It takes a special kind of person to complete as an olympic athlete. Grueling training and unwavering commitment sets these elite athletes apart from other high-level competitors. Anyone who has trained seriously for any athletic undertaking understands the impact that the continual push has on the body. This isn’t limited to just muscle fatigue or pain, but also the potential for a compromised immune system and break in homeostasis. Could CBD oil increase athletic performance in winter Olympic Athletes?
How CBD Oil interacts with the body
As far as the scientific world is aware, all vertebrates (animals with backbones) come equipped with their own natural endocannabinoid system. This consists of endogenous cannabinoids and cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2) as well as enzymes that break down cannabinoids. This system determines the way we process and utilize cannabinoids within the body using oral applications of CBD oil as well as topical.
- CB1 Receptors – These receptors are expressed in the central nervous system with emphasis on areas in the brain. CB1 receptors are primarily responsible for the psychoactive effects of certain cannabinoid components.
- CB2 Receptors – Therapeutic applications of cannabinoids have been heavily linked to CB2 receptors given their connectivity to the immune system.
Dealing with inflammation and discomfort
CBD is patented by the United States Government as an antioxidant. Antioxidants play an important role in your body’s ability to maintain homeostasis. Part of this is fighting off toxins that cause inflammation throughout the body.
CBD binds to CB2 receptors, inhibiting production of the enzyme that breaks down anandamide. The purpose of anandamide is to block pain receptors. More anandamide equals less discomfort. Less discomfort means less distraction, and less distraction equals better performance.
A little inflammation is normal. It is the body’s natural response to deal with wear and tear, as well as injuries. The problem is that inflammation can also impede the healing process and certainly affect mobility. Winter Olympic athletes need their bodies to be as mobile as possible to compete at the global level.
Less than ideal alternatives for Winter Olympic athletes
The most common way of dealing with pain and inflammation is to utilize synthetic solutions. These come most often in the form of pills or injections with side-effects that can include dependance, hormonal changes and slowed reaction times.
Whether medication is over-the-counter or prescribed, there is always the chance of creating a dependency. Most narcotics, meant for use on severe pain, are prohibited under World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) regulations. Milder drugs such as ibuprofen are not banned, but may be less than ideal .
The World Health Organization recently reported that there have been no adverse outcomes from cannabidiol (CBD) use, and in fact they suggest there are several potential medical applications. Naturally occurring CBD is well-tolerated in humans and animals, safe and not associated with any negative public health effects. It is also non-addictive and non-toxic.
Anabolic-androgenic steroids are used to increase muscle mass and strength. This strength can also mean repairative properties. Though many steroids may do a fine job in increasing athletic performance, they are considered just that; performance enhancing. Virtually all steroid use is banned by the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA). Over the last year this has been a big issue for the Olympic Committee, especially pertaining to the widespread scandal involving Russian Olympians.
The discovery of doping violations has resulted in 51 Olympic medals being striped from Russia. This is the most of any country and four times more than the runner-up. The Russian Olympic Committee is banned from the 2018 Winter Games. Athletes from Russia may still be permitted to compete individually as Olympic Athletes from Russia (OAR) if they pass testing. If OAR participants receive any medals at the games, the Olympic anthem will be played instead of the Russian anthem.
Importance of rest and recovery
Winter Olympic athletes have a lot of pressure on them. The games represent global competition at the highest level. That alone could be enough to keep you up at night. Sleep deprived athletes are at risk of losing aerobic endurance. They may also experience subtle hormone changes that can lead to an increase in the stress-response hormone, cortisol.
Proper rest and recovery allows the body to adapt to stress associated with training and competing. Glycogen levels replenish and body tissues to undergo repairs.
CBD oil is patented as an antioxidant. Antioxidants play an important role in restoring homeostasis. Small doses of CBD oil are known to shake off daytime sleepiness. In larger doses it has been shown to have a calming effect promoting a more restful sleep.
Coping with Winter Sport Temperatures
The Winter Olympics are undoubtedly cold. The majority of events take place either on the ice or in the snow. Though athletes specific to winter sports already have some degree of cold tolerance, that does not mean the temperature has no effect on performance.
Low temperatures generally put a greater load on the metabolism. This is one of the reasons for the theory that “cold burns calories.” Though calorie burning can be good for most people, Winter Olympic athletes are sure to need that caloric reserve for optimal performance.
When it is cold, the body sends blood away from the skin surface to help circulate vital organs in the body core. Blood pressure increases as this occurs. Though the rise in blood pressure is a necessary response, remaining in that state of survival mode can wear on the body. One big function of homeostasis is to restore the balance of thermoregulation and blood pressure. CBD receptors have a known adaptogen ability to help stabilize this balance.
CBD oil removed from the WADA banned list
In October 2017, CBD cannabinoids were removed from the WADA banned substance list. CBD is legal to use by all athletes that compete under the international umbrella of the agency. Not only does this include Winter Olympic athletes, it also includes professional athletes such as MMA fighters.
The 2018 Winter Olympic Games will be the first to allow CBD use in and out of competition.