CBD fitness and sports products: Useful or not?


In case you're wondering if CBD oil can be used for inflamation and breastfeeding, here's a little disclaimer:

CBD oil, unlike medical CBD used in studies, is regulated as a cosmetic in Germany. Since it cannot be sold as a dietary supplement due legal regulations, it should not be swallowed. In other countries such as the UK, however, CBD is already approved as a dietary supplement and can be consumed. To avoid confusion, we explicitly state that our statements refer to CBD in general and not to specific oils or products.

On the legal position of CBD in the Therapeutic Products Advertising Act:

There are numerous studies that provide evidence that CBD has various therapeutic properties and can provide support for many ailments. Since cannabidiol is currently covered by the Therapeutic Products Advertising Act, we are not allowed to make any therapeutic claims at this point. We would also like to point out that our products are not considered as medical preparations.

Many athletes report positive experiences and use CBD fitness and sports products (e.g. CBD oil) to relieve pain and inflammation and to help them sleep better. But does CBD actually have benefits in fitness & sports? Can CBD boost performance, help build muscle, and promote post-workout recovery? These questions will be answered in the following article.

CBD and its effect on the body
Is CBD also for athletes?
What advantages could CBD products have in sports?
Can CBD improve sleep?
CBD hemp extract against muscle soreness?
Does CBD oil have any nutritional value worth mentioning?
CBD in competitive sports
Study: Detectability of cannabinoids
Conclusion: Effect of CBD on Athletes

Just like its bigger brother tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabidiol (CBD) belongs to the phytocannabinoids from the hemp plant. In contrast to THC, however, CBD does not have an intoxicating effect. Numerous studies point to the diverse effects of CBD. Among other things, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic and calming effects are attributed to the cannabinoid. In this respect, CBD has the potential to be useful for athletes as well.

CBD and its effect on the body

After ingesting CBD, it binds to the endocannabinoid system's receptors and unfolds its effects. This endogenous system regulates various biological processes, such as:

  • Sensation of pain
  • Emotions
  • Sleep
  • Inflammatory processes
  • Appetite

The broad spectrum of the effects of cannabidiol (CBD) can be explained by the fact that the endocannabinoid system is part of the nervous system and the cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2 can be detected almost throughout the entire body. Thereby, the CB1 receptors are mainly distributed in the neurons in the brain (cerebellum, hippocampus, and basal ganglia) and in the peripheral nervous system (e.g. intestine). In contrast, the CB2 receptors are mainly located in the cells of the immune system.

CBD also for athletes?

The use of CBD products in sports is becoming more and more popular. Regardless of the sport, athletes are usually assured that cannabidiol (CBD) is a miracle drug that can help build muscles and increase performance. In addition, CBD is supposed to relieve the pain of sore muscles, support regeneration, inhibit inflammation and help with more relaxation. That's why more and more CBD fitness products are now entering the market.

In fact, there are currently no specific studies that have looked at the effects of cannabidiol (CBD) on athletes. It is only assumed that CBD could be useful for athletes due to its anti-inflammatory, anti-anxiety and calming effects. In contrast, there are numerous reports from athletes who report various positive effects.

What benefits could CBD products have during sports?

The body releases the stress hormone cortisol from the adrenal cortex during exercise and sports. In the short term, this is not a bad thing. However, too intense sports and overtraining make the body run at full speed so that even more cortisol is produced to mobilize the power reserves. Now, since muscles don't grow until after training, and that's during recovery, too much cortisol can hinder muscle growth. Interestingly, one study suggests that cannabidiol (CBD) may lower cortisol levels. In this respect, it would be possible for CBD to be used in a supportive manner during regeneration.

At the same time, CBD has anxiety-relieving and calming properties. Accordingly, a CBD product, for example in the form of CBD drops (CBD oil) can contribute to relaxation and inner balance as well as increase well-being.

Can CBD improve sleep?

Regeneration plays an important role not only for competitive athletes. This also applies to "normal" athletes. Of course, the body regenerates best during sleep.

THC-rich cannabis can have a sleep-inducing effect. In CBD products, however, the THC content is very low, because the hemp extract is not obtained from cannabis, but from the hemp plant (commercial hemp). Whether cannabidiol alone can support sleep has hardly been the subject of research.

However, one study indicates that anxiety patients with sleep problems could benefit from cannabidiol. Many users of CBD oils also report that they find it easier to sleep and that the quality of their sleep improves.

CBD hemp extract against muscle soreness?

