Cannabis Use among Athletes

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) includes cannabis on its list of substances that are considered to improve an athlete’s performance in sports. They explain that while cannabis can cause motor impairment, loss of executive function, and memory loss it can also reduce anxiety, and improve sleep and recovery time. These, along with its illegal status in most countries, were the criteria for Cannabis’ inclusion on the list of Prohibited Substances.

Cannabis, as a simple herb and plant, is very useful as a dietary nutrient in the support the health and well-being of the training and competing athlete. The vitamins, nutrients, and cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant are as helpful to the body as water and vitamin C. Cannabis contains vitamins, amino acids and nutrients which nourish the nervous and immune system. These nutrients reduce inflammation throughout the body, decreasing muscle spasms, reducing pain, and improving circulation in even the smallest blood vessels.

Cannabis is very versatile, coming in many usable forms. When raw or unheated, cannabis does not have a psychotropic effect. The primary psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, THC, is activated by heat, so no heat, no buzz. This makes it very useful and usable without the fear of negative or adverse effects on the state of mind, thinking or decision making ability.

Cannabis in its topical form, used as a lotion or body oil is completely non-psychotropic. It does not store in the blood or body tissues. It acts locally where it is applied. Topical cannabis reduces inflammation in the joints, and reduces spasms and pain in the muscles. It accomplishes this through the activity of both the cannabinoids CBD, Cannabidiol and THC, ∆⁹ Tetrahydrocannabinol, working together.  MRI evidence shows, it prevents osteophytes, bone spurs and calcium deposits from forming in the joint spaces, thereby preventing the arthritic changes in joints and increasing joint health. Cannabis (THC/A) is now classified as Neurogenative meaning it nourishes nerves and restores nerve function post peripheral neuropathy caused by chemotherapy, diabetes, and mechanical injury.

Cannabis is also being intensively studied for its ability to help heal the brain post head injury. Athletes are prone to concussions and head injuries which over time cause brain damage, depression, and other cognitive deficits. Cannabis in its inhaled, capsule, liquid or edible forms, reduces inflammation in the brain, improves the response of the microglial or immune system cells of the brain to heal an injury, and improves circulation in the brain by reducing constriction in the blood vessels. New evidence is demonstrating that cannabis also prevents plaques from forming within the blood vessels and nerve tissues of the brain. As the research continues, we are finding Cannabis is more of a health food than a health hazard.