If you’re a fitness guru or someone getting into the habit of exercise, you’re probably aware that it’s not what happens in the gym that counts. Rather, it’s what happens afterward.
When we push our bodies to the limit, we’re actually causing microscopic damage to our muscles. In turn, our body’s immune system kicks in to repair everything from the muscles to the bones. It’s through these repairs that we become a bit stronger and fitter with each workout.
However, this damage also causes inflammation, leaving us to feel sore and fatigued. Though there are a lot of options out there to reduce the stress, many have turned to cannabidiol (CBD) as a means of easing muscle and joint pain.
But is CBD really helping your body become stronger while managing your pain?
Scientists are already well aware that CBD has anti-inflammatory properties. A 2018 review concluded that use of high-quality CBD can reduce fatigue, pain, spasticity, and lead to improved mobility. While it should be noted this review focused on people with multiple sclerosis, the findings certainly have implications for muscle recovery.
In fact, there are many self-reports from professional athletes claiming CBD to be very beneficial for their post-workout recovery, allowing them to go about daily training without feeling as much of a need to rest.
So, with that said, can CBD help restore our muscles?
Unforntunately, there’s a lack of scientific evidence to properly this answer question at the moment. Though we know CBD can help reduce inflammation and has shown promise for pain management, we don’t know if it’s actually helping you build muscle.
As mentioned above, the most important aspect of post-workout recovery is your immune system’s response to inflammation. Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, CBD actually suppresses your immune system from its natural reaction to your body’s stress. With that, studies have found that it can, in some cases, promote apoptosis (cell death).
Unfortunately, we don’t 100% know whether or not CBD promotes apoptosis in cells that are attempting to repair while you’re recovering from exercise, as much of these data are rather mixed.
What we do know is if you struggle greatly with muscle or joint pain from a workout, CBD is safe to take to ease the pain. The cannabinoid comes with little to no side effects in most people and has the ability to greatly stress on the body.
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- Dupuy O, et al. An evidence-based approach for choosing post-exercise recovery techniques to reduce markers for muscle damage, soreness, fatigue, and inflammation: A systematic review with meta-analysis. Front Physiol. 2018;9(403):1-15.
- Rudroff T & Sosnoff J. Cannabidiol to improve mobility in people with multiple sclerosis. Front Neurol. 2018;9(183):1-3.
- Rieder S, et al. Cannabinoid-induced apoptosis in immune cells as a pathway to immunosuppression. Immunobiology. 2010;215(8):598-605.