A love-hate relationship exists between many extreme athletes and their sport of choice.
We’ll focus on the “love” part first. Your sport gives you life, and not just any type of life, but the exciting, exhilarating, life-to-the-fullest type. It keeps you fit, in every way; its benefits shine into virtually every part of your being and everything you do.
But maybe this is a little idealistic. After all, there are plenty of things to hate about extreme sports, too. Obviously they can take a tremendous toll on the body, both physically and mentally.
This toll reflects itself as stress, maybe surfacing as a nagging injury or newfound nervousness. Regardless, there are certain symptoms associated with extreme-sports overdose — and they aren’t pretty.
Often the first hint that you might be overdoing it is chronic stress. Wait…wasn’t stress the very thing you hoped to escape when you started exercising in the first place?
Probably so…and it probably worked, at least at first.
If you’ve lost the transcendent freedom which should be characterizing your sports life, don’t worry. CBD might be able to help you get that stress-free feeling back.
Because it’s anti-stress in nature. We don’t mean to sound cryptic; in fact, we’ll be taking a look at the scientific basis for all these concepts soon. For now, just know that CBD is a plant compound that may position your body to better heal itself — and perform better in your sport of choice.
What is CBD?
CBD is a natural compound found in the hemp and cannabis plants. Short for cannabidiol, it’s one of over a hundred similar molecules called cannabinoids present within this plant species.
These cannabinoids including THC, CBG, CBN, and, of course, CBD. Cannabidiol distinguishes itself from other cannabinoids for two reasons: it’s non-psychotropic, and it’s the most prevalent cannabinoid in hemp.
CBD: Health Without The High
Addressing psychoactivity first: while exotic-sounding, this term simply refers to the fact that CBD alone won’t get one high. In fact, it confers virtually all the health benefits of other cannabinoids, without any accompanying high. That means CBD is safe — beneficial, even — to take while driving or while at work or school. It’s equally safe for adults and kids alike. Even pets can (and do) take CBD!
Contrary to popular opinion, however, CBD is psychoactive. On a literal level, that just means it is active within the mind. How so? It binds to receptor systems that gently engage various aspects of mental function, leading to all sorts of health benefits (to be touched on later). Yet CBD doesn’t cause forgetfulness, intense euphoria, intoxication, or any of the other symptoms associated with high-THC ‘marijuana’.
With CBD, one can have their metaphorical cake and eat it too!
CBD in Nature
The second reason to love CBD? Nature does — or at least it really appears to. CBD’s presence within hemp exceeds that of its other active ingredients by a factor of 100 or more. A premium-grown, carefully cultivated hemp plant may contain up to 25% CBD by dry weight, and only trace amounts of other cannabinoids.
Perhaps this is by design. Studies show that CBD impacts an amazing number and variety of the body’s signaling systems, notably the endocannabinoid system. Its unique molecular structure is to thank for that.
But we’ll spare you of most of the biochemistry…and instead just say that CBD seems to be the perfect match for our physiology.
The plant compound has demonstrated anti-inflammatory , antioxidant , antibacterial , antiemetic , anti-proliferant , anticonvulsant , anxiolytic , and anti-stress properties . It may also boost internal antioxidant levels and reduces chronic inflammation.
Perhaps most importantly, CBD activates the endocannabinoid system, which you’ll soon learn operates ‘upstream’ of better-known systems like the one that controls endorphins or the CNS.
CBD For the Extreme Athlete
While CBD is being adopted by the mainstream at unprecedented rates, it’s not limited to pain management and inflammation treatment. No, the compound’s potential goes far beyond just that!
If CBD can reduce symptomatology by increasing one’s vitality and inner strength; in a healthy person, this same effect could prove very helpful to sports performance.
Just look at some of the health benefits above; and imagine — what might reduced inflammation mean for your sports performance? How about possible reduced anxiety and more focus — would that help you during your next competition?
