.
Our bodies are provisioned with our own endo-cannabinoid system from birth. It’s not an accident that we just so happen to be physiologically and biologically predisposed to a particular genus of plant. It’s amazing that nature intended for us to consume these nutrients from a specific plant, and that doing so has the potential for such profound effects on our well-being.
More studies are being performed to determine the direct and exact mechanisms by which CBD and other cannabinoids have been shown to promote muscle growth and healing. There is no doubt that CBD has significant positive effects on the mitigation of muscle loss and the stimulation of muscle-recovery.
In the end, I believe that each individual should take the time to educate themselves on any product that they consume. The research on CBD is abundant and easily accessible. Do your research, consult with your healthcare professional before trying new products, be informed, and when you come across fact based clinical research like I have with CBD, spread the word. Education increases knowledge, knowledge is power, and the education emerging around CBD is undeniably powerful and compelling.
-THE DREEM TEAM
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