Many gym and fitness enthusiasts are using CBD oil for weightlifting and muscle recovery. But does it really help? We reveal the science-based truth here… as well as… CBD has various advantages for bodybuilding, these range from helping with concentration, recovery to pain management and reducing inflammation. It also has an excellent safety profile. Recent studies have examined how CBD oil can benefit bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts, and the results are quite promising. Learn more.
CBD Oil for Bodybuilding & Recovery
A Look into the Pros & Cons
If you’ve walked into a health shop, a vape store, or you follow too many Instagram influencers, then chances are you’ve heard about the wonderful world of CBD oil.
But did you know that many gym and fitness enthusiasts are using CBD oil for weightlifting? Let’s take a look at why.
And no, you won’t be stoned at the gym.
What Is CBD Oil?
CBD Oil comes from marijuana and hemp plants, specifically the sativa version of the plants. These are the same plants that are often used for recreational/medical marijuana and hemp products.
These plants produce compounds called “cannabinoids” – 2 of which are very popular. The first type is called THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) which is the psychoactive part of marijuana that gets you “high” or “stoned” depending on your choice of lingo. (1)
However, the second type is called CBD (cannabidiol), and this does not have any “high” effects.
In fact, it’s usually extracted from hemp plants which are bred to have a THC content of less than 0.3%.
In other words, you could get a tiny, tiny bit high from using CBD oils, but nowhere near enough to get your feet off the ground.
Is CBD Oil Good For Bodybuilding?
CBD oil is good for bodybuilding and muscle growth in the sense that it eases inflammation, helps with muscle recovery, and reduces pain after workouts.
This makes it easier for you to increase your muscle mass without putting your body under too much stress. The naturally relaxing and anti-inflammatory effects of CBD help your muscles to recover more quickly, thus promoting steady muscle growth.
When you get home after your session at the gym, CBD products also help with sleep and reduce anxiety levels, so you can rest more easily. (2)
Essentially, CBD products have many of the “chill out” effects associated with recreational and medical marijuana, but without the high. This means that you can use them throughout the day as it suits your plans.
How Does CBD Help With Muscle Recovery?
During a weightlifting session, if you push yourself and try to increase your muscle mass, you may notice muscle soreness and pain.
This is caused by microscopic damage to your muscle fibers which needs to be repaired.
Recent studies have found that those who use CBD can reduce inflammation following exercise and even improve mobility in people with multiple sclerosis. (3) It also helps to reduce pain following exercise and it’s anti-catabolic properties ensure you can build muscle more steadily.
Moreover, CBD can help to regulate your catabolic hormones, as incorrect amounts of catabolic hormones can lead to too much cortisol in your body, making it harder for your muscle mass to increase.
Furthermore, research has shown that cannabinoids have antispasmodic properties, meaning that they reduce muscle spasms following a painful new workout at the gym.
Personal Trainer Tara Laferrara also noticed a “big difference in infalmmation and stress” after her workouts when taking this supplement. At first, taking CBD to lower cortisol levels sounded nice only on paper, but I needed more convincing. That’s until I saw this video about how CBD oil helps in muscle recovery and pain relief according to expert opinion.
Can CBD Help With Weight Loss Too?
Unless you can’t stave off the munchies, CBD can help with weight loss by boosting your metabolism and reducing your appetite in the long term.
It also encourages more “brown fat” within your body. This refers to the type of fat that our bodies use for heat energy. Essentially, it’s fat which is quite healthy and good for us. (4)
Results from new studies also suggest that marijuana users tend to weigh less than non-marijuana users.
When you think about people who partake in the smoking of the cannabis plant (i.e. stoners), you probably picture them eating 50 bags of Doritos a night, but alas they are defying the clichés.
Of course, CBD oil is not the same as marijuana, but CBD is still present in regular weed, so it’s likely to play a part in this weight loss relationship, whether it’s due to behavioral factors or chemical factors.
We found that [marijuana] users, even those who just started, were more likely to be at a normal, healthier weight and stay at that weight. Only 15% of persistent users were considered obese compared to 20% of non-users.
– Omayma Alshaarawy, Fitness Author
What Are The Health Benefits Of CBD Oil?
There are many benefits of CBD oil aside from bodybuilding, whether you’re trying to regulate your blood sugar levels or improve your sleep and diet. Let’s look at some of the main health benefits in more detail.
