The Rise of CBD in Combat Sport

22nd, Jul 2020

From Brazilian jiu jitsu to MMA and boxing – combat sports athletes are embracing CBD oil in a big way. Dozens of fighters around the world are now sponsored by CBD brands, since the World Anti Doping Agency dropped its ban on the cannabis-derived substance two years ago.

Hemp – the cannabis plant – has been used as food and medicine for millennia. Cannabis has long been used as a painkiller, but its side effects made it unacceptable – an illegal – in most modern cultures. Separating out the elements of cannabis into CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (the psychoactive part that gets you high), however, has revolutionised the substance.

CBD is mainly used to reduce stress and as a painkiller. With opioid-dependency being a real problem for combat athletes, CBD is a welcome alternative – WHO’s 2018 report stated that it doesn’t result in dependence or misuse.

How does it work?

CBD can affect dozens of processes in your central and nervous system, and here’s why:

Your body has a naturally occurring network of receptors (proteins that transmit signals) called the endocannabinoid system. This system regulates nearly every vital process in your body – including pain sensation, physical recovery, metabolism and cognitive processes.

CBD mimics the receptors, but in a more concentrated from – so it stands to reason that your natural endocannabinoid system will be enhanced if you introduce CBD to your body.

There’s also evidence that vigorous exercise can disrupt the balance of your endocannabinoid receptors. As combat sports have no ‘season’ and a relentless programme of high intensity training and fights, CBD is likely to help to redress that imbalance.

CBD may also have elements that promote healthy brain function and reduce inflammation anywhere in the body. Because combat sport athletes are subjected to head trauma, it is important that they get ahead of ailments such as neuroinflammation.

Benefits of CBD in Combat Sport

Benefits of CBD include:

  • Pain management: anti-inflammatory qualities reduce swelling in joints.
  • Faster recovery: activates the endocannabinoid system to help muscles recover and grow faster.
  • Reducing anxiety: calming effect aids sleep, helps to regulate mood and fight depression.
  • Increases metabolism: cannabidiol stimulates metabolism to help with dietary management in training and before a fight.

How do you take it?

CBD oil is most common. It can be administered directly under the tongue with a dropper -although it doesn’t taste too good.

It can also be vaped, or applied in gels or lotions for topical application on sore muscles, or taken in tablet form.

Fighting fans

Combat athletes around the world are waking up to the potential of CBD. There are dozens of CBD sponsored fighters, and several professional fighters have started their own CBD companies. These are just a handful of CBD ambassadors:

Teófimo López – Professional Boxer

López takes CBD as a natural alternative to potentially addictive medications such as opioid painkillers. He prefers to use CBD in a cream form for topical applications that can be absorbed into muscles quickly. Lopez also uses CBD oil for pain relief and to relax.

Shannon Briggs –Professional Boxer

CBD’s ability to enhance metabolism helped Briggs to lose 11 stone for his comeback – and he claims that it also saved his life. The mood-enhancing properties of CBD reduced the depression he had been battling from childhood. Having used opioid painkillers for years, he says he now prefers to use natural remedies as opposed to medications that may be addictive.

Nate Diaz – MMA Professional

Nate openly vaped CBD at press conference when it was still technically a banned substance. Thanks to his and other athletes’ pressure World Anti Doping agency dropped the ban on CBD. Cannabis and THC are still banned.

Bas Rutten – MMA Professional, Kickboxer, Wrestler & Actor

Bas used opioids (prescription painkillers) for years, suffering from their addictive effects and liver damage. He now swears by CBD for pain relief and muscle recovery.

Gordon Ryan Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) Champion

Gordon uses CBD oil ‘to relax after training and to prepare mentally and physically for the next session’.

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