A small study has found that CBD makes exercise more fun, improves oxygen uptake and reduces exercise-induced inflammation. There was no impairment in performance. The Charles Perkins Centre in Sydney conducted the study while the Sydney Local Health District’s Human Research Ethics Committee approved it.

How these guys were chosen

Only nine male athletes were covered. There were originally 10, but one dropped out due to an injury sustained elsewhere. The athletes were recruited by word-of-mouth and an advertisement distributed to running clubs.

What the study involved

The study looked at the effects of people’s physical and mental states on their performance in aerobic exercise after taking CBD. An hour-and-a-half after they began exercising, athletes received either 0.4 gallons of CBD or a placebo. They had been told to keep to their usual diets. They were asked to refrain from taking cannabis for three months prior to the study, with a urine test checking for adherence, which is less rather than more fun. They were also asked to avoid alcohol, caffeine and anti-inflammatory medication.

On two occasions, participants ran for 60 minutes and then until exhaustion set in. Thrice were measurements taken of their blood glucose levels, heartrates, respiratory indices, lactate concentrations – and pleasure levels, to ascertain whether they were having more fun. There was at least seven days between sessions. The researchers noted that CBD appeared to increase blood lactate, volume of oxygen and pleasure. CBD didn’t impair exercise performance and so might “have utility within the sporting context.”

The study concluded that this calls for more studies of the matter with more participants because the effects of CBD on exercise-induced inflammation, feelings of pleasure towards exercise and oxygen consumption during it “are worthy of further investigation.”

What now?

There has been little previous research into the effects of CBD on sports performance, but this study and the fact that more professional athletes are promoting the use of CBD could lead to medicinal cannabis playing a major role for many people in their performance in and recovery from sport. Examples of athletes propounding CBD are the English rugby players George Kruis and James Haskell. Kruis founded a CBD company after a team-mate recommended it for his knee injury. Haskell has uploaded a number of videos extolling the benefits of CBD, like this one. The 2017 World’s Strongest Man, Eddie Hall, often speaks of how he takes CBD to better his physical wellness.

In the United States, there’s also possibly the greatest boxer ever (best not mention the rape conviction) Mike Tyson, who strongly advocates the use of CBD in sport.

CBD was recently removed from the World Anti-Doping Agency’s Prohibited List. A survey found that 26% of British professional rugby players either use or have used CBD. Their most common reasons were to enhance recovery (80%), improve sleep (78%) or lessen anxiety (32%).

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