1. Pain Relief – Similarly to medical marijuana, it’s thought that CBD supplements can help to reduce chronic pain. Current evidence is quite anecdotal, but it seems promising and researchers are optimistic. Using CBD oil for muscle building can potentially reduce post-workout pain significantly.
2. Anti-Inflammatory – It appears that CBD products can have significant anti-inflammatory effects, helping bodybuilders and fitness fans to exercise their socks off without suffering from too much inflammation afterward.
3. Reduce Depression And Anxiety – Research has shown that CBD can help to reduce the symptoms of depression and anxiety, hence calming the minds of people with these conditions. As an anxiety sufferer myself, I noticed a huge difference when I started putting CBD oil in my vape. I also weaned myself off of nicotine addiction, which was an added bonus in the health department.
4. Improved Heart Health – Due largely to its relaxing effects which reduce stress and anxiety, CBD could help to reduce high blood pressure and therefore improve heart health. Stress is intrinsically linked to high blood pressure, so bringing down stress has positive physical effects on the body.
5. Neurological Treatment – Along with medical cannabis, CBD is thought to be able to assist people with neurological conditions such as epilepsy and multiple sclerosis.
6. Acne Reduction – Because of CBD’s ability to better regulate the sebum levels that our skin naturally produces, it can help to reduce skin conditions like acne, eczema, and sensitive skin. (5)
7. May Reduce Cancer – Just to be clear, there is no conclusive evidence that CBD definitely reduces cancer. However, there are some studies that are pointing in the right direction. For example, one study indicated that cannabis users had a 45% less chance of developing bladder cancer than non-smokers. It’s not a smoking gun, but it’s optimistic.
CBD Oil and Bodybuilding: Does It Help Muscle Growth?
CBD has a long list of benefits when it comes to helping the pursuit of bodybuilding, and only a few possible shortcomings. There is a lot of popular support for the use of CBD as a way to enhance the bodybuilding regime. This popularity is based on extensive research that has been conducted on various athletes, and the results are promising.
CBD is often suggested for managing common sports problems like muscle soreness, recovery periods, injury healing, and getting enough rest. Full-Spectrum extracts, with their terpenes, are considered the most effective option for bodybuilding.
In this article, we explain how CBD can help you improve your metabolic health and other aspects of bodybuilding.
Can CBD Help Muscle Growth
There is no direct evidence of CBD helping with muscle growth. It is even suspected that it might slow down muscle growth by lowering protein production. However, it has indirect benefits that improve the likelihood of increasing muscle mass.
CBD does this by helping with essential pieces of the puzzle, such as aiding the digestion process, helping with injury healing, and lowering stress levels. All of this can help with muscle development and increase muscle mass over time.
Some new research has shown mixed signs of CBD affecting muscles positively, but it has concluded that further investigation would be required to confirm its initial observations. The study also mentions that CBD used post-exercise seems to benefit the protein synthesis process, but it affects other tissues differently and thus has a mixed effect.
Weight Management with CBD
There seems to be a connection between having a lower chance of being overweight and CBD-THC exposure. In one study, researchers found out that individuals who have been exposed to CBD and THC regularly had much lower chances of being overweight.
The scientists later conclude that there is a good possibility of using this CBD-THC combination or some variation thereof to treat weight management and complications related to being overweight.
Thus, it can be very beneficial for those looking to control their weight while being on a strict food and exercise regime. Having a way that helps with maintaining an optimum weight can aid people in achieving certain bodybuilding goals.
CBD Modulates Hunger
CBD has been shown to modulate hunger in certain animals. This gives some scientists reason to believe that it can perhaps reduce the craving for food. CBD and other cannabinoids seem not to create the same hunger pangs that THC causes. Thus it can be seen as that part of the entourage effect that balances the so-called “munchies.”
CBD’s potential effect on reducing hunger can also contribute to healthy weight management and thus help athletes maintain the desired weight by not deviating from their prescribed diet.
CBD has also been shown to have positive effects on digestion. It helps to reduce problems with digestion by working on the nervous and the immune system simultaneously. Researchers have hope for using CBD as a therapeutic agent in metabolic issues.
CBD And Muscle Recovery
Research done with rugby players has shown various promising results for athletes using CBD for muscle recovery after a bout of intensive physical activity. This directly relates to bodybuilding because of the intense use of different muscle groups, often to the point of exhaustion.
