Prescription opioids were once a popular way for athletes to treat injuries. The problem with relying on opioids is that they are highly addictive, and can leave athletes in worse shape than before.
Fortunately, CBD is emerging as a safe, non-addictive alternative to treat sports injuries -- and athletes of all sports and skill sets are partaking.
CBD as a Treatment for Head Injuries
Football is a high-impact, contact sport. Injury is common, and head injuries even more so.
Concussions are so common and occur in pretty much every NFL player, and these repeated head injuries can lead to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a neurodegenerative brain disease that can lead to impulse control problems, memory loss, impaired judgment, aggression, depression, and eventually, progressive dementia.
A 2017 study -- the largest of its kind -- found that chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) was present in 110 out of 111 deceased NFL players (the players donated their brain so CTE could be studied further, as CTE can only be diagnosed post-mortem). This revealing study shows us that there is much more that needs to be done to find solutions to this. Co-author of the study, Dr. Ann McKee, says, “There’s no question that there’s a problem in football. That people who play football are at risk for this disease . . . And we urgently need to find answers for not just football players, but veterans and other individuals exposed to head trauma.”
Fortunately, studies are emerging showing how CBD can help in treating head injuries. A 1998 report published by The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that CBD can act as a neuro-protectant in limiting neurological damage following injuries such as stroke or traumatic brain injuries.
Additionally, a 2012 study found that CBD consumption after a known brain injury had a long-lasting, restorative effect on the brain. CBD successfully reduced the severity of the injury and restored overall neurological function.
CBD as a Treatment for Minor Injuries
Football players are also prone to minor sprains, strains, and other injuries common among athletes. For football players, topical CBD products can be used to treat localized injuries, like sore, aching muscles. Topical application can help reduce pain and recovery time.
CBD can also be incorporated into a football player’s recovery routine, for example, athletes can include CBD-infused bath salts into a warm bath, or apply a cooling gel before resting.
Footballers are Touting the Benefits of CBD
Former star running back Terrell Davis, who released his own line of CBD-infused sports drinks, is one of many athletes espousing the benefits of CBD. After retiring in 2002, Davis was consuming a concoction of painkillers to treat his injuries. In 2017, he tried CBD for the first time. In an interview, Davis said “It worked on me almost immediately. In days, if not almost immediately, I started to notice the effects of it. I was really impressed with what I was seeing.”
While some studies are admittedly outdated, there are organizations currently exploring the effects of CBD and how it can help athletes. Johns Hopkins recently commissioned a study to track how CBD helps athletes in treating injuries and recovery rates.
Project CBD, a California-based non-profit, is dedicated to promoting cannabis-based research that espouses the medical benefits of CBD, including as a viable therapy alternative to treat people who suffer from traumatic brain injuries.
Scientists are also currently working on a pill that would treat the effects of traumatic brain injuries (the study is currently in phase 2). There are many organizations at work trying to find alternative, safe solutions for athletes who incur long-lasting injuries.
It’s important to note that while athletic associations allow the use of CBD, it is still illegal to use THC. If you want to start using CBD, make sure you do your research, as some companies may cut corners.