Considering CBD For Muscle Recovery? Here’s What You Need To Know.
Cannabidiol is having a moment. Though you may not recognize its scientific moniker, you’ve probably seen it referred to by its buzzy nickname: CBD.
CBD is everywhere these days, and in a variety of forms. You can find it in capsules, gummies, tinctures, oils, balms, cocktails, cookies—even coffee sold at small-town bakeries. Its market share in the health and wellness space will likely only continue to grow, with some analysts estimating its value will hit $2 billion by 2022.
CBD has a lot of purported benefits with a lot of anecdotal (and some scientific) evidence to back those claims. Everything from helping cancer patients fight nausea, to acting as a sleep aid for people with insomnia, to reducing seizures in children with a severe form of epilepsy known as Dravet Syndrome.
While those seem like potentially huge breakthroughs, CBD is also said to help with smaller stuff, like helping you recover faster from workouts thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties. Before you dive into a pool of CBD oil, here’s everything you need to know.
Why are we sore after a workout anyway?
No matter how fit you are, sometimes you just feel it after a workout. Some workouts can leave you sore for days. That’s because, as the United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS) explains, working out causes microscopic damage to muscle fibers. Those muscles then become inflamed, which triggers the body to respond and repair, causing muscle soreness or stiffness.
Cool. So, what exactly is CBD again?
CBD is one of more than 100 chemical compounds found in cannabis plants, which include both marijuana and industrial hemp. CBD is a close chemical cousin to THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, the chemical compound found in marijuana that causes a psychoactive effect (AKA, the stuff that gets you high).
Though CBD is just one atom arrangement away from becoming THC, that microscopic difference is actually huge. No matter how much CBD oil you consume or how much CBD balm you rub on your body, you cannot get high from it. Which means.
I can legally buy CBD?
Yes. In December, President Donald Trump signed a new Farm Bill, which, among other things, legalized the growth, distribution, and sale of industrialized hemp, allowing it to be “cultivated for any use”—including the production and extraction of CBD.
There are a few caveats to the bill, but generally you’re now safe to buy CBD across the United States. Even professional athletes can use CBD, as the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) removed it from its prohibited substance list in 2018. So relax, your gold medals are safe.
“Broadly speaking, CBD does decrease inflammation when it’s rubbed on muscles as an ointment or taken orally.”
Can CBD really help fight post-workout inflammation?
“As a personal trainer and someone that works out every day and really pushes myself a lot, I noticed the biggest difference in inflammation and stress after a workout,” Tara Laferrara, a former sprinter and a NASM certified personal trainer, told MensHealth.com about her personal use of CBD.
Laferrara was introduced to CBD via friends in the fitness industry who tried it after cannabis was legalized in Colorado in 2014. Now, she’s a devoted user. (A CBDevotee?) “It basically manages and prevents my joint inflammation, that aching kind of feeling, that I’d get after a heavy lift day,” she says.
Is there scientific proof?
While Laferrara’s anecdotal experience is intriguing, you might remain skeptical. Perhaps the scientific findings will squash some of your CBDoubts.
According to a 2018 review of 132 original studies published in Frontiers in Neurology, CBD can indeed reduce inflammation in the body and help improve pain and mobility in patients with multiple sclerosis. “It is anti-inflammatory, antioxidative, antiemetic, antipsychotic, and neuroprotective,” the review study’s authors wrote.
“Broadly speaking, it does decrease inflammation when it’s rubbed on muscles as an ointment or taken orally,” Dr. Perry Solomon, previous chief medical officer and founding member of HelloMD, told MensHealth.com.
However, we can’t conclusively say that CBD will, without question, reduce inflammation—and in turn reduce muscle soreness—after another Eb & Swole workout. The empirical data just isn’t there yet.
But I’m good to start a CBD regimen?
CBD is commonly regarded as safe to use. Even the doctors published in Frontiers in Neurology said: “High doses of up to 1,500 mg per day and chronic use have been repeatedly shown to be well tolerated by humans.” You shouldn’t need that much, though figuring out how much you do need can be tricky, as there is no “standard” dose.
One rule of thumb is 1-6 milligrams of CBD for every 10 pounds of body weight based on pain levels. Another is to start with 5-10mg per day and increase by 5-10mg until you feel relief. This isn’t perfect and requires trial and error, but it’ll help you find a starting point.
As with anything you plan to put into your body, discuss CBD with your doctor first, particularly if you take other medications. They can help you make sure your liver will have enough room to metabolize it all so as not to diminish the effects of either.
How should I use CBD for recovery?
Beyond CBD oils and tinctures, CBD is often sold in infused balms, lotions, capsules, edibles, vape pens, and more. Basically, you just need to decide if you’d like to ingest it or rub it on for relief.
Again, you’re mostly on your own to determine exactly how much CBD you should take to feel its effects. The dosing guidelines above should give you a good jumping-off point, but CBD is a subjective chemical that reacts differently in every body. Once you feel the desired effect, though, you won’t have to up the dose. Which means if you use CBD oil for recovery, you can just fill the pipette to the same spot every time.
To sum it up, if your doctor says it’s OK and you’re game to try CBD instead of popping traditional anti-inflammatories, go for it. Try it for a few weeks while varying the delivery method and dose to find what works best for you. Who knows? By tomorrow, you could be recovering faster from your workout and have one less excuse to skip leg day.
