We always see fitness guru’s turning to CBD to help with post-workout muscle recovery. But does it really work? If so, how? In this article we will be discussing the science behind CBD, and uncovering the real truth behind this question.
What Is CBD?
Although we extract it from the Cannabis plant, CBD will NOT get you high. THC is what causes psychoactive effects; this is a different compound from the Cannabis plant.
What Is The Endocannabinoid System?
CBD works by interacting with the human endocannabinoid system (ECS). This is a system within the human body that is vital for regulating the nervous system and the brain. It is composed of endocannabinoids and cannabinoid receptors.
Endocannabinoids are a type of molecule created by your body. These help to keep internal functions running properly.
These bind to the cannabinoid receptors which are located throughout the body. When this binding happens, it sends a signal to the brain that the ECS needs to take action. This signal will be different depending on where in the body this binding took place.
For example, if an endocannabinoid binds to a cannabinoid receptor in a spinal nerve, it could send a signal which then relieves pain in the spine.
Experts are still trying to understand the full functionality of the ECS, but what we know so far is that it plays a role in regulating these following functions (and more):
- Pain Sensation
- Immune System Activity
How Does CBD Affect The Endocannabinoid System?
Experts aren’t yet entirely sure of how CBD interacts with the ECS, and why it can have the effects it does. Studies suggest that CBD doesn’t actually bind to cannabinoid receptors. Instead, it works by preventing the body’s natural endocannabinoids from being broken down. This, in turn, would increase the body’s level of endocannabinoids which would improve the ECS’s ability to function.
Another theory is that CBD actually binds to a receptor that we have not yet discovered!
All we really know is that the ECS can be very easily thrown out of balance through factors such as stress. It is widely believed that using CBD will help to restore balance to this system.
How Does This Relate To CBD and Muscle Recovery?
As mentioned previously, we know the ECS plays a role in regulating how we experience pain. Therefore, using CBD is suggested to be a powerful pain killer. It may help to enhance our natural levels of endocannabinoids which are responsible for pain relief.
Some of the most important muscle recovery processes become active whilst we are asleep. Using CBD can aid the ECS in improving the quality and duration of sleep.
Inflammation can bring both positive and negative aspects to muscle recovery. The purpose of inflammation is to bring blood flow to an area of the body in order to deliver essential nutrients and oxygen. This helps to stimulate muscle recovery, although it can cause pain and discomfort.
Despite this, inflammation can actually slow down muscle recovery in many cases. When we experience post-workout muscle soreness, it is often as a result of damage or injury to small regions of muscle. But these inflammatory processes will affect larger groups of muscles and joints. This essentially means we are experiencing inflammation in areas of the body that do not require it. This is why athletes use anti-inflammatories – in order to reduce damage to muscles and joints near the affected area.
With CBD, we may be able to target anti-inflammatory effects without disrupting the ‘good’ inflammation – the stuff we actually need for muscle recovery. Studies have shown that CBD can slow down the production of a wide range of inflammatory molecules, but not all of them. This might explain how CBD could alleviate inflammation without compromising recovery times.
When we experience muscle pain, it is often largely due to tension. Athletes often use relaxants to help alleviate this tension. Benzodiazepines are a type of drug which affects the GABA receptors in the body, which regulates muscle relaxation. However, these are very powerful drugs with many negative side-effects.
Research suggests that CBD can have similar effects on these GABA receptors without the side effects, which can promote muscle relaxation.
Which CBD Products Are Best For Muscle Recovery?
CBD oils are easy and simple – they usually consist of a blend of CBD extract and a carrier oil. This is a great no-fuss way to get a large enough dosage of CBD – simply drop the oil under your tongue a few times a day. Additionally, you can choose your preferred strength.
We would recommend the Honest Hemp CBD in MCT oil. MCT oil goes further to aid muscle recovery making it a great choice for this purpose.
CBD Capsules consist of CBD oil suspended into a gel capsule. These are another great choice if you want to keep it quick and easy. The advantage of these over oils is that the dosage is pre-measured, and they are flavourless.
We would recommend the Honest Hemp soft gel capsules. You can choose from 2 strengths: 10mg per capsule or 25mg per capsule.
CBD creams behave in a slightly different way to the other products mentioned. When you use CBD on the skin, the product does not enter the bloodstream. Instead, it is absorbed deeply into the skin, where there are many cannabinoid receptors. CBD creams can interact with these receptors and promote anti-inflammatory effects, which can help to diminish pain. This is great for helping to alleviate pain in a specific area of the body, as the CBD can be applied to a focused area.
We would recommend the Honest Hemp CBD cooling gel. This is especially effective for targeting muscle pain due to the cooling effect it creates on the skin.
Alternatively, we would recommend the Honest Hemp CBD roll-on. Not only can this be great for helping to promote pain relief in the muscles, but also in the joints and tendons.