The theoretical evidence is compelling, and now, an increasing number of adrenaline athletes are bridging the gap from theory to practice. It’s true: current and former NFL players, MMA fighters, and even iconoclastic skateboarder Tony Hawk are finding out just how well CBD works for themselves.
The Danger of Extreme Sports
Contrast these positives with what the research says about the action sports experience, and the picture is stark. According to a study titled Injuries in Extreme Sports, such activities call for “the athlete competing against oneself or the forces of nature.”
Sounds good so far, right? Yet they also involve “high speed, height, real or perceived danger, a high level of physical exertion, spectacular stunts, and heightened risk element or death.”
A study that surveyed 11 years of both Winter and Summer X-Games reported a grand total of 4 million injuries were reported between 2000 and 2011, over ten percent of which were serious head and neck injuries.
Skateboarding was statistically shown to be the most dangerous sport, while snowboarding accounted for most concussions. Another piece of bad news: injury rates over this decade-long span seem to be rising in an almost uncannily linear fashion.
Of course, most extreme athletes don’t make it quite as far as the X-Games. That doesn’t mean their sporting activity is any less dangerous, though. Injuries are especially high in two groups of extreme athletes: beginners, and boundary-pushing extremists. (Mei-Dan O, Carmont MR. Management of The Extreme Sports Athlete)
Sports-related injuries tend to damage the metaphorical weakest links of the human body. With downhill skiing, for example, 48% of injuries stem back to sprains and strains, almost 20% to fractures, and 4.4% to concussions. 33% of injuries occur in the knee joints alone. In total, over 70% of all injuries happen because of the weaknesses inherent to human joints. (Langran M, Alpine Skiing and Snowboarding Injuries)
The only area where truly sufficient research hasn’t been done? It’s a specific one: research into CBD use…specifically to counteract the downsides of extreme athletics.
Yet even this newfound area of scientific research is catching up to others, thanks in large part to the huge amount of public interest in CBD. Recent studies have theorized that CBD may help athletes in several ways, promoting pain relief, focus, and recovery.
In short, CBD could help athletes as they progress throughout the cycles of training, competing, and recovering. Let’s take a closer look at CBD’s use in theory, in practice, and in everything else in between — for athletes who are currently on the journey to optimal.
Stage 1: Training
Stage one of the action-sports journey is training. That’s where all future sports success or failure starts, after all. Yet training itself is a multistage process. First comes stress (that involves you, training hard), then recovery, then adaptation. Once rested, it’s time for more exercise-induced stress again!
In this cyclical pattern, training sessions slowly become more and more intense over time. Many athletes also follow a periodized training plan, meaning their sessions become progressively race like, too.
Training Stress | CBD may play a subtle but important role in every part of the training process. As an adaptogenic plant compound, it’s known to help one deal with stress. During stressful training sessions, it may boost beta-oxidation (aka fat burning), sparing the body’s limited glycogen stores and reducing lactic acid.
CBD may also make focusing during workouts easier. The fat-burning qualities mentioned above may be responsible for some of that effect, seeing as fatty acids like ketones are one of the brain’s preferred fuel sources.
Recovery from Training | While we’re fans of taking CBD intra-workout (especially for all the ultra-endurance athletes out there!), it’s after one’s workout that CBD really shines.
More specifically, studies have found that CBD has anti-inflammatory properties, and it functions as an immunosuppressant, qualities that athletes look for in any post workout.
Perhaps even more significantly, CBD intake has been shown to quickly and powerfully lower cortisol.
Adaptation to Training | After training stress subsides, after inflammatory markers are back to baseline, after you feel well-rested again…your body’s still working to improve. This is part three of the training process, and though it might not feel like it, it’s just as important as the other two!
It’s in this stage (pioneering researcher Hans Selye called it the resistance stage) that your body rebounds to become stronger than it was before your last session even started. It’s a beautiful process, one which should have you refreshed and ready to train again!
Muscle growth can happen during this stage, too. That’s especially true if muscles have been subjected to unusually high levels of force or fatigue.