The study found that about 80% to 90% of the players showed improvements in muscle recovery when treated with CBD. Most of the players reported using CBD oil or capsules. CBD is legal and is not searched for during drug testing for performance enhancers.
Does CBD Help Heal Injuries?
There is a lot of research in the field of CBD and healing. Various studies have been conducted to look at how CBD works for healing tendon injuries, oral wounds, skin wounds, bone fracture healing, and common sports injuries.
In most cases, researchers have found encouraging results and suggested possibilities of CBD as a healing agent. These studies have found that CBD has positive effects on healing various parts of the body. In some cases, CBD was applied directly to the spot of the injury to observe how it works.
Self-reported evidence from athletes suggests that there is the possibility of CBD helping with the healing of sports injuries.
Can CBD Reduce Swelling?
Various CBD studies have been conducted that directly or indirectly studied the effects of CBD on swelling and soreness in the body. Some of these studies have presented self-reported evidence from athletes who said that CBD seems to have helped with swelling and soreness.
Other research has shown CBD as a promising possibility in treating various kinds of injuries and swelling. Thus, we can say that there is good evidence to suggest CBD works to reduce swelling.
CBD For Enhancing General Recovery
Recovery is not just about healing from injuries, which hopefully only happen every once in a while. It is also about getting enough rest so that the body can recover from being worked so very hard at the gym. Getting good rest is very important for bodybuilding.
It also helps to stay calm and focused, to keep stress levels down. CBD has been used in many studies that look at how the Cannabinoid can produce these effects.
Sleep Enhancement Through CBD
CBD can reduce anxiety and physical discomfort, helping individuals achieve better sleep. On top of that, it may also work as a wake-inducing agent when you take it in the morning — increasing your daytime alertness. This, in turn, causes your brain to be more productive throughout the day. As a result, your body receives proper signals from the brain, indicating that it’s time to get some rest. Many athletes are using CBD oil to regulate circadian rhythm.
CBD For Calming And Relaxation
A study has found that the use of CBD helps to soothe those who often feel anxious and helps to bring about a sense of calmness. The study observed the participants for a month, and the data suggested that the overall reduction in such feelings was significant at the end of the period.
The researchers have recommended CBD for promoting a feeling of relieving anxiety and relaxation, which has also been shown to promote sleep. In such restful states, the production of stress hormones goes down, making it easier to recover from exhausting gym sessions.
Possible Counter Effects Of CBD On Bodybuilding
There is some evidence suggesting that CBD’s effect on the hormone testosterone can both increase or decrease its production in the body. Since this hormone is considered an important part of muscle development, CBD can either help or hinder the process. Other researchers have found cannabinoids to lower the protein production rate, which would also be a drawback for anyone pursuing bodybuilding. However, it must be mentioned that the actual effect still depends on the CBD dosage.
Some studies also suggest no correlation between CBD’s effect on sleep, which remains a common self-reported improvement amongst many users, including athletes who were part of another study.
Best Ways To Use CBD For Bodybuilding
CBD is legal on a federal level, and many brands are selling various products that include natural CBD Hemp flowers to CBD-based salves and pain rubs. Each product has its own unique set of pros and cons.
These tend to be easy to carry things like gummies but can also be elaborate like chocolate bars, tea, coffee, and honey. They come with a delayed onset but the effects are extended in time.
CBD oils and tinctures are the most compact and easiest to carry and administer. They come in various concentrations/potencies and are often available in multiple flavors. Every CBD tincture has a dropper attached to its bottle; the dropper makes it easier to measure your dose of CBD and transfer it under the tongue.
This capsule and soft gel form of CBD makes it easier to combine with other supplements and/or medication.
Some users enjoy the additional experience produced by the aromatic vaporization of quality hemp flowers. Even though smoking is also a popular method, it is not ideal for athletes because smoking anything is not optimum for health. Sportspeople looking for concentrated forms of vaporized CBD can opt for CBD e-liquids or dabs.
Topicals such as CBD creams are especially useful for athletes because they can be used directly on a specific area of the body. That’s because CBD targets cannabinoid receptors that are located in the skin.
Conclusion: Does CBD Oil and Bodybuilding Go Hand in Hand?
Of course. While there are no direct studies relating to the use of CBD for muscle growth and other aspects associated with bodybuilding, there’s more to CBD than just pumping the muscles.