An exaggerated workout can result in unpleasant muscle soreness. The cause of the typical pain is micro-injuries (tiny tears) in the muscle fibers (muscle fibrils), which are accompanied by inflammatory reactions.

Many studies can prove the effectiveness of cannabis as a medicine for chronic pain. However, THC is responsible for pain relief. CBD, on the other hand, seems to have the properties to help with inflammation-related pain. However, CBD does not act directly against the pain, but only reduces the sensitivity to pain.

Whether CBD actually helps with sore muscles has not been scientifically proven. However, it is quite conceivable that CBD oils can support regeneration. Meanwhile, special CBD products, such as a CBD sports gel or cream, are also available, which usually contain other natural ingredients (e.g. arnica) to promote regeneration after a sore muscle.

Does CBD oil have any nutritional value worth mentioning?

Not all CBD oil is created equal. When the CBD hemp extract is dissolved in hemp oil (hemp seed oil) after extraction, it can have valuable ingredients. For example, hemp oil extracted from the seeds contains important minerals (e.g. potassium, magnesium, calcium) and trace elements (zinc, iron, manganese), as well as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in an optimal ratio. So taking it can have a positive effect on the body.

CBD in competitive sports

In 2018, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) removed cannabidiol from the list of banned substances as a pure substance. All other cannabinoids from the hemp plant remain banned substances.

For competitive athletes, this still means that they need to be careful when choosing a CBD product. Many CBD products, especially full-spectrum extracts, contain not only CBD but also other cannabinoids such as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) - even if only in small amounts. Even a THC-free product (broadspectrum) may still contain traces of THC.

This is problematic because cannabinoids are fat-loving (lipophilic) substances and therefore accumulate in the body and leave it only slowly. The regular intake of CBD products can even prolong the degradation time. Since everybody reacts differently to cannabinoids and breaks them down at different rates, athletes should not take any risks.

Competitive athletes should not take any risks.As an alternative to CBD products such as full-spectrum or broad-spectrum extract, CBD isolate is available to competitive athletes. This is pure, crystalline CBD with a purity level of up to 99 percent depending on the manufacturer.

Study: Detectability of cannabinoids

In a study, the detectability of cannabinoids in urine was investigated. The subjects ingested various over-the-counter CBD products (full-spectrum extracts) according to the manufacturer's recommendations. Subsequently, the urines of the subjects were collected and analyzed 8, 16, and 32 hours after ingestion.

The researchers describe the results as alarming. Even after 32 hours, prohibited cannabinoids were still identifiable in the urine of 80 percent of the test persons.

Conclusion: Effect of CBD on athletes.

CBD (cannabidiol) is not able to increase performance. On the other hand, CBD has the potential to reduce inflammation (e.g. in case of sore muscles or joint problems). Many athletes also take CBD oil drops to reduce pain sensitivity and increase well-being.

However, competitive athletes usually do not use CBD oil, but CBD isolates. This is because both full-spectrum CBD products and CBD broadspectrum products contain other cannabinoids from hemp that are on the World Anti-Doping Agency's banned list.


Is CBD good for fitness?

Currently, there are no studies that can prove that CBD (cannabidiol) from hemp can increase fitness. This is because it does not have any performance-enhancing properties. Many athletes use CBD products in the recovery phase after training, among other things, to relieve pain and inflammation. Still, others use CBD drops to relax and promote well-being.

Which CBD for athletes?

Competitive athletes should choose CBD products carefully. Both a full-spectrum CBD extract and a broad-spectrum extract (THC-free) contain other cannabinoids from the hemp plant. Only CBD as a pure substance has been removed from the banned list by the World Anti-Doping Agency. As an alternative to CBD oil, a CBD isolate can be used here.

Is CBD punishable by law?

Cannabidiol (CBD) from the hemp plant does not have an intoxicating effect and is not considered a narcotic in Switzerland, Germany, and other EU countries - if the CBD products do not exceed a certain THC content. Accordingly, the purchase, possession, and ingestion of CBD are not punishable.

ALPINOLS Author: Alexandra Latour

After ten years of freelance writing for renowned health portals and online magazines, Alexandra Latour took over as deputy editorial director of Leafly Germany, one of the best-known information portals on the topic of medical cannabis, in 2017. After closing the German branch of Leafly, she continued to work as a medical editor and consultant in the cannabis and CBD industry and, as editor-in-chief of an agency, takes over the quality control of high-quality content on the topics of medical cannabis and CBD.