But sometimes this growth process doesn’t build on itself quite so smoothly. It’s not uncommon for the extreme athlete to encounter biomechanical weak spots en route to getting stronger.
Eventually, these weak spots often result in overuse injuries. Achilles tendonitis, arthritis, stress fractures..the list goes on. Yet even injured athletes can’t stop training entirely, lest they risk losing the adaptations they worked so hard for in the first place!
Thankfully, CBD’s utility as a natural painkiller and anti-inflammatory also applies to this critical post-injury period. Given the vast numbers of athletes getting hooked on NSAIDs or opioids, this knowledge couldn’t have come at a better time. Injured athletes can be advised to ramp up their daily CBD dosage, perhaps even past the 1 mg/kg/day rate. A 175-pound individual, for example, might take over 80 milligrams of CBD per day.
Stage 2: Event Preparation
The pre-event period is a tenuous time. It’s not unusual for even the best (and best-prepared) athletes to feel nervous or uncertain of themselves prior to competition. Stress and anxiety are common. Athletes may spend hours or even days thinking about their impending event, in the process wasting valuable physical and mental energy.
This study found that many athletes produce greater amounts of the stress hormone cortisol prior to their event of choice. Just imagine what the extreme sports athlete might be subjected to!
Ensuring that training stress is under control is important during this timeframe, too. You wouldn’t want to be under-rested prior to a competition — but obviously being over-rested isn’t good either. Getting to race day both fully fit and fully rested requires walking a fine line.
From a scientific perspective, reaching this state of supercompensation takes near-perfect timing and a near-bulletproof immune system. In other words, arriving at your competition in top shape isn’t easy…not even for the world’s best athletes.
In more practical terms, supercompensation requires that an athlete be fully in tune with themselves, that they “know their bodies”. Might CBD help with this almost-metaphysical connection between body and mind?
It’s definitely possible. That’s because there is a physiological system that bridges the gap between physical performance and mental awareness. It’s called the endocannabinoid system — the very same endocannabinoid system that CBD is able to skillfully communicate with and engage.
“With its complex actions in our immune system, nervous system, and virtually all of the body’s organs, the endocannabinoids are literally a bridge between body and mind. “
– Getting High on the Endocannabinoid System, Bradley Alger
Overtraining isn’t the only potential downside of pre-comp life. Many athletes have trouble sleeping too. Once again, it’s a joint mental-physical problem…and once again, one that cannabinoids like CBD may be able to help.
But CBD doesn’t work like conventional sleep aids. Instead of harshly manipulating one or two hormones (and causing all sorts of side effects in the process), it tends to gently promote wakefulness during the day and sleepiness at night. As this study says, CBD “may hold promise” for both “REM sleep behavior disorder and excessive daytime sleepiness.”
Considering that many sleep aids aren’t so versatile and can actually decrease athletic performance, CBD looks to be an ideal choice.
And experiential evidence confirms it. According to a recent facebook group questionnaire, 87% of respondents said CBD helped them sleep better. As far as product efficacy goes, that high of a success rate is pretty incredible.
Even normally-reserved MD’s have a promising report. As Dr. Joshep Maroon told Consumer Reports, CBD may not be an outright treatment for insomnia, but it is an “alternative natural method to help calm anxious thoughts that often delay or interrupt natural sleep.”
For obvious reasons, the athlete who sleeps better will also compete better. Why not let that athlete be you?
According to neuroscientist Matthew Walker, “Sleep is probably the greatest legal enhancing performance drug that few athletes are abusing enough.”
Tennis champ Roger Federer agrees. “If I don’t sleep 11 or 12 hours per day, it’s not right.” Another athlete who reportedly sleeps 12 hours a night? None other than NBA-dominating Lebron James.
Both the quantity and rhythm of sleep are important. Regarding ideal rhythm, scientists now know that the brain and the peripheral body have their own body clocks, and the synchronization of these two clocks goes a long way towards health and athletic performance. For athletes who frequently travel or compete late at night, ensuring synchronization is especially important.