CBD has a wide variety of applications in the field of sports and athletics, and bodybuilding is no different.
Many studies have already concluded that have shown promising results when using CBD to promote various desirable effects related to recovery, weight management, relaxation of muscles, digestion, sleep, and healing. All of these directly help with bodybuilding by allowing the body to cope with grueling exercise regimes and recover better.
Cannabidiol is legal and is not part of any drug screening test, making it suitable for professionally competing athletes.
CBD has already seen a lot of acceptance in the sports community. Studies have often used their self-reported evidence to formulate further studies investigating CBD’s wide-ranging effects on helping athletes heal better and faster — and aid in reducing their stress levels by promoting a sense of happiness and wellbeing.
All of these factors make CBD an interesting option for bodybuilders to add to their daily routine. Depending on the desired results, athletes have reported using CBD (in various forms) both before and after workouts, at night to promote sleep, in the daytime to prompt calmness and concentration, as well in stressful situations to stay calm and focused.
- Dalterio, S. L., Bartke, A., & Mayfield, D. (1983). Cannabinoids stimulate and inhibit testosterone production in vitro and in vivo. Life sciences, 32(6), 605-612.
- Jakubovic, A., McGeer, E. G., & McGeer, P. L. (1979). Effects of cannabinoids on testosterone and protein synthesis in rat testis Leydig cells in vitro. Molecular and cellular endocrinology, 15(1), 41-50.
- Langer, H. T., Mossakowski, A. A., Pathak, S., Mascal, M., & Baar, K. (2021). Cannabidiol Does Not Impair Anabolic Signaling Following Eccentric Contractions in Rats. International journal of sports nutrition and exercise metabolism, 31(2), 93-100.
- Le Foll, B., Trigo, J. M., Sharkey, K. A., & Le Strat, Y. (2013). Cannabis and Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) for weight loss?. Medical hypotheses, 80(5), 564-567. [ 4 ]
- Timmer, C. M. (2020). From the Dinner Pot to Smoking Pot; How a Better Understanding of Cannabidiol in Crayfish could Alleviate Anxiety and Modulate Hunger.
- De Filippis, D., Esposito, G., Cirillo, C., Cipriano, M., De Winter, B. Y., Scuderi, C., Sarnelli, G., Cuomo, R., Steardo, L., De Man, J. G., & Iuvone, T. (2011). Cannabidiol reduces intestinal inflammation through the control of neuroimmune axis. PloS one, 6(12), e28159.
- Kasper, A. M., Sparks, S. A., Hooks, M., Skeer, M., Webb, B., Nia, H., Morton, J. P., & Close, G. L. (2020). High Prevalence of Cannabidiol Use Within Male Professional Rugby Union and League Players: A Quest for Pain Relief and Enhanced Recovery, International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, 30(5), 315-322. Retrieved Oct 1, 2021
- McCartney, D., Kevin, R. C., Suraev, A. S., Irwin, C., Grunstein, R. R., Hoyos, C. M., & McGregor, I. S. (2021). Orally administered cannabidiol (CBD) does not produce false‐positive tests for THC on the Securetec DrugWipe® 5S or Dräger Drug Test® 5000. Drug Testing and Analysis.
- Sangiovanni, E., Fumagalli, M., Pacchetti, B., Piazza, S., Magnavacca, A., Khalilpour, S., … & Dell’Agli, M. (2019). Cannabis sativa L. extract and cannabidiol inhibit in vitro mediators of skin inflammation and wound injury. Phytotherapy Research, 33(8), 2083-2093.
- Stauch, C., Ammerman, B., Aynardi, M., Garner, M., Lewis, G., Morgan, D., & Dhawan, A. (2020). Biomechanical Effects of Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD), the Major Constituents of Cannabis, on Tendon to Tendon Healing in a Sprague Dawley Rat Achilles Tendon Surgical Repair Model. Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine.
- Kogan, N. M., Melamed, E., Wasserman, E., Raphael, B., Breuer, A., Stok, K. S., … & Bab, I. (2015). Cannabidiol, a major non‐psychotropic cannabis constituent enhances fracture healing and stimulates lysyl hydroxylase activity in osteoblasts. Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, 30(10), 1905-1913. 11
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Nina created CFAH.org following the birth of her second child. She was a science and math teacher for 6 years prior to becoming a parent — teaching in schools in White Plains, New York and later in Paterson, New Jersey.
