The last few years has seen a huge increase in products with CBD or cannabidiol. But is the research there to prove CBD provides an advantage to athletes? And more importantly is it safe for athletes to use CBD?
CBD is one of the active ingredients in cannabis and comes from the hemp plant. Due to all the claims as to how CBD can help with anxiety, pain, cognition and more we’re seeing more and more companies looking for ways to add this to their ingredients.
But what about sports performance? Does CBD lend any benefits?
The short answer is no.
Despite the claims made by the tokin’ athlete there isn’t any research that proves it is effective and will enhance performance. TSN did a special in the fall and interviewed a number of athletes that talked about how they use CBD and how it helps them. And I believe this.
Yes people are using CBD. And people believe that it works. They will take it for anxiety, pain-relief to treat inflammation and more. The problem is that none of these things will enhance performance. In fact, you could argue that taking CBD will impair performance. And here’s why.
When you train you want there to be an inflammatory response. This is necessary to trigger certain pathways i.e. m-TOR, that lead to protein synthesis. Taking a product with anti-inflammatory properties will blunt the natural growth response that should occur.
But besides CBD working against your efforts to get stronger in the gym there is also the risk of a positive drug test during competition. While taking CBD may be allowed THC is not. THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is one of the cannabinoids found in cannabis. CBD is not a banned substance but cannabinoids are. An Olympic medallist learned this the hard way.
Devin Logan won silver at the 2014 Olympics and was taking a CBD product. A positive test for THC in December 2019 resulted in a 6 month ban for the slope-style skier. The take home message is that just because a product is listed as CBD is no guarantee that there may not be trace amounts of THC. If there are this puts the athlete at risk for a positive drug test and subsequent suspension.
Going forward maybe wait on taking CBD products. The support for performance benefits in the research isn’t there yet. It may negatively impact gains sought in the gym. And you can’t be sure there isn’t THC in a CBD product.