The cannabis product is said to help inflammation. So… can it?
Everything you need to know about CBD muscle balm
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- What is CBD muscle balm?
- Does CBD balm work?
- How does CBD muscle balm work?
- Does CBD help with muscle recovery?
Whether you’re an athlete or visit your local gym only a few times a year, you’ve likely experienced soreness or pain. Even sitting still for too long or lifting children all day can cause your muscles to feel stiff. Luckily cannabis and its cannabinoids are well-suited to help soothe the pain. One such cannabis product type that lends itself well to muscle pain relief is CBD muscle balm.
What is CBD muscle balm?
CBD muscle balm, also known as CBD muscle rub, is a fragrant topical oil or cream that individuals use to soothe sore muscles. CBD balm is generally mixed with other soothing ingredients such as peppermint oil, tea tree, eucalyptus, and other oils.
CBD muscle balm is a fragrant topical oil or cream that individuals use to soothe sore muscles. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
The cannabis industry features a wide range of topicals, of which CBD balm is a member. By definition, these products contain no more than a 0.3% concentration of THC – thus, they won’t cause a “high” feeling. CBD balm is an excellent alternative for individuals who want to avoid using THC or who live in an area where THC products are illegal.
Does CBD balm work?
Many consumers find CBD to be soothing and relaxing, but the exact experience you get from a CBD muscle rub depends on several factors. These factors include the type of CBD used in the balm, extra ingredients such as essential oils, the total dosage, and individual differences in the consumer.
CBD products come in various formulas, typically fitting into one of three categories: full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, and isolate. Full-spectrum CBD is extracted from the cannabis plant and contains minor cannabinoids, terpenes, and trace levels of THC. Broad-spectrum includes a similar range of cannabis matter with the THC removed. Finally, isolate is CBD stripped of all other compounds and left in a pure powder form. The presence or absence of these compounds has varying effects on consumers.
The total amount of CBD in your balm has an impact on whether or not the balm provides relief. Some people may need more substantial doses to feel effective relief. Read the label to understand all the ingredients, and know that lab-tested products are more likely to provide relief.
What the research says
Limited research supports CBD’s efficacy on inflammation because most studies that examine the anti-inflammatory benefits of cannabis include whole-plant analysis, which naturally contains THC and other cannabinoids.
An in vitro study published in Pain showed that rats who had received doses of CBD in arthritic knees showed less inflammation and fewer signs of pain. A review published in Frontiers in Neurology showed that CBD could reduce inflammation and help improve pain and mobility in patients with multiple sclerosis. However, much more research is needed to scientifically support CBD muscle balm’s ability to soothe pain.
It’s not entirely clear whether infused skin-use topicals are genuinely effective, but consumers seem to feel improvements. The Arthritis Foundation surveyed 2,600 patients with arthritis and found that 79% of respondents had considered CBD use or had already used it, either as an alternative to other pain-relieving balms or anti-inflammatory prescription medications such as NSAIDs.
How does CBD muscle balm work?
Topical CBD products work locally on specific parts of the body, potentially helping soothe pain on areas such as joints or particular muscles. CBD gets absorbed by the skin and doesn’t enter the bloodstream. As such, the balm affects the body similarly to over-the-counter topical creams to relieve pain for a certain amount of time.
CBD muscle balm interacts with the high concentration of cannabinoid receptors in the skin. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
CBD muscle balm interacts with the high concentration of cannabinoid receptors in the skin. These receptors are part of the body’s endocannabinoid system, which is responsible for maintaining homeostasis across many bodily functions, including pain management.
An in vitro study published in Neurology showed that CBD binds to and desensitizes these receptors, which mediate pain perception and inflammation.
Most consumers rub the CBD topical into their skin where the pain is localized and allow the cannabinoids to work. Some balms also use essential oils such as peppermint oil or menthol, which adds a cooling sensation to the skin and has analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties.
Does CBD help with muscle recovery?
After an intense sweat session, it’s common to experience muscle aches and soreness. Workouts cause microscopic tears to the fibers in muscles, which can lead to inflammation and the subsequent feeling of being sore or in pain. While the breaking down and recovery of muscle fibers after intense workouts is critical to growth, soreness feels unpleasant and, in excess, can cause changes in the body.
By suppressing the inflammatory responses of a workout, CBD allows muscles to recover more rapidly. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Several pieces of evidence, including those illustrated above, indicate that CBD is useful for soothing inflammation involved with soreness. CBD also suppresses chemokine, cytokine, and the production of T-regulatory cells, all of which slow down the muscle recovery process. By suppressing the inflammatory responses of a workout, CBD allows muscles to recover more rapidly.
CBD muscle balm isn’t the only thing that helps with recovery. Consumers use CBD-infused edibles, tinctures, and vapes to achieve similar relief measures, though the results depend on the product quality and dosage.
Topicals can also help with conditions beyond muscle recovery or pain relief. Many commercial beauty products use hemp oil or coconut oil ingredients to treat skin conditions or add a luster to the face or skin.
Learn what CBD muscle balm is, why people use it, and what to look for when trying to find the right CBD muscle balm for you.