Regularly hitting the gym or the trail provides numerous health benefits – including, not least of which, potentially helping to extend lifespan. Any physician worth his/her salt encourages patients to stay physically active in whatever capacity best suits them.
Both aerobic (aka “cardio” activities such as running, cycling, and walking) and anaerobic (weightlifting) workouts are advantageous for optimal physical and mental health. Combining them is even better.
Benefits aside, however, exercise (especially over-training) can cause unwanted physiological effects. Inflammation is one such negative potential impact of exercise.
CBD may prove to be a powerful tool in your arsenal to tamp down exercise-induced inflammation. Here, we discuss why and how to add CBD to your post-workout cocktail.
Why does inflammation matter?
Normal, intermittent increases in inflammation are perfectly healthy. In fact, they’re critical for the body’s natural repair process. This is as true with battling pathogens like COVID-19 as it is with post-exercise recovery.
Any time the body experiences physiological stress and resulting tissue damage, which occurs following intense exercise, the immune system induces inflammation and the tissues begin to heal themselves.
So, inflammation per se isn’t dangerous and is actually beneficial. Problems arise with the continual presence of inflammation, or an overactive inflammatory reaction, or both. Modern science now implicates chronic inflammation in nearly every chronic illness:
“The World Health Organization (WHO) ranks chronic diseases as the greatest threat to human health. The prevalence of diseases associated with chronic inflammation is anticipated to increase persistently for the next 30 years in the United States… in 2014 nearly 60% of Americans had at least one chronic condition, 42% had more than one and 12% of adults had 5 or more chronic conditions. Worldwide, 3 of 5 people die due to chronic inflammatory diseases.”
How exercise can contribute to inflammation
Exercise – particularly when it’s prolonged or intense in combination with poor diet and inadequate sleep – has been associated with low-grade, chronic inflammation.
DOMS occurs when the muscle fibers are damaged during intense exercise, which results in the release of pro-inflammatory immune system cells called cytokines that initiate the repair process.
That caveat aside, there is a big paradox regarding the relationship between exercise and inflammation. When it’s done right (in moderation with the right nutritional, supplemental, and sleep strategy to facilitate recovery), exercise actually reduces markers of chronic inflammation:
“Although ‘physical activity’ and ‘physical exercise’ are two terms with some differences in meaning, compared to sedentary lifestyle, active people have lower cardiovascular risk and lower inflammatory markers.”
Research shows that the operative concept in preventing runaway inflammation due to exercise is moderation:
“Prolonged exercise increased plasma C-reactive protein (CRP) [a marker of inflammation]; however, moderate exercise did not change plasma CRP level.”
So, what dietary and supplemental practices contribute to effectively managing inflammation? Let’s take a look.
CBD potentially reduces exercise-induced inflammation
On balance, the advantages of regular exercise far outweigh the potential risks of chronic inflammation. Since no one seriously suggests quitting your workout routine, the best thing to do is to work to prevent or mitigate exercise-induced inflammation.
That’s where CBD comes in. A growing, robust body of scientific literature shows that CBD not only combats general inflammation, but also inflammation specifically associated with physiologically stressful exercise:
“Studies have observed robust anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective and analgesic effects of CBD in animal models… CBD may exert a number of physiological, biochemical, and psychological effects with the potential to benefit athletes.”
CBD achieves these impressive effects for athletes by limiting the release of previously mentioned pro-inflammatory cytokines.
(Incidentally, this cytokine-limiting activity is also one of the reasons that researchers suggest CBD may be therapeutically beneficial for treating COVID-19.)
CBD’s anti-inflammatory applications aren’t limited to post-exercise recovery. Healthcare professionals frequently prescribe CBD as an alternative, novel anti-inflammatory drug to conventional pharmaceuticals.
Other cannabis compounds also counter inflammation
CBD isn’t the only compound in cannabis shown to exert anti-inflammatory effects.
For instance, naturally-occurring aromatic compounds called terpenes – which lend different cannabis strains their unique scents – also counter chronic inflammation. Learn more about the many potential health benefits of terpenes.
Another cannabinoid, THC, also exerts beneficial immunomodulatory effects by suppressing immune activity.
Together, these individual compounds pool their anti-inflammatory activities to produce the “entourage effect” to multiply their benefits.
CBD increasingly popular among athletes
Given the documented potential benefits of CBD supplementation above, it comes as no surprise that CBD is increasingly popular as a post-game supplement for athletes.
Medical Marijuana, Inc. explains the trend:
“CBD for athletes has become a popular topic in locker rooms and gyms as a safe alternative to pain medications, not only because it is non-psychoactive and not addictive, but also due to CBD’s effectiveness in supporting health and wellness among athletes.”
Complementary anti-inflammation strategies to pair with CBD supplementation
CBD supplementation works best to potentially prevent or reduce exercise-induced inflammation when it’s paired with other healthy practices such as:
- 7-9 hours of restful sleep nightly. Sleep is critical for optimal athletic performance and post-exertion recovery. Luckily, CBD potentially optimizes sleep in addition to limiting inflammation – a double-win.
- Stress reduction techniques, including yoga, breathwork, and meditation
- Low-carb, whole foods-based diet (cut out the processed sugars, seed oils, and artificial flavoring/preservatives). Sugar is a major driver of chronic inflammation.
- Intermittent fasting. This practice – which, in its simplest form, involves skipping breakfast and eating within an 8-hour daily window – significantly reduces inflammation markers in the blood. It also potentially improves sleep, reduces stress, and improves insulin sensitivity for better blood sugar control.
- Plenty of sunshine and/or vitamin D supplementation
Versatile CBD products to combat exercise-induced inflammation
Arguably, the most enjoyable method to equip your body with the CBD it needs to regulate inflammation after a hard workout is our premium, high-potency CBD flower.
Arguably, nothing rounds out a tough exercise program like kicking back with a CBD pre-roll to go with your protein shake.
If smoking isn’t your thing, you can also try other delivery methods such as:
- CBD capsules
- CBD-infused gummy edibles (check out our guide to get the most from your edible experience)
- CBD oils
Regardless of which route you go, rest assured you’re likely doing your body a huge favor by bolstering its capacity to self-heal.
Contact Georgia Hemp Company to learn more about potential CBD health benefits
For more authoritative information regarding CBD, how it potentially protects against inflammation, and its other health benefits, feel free to reach out. We’re always ready to discuss this amazing cannabis compound with our Georgia neighbors and customers.