CBD and Sports: Possible Benefits for Athletes


Over the past years, there has been an increase in cannabidiol (CBD) usability in several industries, including sports. After the official discovery of cannabidiol as a non-intoxicating, non-addicting, and beneficial compound extracted from the cannabis plant in 1940, many research works aimed at understanding its mode of activity, possible side effects and the potential therapeutic benefits of using the compound.

This curiosity led to the discoveries/conclusions that CBD possesses excellent antimicrobial, antioxidant, anticancer, antidepressant, anxiolytic analgesic, anti-seizure and anti-inflammatory properties. Although these claims are subject to approval by the FDA and other regulatory bodies, the legal status of CBD remains a subject of debate in major gatherings.

The need to legalize CBD for recreational and medicinal purposes has led to its removal from the list of World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) banned substances in 2018. While explaining their decision to remove it from the list of prohibited substances, WADA made it clear that CBD is a non-psychoactive, pain-relieving cannabinoid found in cannabis. This means it can produce several benefits without making the users high or fall victims to addiction.

What are the Possible Benefits of CBD for Athletes?

woman in sportswear and with boxing gloves kicking bag in the gym. Full length. Wall in background.

The use of CBD for athletes and sports is becoming more popular since removing the compound from WADA’s list of banned substances. Below we discuss some of the widely reported benefits of CBD for athletes;

a. Reduces anxiety and depression

Researchers and ardent CBD users have attested to the anxiolytic and antidepressant properties of CBD. Some reports show how athletes utilized the anxiolytic and antidepressant properties of it to deal with anxieties before, during and after activity.

The ability of CBD to interact with the Endocannabinoid system (a natural system consisting of cannabinoids and their receptors) and trigger the release of feel-good hormones can serve an important purpose in keeping athletes relaxed. This also improves focus and allows them to pay attention to the game. Unlike over-the-counter antidepressants, CBD comes with little to no side effects that make them an excellent alternative for all athletes.

b. Reduces inflammation

The need to keep fit and always be on top gear for every game has made athletes prone to inflammations that can reduce activity or trigger pain. Since ECS (endocannabinoid system) receptors are everywhere, they can suppress inflammation symptoms, thus making athletes healthier.

It is pertinent to note that inflammation is a natural response to injury or excessive exertion during strenuous workouts. There are also reports on how cannabidiol can boost the immune system. The anti-inflammatory effect of CBD can fasten the recovery process from injuries.

C. Promotes internal balance

The accumulation of free-radicals in muscles can lead to muscle spasms and unbearable pain levels in the joints. CBD can also neutralize these free radicals’ harmful effects, thus improving internal balance and promoting endurance during workouts.

Sport Capoeira at sunset

d. Pain-relief

Athletes deal with varying degrees of pain ranging from sore muscles, body pain to injuries that may last for weeks. These have been identified as the single factor why most athletes settle for painkillers’ consumption.

With CBD, athletes can gain hands-on access to several benefits that can block pain transmission. There are reports on how the cannabinoid system can interact with the pain center to reduce pain.

e. Promotes the growth of new brain cells

The brain plays an important role in humans’ overall health and activeness. The use of CBD can trigger new brain cells’ production via a process known as neurogenesis. Note that the brain and peripheral nervous system is home to CB1 receptors that interact with cannabinoids to promote relaxation and pain relief. The presence of new brain cells can boost brain activity.

f. Promotes sleep

Sleep is important for rejuvenation. It has the power to recharge the brain, refresh the muscles and keep them active for the next line of action. CBD can interact with neurotransmitters like serotonin, GABA, and melatonin to promote good sleep.

g. Controls appetite

CBD is excellent for people who are on a diet. Its interaction with the ECS can improve appetite and assist people on a diet. It has also been reported that CBD may assist in weight loss and can reduce high blood pressure.

Are all CBD Products Legal in Sports?

Although CBD is no longer a prohibited substance under the WADA list of banned substances, THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the psychoactive compound present in cannabis, is still a banned substance. This means that only products without THC are legal in sports. For full spectrum CBD products, the THC content must not exceed 0.3%.

Is CBD Safe for Athletes?

At the time of writing this article, no known adverse side effect of CBD has been reported by users. This is because most CBD activities are directly produced via interaction with the cannabinoid receptors. CBD is non-psychoactive and does not tamper with brain activity.

Cannabidiol side effects are rooted in the compound’s ability to reduce the absorption of drugs like aspirin, warfarin, theophylline, and even alcohol when they are administered concomitantly. It is advised to talk to your doctor if you are taking any prescription medicine and decide to try CBD.

Female runner doing stretching exercises


The use of cannabidiol for sports will continue to gain more grounds as users and authorities become more aware of their numerous therapeutic benefits. For now, research seems very promising as to the potential good CBD products can bring to support Athletes.

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