CBD For Athletes

The use of Cannabidiol (CBD) in the athletic realm has been growing in popularity. This surge is due to CBD’s potential ability to maintain homeostasis, reduce redness, and improve sleep quality—beneficial factors for any athlete. Moreover, the World Anti-Doping Agency removed CBD from their lists of prohibited substances, further boosting its appeal among athletes. CBD’s non-psychoactive properties differentiate it from other cannabinoids, allowing it to be ingested without eliciting psychoactive effects.

This article aims to provide a comprehensive exploration of the role CBD alone plays in enhancing athletic performance. It will detail how this natural alternative compares with traditional pain relievers typically consumed by athletes. It will also outline important considerations for athletes when selecting a suitable form of CBD product for ingestion, such as capsules, oils, or sports drinks, among others.

The legality use of CBD among athletes and dosage recommendations will also be discussed in depth within this piece.


  • CBD products may be an effective alternative to traditional pain relievers and anti-inflammatory drugs for athletes with minimal side effects.
  • CBD may help athletes manage training stress, improve sleep, and reduce symptoms of underlying inflammation issues.
  • CBD has anti-anxiety properties that may benefit athletes who experience performance-related anxiety.
    Pro athletes should research and find reputable CBD brands to ensure products do not contain prohibited substances.

CBD for Athletes: What You Need to Know About Cannabidiol

As an alternative to traditional pain management methods, Cannabidiol (CBD), a cannabinoid found naturally in the cannabis plant, offers athletes a non-psychoactive, natural solution with potential benefits in reducing redness, managing long-term pain, and improving sleep quality. However, careful consideration must be given to the variability of different levels of CBD and their contents to ensure compliance with anti-doping rules.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) have both excluded CBD from their prohibited substances lists due to its potential in sports research as a damage-related recovery strategy after intense training sessions or competition. Nonetheless, it is imperative for athletes to note that all other cannabinoids are still prohibited in competition.

The use of hemp extracts such as CBD for athletes has gained significant attention within sports medicine due to their possible therapeutic effects. It is thought that new CBD interaction with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS) can help maintain homeostasis by keeping neurotransmitter levels under control, which may enhance athletic performance and damage-related recovery.

Yet despite these possible benefits, there remain risks associated with CBD products. Given that these products are not well regulated, inconsistencies can exist regarding the actual amount of CBD present and whether traces of THC, a psychoactive compound, or other prohibited substances might accidentally be included. Therefore, it falls upon individual athletes themselves to comprehensively research reputable brands before incorporating any such supplements into their routines.

Is CBD legal for athletes?

The legality of cannabidiol (popularly known as CBD) has undergone significant changes in recent years, particularly for sports practitioners. However, THC and synthetic cannabinoids remain on the prohibition list during competitions.

Athletes who consume CBD products must be cautious since some may contain significant amounts of THC or many milligrams of cbd, which can result in a positive drug test despite being legal under certain laws. Particularly in the United States, where local laws concerning cannabis-derived products vary across states, professional athletes affiliated with organizations that follow WADA regulations need to check for these variances before using any product containing CBD. This complexity underscores the importance of thorough research prior to incorporating such supplements into an athlete’s regimen.

Legal Status Drug Tests Testing Positive Consequences
United States Varies by state; not federally illegal if derived from hemp plant <0.3% THC Mandatory for many professional sports leagues and affiliated organizations following WADA guidelines. Depends on the amount of THC in the system; reporting threshold set by WADA at 150ng/mL.
Professional Athletes Permitted by WADA/USADA rules (CBD only); the final responsibility lies with the athlete to ensure compliance with specific league/sport regulations. Regular testing is common; there is a risk due to potential presence of trace amounts of THC or other prohibited substances in some CBD products. Consequences range from fines, suspensions, reputation damage, career-ending implications depending on sport-specific policies.
International Competitions Permitted by international anti-doping rules (CBD only); check country-specific laws when traveling for competitions as they may differ significantly from home country rules/laws. Mandatory pre-competition testing; possible random tests during the competition period also exist. Subject to the same risks/consequences as outlined above for professional athletes; additional complexities due to inter-country legislation differences may apply.

