In news that may come as a shock to some followers of MMA and UFC fighting (along with the general public), the USADA has as of 2018 removed cannabidiol (CBD) from its list of banned substances. As a result, more and more MMA and UFC fighters are turning to CBD in either vape, topical or oil form to help with pain relief, stress relief, and much more.
Since CBD is a non-psychoactive compound of the cannabis plant, it’s thought to be a safer and healthier alternative to opioid-based painkillers, which are notoriously addictive and often accompanied by severe side effects.
Although CBD is non-psychoactive (and therefore cannot get you high), it’s still met with controversy simply because it is a product of the cannabis plant. One of the most notable uproars in the fighting world was when Nate Diaz was seen drawing on a CBD vape pen at a press conference following UFC 202.
The truth is that engaging in physical activity is hard work. After an intense workout at the gym, you’re likely to experience muscle soreness the following day. Professional athletes are all too familiar with pain because their lives revolve around physical endurance. Of course, some sports are more physically challenging than others, and plenty of athletes either play contact sports or are used to injuries because they engage in activities that make physical damage likely.
This is where CBD oil comes in. Several high-profile athletes have spoken publicly about how the use of CBD oil helps to relieve their body of pain. This includes well-known MMA and UFC fighters who put their bodies through some of the most demanding and rigorous situations possible.
In this article, we will take a closer look at the important benefits of CBD for UFC and MMA fighters, and why so many of them have been publicly turning to CBD oil in recent months.
CBD in the world of MMA and UFC fighters
Life isn’t only physical in the octagon for MMA fighters, but outside of it too. If you are not familiar with MMA, it stands for Mixed Martial Arts. It’s a full combat sport where professional fighters perform different techniques to beat or knock out their opponent. It is one of the most physically taxing sports in the world, and between the intense training and bloody bust-ups in the arena, it’s easily one of the most damaging sports to the body – not to mention the fact that regular blows to the head could cause brain trauma and other neurological damage which manifest over time.
However, may MMA fighters are finding that CBD oils can help in their recovery process. The reportedly fast healing time and minimal side effects of CBD are two of the main reasons that fighters are turning away from other medications.
Possibly one of the most important facets of CBD use among MMA and UFC fighters, however, is that it’s not known to be addictive. Opioids are of course highly addictive (and still widely used in hospitals around the world to relieve pain), and they can be a serious problem for MMA fighters who undergo continuous stress and pain to the body and are in need of some relief. The pain often continues for a long time after the fights are over, which can cause dependence and long-term damage to the lives and bodies of these athletes.
CBD has shown to be an effective pain management substance and also a lot safer to use than opioids, which is something that the fighting world is catching onto. CBD is perfect for those who would otherwise use medical cannabis but don’t want to experience the psychoactive effects that are brought on by THC.
Many MMA and UFC fighters have claimed that CBD oil has sped up healing time, and also helped them to feel better than other substances. Bas Rutten, a former MMA world champion, now praises CBD as a natural anti-inflammatory compounds. He refers to it as a healthy alternative to opioids for pain management. Bas was addicted to opioids at one point in his career to help him deal with chronic pain. He later found that opioids were not good for him or his body, and then discovered CBD oil as a better solution.
Likewise, Nate Diaz is one of the most notorious UFC fighters who has been very vocal about his use of CBD, and he certainly isn’t shy about using it in public. Diaz has clarified with reporters that he uses CBD to help with inflammation and the healing process. He went on to say that using CBD oil before and after a fight helps to “make your life a better place.”
Many MMA and UFC fighters have come forward with similar stories. By talking about how CBD has changed their lives, they are encouraging other fighters as well as the general public to open their minds and accept CBD oil for the myriad of benefits that it offers.
Why are MMA and UFC fighters using CBD oil?
CBD oil affects our bodies in multiple ways. What many people don’t know is that the body has its own endocannabinoid system (ECS). This system consists of a number of receptors that can react with cannabinoids in plants, along with cannabinoids that are produced naturally in our body. CBD mainly interacts with the CB1 and CB2 receptor receptors, found in the nervous system, brain, and immune system.
This leads us to the more important question, how does CBD oil affect the body in a beneficial way to athletes?
For years, CBD has shown potential to reduce inflammation. Since inflammation is a major issue that plagues athletes’ bodies, it can have a strong impact on their performance, which makes it is an issue that they really want to fix, and fast.
A study published by the National Institute of Health suggests that CBD targets certain receptors in the body, and has the potential to reduce inflammation. As part of the study, CBD was administered to rodent subjects in the spine and circulatory system, and researchers discovered that it reduced inflammation and thus the pain that the swelling caused.
Some athletes, especially fighters, need to manage their weight for different reasons. For example, fighters need to fit into a specific weight category. Through research studies, it’s been suggested that CBD can assist with weight loss by inhibiting certain hormones that are controlled by the ECS.
A study* published by the Polish Academy of Sciences administered CBD to rats and found that it regulated the activity of the CB2 receptor. This helped the rats to regulate weight gain. While this might be good news for an athlete, a lot more research needs to be done to obtain concrete evidence.
Reduces stress hormones
Stress is something that all of us experience, and it’s triggered due to the adrenal glands producing hormones. During physical activity, the adrenal system is activated, as more quantities of cortisol are released.
The University of Sao Paulo in Brazil conducted a study which found that CBD has the potential to prevent secretion of cortisol. This helps to reduce the amount of cortisol in the blood, which makes it useful for athletes since it reduces stress levels that are brought on by physical exercise.
Possibly the most important benefit of CBD for fighters is that it has some great pain-relieving properties. While it works well for inflammation, as we discussed above, it works wonders for all sorts of pain.
Many athletes rely on opioids to curb their aches and pains, but these medications often have some severe side effects and pose a high risk of addiction. The reality is that opioids cause thousands of deaths every year. This is one of the main reasons that athletes are turning to CBD. It’s a natural solution to all sorts of problems, which makes it a lot better for the body than prescription drugs.
CBD vs. traditional painkillers
So what is all the hype about CBD oil? How is CBD different from traditional painkillers and is it really better? Well, we’ve basically already highlighted all the potential benefits of CBD above, but to sum it up, CBD has very few negative side effects, especially when compared to painkillers like acetaminophen, NSAIDs, and opioids.
CBD has been shown to have neuroprotective and antioxidant properties, and it has very low toxicity levels among other positive benefits. What’s more, CBD is a natural substance because it’s a direct product of the cannabis plant. CBD also comes with minor side effects. While some reports suggest that CBD may result in lightheadedness, drowsiness, or dry-mouth, these are relatively trivial issues when compared to the serious side effects of traditional painkillers.
We don’t yet fully understand the exact way that CBD can have such a broad-ranging positive effect on the body, but researchers are on a mission to conduct more studies as the word spreads that CBD is changing lives.
Final thoughts on why MMA and UFC Fighters are using CBD oil
You don’t have to be an MMA or UFC fighter to take advantage of the CBD oil benefits. It is thought that CBD will become even more popular as public attitudes shift favorably towards cannabis, especially for medicinal use. We probably only know a fraction of the potential of cannabis at present, with researchers and scientists still learning about the different cannabinoids and the endocannabinoid system.
The fact is that CBD oil appears to be more effective, as well as being a much healthier and safer option for fighters. It also helps that USADA has taken CBD off the banned substances list, meaning that fighters don’t face any consequences when using CBD oil since it is perfectly within their rights to do so. It sure seems as though CBD is set out to change the world.
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