From martial arts fighter Nate Diaz to professional cyclist Andrew Talansky, many athletes are turning to cannabidiol (CBD) to relieve the pain and inflammation of sports injuries as well as to enhance performance. Not only can CBD relieve discomfort post-injury; it can also serve as a protectant. Whether you’re a professional athlete or you just shoot hoops with your friends now and then, here are some ways you can use CBD oil for pain, specifically in relation to a sports injury.
How CBD Works
The cannabis plant contains over 400 chemicals, of which 70 to 120 are unique to the plant and known as cannabinoids. The two major cannabinoids in cannabis are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which makes a person feel “high,” and cannabidiol (CBD), which has no psychoactive effects.
Along with having antioxidant qualities that reduce inflammation, CBD interacts with the serotonin and vanilloid receptors in the brain, affecting one’s perception of pain. Some athletes report that CBD is so effective in relieving the discomfort of sports-related injuries that it has replaced opioid-based painkillers, which can have highly addictive properties.
Along with relieving pain and inflammation, some research shows that CBD can also serve as a neuroprotectant, which is ideal for football players who are at high risk for concussions and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).
CBD can be used both topically and internally, from balms you apply to the skin to tinctures you hold under your tongue. The most common method of using CBD is oral, ideal for whole-body relief. CBD can be taken as an oil or tincture held under the tongue or vaped, or the remedy is also available in capsule form, which often makes it easier to dose. Taking CBD orally means that it will be metabolized faster, so you can feel its effects right away. This method may also potentially alleviate other symptoms like anxiety or sleeplessness.
When experiencing sore muscles or spasms, CBD applied topically can target the pain directly. Methods available include patches, balms, body oils and even bath soaks. The onset of relief may be more gradual, because it has to pass the transdermal layer, but its effects will also be long lasting, making it a suitable option for chronic pain relief.
CBD dosage depends on the user’s specific needs as well as the method used. Though there have been no serious potential side effects, keeping the dosage low (such as 5mg daily) is preferred to avoid intolerance, especially when using capsules, oils or tinctures. This dose can then be gradually increased over time.
When applied topically, CBD can be used more liberally, but keep in mind that its effects may take longer to set in, so patience is key.
It’s always a good idea to talk with your doctor about any pain you’re experiencing to make sure your sports injury doesn’t keep you benched for good.
Erica Garza is an author and essayist. Her work has appeared in TIME, Health, Glamour, Good Housekeeping, Women’s Health, The Telegraph and VICE. She lives in Los Angeles.
Talking with your parents about using cannabis might fill you with anxiety, but there are ways to make the conversation run smoothly if you’re willing to broach the subject with honesty and intelligence. While the history of cannabis use in the U.S. is a complicated one, that trajectory is rapidly shifting. Adding your voice to the chorus of others who credit cannabis for pain relief, decreased anxiety, better sleep and more creativity only helps to make conversations about cannabis easer, both in your family and on a national level.
If the thought of your parents catching you with marijuana or even CBD oil brings up images of sneaking around in your younger years, you’re not alone. Roughly four in 10 cannabis users are secretive about it. But in order to shed the misinformation and negative stereotypes that may have led your parents to dissuade you from using cannabis in your youth, it’s important for educated and well-adjusted cannabis users to come clean (and come out of wherever you once engaged in cannabis use in secret).
One of the best ways to debunk myths and “stoner” stereotypes — like a lack of motivation or going into psychosis — is to come to your parents armed with evidence that proves the opposite. When it comes to a lack of motivation, it’s worth noting that some strains will produce different effects in the body. While indica strains might make you feel relaxed, sativa will have the opposite effect, leaving you energized and perhaps more creative. The idea that cannabis lowers IQ is also a myth, as determined by a 2017 study that showed cannabis use in even adolescent users did not cause IQ decline or impair executive functions.
Another myth to debunk is the idea that all cannabis gets you high. Cannabidiol, or CBD oil, which is a compound of the cannabis plant that lacks psychoactive properties, is rising in popularity as treatment for a number of ailments from anxiety to inflammation.
Describe Health Benefits
The medical benefits of cannabis are abundant, with countless scientific studies to back up your claims. Some of the health benefits of cannabis include:
There are studies on the efficacy of both THC and CBD oil for pain, as well as emerging research on other wellness trends like enhanced athletic performance and even clearer skin. Gone are the days when cannabis was almost always smoked. These days, vapes, edibles, tinctures and balms are just as popular, each delivering its own health benefits to suit your unique concerns.
Use It Together
Take your conversation a step further and consider using cannabis with your parents, or offering them a cannabis-infused gift that you think may help them. Whether they’ve told you about their sleepless nights or achy back, chances are there’s a product that can help. Most of all, don’t assume that your parents don’t already know the benefits themselves. Research shows that more baby boomers are turning to marijuana than ever before. The fastest growing demographic of cannabis users aren’t millennials — they’re seniors.