And what better way to do that than to routinely take photo-entraining substances like CBD?
Stage 3: Competition or Activity
CBD might be able to help you emulate elite athletes like Federer and James in another way, too… one that might be a little unexpected.
While it’s true that many athletes are stressed prior to competing, world-class athletes are different. That’s according to the study we linked to in the Stage 2 section above, at least. Here’s an excerpt:
“Where both regional (…) and national level competitors (…) showed a significant increase in cortisol, this was absent in the international level competitors.”
We’ll translate that into more relatable terms: normal competitive athletes let the stress of competition get to them, to the point of this stress being detectable on the biochemical level. World-class athletes, however, did not. Why not? Likely because their training made them confident, and their confidence put them in full control of the rest of their emotions.
So while CBD may not give you the strength, skill, or proprioception of the world’s best, it might just bring you to their level in a more emotional area: the realm of your mindset.
All that said, extreme athletes who are ready to channel their nervous energy into a more productive area should consider some pre-competition CBD! The compound’s already been proven to reduce anxiety in other socially-stimulated areas. In fact, it may even help reduce one’s intrinsic awareness of their own anxiety.
Stage 4: Post Competition
The most difficult recovery process of all happens after a competition. Just ask any extreme athlete, and they’ll tell you that competition is when they push themselves the farthest, subject themselves to the most risk, and ‘spend’ the most mental energy.
When your actual competition ends, your body begins a competition of its own.
We’re talking about recovery, of course. Between repairing damaged muscle fibers, buffering lactic acid, quieting inflammation, and quenching oxidative molecules, your body will probably have its hands full!
It’s common for athletes to enter into a rollercoaster of volatile emotions after a competition, too. Particularly if their performance reflected any extreme — either good or bad. As powerlifter Brian Carroll says: “Chances are, no matter how well your competition plays out, there is typically a lull or time period (…) spent reflecting, regretting, accessing and then sometimes beating yourself up…”
If these emotional lows describe you, don’t feel bad! According to Carroll and his decades of experience, “This is totally normal.”
Some elite athletes even become clinically depressed. The competition is over, the goal has been attained…what else is there to live for? In such a vulnerable state, it’s easy to revert back to damaging behaviors like unhealthy eating or binge drinking. Or, even worse: opioid abuse.
The stats regarding athletes and opioids are staggering. Elite athletes , teenage athletes , and college athletes  are all at risk of opioid abuse. Extreme athletes are susceptible, too, as is practically any athlete with aches, pains, or injuries .
Making matters more confusing, it’s known by adrenaline-athletes and scientists alike that extreme sports themselves can be addicting.
It’s easy to imagine an injured athlete, in pain, craving their sport of choice…and giving in to a much more harmful type of addictive substance, one that solves both these problems. In the short term, at least — because long-term opioid use doesn’t paint a pretty picture. According to this practitioner’s guide, dangers include “adverse events in several organ systems (…) constipation, sleep-disordered breathing, fractures, [HPA] dysregulation…”
And overdose, of course.
Yet there’s still hope. Amazingly enough, initial research indicates that CBD is anti-addictive in nature. The plant compound has been shown in rodent studies to quickly reverse negative feedback loops associated with addiction. The study linked above found that only 7 days of CBD intake was enough to revert joint cocaine & alcohol addiction…and produce 3+ months of lasting change. In other words, the neurological benefits of cannabinoids may stick around long after the cannabinoids themselves are gone.
Rodents also experienced less anxiety and less “drug-seeking behavior” en route to getting clean. Making matters more impressive, the rodent study in question used transdermal CBD, which isn’t even absorbed as fully as with some other delivery methods, to obtain these findings!
