Many people have seen different stories of how CBD has helped relieve their symptoms, made a medical condition easier to manage or in some cases, completely cured people of certain diseases. The fitness industry has taken a huge interest in CBD since people started successfully experimenting with it to improve their recovery, endurance, aid weight loss and more.
The Sports World
While using cannabis as a pre-workout or post-workout supplement might seem a little bit eccentric to many, there are many athletes in various sports praising the benefits of CBD oil for personal health.
The fitness industry is labelling CBD the best thing in the fitness and in the bodybuilding world. But in order to understand how CBD can benefit the regular gym goer or someone new to fitness, it’s important to understand the effect CBD has on the body.
What is CBD?
The cannabis plant contains many different cannabinoids, CBD or cannabidiol is a compound that is present in high concentrations. Another cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant is THC and this is more well-known as it’s the psychoactive substance that causes that ‘high’ feeling.
However, unlike THC, CBD does not get you high. Because CBD doesn’t get you high or cause any mind-alternating side effects, it’s legal to buy in the UK providing it’s sold as a ‘food supplement’.
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Every person has something called an endocannabinoid system (ECS). This system is responsible for keeping all of our body systems in balance with one another.
An example of how this works is that when our bodies detect a threat, they release stress chemicals such as cortisol and adrenaline to help us stay alert, focused, and also to help us protect ourselves better.
Furthermore, our muscles can tense up to help us defend ourselves. We may also breathe faster and harder in order to pump oxygen through our bodies, and our heart rate rises. This is the fight or flight reaction. Once the threat is gone, your body has to rebalance itself and this is where the endocannabinoid system comes into play.
The endocannabinoid system controls and regulates how quickly to release neurotransmitters. There are many different neurotransmitters, which are chemicals released from nerve cells that have a variety of functions. Neurotransmitters slow muscles or other body reactions down or speed them up as necessary in order to return to and maintain internal harmony or homeostasis after you’ve handled a threat.
This ECS system is quite possibly the most important physiological system involved in establishing and maintaining human health. It’s made up of receptors embedded all over your body. When cannabinoids stimulate the receptors, scientists believe our bodies communicate more effectively with themselves.
Our endocannabinoid system promotes homeostasis affecting everything from sleep, appetite, pain, inflammation, memory, mood, and even reproduction. To sum up, it helps modulate the regulation of homeostasis across all major body systems ensuring that all systems work in sync with one another.
The Endocannabinoid System and Disease
Studies on the endocannabinoid system have found that it plays a role in many diseases. As this system helps bring balance to the body, it’s no surprise that scientists have observed changes in endocannabinoid system activity in a number of diseases.
Everything from neurodegenerative disorders to rheumatoid arthritis and cancer has shown changes in endocannabinoid levels and greater receptor expression. This suggests that the ECS system may be an effective target for restoring balance in the body and promoting good health.
Research into cannabis decades ago first led scientists to the discovery of the endocannabinoid system. As a result of this initial research, it also led to its name ‘cannabinoid’.
CBD and the Endocannabinoid System
One thing many people don’t know is that our bodies naturally produce its own cannabinoids; these are endocannabinoids (endo meaning ‘inside’). As with any other nutrient, sometimes we can become a little deficient and need some extra help.
This is where cannabis can help, as the cannabis plant also produces cannabinoids, these are phytocannabinoids (phyto meaning ‘plant’). These phytocannabinoids interact and aid/ restore the endocannabinoid system in our bodies.
How does CBD work for fitness?
Whether you’re trying to gain muscle, lose weight or just get a little healthier, CBD may play a helpful role in your own fitness journey.
The biggest challenge for any bodybuilder is the fact that our bodies don’t grow muscle naturally. We have catabolic hormones in our bodies that break down muscle mass, but in order to reverse this, a person needs to take anti-catabolic supplements.
CBD Oil acts as an anti-catabolic supplement to reduce the effects of muscle wasting hormones in the body. As a result, CBD can help a person accomplish their bodybuilding goals by lowering the number of catabolic hormones.
Having lower catabolic hormones means you will not break down muscle mass as quickly. And you will retain muscle gained when using CBD Oil as your anti-catabolic supplement along with muscle strength.
Stress, Anxiety and depression
Recent studies have revealed that CBD massively reduces the body’s cortisol levels, this reason alone makes it a great supplement for workouts.
When we’re stressed, our bodies produce a hormone called cortisol. When our body releases cortisol, muscle recovery slows or stops.
CBD is well known for reducing cortisol levels, which in turn allows a better energy supply to the body. This results in improved stamina and endurance, therefore using CBD as a pre-workout supplement will help improve overall performance and output.
CBD anti-inflammatory properties
Any workout, particularly a rigorous one results in microscopic damage to muscles and tissues. It’s this inflammation that then triggers the body’s repair process, allowing your body’s tissues to grow back fitter and stronger.
However, if left unchecked, too much inflammation can cause muscle damage and poor workout results. It’s the inflammation that causes many exercise injuries such as strains and sprains.
CBD is well-known for its anti-inflammatory effects and it’s one of the many reasons people use it to make medical conditions more manageable. For example, a 2018 review published in Frontiers in Neurology concluded that CBD is an effective way of improving pain and mobility in patients with multiple sclerosis since it reduces inflammation. It’s also why it’s becoming a necessity to many fitness fans. This basically means it improves and manages post-exercise inflammation incredibly well.
Weight loss is a huge benefit of CBD, not only are people avoiding dangerous slimming tablets in favour of this food supplement, but they’re actually improving their overall health.
CBD has shown that it can help regulate a person’s blood sugar levels. When our blood sugar levels are better regulated, there are less fat-storing hormones produced by the pancreas. This results in your body storing less fat and in turn, this can make it easier to lose weight as more you will burn off fat as energy, oppose to your body storing it.
Going back to cortisol, when a person’s cortisol levels are too high or too low, this can lead to unpleasant symptoms, with one of those symptoms being an increase in weight. As previously mentioned, CBD helps reduce cortisol levels and can prevent these unpleasant symptoms.
If you combine lower blood sugar levels and better-regulated cortisol levels, this combination can help a person lose weight safely and appropriately.