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Professional athletes choosing CBD over opiate prescription painkillers

In 2018 The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) announced the approval of the use of cannabidiol, better known as CBD, in oil, spray, tincture and cream form for all athletes worldwide. This followed the approval of CBD by the World Health organisation who stated ‘that CBD is neither harmful or provides any risk of addiction for those who take it.’ When WADA’s decision came into effect in 2018, CBD was removed from the list of banned substances on its website, making it available and legal for competitive sportspeople and athletes worldwide to use.

So why would athletes want to use CBD?

All athletes put a lot of additional physical stress on their bodies, often leading to pain and inflammation of muscles and joints. It is considered that using CBD may help an overloaded system get back under control and help athletes maintain their physical homeostasis or balance.
More and more professional athletes worldwide are becoming advocates for the wonders of CBD. In often cases it’s sportspeople who have suffered reoccurring injuries over long careers but still need to perform at the top level. In the past team doctors would prescribe opiates for pain management but more recently these have been recognised as dangerously addictive for many. Now the benefits of using CBD for pain management is starting to become more main stream and producing incredible results.

One example is Ryan VandenBussche (46) a now retied NHL Hockey Enforcer. He spoke with Men’s Health and said: “As a 14 year professional athlete that has had a dozen surgeries, many broken bones, and north of 20 concussions, it’s better than the alternative. As athletes, we were given opiates by our team doctors. Looking back after years gone by, I’m surprised I’m still alive.” He continued: ““I believe in all of the healing properties of this plant so much that I went out and purchased a 64-acre farm and submitted an application to Health Canada back in 2013.” 

Some UK athletes singing the praises of CBD are rugby players England player George Kruis and former Wales international, Dom Day. Day is reported as saying: “The reason we use it is because it’s natural and organic and the alternative is prescription medication.” Day has been playing professional rugby for 13 years. For most of that time, he was taking four or five lots of prescription anti-inflammatories and painkillers a week.
“We’re all trying to make a living and the only way to do that is to be putting in a shift for the club, so as players we will do anything to get on the pitch. It’s what you do, take an anti-inflammatory to help you through training, take a painkiller to help you out on the pitch, that’s just how it is. But it’s something we’d like to have an alternative to.” 
These famous sports endorsers have helped to move CBD and the benefits it can bring into the mainstream. Many of these athletes also discuss how CBD boosts their physical and mental health. It is very likely that the new generation of athletes coming through will look to optimise their performance through natural and accessible supplements such as CBD rather than the opiates of the past.

What is “homeostasis” in the body and why does it matter?

Homeostasis refers to the body actively maintaining balance internally. What we know is that if the body is not functioning properly it can lead to health problems of all kinds ranging from mild pain to Alzheimer’s or even cancer. The body’s ability to adjust to changes and maintain ‘homeostasis’ directly affects our state of health. So obviously it is really important for overall wellness.

What is the endocannbinoid system and how does it link with homeostasis?

Although the endocannbinoid system (ECS) is a relatively new concept in medicine compared to many others (it was discovered less than 30 years ago), increasing research is being done around the world by scientists to find out exactly how it works and how important it is. One of the things we do know is that our ECS helps our bodies to maintain the all important ‘homeostasis’, therefore helping us maintain wellness.

In simple terms the ECS is a molecular system in our bodies responsible for balancing many processes in the body such as immune response, communication between cells, appetite and metabolism, memory, and more. 

With a huge amount of research going on around the world now about the ECS – it is believed by many that endocannbinoids also serve a “protective role” in many medical conditions. Diseases and problems like pain, inflammation, multiple sclerosis, anorexia, epilepsy, glaucoma, schizophrenia, cardiovascular disorders, cancer, obesity, metabolic syndrome related diseases, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and Tourette’s syndrome. It is now thought that all of these could possibly be treated in part by CBD related products which directly affect the endocannbinoid system.

Huge growth worldwide in the CBD market

The global cannabis market is gaining momentum thanks to the widespread recognition of the medical and recreational benefits of cannabis and the acceptance of CBD-based products and its approval from bodies like WADA. The CBD market in particular is one of the fastest growing wellbeing products categories in the UK. The cannabis industry analysts The Brightfield Group reported that the hemp-CBD market alone could hit $22 billion by 2022. With the UK CBD market estimated to be worth up to £1 billion by 2025.