Non-psychoactive cannabis constituent CBD may aid workout recovery through multiple effects, but targeted research is needed.
CBD is one of the main therapeutic compounds found in cannabis. It may have several post-workout benefits, including:
- Reducing inflammation. CBD can promote recovery and healing by reducing inflammation.
- Reducing pain. CBD helps alleviate pain, a common by-product of intense training.
- Improving sleep. CBD may be able to improve sleep, indirectly aiding workout recovery.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the main therapeutic compounds found in cannabis, also known as marijuana. What makes CBD unique, however, is that unlike THC – the main cannabinoid in cannabis – it achieves its medicinal effects without intoxication. CBD has been demonstrated to reduce:
- Muscle convulsions
- Anxiety, depression & stress
Given these effects, it’s not surprising that many fitness enthusiasts and athletes are beginning to use CBD as a workout recovery tool. Indeed, CBD is growing particularly popular with people who undergo strenous training, such as MMA fighters, for whom it can offer a reduction of post-workout pain and soreness, faster healing of injuries, and better sleep. Having said that, the main issue with CBD is that there are currently no studies that examine its use in the context of workout recovery.
How CBD Might Help Post Workout Formulas
Cannabidiol works through multiple mechanisms, including:
Interacting with nervous system receptors
The most important effects of CBD – reduction of pain, inflammation, stress & anxiety – appear to be mediated by its interaction with three key nervous system receptors:
- Activation of the TRPV1 (vanilloid) receptor which is involved in perception of inflammatory pain 1
- Blockade of the GPR55 receptor (considered by many scientists to be the third cannabinoid receptor), which is also involved in pain perception 2
- Activation of the serotonin 5-HT1A receptor, which plays a role in regulating stress, mood, and anxiety 3
Increasing levels of anandamide and adenosine
CBD has been shown to increase the levels of anandamide – a neurotransmitter and the main cannabinoid that is produced by the human body – which can reduce pain and inflammation through increased activation of endocannabinoid receptors. [Deutsch DG. A Personal Retrospective: Elevating Anandamide (AEA) by Targeting Fatty Acid Amide Hydrolase (FAAH) and the Fatty Acid Binding Proteins (FABPs). Front Pharmacol. 2016 Oct 13;7:370. eCollection 2016.] In addition, CBD also increases levels of adenosine – another neurotransmitter that appears to reduce inflammation. 4
CBD’s Potential Post Workout Uses
CBD holds multiple potential benefits for post-workout recuperation, including:
- Improved recovery, especially in cases of injury
- Reduction of pain – a common occurrence after hard training
- Reduction of muscle spasms
- Improved sleep
- Stimulation of appetite, which can indirectly aid recovery 5
Since it can improve recovery through so many different ways, CBD holds much promise as a post-workout supplement. However, while CBD’s individual effects – such as alleviation of pain – are being consistently demonstrated by scientific research, there are currently no studies looking particularly at the use of CBD as a post-workout supplement.
There are currently no studies on the use of CBD as a post-workout supplement. However, there are numerous studies that demonstrate its many beneficial effects in animals:
- Anti-inflammatory activity, as demonstrated by improvement of inflammatory conditions including arthritis, colitis, IBD, and neuroinflammation 6
- Analgesic (pain-alleviating) activity 7
- Anticonvulsive effects, which includes muscle spasms 8
- Improvement of sleep, as shown by increased sleep time and reduced sleep disruption 9 10
Human trials of CBD have only recently begun, but seem to confirm many of the findings of animal studies, such as:
- Improvement of sleep and reduction of anxiety 11 12
- Improvement of muscle convulsions 13
- Reduction of different types of chronic pain 14 15
- There is no standard post-workout CBD dose because of the lack of clinical research
- CBD supplements usually provide 20 – 25 mg doses of CBD, taken as as hemp oil or extract capsules
- CBD oil. The most popular form of CBD, oil tinctures offer ease of use alongside long duration and fast onset.
- CBD capsules/edibles. Although convenient and long-lasting, capsules and edibles have lower efficacy because of low bioavailability.
- CBD vape oil. Vaping CBD provides the fastest relief and strong effects, but has the shortest duration.
- Topical CBD. Topical CBD is applied to the skin as a cream, balm, or ointment, which is an effective option for arthritis and other types of musculoskeletal pain.
- CBD Isolate. 99%+ pure CBD in crystal/powder form.
Supplements in Review Says
- CBD oil 20+ mg post-workout.
CBD may possibly improve workout recovery. CBD holds much promise as a post-workout supplement that can aid recovery in multiple ways. Having said that, there is a lack of clinical trials looking specifically at the use CBD for workout recovery.
There is no established dosage of CBD. There is no official recommendation for proper CBD doses for any health category. As such, it’s best to start with the common 20- 25 mg dose suggested by most CBD products and slowly increase if necessary.
- Costa B et al. Vanilloid TRPV1 receptor mediates the antihyperalgesic effect of the nonpsychoactive cannabinoid, cannabidiol, in a rat model of acute inflammation. Br J Pharmacol. 2004 Sep;143(2):247-50. ↩
- Schuelert N and McDougall JJ. The abnormal cannabidiol analogue O-1602 reduces nociception in a rat model of acute arthritis via the putative cannabinoid receptor GPR55. Neurosci Lett. 2011 Aug 1;500(1):72-6. ↩
- Zanelati TV et al. Antidepressant-like effects of cannabidiol in mice: possible involvement of 5-HT1A receptors. Br J Pharmacol. 2010 Jan;159(1):122-8. ↩
- Booz GW. Cannabidiol as an Emergent Therapeutic Strategy for Lessening the Impact of Inflammation on Oxidative Stress. Free Radic Biol Med. 2011 Sep 1; 51(5): 1054–1061. ↩
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- Burstein S. Cannabidiol (CBD) and its analogs: a review of their effects on inflammation. Bioorg Med Chem. 2015 Apr 1;23(7):1377-85. ↩
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- Carlini EA and Cunha JM. Hypnotic and antiepileptic effects of cannabidiol. J Clin Pharmacol. 1981 Aug-Sep;21(8-9 Suppl):417S-427S. ↩
- Bergamaschi MM et al. Cannabidiol reduces the anxiety induced by simulated public speaking in treatment-naïve social phobia patients. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2011 May;36(6):1219-26. ↩
- Cunha JM et al. Chronic administration of cannabidiol to healthy volunteers and epileptic patients. Pharmacology. 1980;21(3):175-85. ↩
- David JG et al. Oromucosal Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol/cannabidiol for neuropathic pain associated with multiple sclerosis: An uncontrolled, open-label, 2-year extension trial. Volume 29, Issue 9, September 2007, Pages 2068-2079. ↩
- Blake DR et al. Preliminary assessment of the efficacy, tolerability and safety of a cannabis-based medicine (Sativex) in the treatment of pain caused by rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatology (Oxford). 2006 Jan;45(1):50-2. ↩