• AP Brown

CBD – Pain Management Miracle or Just the Latest Hype?

CBD is the shorthand acronym for cannabidiol, one of the more than 100 cannabinoids found in cannabis sativa, or marijuana. CBD products, which include everything from tinctures and topical salves to flavored drinks and powders, claim to boost the body’s natural endocannabinoid system, which has been linked to running-induced mood boosts. This euphoria is thought to arise from stimulation of the same brain receptors that tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in marijuana affects, albeit without the THC high.

While there are many positive theoretical effects of CBD, including anxiety, insomnia, inflammation and nausea, a recent survey found that more than 60 percent of athletes use CBD to manage pain. This widespread adoption is largely the result of anecdotal reports from other athletes rather than scientific studies, which have only recently begun due to the prior illegality of all hemp products. The acceptance of CBD is also the result of the perception that it’s a natural alternative to over-the-counter pharmaceutical and prescription pain medications.

My personal experience with CBD offers a somewhat mixed endorsement. Like many other runners, I was intrigued by the hope of less pain without relying upon OTC drugs like ibuprofen and naproxen. This was especially important given my more advanced age and attendant slower recovery times. I also found some limited relief from my developing arthritis.

I began taking CBD daily about two months ago. Not discounting the wishful placebo effect, I soon felt that I was sleeping more soundly and waking more refreshed. The minor aches and pains that had typically accompanied my early morning runs seemed less pronounced, and I haven’t experienced any new injuries. CBD enthusiasts attribute this to lowered systemic inflammation. Whatever the cause, I have decided to keep taking CBD daily. My dosing regimen includes a few drops of oral CBD tincture each morning and evening, along with post-run massage of my ankles, calves, and thighs with CBD salve.

Fortunately, I haven’t experienced any new injuries in these past months, so my endorsement is contingent upon my relatively good fortune. Most users report that their success with CBD has been treating minor long-term trouble spots rather than acute injuries. This approach is also consistent with professional medical advice.

Having decided to adopt CBD as part of my regular routine, my first decisions involved which products to use and the best dosages for my metabolism. The first bit of advice I took was to look for “full-spectrum” CBD products. These contain additional hemp plant compounds that combine to offer greater benefits and may include trace amounts of THC. The only drawback is if you’re subject to workplace drug testing. In that case, a CBD isolate without the other compounds may be a better choice.

Without endorsing any particular CBD brand, high quality products will list their ingredients on the label, and many certify their purity and claimed strength via third-party testing. Test results may also be found on the product’s website. Products that meet these purity and certification criteria tend to be more expensive, while cheaper products are more likely to contain fillers. Tinctures typically range from 100 to 1,000 milligrams of CBD, and similar strengths are found in topical creams and salves. I would suggest trying different strength products over a period of 3-5 days to judge their effectiveness and avoid adverse effects.

CBD may not be for everyone, and my endorsement is conditional upon my own experience. CBD is also not a cure. While it may act as a pain reliever, healing from an injury may still require taking time off from running and serious injuries necessitate a visit to the doctor. The promise of CBD is that it can replace the regular need for OTC painkillers that put you at risk for kidney disease, and it may reduce reliance on prescription-strength painkillers. It has definitely helped my arthritis pain.

CBD may not be a miracle pain reliever, but it has helped me safely continue my exercise with a reduced level of pain. But don’t take my word. Do your research, select a CBD product or products that best match your personal needs, and judge for yourself. Stay safe and stay healthy!

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