CBD Oil and Bodybuilding – August 2022
Can CBD Oil help with bodybuilding, and if so, how?
Recent studies have examined how CBD oil can benefit bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts, and the results are quite promising.
While more research needs to be conducted, current science suggests that CBD oil has properties that may help with bodybuilding.
CBD for Muscle Growth
A study published in the Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research showed CBD’s anti-catabolic properties that enable it to help regulate hormone levels in the body (1 ) .
By taking CBD oil, cortisol levels are kept at bay, allowing for increased muscle growth and protein synthesis throughout a workout or bodybuilding routine.
CBD’s anti-catabolic properties may also allow for the slow breakdown of muscle mass and help athletes to build more muscle.
In addition to lowering the levels of catabolic hormones, CBD may indirectly boost muscle growth by improving stamina.
When individuals are able to spend more time lifting or bodybuilding without the muscles getting fatigued, they see results from their hard work faster.
CBD for Weight Management
CBD can also be beneficial to people who are trying to lose weight. In a 2008 animal study published in the PLOS One Journal , it was shown that CBD inhibits a receptor in the brain so that ghrelin, which stimulates the appetite, is unable to act (2 ) .
A study published in Nature Journal has shown that CBD could increase the levels of leptin in the brain (3 ) .
Leptin is the hormone that makes an individual feel full or satiated. The reduced cravings for unhealthy, calorie-dense foods may help individuals achieve their weight loss goals fast.
In another study, researchers found that CBD might interfere with the secretion of cortisol, reducing blood levels significantly (4 ) .
Chronic stress and persistently high cortisol levels may be associated with increased appetite and weight gain (5 ) .
CBD for Muscle Recovery
Working out can cause microscopic damage to muscle fibers. Those muscles then become inflamed, which triggers the body to respond and repair, causing muscle soreness or stiffness (6 ) .
Studies have shown that CBD might reduce soreness and swelling by inhibiting inflammation. Also, CBD might help with pain as the body recovers from an intense workout.
CBD’s promising anti-inflammatory properties were also demonstrated in a 2018 study published in the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (7 ) .
In addition, CBD may also reduce muscle spasms, a feature of neuropathic damage which often manifests in painful, uncontrolled muscle twitches (8 ) .
CBD for Improved Sleep
The best training routine, diet, and supplement program can never compensate for insufficient rest. Sleep is essential for everyone, especially for active individuals.
Sleep affects almost every tissue in the body, says Dr. Michael Twery, a sleep expert at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). It impacts growth and stress hormones, the immune system , appetite, breathing, blood pressure, and cardiovascular health (9 ) .
A study published in Pharmaceuticals (Basel) in 2012 compared CBD with a sleep aid called nitrazepam (10 ) . The authors found that high-dose CBD at 160 milligrams increased the subject’s duration of sleep.
Similarly, a 2017 study published in the Current Psychiatry Reports noted that at moderate to high doses, CBD might have therapeutic potential for the treatment of insomnia (11 ) .
CBD for Reduced Stress and Anxiety
In general, training and workouts can reduce stress. Exercise can provide psychological benefits that can help improve physical health. The stress reaction can be a survival tool, helping to keep the body healthy and the mind alert.
On the other hand, chronic stress can bring devastating effects. It can cause the body to produce too much cortisol and adrenaline, resulting in anxiety , poor concentration, irritability, and low self-esteem.
Fortunately, CBD has been shown to possess antidepressant and anti-anxiety properties that may help reduce stress and anxiety.
In a 2019 study published in The Permanente Journal , sleep and anxiety scores were measured in human subjects, and the findings showed that CBD could hold benefits for anxiety-related disorders (12 ) .
Meanwhile, researchers of a 2019 study , published in the Brazilian Journal of Psychiatry, looked at CBD’s effects on anxiety and stress.
The study demonstrated that CBD might help reduce the response to stre ssful environmental factors when given in the optimal dosage (13 ) .
Using CBD might benefit bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts during high-intensity workouts and recovery periods.
CBD has also been shown to possess therapeutic properties that might help individuals get a restful sleep, reduce anxiety level, manage weight, and recover from soreness and muscle damage.
Still, a consultation with a doctor experienced in cannabis use is essential before using CBD to help with bodybuilding goals.