CBD seems to reduce addiction by literally rewiring the brain, quieting down addictive neural pathways and fostering the regeneration of balanced ones. Though some might call it miraculous, scientists call it neuroplasticity. Another study put it differently:
“A further function of ECS-mediated synaptic plasticity may be to facilitate emotional learning and memory processes, which promote increased emotional response to substance-related cues”
In other words, ECS activation may reduce the emotional aspect of addiction… and help redirect said emotions to better places.
Of course, all the anti-addictive properties in the world won’t suffice if CBD wasn’t capable of addressing the reason athletes take opioids in the first place. While we’ve already touched on CBD’s painkilling properties, their interaction with drug abuse warrants a closer look.
CBD: Targeting Pain On A Molecular Level
When CBD boosts the Endocannabinoid System, a whole cascade of positive things begin to happen. Extra help from endocannabinoids like 2-AG gets sent to inflamed areas, where they’re able to reduce inflammation back down to appropriate levels. The body might even begin making more anti-inflammatory endocannabinoids and less inflammatory prostaglandins — they do share the same precursor, or building block, after all.
Taken consistently over time, CBD has an amazing effect on inflammation levels in every part of the body and brain. One study put it this way: “Cannabinoids suppress inflammatory response and subsequently attenuate disease symptoms. This property of cannabinoids is mediated through multiple pathways(…).”
Cannabidiol is also a broad-spectrum neuroprotectant, something even the US government acknowledges. Its researchers stated that “cannabinoids have been found to have antioxidant properties…useful in the treatment and prophylaxis of wide variety of oxidation associated diseases(…).” when they applied for a research patent on the subject in 1999.
While it was once viewed as just another painkilling analgesic, researchers have learned that CBD is much more than that. As Dr. Russo explains in Cannabinoids in the management of difficult to treat pain:
“Cannabinoids may offer significant ‘side benefits’ beyond analgesia. These include antiemetic effect…the ability of THC and CBD to produce apoptosis in malignant cells (…) as well as the neuroprotective antioxidant properties of the two substances.”
Dr. Russo further explains that “the degree to which cannabinoid analgesics will be adopted into adjunctive pain management practices currently remains to be determined” even though patients were “indicating in some degree an acceptance of, and a desire to continue such treatment.”
Though more human research is yet to be done, real-world experience seems to back these early findings up. Dr. Dustin Sulak, a naturopath from Maine, has had huge success easing his patients off opioids… and onto cannabinoids. In a great article with Project CBD he questioned whether opioids even work at all:
“We’re prescribing so many opioids and consuming so many opioids – but to what extent do these pharmaceuticals actually help with chronic pain? A 2015 review from the Annals of Internal Medicine summarized [that] ‘Evidence is insufficient’…”
Keep in mind that the process of getting off opioids is a slow one — even when using premium CBD. It’s often best to find your own personalized CBD dose before making any changes to opioid intake.
There will likely be a long period of time when you’re taking CBD and opioids every day. That’s not a bad thing, though; a 2011 study found that combining cannabis with opioids produces synergistic effects. Patients in that study described a 27% greater reduction in pain when cannabis use was added in.
Opioid dependence can be reduced as time goes on if CBD is taken consistently. This is where the plant compound really shines: its impact on chronic pain is so impressive, a growing number of Doctors now prefer that their patients use CBD instead of opioids.
CBD vs. Opioids: A Battle to Benefit The Masses
CBD’s potential shines through in other areas, too. States with legalized cannabis, like Colorado, have tangibly lower levels of opioid use and abuse.
A population-based study in the Journal of American Medicine (JAMA) found that “medical cannabis laws are associated with significant reductions in opioid prescribing.” Morphine use went down by 20%, and hydrocodone use by 17%. All told, nearly 1.8 million fewer daily doses were filled over the five years this population sample was observed!
Regulations in places like New York and Illinois are just starting to reflect the anti-addictive nature of cannabinoids — in those States, it’s now permissible for MD’s to encourage their patients to try medical cannabis instead of opioids.
