Pros and Cons of using CBD for Professional Athletes

There is significant growth in the cannabis market as more people embrace the health benefits of cannabis extracts and products. One of the most popular commercialized components of weed in the market is cannabidiol (CBD). It is an extract typically derived from hemp, a low-THC weed variety. CBD is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid since it does not contain tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) known to cause addiction and intoxication among marijuana users.

CBD products are intensely marketed today as a safe herbal remedy for anxiety, insomnia, and stress. Thus, athletes have become increasingly attracted to CBD products as a treatment for inflammation, pain relief, and post-exercise recovery. Besides, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) excluded medicinal CBD from the list of banned substances, giving all professional athletes the green light to use CBD. However, the agency cautions athletes against using non-medicinal CBD products, as other cannabis extracts are still prohibited.

Types of CBD

There are three main types of CBD: full spectrum, broad spectrum, and CBD isolate. Each of these types comes with a specific chemical profile worth considering for a professional athlete monitoring the intake of various substances for doping purposes.

Full Spectrum CBD

This CBD formula contains CBD and other naturally present compounds in the hemp plant, such as terpenes, flavonoids, and minor traces of THC. Terpenes are responsible for the natural smell of the cannabis plant. The components of this variant work synergistically to boost the therapeutic and wholesome benefits of CBD; they also create a typical “entourage” effect achieved only with full-spectrum CBD.

Broad Spectrum CBD

This extract form is quite similar to the full-spectrum CBD, except that it undergoes additional purification to remove THC while retaining the other naturally occurring compounds. This version of CBD is THC-free but contains a variety of weed terpenes and flavonoids for a more comprehensive health effect.

CBD Isolate

This is the purest form of CBD that contains nothing but CBD. Unlike full-spectrum and broad-spectrum, the CBD isolate cannot create the entourage effect when consumed because the extraction method isolates CBD from all other terpenes, cannabinoids, and plant compounds naturally occurring in hemp. Thus, the isolate form is more recommended to professional athletes, as it reduces the risks of a positive drug test and preserves all the health benefits of CBD.

Benefits of CBD for Athletes

Many cannabis consumers have embraced the safety and convenience of CBD and its fast results. It is a highly preferred method of consuming CBD. Here are some of its benefits:

Alleviation of Anxiety

CBD research shows that more than 60% of users take it for anxiety and prefer CBD over alcohol consumption. Athletes who suffer from pre-game anxiety take CBD products to calm their nerves and report that CBD helps them maintain focus throughout the competitions.

Treatment for Pain

Many studies have proven that CBD helps relieve pain and combat inflammation, which makes it helpful to athletes undergoing intense workouts. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that CBD successfully relieves pain without causing dependence or addiction, unlike opioids.

Sleep Regulation

Insomnia is a common condition for most active athletes. CBD has been proven to combat insomnia by increasing sleep duration and improving sleep quality. Thus, athletes who cannot relax before the contest or fall asleep quickly can take advantage of the CBD + CBN products (some of them are enhanced with melatonin) to enjoy longer sleep.

Improved Muscle Performance

CBD offers natural relief to sore muscles by managing inflammation. It also helps with cell regeneration, thus reducing muscular atrophy, which is common in high-performing athletes. CBD-infused products are known for soothing sprains and injuries, thus improving the individual’s performance.

Improved Immunity

CBD not only serves as a treatment option but also provides additional value as a wellness supplement. It intensifies brain functions, digestion, and tissue regeneration, thus improving the athlete’s immunity.

Cons of using CBD

Although CBD products have impressive benefits for users, they have some significant disadvantages, specifically for athletes.

Drug Test

Although WADA recognizes CBD as a legal substance, there are limits to the amount of THC in the bloodstream of competing athletes. Full-spectrum CBD may cause an athlete to fail a drug test, thus jeopardizing their career.

Negative Social Stigma

Athletes banned from competition by WADA are often labeled drug abusers, which may ruin their reputations and careers. Some athletes were urged to end their careers unexpectedly due to doping claims.

How Can Athletes Consume CBD?

There are three main ways of consuming CBD, and each way results in a different degree of CBD absorption, requiring different amounts of time for the onset of the CBD effects. These are products for oral intake (oils, tinctures, and edibles), pre-rolls and vapes, and CBD topicals.

Oral CBD Intake

For example, CBD oils and tinctures are absorbed into the bloodstream faster than edibles such as gummies, cookies, and beverages. Gummies and other CBD-infused edibles must first be broken down and absorbed by the digestive system, which delays the onset of the effects. With edibles, the amount of CBD absorbed into the bloodstream is significantly lower, and it takes longer to pass out of the system.


A common way of consuming CBD is inhaling CBD flavors through pre-rolled cigarettes, vape devices, and e-cigarettes. CBD pre-rolls are ready-to-smoke, low-dose cannabidiol cigarettes packaged in flavored hemp wraps. The trend has contributed to the growth of the CBD and pre-rolled cigarettes market, which is estimated to hit the $16 billion mark by 2025.

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CBD Topicals

For consumers seeking relief from chronic pain and inflammation, topical forms of CBD are most preferred. Topical CBD application ensures that only minimal amounts of CBD reach the bloodstream while athletes gain maximum relief from pain. This administration form also guarantees that CBD remains untraceable in drug tests.


Although CBD greatly benefits an athlete, it is imperative to research the most appropriate dosage of CBD to consume. Some products may cause more trouble than good and even cost an individual’s career. Therefore, do your due diligence and stay updated on WAPA’s recommendations and guidelines on drug use.