Can CBD Help Your Workout?

Although it may feel like CBD is everywhere you look at the moment, research into the extent of its efficacy is still emerging. Here’s what we do know and why this most talked-about ingredient might be a useful addition to your training regime…

What is CBD?

CBD, or cannabidiol, is a cannabinoid, a chemical derived from the cannabis plant. While there is confusion about CBD’s relation to cannabis, it lacks the mind-altering effects of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the main psychoactive compound found in marijuana.

How does it work?

CBD works by interacting with the body's endocannabinoid system (named after the plant that inspired its discovery), the system in the body that’s responsible for regulating various processes. Endocannabinoids and their receptors are found throughout the body in various organs, tissues, glands and cells, including the brain and immune cells, and experts believe that it’s these signaling molecules which help create a bridge between the body and mind. CBD compounds are able to connect to the certain receptors inside our bodies and reduce the inflammatory cytokines, molecules which help regulate our inflammatory response. In addition to impacting cannabinoid receptors, CBD is also thought to influence a wide range of receptor systems in the brain and body, that affect pain, mood and mental function too.

How can it help your training?

Working out causes microscopic damage to muscle fibres. Muscles then become inflamed, which triggers the body to respond and repair, causing muscle soreness or stiffness. Because CBD can access the pain and inflammation pathways of the body and help regulate inflammation, it can be a useful addition to your post-workout recovery kit.

What else is it good for?

While studies are still ongoing into all of the benefits, many believe it can be helpful in addressing symptoms of anxiety and depression, both of which experts believe are strongly linked to fluctuations in levels of inflammatory markers. Thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties, CBD may help alleviate symptoms, and, although research is limited, some studies suggest that in addition to impacting the endocannabinoid system, CBD may influence receptors involved in the modulation of serotonin, the feel-good neurotransmitter that helps play a role in anxiety regulation. Recent studies have also found chronic stress can cause neuroinflammation by producing inflammatory cytokines, which means CBD might be able to help reduce the impact of stress too.

How to take it

CBD can come in many different forms from ingestible and vaping oils to capsules, gummies and topical products. Overheating can cause the goodness from CBD to evaporate which means it’s rendered pretty impotent, so it’s important to choose a good quality option. While rubbing topical CBD infusions into sore muscles after a workout, or submerging yourself in a CBD laced bath will help transdermal absorption and deal with direct soreness and inflammation, taking a dose of a CBD tincture may also suit. For best results hold a few drops under your tongue to allow it to be absorbed quickly into the bloodstream by mucous membranes in the mouth.