There’s every reason to think the same benefits could be obtained solely from CBD. After all, CBD hits the same CB2 receptors that THC does…without any unwanted side effects, of course. As CBD expert Leonard Leinow has stated, CBD confers health without the high.
And that’s exactly what we at AkäVie have experienced. The plant compound gave us the relief from anxiety and pain we’d been looking for — and we would know. The opioid epidemic has personally touched all of our lives, but CBD helped us break out of its clutches. We’re so confident in cannabidiol, in fact, that all of our CBD oils are 100% THC-free.
Overall, CBD may help both body and mind break free from addiction and strengthen themselves in the face of these post-competition challenges. Thousands of users report feeling more hope and a new, higher cause for living — even chronic pain patients. If it can help renew their mindsets, it could definitely aid you!
As if the challenges associated with normal recovery weren’t, well, challenging enough, the post-competitive period may find athletes trying to recover from new injuries.
It’s probably no surprise that many athletes come out of the tunnel vision of competitive events with unexpected injuries. The release of extra adrenaline makes it easy to push oneself past former limits and ignore injuries — at first. But within minutes or hours of an event’s end comes the moment when pain begins to slowly, insidiously creep in.
Injuries like the HNI’s (head and neck injuries) we mentioned earlier can take a particularly heavy toll. As the X-Games study said, “understanding the incidence of HNI will assist in implementing effective medical prevention programs and proper safety equipment practices.”
CBD could speed the healing process associated with many types of injuries, notably by its roles as an anti-inflammatory agent. Even those with head trauma may benefit; this study demonstrated CBD’s value as a neuroprotectant.
PhD-level neurophysiologist Joshua Kaplan was recently asked what he thought about CBD by online mag Gear Patrol. It seems he’s hopeful, too, and postulates that the anti-inflammatory properties of CBD could help reduce traumatic brain injuries and accompanying brain damage, “the kind that you’ve read about in NFL players.”
A 2018 study published in the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine hinted at something similar, suggesting that “harnessing this system [the endocannabinoid system] has analgesic potential.”
In light of the many health benefits of cannabinoids, “there has also been considerable demand from elite athletes for reconsideration of cannabis for its role as an analgesic and also for its role in reducing symptoms associated with traumatic brain injury.”
Could this be why, as the study states, cannabis use is correlated with many high-risk sports?
Definitely — just keep in mind that CBD presents an even better way. Not to mention a way that’s more holistic…and entirely devoid of THC-induced side effects like brain fog and hunger.
** Keep in mind that there’s a method to this near-miraculousness: most of CBD’s benefits are made possible thanks to the human endocannabinoid system. If you’d like to learn more about that, feel free to check out our article (ECS articles) on the subject. Otherwise, just note that the ECS is the source from which most CBD-related benefits flow.
The Action-Sports Athletes Who Use CBD…And What They Say About It
So, what’s the cannabinoid-conscious athlete to do? Ideally, take CBD in as many ways as possible. Given the presence of CBD-sensitive endocannabinoid receptors throughout so many parts of the body, diversity is likely the athlete’s best friend.
The conjunctive use of topicals (for localized pain) and sublingual CBD oils (for general maintenance) is pretty popular, and for good reason. According to a study titled Cannabis and the Health and Performance of the Elite Athlete, topicals are a hugely promising area of research. They “bind only peripheral CB1 receptors and [do not] cross the blood-brain barrier,” which makes them able to provide powerful pain relief without side effects.
Based on the existing research, complimentary CBD use seems only logical. At AkäVie, we’re making this type of product diversity available to extreme athletes of every kind. We even have a CBD-infused energy drink mix.
And extreme athletes who find themselves interested in going down this path should know they’re not alone. A growing number of athletes are flocking to CBD, often promoting the multifaceted approach we’re describing here.
While for some of these athletes CBD use is retroactive — ie, they’re retired now — they’ll be the first to say they wish CBD was around back in their prime! All that said, here’s a shortlist of extreme athletes who’ve put their name behind CBD.