6 Benefits of CBD for Athletes

The potential advantages of Cannabidiol (CBD) for athletes encompass a broad spectrum, ranging from acting as a viable alternative to Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) and opioids to aiding in reducing redness.

Further benefits include its ability to potentially settle gut disturbances and improve the quality of sleep.

The ensuing discussion provides an in-depth analysis of these key points, emphasizing the increasing relevance and applicability of CBD within the athletic community.

Alternatives to NSAIDs

Athletes who take more non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen and naproxen sodium to relieve pain are more likely to have kidney damage, a heart attack, or a stroke. Because CBD has anti-inflammatory properties and few side effects, it could be a good alternative to NSAIDs.

CBD’s role in aiding recovery in athletes is gaining recognition due to its holistic approach to managing pain and redness following strenuous exercise. The phytocannabinoid interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS), regulating neurotransmitter levels and thereby maintaining homeostasis.

The therapeutic benefits for athletes who consume CBD include:

1. Pain management: Unlike NSAIDs that merely mask pain, CBD appears to address the root cause by interacting with key receptors within the ECS, potentially providing more effective and sustainable relief.

2. Anti-inflammatory effect: By reducing cytokine production, CBD may help mitigate post-exercise inflammation, thereby promoting faster recovery.

3. Improved sleep: Sleep is critical for physical performance and recovery in athletes; through inhibiting the reuptake of adenosine, CBD might enhance sleep quality.

4. Reduced dependency on harmful substances: With fewer side effects compared to NSAIDs and opioids, using CBD might lower the health risks associated with the chronic use of such substances.

Derived from hemp, a cannabis plant strain that lacks the psychoactive properties found in marijuana strains, full-spectrum or isolate forms of CBD are now available for ingestion via capsules or oils or topical application through creams or lotions.

Despite the potential benefits offered by this natural compound, further research is required to fully understand how best to utilize use of CBd in sports. Nevertheless, its potential as a safer alternative for managing pain and enhancing recovery after strenuous exercise remains promising.

Alternatives to Opioids

Exploring alternatives to opioids for pain management, particularly among sports professionals, brings into focus the potential of compounds like Cannabidiol (CBD). A study published in the European Journal of Pain suggested that CBD could play a significant role in managing chronic pain and improving performance and recovery.

This phytocannabinoid interacts with the endocannabinoid system (ECS) in the body, which helps maintain homeostasis. The analgesic effects of CBD are attributed to its ability to bind with CB1 receptors in the central nervous system and offer pain relief. Moreover, unlike opioids, CBD is not psychoactive and therefore does not pose a risk of addiction or dependence.

Opioids have been traditionally prescribed for acute and chronic pain management, but their use carries significant risks, including addiction, dependence, and even fatal overdoses. On the other hand, CBD presents a safer option with minimal side effects. It may also complement other medications used by athletes without enhancing their adverse effects.

Furthermore, it has been found that when taken regularly as part of an overall health regimen, CBD can help reduce redness by inhibiting cytokine production, a vital factor contributing to chronic pain, thereby making it an attractive alternative to opioids for long-term pain relief between athletes.

Reduce inflammation.

Transitioning from the discussion on the efficacy of CBD as an alternative to opioids, it is noteworthy to address another critical aspect of cannabidiol’s potential benefits for athletes: its anti-inflammatory properties.

The physical rigors and demands associated with an active lifestyle often predispose athletes to skeletal injuries and muscular strain, thereby triggering an inflammatory response in the body as a defense mechanism.

This redness, while part of the body’s natural reaction to injury or stress, can lead to discomfort and hinder muscle recovery.

CBD has been observed to interact with cannabinoid receptors in our bodies, particularly CB2 receptors linked with redness regulation.

It may reduce cytokine production—proteins that play a pivotal role in inducing and amplifying the inflammatory response.

This interaction potentially allows CBD to provide systemic relief from redness caused by intense physical activity or sports-related injuries.

