How Pro Athletes Use CBD

How Professional Athletes are Using CBD

From former NFL players like Lofa Tatupu and Tiki Barber to golfer Bubba Watson and boxer Mike Tyson — CBD is gaining immense popularity among famous athletes.

The upsurge in visibility makes perfect sense. Elite athletes must keep their minds and bodies in peak form to compete at the highest levels. Before, during and after they compete, players must deal with immense physical and mental stress and pressure.

CBD — which has been celebrated for its ability to tackle the toughest, hardest-to-treat pain and for improving general well-being by lowering anxiety, promoting sleep and more — is quickly gaining lots of fans in the pro sports world.

Unstoppable is uniquely positioned to understand the powerful potential of CBD to help athletes who are dealing with tough-to-manage mental or physical pain. In this article, we’ll explore some of the less-obvious use cases for CBD among athletes, and we’ll explain how Unstoppable is acting as a sort of bridge between the pro athlete community and the CBD wellness world.

CBD And Professional Sports Associations: An Evolving Stance

First, let’s discuss the shifting regulatory environment for CBD use among athletes. As you can well imagine, pro players are bound by incredibly specific rules (and random drug tests to match) in an effort to prevent any one athlete from gaining an unfair edge over the competition.

The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) have recently removed CBD from their banned substances lists, provided the CBD product used contains no significant amount of THC.

In late 2019, Major League Baseball (MLB) became the first major American sports league to remove marijuana from its “Drugs of Abuse” substances list. This move puts marijuana on par with alcohol and violence in the eyes of the MLB — the league will still test for it, but if players are found to have used marijuana, they won’t necessarily be punished for using it, unless they engage in inappropriate conduct or behavior as a result.

Many analysts see the MLB’s move as an indicator of a mindset shift that could see other high-profile sports leagues adopting a similar — or even more forgiving — stance.

In the incredibly high-stress and lucrative world of professional football, the ongoing battle over CBD is heated. While the NFL has a strict ban on marijuana usage, the league has yet to create a special dispensation allowing the usage of CBD, even though many CBD products do not contain THC, the psychoactive compound in marijuana.

According to the NFL’s CBA (collective bargaining agreement), any athlete who tests positive for marijuana is immediately placed into a substance abuse program. Upon the second infraction, the athlete will be suspended for two games, and after five incidents of testing positive for marijuana, the player will be booted from the league permanently.

NFL players and owners have gone on record expressing their dissatisfaction with this policy. Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was among the latest high-profile NFL figures to enter his prediction that the NFL will change its stance on CBD.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers player Rob Gronkowski, New Orleans Saints player Michael Mauti and many others have gone on record voicing their support for CBD and offering their firsthand endorsements of its unique ability to help football players combat the physical and mental rigors of an extremely demanding game.

How CBD Might Help Combat PTSD

Recently, there has been a slew of peer-reviewed scientific studies showing a promising link between CBD and improving post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) outcomes.

The key to this connection is the action of CBD on the endocannabinoid system.[1] Since PTSD can develop after a person has endured a particularly stressful chronic or acute event, the aftershocks can include intrusive thoughts and memories, trouble sleeping and difficulty functioning in everyday life.

CBD can help here, as it may improve the way that the endocannabinoid system regulates memory formation and recall. Cannabinoids like CBD can activate CB1 and CB2 receptors in the endocannabinoid system, which can promote feelings of happiness, pleasure and positive memories.

Other studies have uncovered even more promising specifics. A 2019 study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine involved the oral administration of CBD supplements to adult patients in an outpatient psychiatry clinic. Each of the adults had reported signs and symptoms of PTSD. The study lasted six weeks, and each subject received routine psychiatric care, including concurrent treatment with psychiatric medications and psychotherapy.

Among the test subjects: 91% experienced a decrease in PTSD symptom severity ... after eight consecutive weeks of treatment with CBD. CBD was generally well tolerated, and no patients discontinued treatment due to side effects.[2]

How CBD Might Help Combat The Effects of CTE

Traumatic brain injury, or TBI, is a troubling concern among present and former NFL players. The neurodegenerative disease CTE, or chronic traumatic encephalopathy, has gained particular attention. Alarmingly, a 2017 study by The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) scanned the brains of 111 deceased former NFL players and found that 110 of those brains showed evidence of CTE.

Experts and officials have tried everything from improved helmets to altered rules of play, in an effort to minimize the incidence of CTE. But the fact remains that football, by its very nature, involves moments of high-speed impact and physical contact.

CBD has been shown to be a powerful and effective treatment for some of the side effects of CTE, including headache, nausea, insomnia, dizziness, agitation, substance abuse and psychotic symptoms.[3]

More importantly, on the neurotransmitter level, cannabinoids have been shown to help counteract glutamate excitotoxicity, the harmful mechanism that leads to neuronal demise after TBI.[4]

It seems that CBD’s neuroprotective effects might be the key to both helping prevent and treating brain damage and the lasting impacts of head injuries. This is an extremely relevant and exciting development for athletes in a wide range of contact sports.

As mentioned above, famous faces from the NFL are getting involved in the CBD industry in a big way — from speaking up about its powers, to investing in existing brands, all the way to founding CBD wellness companies themselves in hopes of finding better natural solutions for veterans of the gridiron and veterans of our armed forces alike.

CBD And Athletes: A Winning Team

As with many things in the CBD industry, there’s a bit of a “wait and see” approach as the body of scientific evidence, the number of powerful personal anecdotes and the chorus of high-profile endorsements grows.

Amateur and professional athletes in a wide variety of sports have discovered the power of CBD to help address tough-to-treat issues. Their widespread enthusiasm and testimonials have only been dampened by the slow-to-evolve regulatory landscape in which historically cautious professional sporting associations have been reluctant to extend their full blessing to CBD.

Over time, more and more players will incorporate CBD products into their wellness regimens. By the same token, players’ associations will eventually lift their anachronistic bans on CBD usage.

Through all of the changes, Unstoppable will remain staunchly committed and proud to fulfill its mission of providing high-quality, evidence-based premium CBD wellness products that are perfect not only for athletes — but for anyone at all.


[2]Same as above



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