Mike Tyson | Former Professional Boxer | 1985-2005
As of 2019, Mike Tyson has gone vegan, bought a ranch, and founded a multifaceted company called The Ranch Companies (formerly Tyson Holistic). There’s a twist, though: his ranch is actually a cannabis farm.
It appears that Tyson, who many consider the most ruthlessly effective boxer of all time, has indeed poured his innate intensity into helping others. He’s partnered with others who share his mission, including former NL pro Eben Britton, who once had to keep his cannabis use much more underground.
In addition to normal cannabis (his ranch-resort is located in California, after all), Tyson will also be offering plenty of hemp. A CBD-infused pain cream called CopperGel Ice is among the many product offerings. Packed with menthol, camphor, and 100 milligrams of CBD, the cream aptly promises to “knock out the pain”.
Mike Tyson himself has said of CBD, “yeah, I think it’s the miracle oil”… in the future, he hopes to build a cannabis empire. Apparently, investors have caught the vision and are lining up.
Cullen Jenkins | Green Bay Packers Defensive Lineman | 2004-2016
According to Former pro football player Cullen Jenkins, CBD oil has been life changing. Like many new users, he hesitated before picking up that bottle, unsure if the mystery oil would backfire or even get him high. Thankfully, no high materialized…and the rest is history.
It’s more of a mellow, calming, smooth feeling. I felt pretty good.”
The result? Jenkins’s joint health and mental health improved almost in tandem. He used to rely on painkillers to recover from injuries, but now Jenkins has found a better option. Today he uses his personal testimony to advocate for CBD-friendlier policies within the NFL.
Nate Diaz | Professional Mixed Martial Artist | 2007-2019
Nate Diaz has seemingly always been vocal about his cannabis use. But, like Mike Tyson, his tone has changed recently. In 2017, Diaz finally revealed the new cannabinoid he’d been using. Here’s a hint: it wasn’t THC.
According to the MMA pro, “it’s CBD […] It helps with the healing process and inflammation, stuff like that. So you want to get these for before and after the fights, training. It’ll make your life a better place.”
Fast forward to August 14th, 2019, when Diaz smoked a CBD joint at a well-attended UFC open workout. He proceeded to pass the joint around to fans for all to see — including millions of non-attendees on social media.
It was part publicity-stunt, part-advocacy move. Though UFC president Dana White seemed skeptical, even he admits of CBD, “for people who deal with chronic pain, it’s groundbreaking.”
Tony Hawk | Former Professional Skateboard | 1983-2002
Tony Hawk has been the face of skateboarding for decades. During his long career, the iconic pro set an impressive number of firsts, inventing the “ollie-to-Indy, the gymnast plant, the frontside 540-rodeo flip, and the Saran wrap.”
He was also the first skateboarder ever to land the 900 trick, which he did in the 1999 X-Games.
But Hawk’s longevity didn’t end with his ‘official’ retirement. In 2016, Tony Hawk pulled off the 900 once again, this time at 48 years old. Could his transcendence of normal aging be credited to CBD? While it’s probably more so thanks to talent and consistent practice, Tony has definitely come around to CBD today.
That’s right — Tony’s skateboard brand Birdhouse has just joined the CBD movement. In a press release from this April, he mentions being “excited to be a part of this new movement that is becoming more recognized as a healthy alternative to recovering from the aches and pains that we regularly incur in the action sports world.”
Who could have imagined just a few years ago that one of the world’s greatest-ever extreme athletes would support CBD? Probably not many, yet that’s exactly what’s happened.
If anything, the CBD’s industry’s exponential growth is a testament to just how well it works. Not just for the average person, and not just for those whose hobbies include general fitness. No, CBD is at least as valuable for the extreme athlete.
Look for this once-niche movement to continue multiplying as we progress into the future. The CBD market is projected to hit $22 billion annually by 2022. And it wouldn’t surprise us if extreme athletes were responsible for more than just a niche-sized segment of it.