While traditional nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) have been conventionally used for this purpose, they come with potential risks such as gastrointestinal issues and an increased risk of heart disease with prolonged use.

Hence, CBD emerges as a safer alternative that could aid athletes in maintaining their active lifestyle without compromising their overall wellbeing.

Settle your gut

Naturally, endurance sports can wreak havoc on the gastrointestinal system, leading to discomfort and inflammation-related gut pain that can hamper performance. The potential benefits of CBD for managing this form of discomfort are increasingly catching the attention of athletes and health professionals alike. As a phytocannabinoid found naturally in the cannabis plant, CBD exerts its effects primarily through interaction with CB1 and CB2 receptors located throughout our body, including those found in abundance within the colon. Studies suggest that CBD’s binding to these receptors may play a significant role in easing gut pain and discomfort by reducing inflammation.

A narrative review of available evidence points towards possible therapeutic benefits for elite athletes struggling with exercise-induced gastrointestinal distress. Nevertheless, it is important to note that while CBD may offer relief from inflammation-related gut pain, it isn’t a solution for issues relating to dehydration or overheating caused by intense physical activity. Moreover, even though CBD products for athletes are becoming more prevalent on the market due to their potential benefits, they remain poorly regulated, with inconsistencies in how much CBD is present per product.

Potential Benefits Evidence Products for Athletes
Pain Relief Binding of CBD to CB1 and CB2 Receptors Capsules, Pills, Oils, and Vapors
Anti-Inflammatory Effects Reduction of Cytokine Production Sports Drinks/Recovery Drinks/Edibles
Improved Sleep Quality Inhibition of Adenosine Reuptake Topical Creams and Lotions
Reduced Anxiety Symptoms Potent Anti-Anxiety Effect Sublingual Drops/Tinctures

Researchers continue exploring how best to utilize CBD with elite athletes while ensuring product safety and efficacy. There remains much work ahead before fully understanding all aspects related to dosage guidelines and long-term use implications.

Improve Sleep Quality

Promoting restful sleep is another potential benefit associated with the use of cannabidiol, particularly relevant for those engaged in high-intensity physical activities (it’s good for athletes). The importance of improved sleep for athletes cannot be overstated, as it plays a crucial role in cognitive function and recovery from physically demanding daily activities and workouts.

Studies suggest that CBD, extracted from hemp plants, may positively influence the body’s adenosine pathways, inhibiting its reuptake and thus inducing sedative effects conducive to deep, restful sleep. This effect could be particularly beneficial for athletes suffering from sleep disturbances brought on by rigorous training schedules or pre-competition stress.

Additionally, CBD’s interaction with the endocannabinoid system (ECS) can also indirectly impact sleep cycles. Physical exercise often leads to an increase in cortisol levels, which can interfere with sleep patterns. However, CBD has demonstrated the potential to moderate cortisol release within the ECS, thereby potentially enhancing the overall quality of sleep.

It’s important, though, to remember that while these findings are promising, more research is needed on how exactly CBD interacts with different components of the ECS and other biological systems to promote better sleep among athletes and others engaged in intense daily activities.

How much CBD to use

In the realm of CBD usage for athletes, the quantification of an appropriate dose presents a challenge due to the lack of a standard that delivers a consistent effect for all individuals. The effects and benefits of CBD can vary greatly between users, making it difficult to establish an ideal dosage. The target health issue or symptom, as well as factors like individual body weight and metabolism, further complicate this.

Despite these challenges, research published in the Journal of Sports Medicine indicates that CBD may have potential for promoting faster exercise-related recovery and improving muscle contractile function.

Following the manufacturer’s instructions when consuming CBD products is highly recommended, particularly given the variability in how individuals respond to different doses. Starting with a low dose and gradually increasing it allows athletes to assess their unique response and adjust accordingly. Moreover, capsules or tinctures provide more precise dosage measurements compared to other methods like vaping or topical applications. These delivery systems allow for better control over dosage administration, thus maximizing potential benefits while minimizing risks associated with excessive consumption.

