Are you taking longer to recover after a workout these days? It could be increased inflammation in your muscle tissue. Some inflammation is normal. After all, to build muscle, you must continually add resistance. That causes micro-tears in muscle tissue, which the body repairs and reinforces, building strength and bulk. And when damage occurs in the body, the immune system rushes in to ensure a healthy recovery.
But sometimes the immune system over-responds to an event. Too much post-workout inflammation causes muscle pain and slows the muscle-healing process. That may force you to rest muscle groups longer, delaying muscle-building efforts.
Could CBD lower tension in muscles and speed recovery by reducing inflammation? Let's explore what we know about CBD and muscle recovery.
What Is CBD?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is just one of over 100 compounds found in the cannabis plant. While you might think of marijuana when cannabis is the topic of conversation, know that there are many strains of cannabis with various levels of each cannabinoid.
CBD that is commercially available around the United States comes from hemp cannabis. It's naturally very high in CBD with almost undetectable amounts of THC (<0.3%), the compound that causes marijuana high. So hemp-derived products are non-psychoactive and CBD cannot get you high.
The research on cannabis containing THC is still minimal because of marijuana's legal status in the United States and around the world. But the U.S. federal government began to distinguish between hemp and other cannabis in 2016. At that time, more universities and organizations greenlighted U.S. research on CBD.
Since that time, some of the strongest anecdotal (self-reported) and pre-clinical trial studies show that in humans and animals CBD may:
- Reduce inflammation
- Regulate nausea and vomiting in chemo patients
- Reduce the frequency and severity of seizures
Can we add muscle recovery to this list? Let's look at how CBD interacts with the body.
CBD and the Endocannabinoid System
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a network of cells in the central and peripheral nervous systems. This organization of processes helps modulate the body's response to stimuli like mental stress, spoiled food, or injury.
This regulation is needed because sometimes cells overreact to small problems, leading the immune system to mount an equally overreactive response.
The ECS manages immune processes using CB1 and CB2 receptors along with little compounds called endocannabinoid and special enzymes. Endocannabinoids attach to a CB1 or a CB2 receptor. When they do, they calm cell signals. After the cell calms down, the ECS produces that particular enzyme that devours the endocannabinoids because they are no longer needed. This frees up the cannabinoid receptor and returns things to normal.
CBD is biologically similar to the endocannabinoids your body produces to calm down cells that act in a hyperactive way to a small problem. In the case of CBD and muscle recovery, that little problem is the presence of micro-tears.
How CBD May Support Muscle Recovery
There is currently little research specifically on CBD and muscle recovery. But we know a lot about muscle recovery and slow recovery is linked to inflammation, among other factors we'll explore.
In 2018, neurology researchers took a look at over 132 studies on CBD. They found that the studies point to CBD's ability to reduce inflammation throughout the body, including in muscles and joints. The studies showed that CBD could improve movement in those with Multiple Sclerosis, a disease characterized by an overactive immune response.
They found that CBD likely accomplished this through its ability to:
- Reduce inflammation
- Reduce pain
- Protect nerves from damage
But there are other ways CBD may lower tension in muscles, alleviate pain, and improve workout recovery in indirect ways as well.
A 2017 study found that CBD may reduce post-workout joint pain and inflammation. Another study from the '90s found that CBD can reduce cortisol, a hormone that increases that stressed-out feeling and reduces your body's ability to produce protein from amino acids. Yet another study showed that CBD might improve sleep, especially REM sleep, the stage where most muscle recovery takes place.
A small placebo study on young adults found that CBD has to potential to boost wakefulness during sleep time, which could increase energy for your workout. The researchers in this study acknowledge that this contradicts the studies that show CBD promotes sleep, and they speculate that the differences may come down to individual differences and varying doses. Since CBD modulates responses, it may tip the scales in one of the other directions, depending on circumstances.
Numerous observational and clinical studies support the taking cannabidiol (CBD) may have an anti-inflammatory effect on both humans and our furry friends.
What is cannabidiol? It's a substance extracted from the hemp cannabis plant. While you might associate cannabis with marijuana, know that cannabis has many strands. Some are high in THC, the substance that causes a "high". But others like hemp are high in CBD and only have trace amounts of THC.
Both CBD and THC are cannabinoids. CBD is biologically similar to the endocannabinoid that your own body produces to regulate various body functions like:
- Inflammation / Immune response
- Pain sensitivity
When looking at CBD oil for COPD, you need to look at the endocannabinoid system that CBD interacts with endocannabinoid system.
How to Use CBD for Muscle Recovery
Knowing when to take CBD oil for muscle recovery comes down to strategies you plan to use to improve your workout results. CBD can have both immediate effects and sustained effects, depending on how you use it.
Like many substances, you can absorb CBD transdermally (through the skin). So try applying CBD oil, CBD salves, CBD lotions, or CBD patches to a target area before or after a workout and again if stiffness, tension in muscles, or pain occurs later in the day. But it's important to note that this will only have a localized effect.
If you're interested in the studies that show improved sleep, reduced cortisol levels, and whole-body inflammation reduction, you'll want to begin a daily routine of CBD shots (The kind you drink. No syringe required!) or taking a CBD tincture orally or sublingually. This will keep a more sustained amount of CBD in your system.
As with any supplement routine, consistency is essential. So if taking orally or sublingually, start with 10-25mg at around the same time of day. Note your results. And increase the dose until you find the right amount to support your muscle-recovery and muscle-building goals.