The supplement market is saturated with products making bold claims, and often times the effectiveness of these supplements is debatable. What if there was a natural substance that could relieve pain and inflammation, reduce anxiety, help you sleep better, and recover faster? And what if that substance was affordable, readily available, and had a mountain of evidence to support it? Enter CBD.  

Although recent legalizations of its more high-profile cousin, THC, have gotten most of the news coverage, cannabidiol, otherwise known as CBD, is one pot-related acronym you shouldn’t forget. The compound, found in abundance in marijuana plants, has been touted as a miracle drug that can do almost anything, from reducing stress to curing epilepsy. But is it too good to be true?   

CBD is the second-most abundant chemical found in marijuana plants. Unlike THC, which is the main component responsible for getting you high, CBD doesn’t have any psychoactive effects what so ever. You also don’t have to smoke pot to get a dose of CBD. CBD can be extracted and then isolated to create a wide variety of products, like creams, softgels, and even lip balm. That’s good news if you prefer a supplement that doesn’t keep you constantly intoxicated. 

CBD is used in fitness and sports in three main ways: to relieve aches and pains, to reduce inflammation and aid recovery, and to improve sleep. Furthermore, it also has anxiety-reducing properties that many pro athletes take advantage of to relieve stress and calm their nerves before a big competition.  

Pain Relief
Pain relief is one of the most common fitness-related uses for CBD. Products ranging from topical creams, massage oils
, and pain relief sticks can be used to treat both chronic pain and short-term bumps and bruises. Many people use it in place of drugs like ibuprofen, which can be very hard on the stomach when taken in large doses over extended periods. 

Does it work?
Well, users swear by it, and there is a lot of anecdotal evidence that it does in fact provide pain relief. Some doctors 
are still skeptical, while others admit that this natural pain remedy is better than turning to opioids or even over-the-counter analgesics, which aren’t as safe as many believe. CBD hasn’t shown signs of being addictive or carrying much risk of side effects, so even though its effectiveness is still up for debate in the medical world, it’s at least safe to try. 

Improved Recovery
As a recovery aid, CBD does a few things: it’s been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties, so it’s useful in combating DOMS (delayed-onset muscle soreness). DOMS is the sore feeling in your muscles that usually starts the day after a tough workout and can last several days. It can also help relax the muscles, which may make foam rolling, stretching, and other standard recovery techniques more effective. Lastly, it also helps with sleep, which can further enhance recovery by giving your body the maximum amount of rest. 
 

CBD and Sleep
Speaking of sleep, that’s the third major health and fitness benefit of CBD. It’s impossible to overstate the importance of good sleep to overall health and wellness a
nd athletic performance. When you’re well-rested, your body can lift more weight, run faster, and jump higher. Your focus and mental state also improve, helping you stay positive and make better decisions. Proper sleep is vital for proper recovery, whether you’re trying to build muscle mass, set a new high-jump record, or just help your local hockey team win the trophy. 

Things To Keep In Mind
Now, this all sounds great, but there are some things to keep in mind with CBD. First, there has been little clinical research on the effects of the compound in humans. Rat trials have shown promise, but obviously rats have a few anatomical differences. As the popularity of CBD has surged, research has started to pick up, but we’re still playing catch-up here. 
 

Finally, there has also not been much regulation of what manufacturers put in their CBD products. In other words, just because the label claims a product has a certain amount of CBD doesn’t mean that is what’s really in it. Make sure you do your research on supplement brands and don’t hesitate to ask for ingredient lists. 

CBD is an exciting new supplement on the market with a lot of potential, both in the fitness world and in general medicine. Take your time, do your research, and enjoy the benefits of CBD in your fitness routine. 

For more from Grant Reid and Inside Fitness’s other contributors be sure to check out a digital subscription to the magazine, and check out what else Grant is up to at www.teamgfit.com