A quick look at the best CBD balm for athletes

Transitioning from the topic of dosage, it becomes necessary to examine one of the best options for CBD application, especially tailored for athletes: the CBD Muscle Balm by The Tenacious Seed. This product stands out due to its unique formulation and the numerous benefits that it offers.

The Tenacious Seed’s CBD Muscle Balm is a full-spectrum product, implying that it contains not just CBD but also a variety of different hemp-derived phytocannabinoids beneficial to human health. With 500 mg of full-spectrum hemp extract per 30 ml container, this balm serves as an effective solution for athletes dealing with joint pain and inflammation issues. Its highly bioavailable formulation ensures long-lasting effects over several hours. Moreover, the presence of other natural ingredients such as Grapeseed Oil, Yellow Beeswax, Organic Coconut oil, and various essential oils further augments its therapeutic potential.

Product Specs:
Full-Spectrum Hemp Extract
500 mg CBD per 30 ml container
Contains grapeseed oil, Yellow beeswax, and Organic Coconut oil.

– Pros:
High Bioavailability leads to longer-lasting effects.
May aid in faster post-workout recovery.
Can potentially decrease joint pain and inflammation

– Cons:
Some individuals may have allergies or sensitivities to some ingredients.


In conclusion, research on CBD and its potential benefits for athletes is still in its infancy. However, preliminary studies suggest it holds the key to a whole new world of pain management and inflammation reduction.

The legal acceptance of CBD use among athletes has paved the way for further exploration of this promising natural alternative. The choices are as clear as day: continue with traditional pain relievers that may have adverse side effects or embrace the potential of CBD.

As always, the devil is in the details; thorough scrutiny of product quality and dosage is essential to ensuring optimal benefit. This could potentially unlock a new era in athletic performance enhancement, providing an edge without compromising health and well-being.


CBD (cannabidiol) is a natural compound found in the hemp plant that is known for its potential health benefits. It does not cause a “high” sensation like THC (tetrahydrocannabinol).

Yes, CBD is legal for athletes to use as long as the products contain less than 0.3% THC (tetrahydrocannabinol).”

Athletes can use CBD in a variety of ways, such as in oil form, capsules, topical creams, or salves. Topical CBD products are often the best option for localized pain or inflammation.

CBD has potential benefits for sports recovery and performance, as it may help to reduce inflammation, improve sleep, and manage pain levels. Many athletes also use CBD as a way to manage stress and anxiety.

CBD may help to reduce inflammation, improve muscle recovery, and manage pain levels, which can all contribute to better overall sports recovery for athletes.

Full-spectrum CBD contains all of the naturally occurring compounds found in the hemp plant, including THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), while CBD isolate only contains CBD and no other compounds.

It is possible for CBD products to contain trace amounts of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), which can lead to a positive drug test result. Athletes should use caution and look for THC-free CBD products.

The best CBD salve for athletes can vary based on personal preferences and needs. Look for a high-quality product with a sufficient amount of CBD, ideally made with broad-spectrum or full-spectrum hemp-derived CBD.

The recommended dose of CBD for athletes can vary based on factors such as body weight, tolerance, and the severity of symptoms. It is best to start with a low dose and gradually increase until the desired effects are achieved.

CBD has been removed from the prohibited list by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and is now allowed for use by athletes.

When choosing the best CBD products for athletes, look for high-quality products made with hemp-derived CBD, preferably broad-spectrum or full-spectrum. Look for products that have been third-party tested for purity and potency and do not have any harmful additives.


Rojas-Valverde, Daniel. “Potential role of cannabidiol on sports recovery: a narrative review.” Frontiers in Physiology 12 (2021): 722550. [HTML] frontiersin.org

Mareck, Ute, et al. “Preliminary data on the potential for unintentional antidoping rule violations by permitted cannabidiol (CBD) use.” Drug testing and analysis 13.3 (2021): 539-549. [PDF] wiley.com

Close, Graeme L., Scott H. Gillham, and Andreas M. Kasper. “Cannabidiol (CBD) and the athlete: Claims, evidence, prevalence, and safety concerns.” Sports Science Exchange213 (2021). [HTML] gssiweb.org

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