Will CBD work out for the fitness and wellness industries?

Written by Shared Content

Education needed to inform consumers and clear the stigma hurdle

Cannabidiol (CBD) looks all warmed up and ready to exercise its full potential as a regular part of workout routines throughout Canada and the U.S. alike.

Many brands have recognized CBD’s promise in the wellness and fitness market, but those gaining the greatest early appeal seem to be the ones offering innovative, smoke-less consumption methods. Is that enough to provide a leg up?

CBD among the usual cannabis suspects

Of the two most popular cannabinoids in cannabis, THC may have benefits for athletes, but CBD makes similar promises, with (reportedly) fewer adverse effects on short-term memory and coordination or increased appetite.

Lorilynn McCorrister is a coach at Reebok CrossFit in Toronto’s Liberty Village area, an ambassador for General Nutrition Centres (GNC), a global health and wellness brand, and president and co-founder of Weedbox, a cannabis lifestyle curator.

Much of McCorrister’s support stems from first-hand experience. She started adding CBD isolate to her post-workout smoothie or coffee about two years ago and reports it provides more relief than natural recovery methods, like supplements and Epsom salt baths.

“After I started taking CBD,” she tells The GrowthOp, “I’m pretty much able to hit my workout every morning very hard, with minimal soreness, and just kind of it gets your head in the right place.” She has also personally found relief in adding CBD oil to an Epsom salt bath for topical pain relief.

Omar Arvizu, a personal trainer in the Greater Toronto Area, says he uses CBD oil to manage drops in energy and increases in anxiety between training clients all day. It also helps Arvizu at night to gain restful, restorative sleep, something pertinent to his recovery.

“If we’re talking about some high-level athlete that can use CBD oil for recovery, mindset, meditation, stress levels, it can be very helpful,” he suggests. However, he adds, “to my knowledge, it can actually decrease performance if not used properly close to [a competition].”

McCorrister expects the interest in CBD from the wellness and fitness industry is just starting to heat up, but there are still some hurdles. Members of her gym will message her privately if they don’t want to ask cannabis-related questions aloud, she reports, but by being an outspoken advocate for its use, she sees herself as an ally to the cannabis-curious crossfitter.

Is there a market for CBD-related relief?

The CBD market’s reach clearly goes beyond the recreational and medicinal realms in Canada. The liberalization—through legalization and its acceptance by the World Anti-Doping Agency—is opening up a world of opportunity for CBD as a type of holistic sports medicine, but without the education component, McCorrister suggests persistent stigma is preventing some from trying CBD.

Researcher Jan Slaski, PhD, team lead of crop development and management for InnoTech Alberta, has cited figures that the overall Canadian hemp industry could be worth $1 billion a year by 2023.

Another estimate puts the total global market at US$5.7 billion worldwide by 2020 across all markets. Also looking at the global CBD market, a recent report from the Brightfield Group notes “CBD is growing faster than cannabis in the U.S. and will soon be a US$22 billion industry. It’s been flying under the radar, but is set to explode having profound impacts on CPG (consumer packaged goods) and pharma.”

CBD wellness products likely to offer alternatives to smoking

One factor driving innovation in the cannabis space is the need for alternatives to smoking, vaping and eating cannabis. Used to experimenting with performance supplements on themselves, it is anticipated the wellness and fitness community will be interested in some of the newest CBD products, especially those promising a more effective cannabinoid delivery system.

Of the two most popular cannabinoids in cannabis, THC may have benefits for athletes, but CBD makes similar promises, with (reportedly) fewer adverse effects on short-term memory and coordination or increased appetite.BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

NanoSphere Health Sciences, in partnership with the licensed producer Delta 9 Cannabis, is producing cannabis products using nanotechnology. When consumers apply the product to their skin, nano-sized cannabis particles pass through the skin and directly into the bloodstream. The technology, claims the company’s website, “solves the industry’s low bioavailability challenge to enable the efficient delivery of active ingredients into the bloodstream.”

For its part, Southern California brand NXT Water launched its cornerstone brand Akeso Functional Fitness Water in December, a bottled water product infused with 18 mg of full-spectrum hemp-derived CBD.

“If you can drink water while you work out, which you should,” suggests Todd Waks CEO of NXT Water, “then the best modality for ingesting CBD into your body is water because it’s seamlessly injected into your bloodstream in the most effective way.” Akeso is currently available online and in-store in California and in New York City. The company expects to roll out 6,000 stores on the west coast of the U.S. in May, and is in talks to bring the product to Canada soon.

Update: An earlier version of the article referred to Stacey Griffith as co-founder of NXT Water. However, she is a member of the company’s advisory board.

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