Erica Garza is an author and essayist. Her work has appeared in Time, Health, Glamour, Good Housekeeping, Women’s Health, The Telegraph and Vice. She lives in Los Angeles.
Learn about how cannabis topicals can help with topical inflammation with Mitch Earleywine, Ph.D.
Many of us deal with skin conditions that are caused by inflammation, i.e. psoriasis, an auto-immune disease that results in cycles of dry, rough, and scaly skin, which can be painful and itchy. Cannabis topicals containing CBD act locally to reduce inflammation in such skin conditions. Although research hasn’t been able to identify the exact mechanism behind CBD’s impact on skin conditions, most any dryness, roughness, rash, or scaly patches can improve with topical CBD suspended in the right medium.
Can CBD Help Skin Diseases?
CBD keeps cells in the epidermis from releasing two substances that tend to increase inflammation and make it last longer,” according to Mitch Earleywine, Ph.D. In fact, this study’s “results suggest that Cannabis sativa L. containing CBD and CBDA may possess beneficial effects against inflammatory skin diseases.”
Is CBD Really Non-Psychoactive?
Patients often turn to a cannabis topical to avoid psychoactivity and get localized relief. Balms, body oils, or bath salts infused with cannabis produce no psychoactivity. These topicals provide localized relief where applied on the skin; they do not penetrate all layers of the skin to enter the bloodstream, so they are unlikely to have a psychoactive effect.
Choosing Your Relief Has Never Been Easier
A 1:3 THC to CBD ratio is often ideal for chronic inflammation and other conditions. You can find the ratio of THC to CBD on an infused product’s label. The larger the amount of CBD to THC, the more CBD-rich and tougher on inflammation the product is. In contrast, a higher ratio of THC to CBD likely handles pain better.
CBD Topicals & Inflammation
Prescription medications for skin conditions, such as topical steroids, can be quite expensive. On top of that, these prescriptions only temporarily relieve symptoms, if at all. Unfortunately, they also tend to thin your skin, so it’s recommended that you don’t spend time outdoors while using them. Fortunately, cannabis products don’t require these restrictions. Be advised that the natural alternative of cannabis topicals need to be used regularly, daily if possible, to improve immediate and longer-lasting results.
Learn how pain management can be made easier by using CBD with Mitch Earleywine, Ph.D.
Research reveals that cannabis is an effective tool for pain management. CBD is one of the strongest anti-inflammatory agents found in nature and THC is one of the strongest natural analgesics (painkillers). Different ailments and conditions need different cannabinoids for maximum efficacy.
Is CBD Good for Pain Relief?
Cannabis is a natural alternative to pharmaceutical pills. One study shows that “a single inhalation of 25 mg of 9.4% tetrahydrocannabinol herbal cannabis three times daily for five days reduced the intensity of pain, improved sleep and was well tolerated;” it even improves the user’s mood! Findings such as these are “comparable to oral drugs used for chronic neuropathic pain.” In fact, THC can have an analgesic (pain killer) effect comparable to codeine: an experiment from the 70s (Noyes et al.) shows that 20mg of THC beat 60mg of codeine and even 10mg of THC was almost as effective.
Chronic Pain Management & CBD
Each person’s body and Endocannabinoid system is unique, with different needs and receptors. We believe cannabis should not be one size fits all. We also believe, thanks to research, that optimal therapeutic efficacy requires a ratio of both CBD, a non-psychoactive compound, and THC, the psychoactive component of cannabis. The entourage effect describes this combination of cannabinoids in specific ratios, especially with naturally-occurring terpenes, which has the potential for better effects of cannabis as medicine in (and on!) the body. Papa & Barkley offers a suite of products in different ratios, allowing you to select the best ratio for you and your therapeutic needs.
A 3:1 THC to CBD ratio is a good starting point for most people seeking pain relief. A ratio of 1:1 is a balanced holistic approach and 1:3 is often ideal for chronic inflammation and other conditions.
Mitch Earleywine, Ph.D., with our Scientific Advisory Board provides the following suggestions for cannabis users to reduce pain; his firm belief is that, “no one deserves to hurt and everyone’s different. With cannabis medicine, start with the lowest dosage and give it plenty of time to help before increasing it.”
Benefits of CBD & THC
For chronic users, the key is to avoid tolerance by keeping dosage low and tracking. If you haven’t used much cannabis, odds are that 2.5 mg of THC will be surprisingly helpful even if you don’t feel any cognitive effects. Then, stay ahead of the pain by administering 2.5 mg every 3 hours or so even if you’re not hurting. It will seem odd that the pain is better even though you don’t feel high, but that’s the beauty of the plant. For occasional pain or flare ups, 5 mg of THC will be surprisingly effective, but give it time to kick in before increasing the dosage. Give a vaporized product at least half an hour and an edible at least 2 hours to kick in before increasing the dosage.