Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, and Lebron James; These are just a few of the names that have endorsed Gatorade and built up the sports drink powerhouse since its debut in the summer of 1965. Then, a team of physicians from the University of Florida sought to improve the Gators’ on-field performance, not knowing what the brand would become. Gatorade is now the preferred sports drink and recovery tool used for all athletes. However, there is a movement among athletes and medical science toward the use of marijuana and CBD for athletes, especially as it pertains to injury and recovery. While Hemp Bombs and CBD generally are not direct competitors of Gatorade, research is showing that CBD is becoming a valid option for athletes to turn to for recovery and performance. Here is Hemp Bombs’ exploration of that possibility.
More Money, More Problems
In a recent article published in the New York Times, Dr. Ann Mckee, a neuropathologist, performed brain examinations in 111 deceased players. Her findings, while perhaps not surprising, show the truly destructive nature of professional sports. 110 of the 111 brains studied were diagnosed with Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, CTE, a degenerative brain disease connected with high, repeated impact. Frequent mood swings, headaches, and memory impairments are just a few of the symptoms of CTE.
What’s the Current Protocol?
In an interview from 2011 with ESPN, Maurice Jones Drew talked about the pressures of “staying healthy” as an NFL player, even if that means faking health. Although a new concussion protocol was issued in 2009, it’s clear that a “tough guy” mentality pervades in professional sports, even if it’s at the expense of long term well-being. No doubt, these kind of attitudes led to a peak in concussions in 2015, years after concussion precautions had been in place.
In professional sports, injuries are inevitable. With athletes like Maurice Jones Drew more interested in job security and playing time than personal health, it places even more importance on injury treatment. In December of 2016, the Golden State Warriors’ head coach, Steve Kerr, commented on how athletes are prescribed Vicodin like “Vitamin C,” yet Marijuana is relegated to the banned substances list in spite of its therapeutic potential. It’s a reliance on painkillers like Vicodin that lead to high substance abuse rates among NFL players – up to 400%.
In the same interview, Kerr lamented how Marijuana is still labelled a banned substance while he feels it’s much less destructive to your body than painkillers like Vicodin. With coaches stepping up to support the therapeutic potential of Marijuana, is it time to consider it as a valid treatment method?
The Case for CBD
While Kerr spoke about “Marijuana,” it’s Cannabidiol (CBD) that could be the best candidate to treat athletes. Briefly, CBD is the second-most chemical in Marijuana behind THC, without the psychoactive properties. Simply, CBD doesn’t give you the “high” that THC does, which most recreational users look for. Beyond a lack of psychoactivity, there are many reasons why CBD is a valid treatment method.
Among its many benefits, one of the most significant for athletes could be the antiinflammatory properties of CBD. Within your body, in a network called the Endocannabinoid System, has receptors called CB1 and CB2 receptors.
CB1 receptors are clustered within the brain and Central Nervous System, while CB2 receptors and scattered throughout the body’s immune system. Inflammation is a part of your body’s natural immune response to protect you from impact, injury, and illness. While in the short term inflammation is beneficial, repeated or chronic inflammation (especially in the brain) can lead to diseases such as Alzheimer’s. CBD works directly with CB2 receptors and your body’s immune response to ease inflammation. It’s part of the reason why Nate Diaz made such a public endorsement of CBD at a press conference last year. In high-impact sports like the NFL of UFC where we see large numbers of head injuries resulting in inflammation, CBD can help remediate these injuries. Both in the immediate and long term, CBD could make a difference in athlete’s lives.
As with inflammation, CBD’s interaction with the Endocannabinoid System is responsible for its pain-subsiding effects. A 2008 review confirmed CBD’s effectiveness in pain management by looking at studies conducted over the past 30 years. For arthritis sufferers and individuals with Multiple Sclerosis, Cannabidiol (CBD) was found to be very effective.
Pain and inflammation go hand-in-hand. For any level of athlete, pain will always be a factor. While CBD seems to be especially effective for individuals with chronic pain rather than force-induced pain, CBD could be beneficial for athletes moving into the twilight of their careers and post-career lives. For athletes, the career window is only a fraction of life. It is important that we are caring for their health long after their playing days are over.
While there has been less research on CBD’s effect on cramps, women have been turning to CBD to ease menstrual cramping for years. Along with this, perhaps the most well-known property of CBD is its ability to reduce seizures. According to an article by the trusted publication, Herb, Cannabidiol can reduce seizures at a rate of up to 45%. While we will not go into a technical examination of CBD and seizures here, at first glance, there seems to be a connection between the muscle-relaxing and anti-convulsive effects of CBD and sports cramping. Whatever the case, whether it’s your time of the month or you have severe Epilepsy, CBD works. Perhaps with athletes it would have the same effect.
Another area CBD has a positive influence on is sleep quality. For athletes, sleep is as important to recovery as any other recovery measure. According to WebMD, your brain releases hormones during sleep that encourages tissue growth to heal injuries like cuts and sore muscles. The more and better athletes’ sleep, the better their performance and quicker they can return to the playing field.
CBD has been shown to potentially aid total sleep as well as the consistency of sleep cycles. In smaller doses, Cannabidiol supports daytime alertness which helps to regulate the sleep-wake cycle. Also, for individuals whose anxiety and chronic pain keep them awake through the night, CBD helps induce restfulness. For sleep, Cannabidiol seems to have multiple benefits. For athletes, sleep is one of the most important aspects of recovery. With CBD, athletes will be able to improve their game even while resting.
The Future of Recovery
Cannabidiol is making significant changes in the lives of many individuals and in the way we approach medicine. While CBD has yet to be integrated into mainstream professional sports, athletes like Nate Diaz have shown that it pays to be ahead of the curve. In an ultra-combative sport like UFC, CBD’s role in pain management, inflammation, cramping, and sleep helps boost recovery. There’s every possibility that CBD could be a healing agent in other professional sports like the NFL, especially considering the levels of prescription abuse. Cannabidiol has all the healing potential and more that opioids do, without the damaging side effects. CBD is harmless – and in that way, a little bit more like Gatorade.