How Does CBD Affect High-Performance Athletes?

Petar Petrov
Written by Petar Petrov

Cannabis and sports don’t usually go hand in hand. In fact, they are generally considered to go against each other. However, a piling body of research has proven what many high-performance athletes of various disciplines have known all along: there’s something in cannabis that offers unparalleled relief tomany of the different conditions that intense physical exercisecome with. That something is CBD.

Since CBD has no psychoactive properties, CBD extracts might turn out to be an athlete’s best sidekick on their long, draining journey to their dreams. Since January this year, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) removed CBD from its list of banned substances. Hopefully, this will result in more and more conquered pinnacles.


Over the course of time, demanding sport activities can cause a great deal of constant and accumulated inflammation. CBD oil acts as an anti-inflammatory agent and thus prevents joint injuries and reduces pain from swelling (1).

Pain Relief and Recovery

Pain relief is one of CBD’s main domains. UFC fighter Nate Diaz vaped CBD oil at the post-fight press conference after his second fight with Conor McGregor and became the embodiment of CBD’s curative effects (2).

“It’s CBD…So you wanna get these for before, after the fight, training. It’ll make your life a better place,” he said.

Furthermore, not only does CBD relieve pain, but it also cures the actual source rather than merely making the mind too hazy to recognize it. CBD has also been proven to specifically help with head trauma, both curing it and preventing it in the first place (3).Not to mention,it’s a far safer alternative to opioid painkillers which many people can develop an addiction to. To put things in perspective, according to a study by the Washington University in St. Louis, a staggering 71% of retired NFL players have abused painkillers in the past. Hence, CBD’s medicinal properties can be game-changing in many different sports, especially the contact ones, as well as life outside of them(4).

Ultimately, CBD is a safer, more natural, and speedier way to recovery.

Stress and Anxiety

CBD also poses a somewhat paradoxical phenomenon in that it’s non-psychoactive, yet it does affect the mind. CBD has strong anti-depressant/anxiolytic properties which make it very effective against the stress and anxiety that even the most experienced athletes are susceptible to when the weight of expectation falls on their shoulders. Similarly to painkillers, CBD is agreat replacement for anti-depressants such as Zoloft, Xanax, and Prozac which can be quite dodgy and produce similar long-term dependence and addiction.

Immune System

CBD strengthens the immune system in the first place which is not only beneficial to everyone, but especially beneficial for athletes with a big event is on the horizon. Even a trivial sickness can hinder an athletes’ performance or even prevent them from competing in the first place. CBD is almost like a safety net. It’s rich in anti-oxidants and thus lowers the risk of infection and improves the heart’s health.

Diet and Appetite

Despite many of us associating cannabis with overeating, the culprit of the “munchies” is actually THC. CBD, on the other hand, does the exact opposite – it makes you feel full for longer and slows your appetite down. Furthermore, it heightens insulin function and thus makes you satisfied after eating, preventing you from overindulging.

It’s no wonder that CBD keeps gaining support, both by researchers and athletes alike. Pro cyclist Floyd Landis, inspired by his first-hand experience with CBD’s medicinal effects, started Floyd’s of Leadville, a company in Colorado that specializes in CBD products, targeted specifically at athletes. (5) Landis is yet another example of an athlete who substituted opioids and painkillers for CBD.

“Think of your 40-year old endurance athlete who wants to feel good when he wakes up in the morning,” Landis explains. “That’s our target.”

But you don’t have to be 40-year old, or even a professional, high-performing athlete, to derive the benefits of CBD. This cannabinoid can help casual sport enthusiast recover and achieve better results, it can cure a particular injury, prevent one altogether, and in many cases, make the difference between potential and achievement. In a way, CBD is for cannabis compounds what cannabis is for substances: an almost universally safe and positive choice.



About the author

Petar Petrov

Petar Petrov

Petar is a freelance writer and copywriter, covering culture, art, society, and anything in-between that makes for a nice story. And as it so happens, cannabis is a great element to add to each of those conversations.

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