**An extract of Daniel Rojas-Valverde’s article is available at https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fphys.2021.722550/full#:~:text=Cannabidiol%20seems%20to%20have%20anti,sport%2Drelated%20populations%20is%20necessary. **
This article has the intention to clarify the benefits and how much research has been done around CBD and its relation to Sports recovery.
The use of cannabidiol (CBD) among athletes is becoming extensive and frequent and it is not different in the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu world. This has fueled a race to study their properties, benefits, and risks for health and performance in athletes. Although there is evidence that suggests some beneficial properties such as anxiolytics, antidepressants, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidants among others, the evidence presented so far is neither clear nor conclusive. This mini-review examines evidence suggesting that CBD has the potential to be used as a part of the strategies to recover from fatigue and muscle damage related to physical and cognitive exertion in sports.
Recovery has become a crucial topic in recent sports research and could determine physical, physiological, and cognitive performance. Commonly, central and peripheral fatigue related to physical exercise manifests itself as pain, weakness, inflammation, loss of functional mobility, decreased force generation, feeling of tiredness, alteration of vital signs, and reduced concentration, among others.
Recently, the World Anti-Doping Agency has removed some products from their list of prohibited substances for athletes. This is the case of cannabidiol (CBD). Unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD does not cause psychotomimetic and psychotropic reactions.
CBD use is not only extensive among athletes, but it has been shown to have specific properties that help to treat chronic pain, spasticity, mood and sleep disorders, immunodepression, inflammation, oxidant effects, and anxiety in clinical patients. These effects could improve and accelerate recovery caused by a prolog or intense physical, physiological, and cognitive efforts as in sports.
Prevalence in the Use of CBD Among Athletes
Cannabinoids are considered the second most commonly used substance among contact sports athletes. Especially in contact sports like rugby, the use rate of CBD is 28%, increasing with age, and reporting pain relief and sleep quality improvements as perceived benefits.
Athletes require more information and advice, as product labels can be misleading about whether they contain THC, meaning there are risks in terms of violating anti-doping rules.
Physiological Mechanism Framing CBD
The effects of CBD on physiological and cognitive functions are mediated by the endocannabinoid system, which has regulatory functions to maintain homeostasis. During exercise, the cannabinoid system mediates some central and peripheral effects of exercise as bliss, peacefulness, and euphoria.
Inflammation and Proliferation
Inflammation and oxidative stress underlie many human chronic and acute health conditions and pathologies. In this sense, and considering that exercise-related damage and fatigue mediate inflammation, proliferation, and oxidative stress in most cases, it is hypothesized that CBD-related inhibitions in oxidative stress and neuroinflammation could have some therapeutic potential in sports research. This statement is based on evidence suggesting that CBD could induce changes in cortisol release, regulating inflammatory response to injury.
Also, CBD intake seems to mediate processes associated with gastrointestinal damage protection, due to inflammation, and promote healing of skeletal injuries.
Pain and Soreness
Cannabidiol has been commonly used for its analgesic properties in a variety of pain disorders. The idea of considering CBD as an antinociceptive agent is based on the efficiency of treating the pain associated with proinflammatory cytokine release due to the activation of Vanilloid receptors, provoking antinociceptive effects and reducing the perception of pain.
CBD has shown its potential to treat and manage pain in diseases and pain disorders, and based on this evidence CBD seems to have a potential effect on treating swelling and preventing soreness after strenuous exercise, but more evidence is required to make a clear statement.
Cognition and Mood
Evidence has shown that acute and single administration of CBD could have anxiolytic and antidepressive effects through the activation of 5-HT1A receptors. More in-depth analysis is needed in the population of athletes to reach a conclusive statement.
Future Research and Limitations
The potential benefits, efficacy, and purported safety profile when consuming CBD prior to, during, and after training or competition should be explored. Future research in the field of sports science and medicine must focus on understanding the role of CBD in physiological mechanisms such as inflammatory cascade, neuroprotection, analgesic and anxiolytic pathways, muscle enhancement, and neuromechanical function.
Other potential research areas are, but are not limited to, optimal dosing depending on physical and physiological load; effectiveness regarding administration timing; chronic and acute effects; cumulative responses with other recovery strategies; differences in tolerance and effectiveness by sex, professional level, and fitness level; and other individual conditions and situational factors.
This narrative review must be analyzed in light of some limitations. Though the main evidence about the use of CBD in sports was reviewed, this systematic review lacks explicit criteria for article selection and inclusion.
Cannabidiol seems to have anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective, analgesic, anxiolytic, and pain-relieving properties which can be potential mediators of recovery in athletes during regular training and competition. To confirm these effects, more scientific evidence in specific sport-related populations is necessary.
Since training and competition leads to a structural and functional imbalance due to strenuous effort, CBD intake could potentially promote restoration of physical performance. Much evidence is needed to support this conclusion, but the proposed evidence looks promising.
Greater scientific progress is needed, mostly on the execution of experimental trials, allowing a greater understanding of both critical positive and negative outcomes for the final benefit of the athletes in exercise-related recovery and performance.
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