There’s a reason even Coca-Cola is considering adding a Cannabidiol (CBD) drink to its lineup: CBD is having a moment in the wellness world. A non-psychoactive compound extracted from cannabis, CBD is rapidly becoming known for its purported health benefits. While it’s still only legal in certain states in the U.S., countries like Canada have wholeheartedly embraced the CBD trend — and it seems like the legislative tides are turning in favor of allowing CBD to become a pharmacy staple. But does it makes sense for a runner to consider popping pills, slathering on CBD-infused creams or mixing supplements into smoothies?
Here’s what you need to know:
Research on CBD is Young
While there have been promising studies done on the benefits of CBD, because of the legal quagmire surrounding the supplement, research is still in its infancy. Things like optimal dosage and even delivery (cream versus pill, for example) are still being looked at, and while you can expect to see a lot more research published in coming years, the science around it is thin.
Check the Legalities
Since CBD is derived from cannabis, there are some states where use is still illegal. While you can order it online from multiple sources, and you won’t get kicked out of the Olympics if you’re caught with it, just be aware that in some areas of the U.S., its use is still considered illegal.
It Won’t Cure an Injury
Just like popping ibuprofen before every run is a bad thing, relying on CBD to relieve pain pre- or post-run shouldn’t be considered a cure. CBD capsules may act as pain relievers, but they won’t cure a runner’s knee or a sprain. You’re still going to have to take time off from running to actually heal injuries — and masking chronic pain with any type of pain reliever is a recipe for eventual disaster.
CBD May Reduce Inflammation
CBD has been shown to reduce inflammation — key for runners in big training blocks. That’s why plenty of pro-cyclists and runners are shifting to using CBD for the anti-inflammatory effects rather than continuing to rely on more pharmaceutical alternatives. Floyd Landis, founder of Floyd’s of Leadville, is a former pro cyclist who started the company to help cure his own chronic back pain and inflammation issues. After years of relying on prescription-strength painkillers, now he only uses CBD, and it’s working for him.
CBD is a Safer Way to Relieve Pain
Unlike regularly popping ibuprofen, taking CBD won’t potentially put you at risk for kidney damage. If you’re the kind of runner who is constantly turning to OTC pain meds for post-run issues, this might be a safer alternative. CBD works partially by interacting with our brain’s serotonin and vanilloid receptors, which affect our mood and our perception of pain. A 2016 study showed CBD actually helped decrease pain from arthritis — certainly an issue runners may contend with.
You’ll Still Pass a Drug Test
Whether you’re an office worker who gets tested at random or you’re an elite-level athlete who gets tested in competition, CBD won’t get you in trouble. In fact, Floyd’s of Leadville even sponsors a pro-cycling team. Pro tip: Look for CBD isolates, since those are the purest versions and won’t contain even trace amounts of THC.
… But You Should Check Your Source
Like most OTC meds, be careful what — and where — you buy. Don’t trust CBD products that you find for sale in gas stations. Look for athlete-friendly ones that promise a pure product so you can avoid accidentally dosing yourself with added chemicals and other unknown substances or even just a full-spectrum CBD that contains THC traces and can make you fail a drug test.
You Can Make it Part of Post-Run Recovery
Post-workout, Floyd’s of Leadville even offers a CBD-infused protein powder, containing a full range of BCAAs, 27 grams of pure protein and CBD to fight inflammation. That’s multitasking at its finest! (The vanilla also tastes great when mixed with almond milk.)