The CBD Timeline
While the future of CBD is bright, cannabidiol has an equally exciting past.
Indeed, the hemp plant from which CBD comes has been used throughout most of recorded history. The ancient Chinese mentioned it in their pharmacopeia; the Hebrews made use of hemp in their holy anointing oil. Indian cultures make numerous references to hemp and cannabis use in their religious texts, and even some Native American tribes describe obtaining shamanic inspiration from the plant.
Long story short, hemp is as natural and time-tested as it gets — some historians even believe its cultivation goes back to the very beginning of agriculture.
CBD arrived in the Western world in the mid-1800s. At that time a British physician named William B. O’Shaughnessy had just returned from India, where he observed the locals using cannabis for both medicine and recreation. Apparently they’d been faithful enough to keep heeding their religious texts.
So, O’Shaughnessy brought cannabis extracts to Britain’s pharmacies…with nothing but amazing results. Indian hemp, the Doctor concluded, was “an anticonvulsant remedy of the greatest value.”
In the early 60s, a young chemist named Raphael Mechoulam set out to determine hemp’s active ingredients once and for all. In 1963, Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) technology made it possible for Mechoulam and his team to discover CBD.
In 1964 came the discovery of hemp’s other primary cannabinoid, THC. Over the next couple of years, cannabinoid after cannabinoid was discovered. Today’s researchers have found over 110 of them total!
Soon enough, these cannabinoids had a long list of scientific benefits behind them, benefits for those with neuropathic pain, epilepsy, and cancer. Yet no one knew how cannabinoids actually worked. What was it about the human body that was so compatible with these seemingly-normal plant compounds?
In 1990, scientists found their answer: a specialized receptor in the human brain that reacted to THC! It was called CB1, or cannabinoid receptor type-1.
It didn’t take long for a second receptor to be discovered. Aptly titled cannabinoid receptor type-2, CB2 was primarily active in the peripheral body, not in the brain. It was this receptor that held the key to CBD.
Upon close inspection, scientists found that CBD worked in tandem with the body’s naturally produced endocannabinoids to bind to CB2 receptors. The first eCB discovered was called anandamide — meaning the “bliss molecule”.
After anandamide’s discovery, a fuller picture came together. Humans didn’t just have cannabinoid receptors, and said receptors weren’t merely subject to plant cannabinoids. Instead, we had a highly complex, highly functional endocannabinoid system!
The discovery of the endocannabinoid system has serious implications. Seriously good, that is. In 2004 a neurologist named Dr. Ethan Russo proposed that many chronic diseases (particularly “treatment-resistant” ones) might actually be caused by weaknesses in the endocannabinoid system.
In his landmark study, Dr. Russo theorized that “a number of very common diseases seem to fit a pattern that would be consistent with an endocannabinoid deficiency,” including “migraine, irritable bowel syndrome, and fibromyalgia.”
Thankfully, there’s a known way to boost the endocannabinoid system and revert its deficiencies: take CBD! Particularly CBD of the full spectrum variety, which has been shown time and time again to be more effective than other options.
CBD’s Status Quo: More Legal than Ever
CBD is more legal in the United States than ever before. Since the passing of 2018’s Federal Farm Bill, CBD is fully legal — if derived from industrial hemp. A trend that began in senator Mitch McConnel’s native Kentucky has now spread Nationwide, thanks in part to efforts made by the Senate Majority Leader.
But the plant compound still has some legal opponents. Foremost among them is the FDA, which has taken to going after CBD producers who make medical claims or infuse CBD into normal foods. And there are a few States that still hold a hard line against CBD, namely Nebraska and South Dakota.
It’s a complex legal situation that could take years to fully resolve, according to the Washington Post. That said, brands that stick to providing quality products — and factual, quality information — are safe. At AkäVie, we’re intent on far surpassing these regulatory standards.
Since its inception, CBD’s popularity has gone from 60 to 0 and back again. This time around, however, CBD has the momentum of the public behind it — and there’s no slowdown in sight.
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