CBD and Basketball

CBD and Basketball: The Ins and Outs

Athletes undergo a lot of stress due to training routines that push their bodies to their limits. Training stimulates adaptation and resistance, but also physical pain that can lead to injuries. The traditional methods for pain management are effective, but they can be detrimental to the health of certain athletes.

Chronic use of prescription pain relievers such as Oxycontin may pose a serious risk of opioid addiction. High injury sports like basketball take a toll on athletes as they are on a constant cycle of playing, getting injured, and pain relief, so some of them end up abusing prescription medication. Nowadays, CBD for athletes seems like the most natural way of improving their health.

CBD and Basketball

In 2018 the Big3 League announced they would allow players in their league to use CBD products. However, not all teams have come out about their athletes’ consumption of CBD products.

Is CBD use legal for athletes?

Since the beginning of 2018, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) took out CBD from its list of prohibited substances. However, the psychoactive cannabinoid known as THC is still forbidden. Broad spectrum CBD oil or CBD isolate based products do not contain THC and might be a good place to start.

What are CBD creams and oils for?

Cannabinoids already exist in our bodies in the form of the endocannabinoid system that modulates our neurons’ activity. CBD is extracted and processed  from the cannabis plant and unlike THC, it is not psychoactive (meaning it does not produce a high). Within the nervous system, the endocannabinoid system is made up of the CB1 and CB2 receptors in which cannabinoids bind to and inhibit the release of some neurotransmitters.  Consuming CBD is, therefore, a way of supplementing the activity of the endocannabinoid system.

Athletes apply great stress to their bodies leading to inflammation and pain, and sometimes the endocannabinoid system cannot cope on its own. Adding CBD can help this system get the neurotransmitters back under control, maintain homeostasis, reduce pain, and increase serotonin levels.

 basketball players

Benefits of Using CBD for Athletes

Relieve Pain

Certainly, the most popular reason for using CBD is to fight musculoskeletal pain from vigorous exercise while giving some relief to stiff joints. Since CBD is a powerful anti-inflammatory, it may help take the pressure off of joints and relieve discomfort.

Avoid Overusing NSAIDs

NSAIDs are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen and naproxen sodium. Though they are thought to be harmless in proper doses, they may not be safe. They can increase the risk of renal damage, heart attack, and coronary problems.

Some athletes have found the effect of CBD on pain relief to be better than using NSAIDs while having fewer side effects.

An Alternative to Opioids

In 2016, the CDC stated that there were more than 42,000 deaths in the US related to opioid abuse from opiates like morphine, codeine, and Oxycontin. These drugs are highly effective for managing pain but they pose a great risk of addiction and overdose. CBD use is not as effective as opioid painkillers but they are much safer.

Pain and Inflammation

CBD binds with CB2 receptors to produce an anti-inflammatory effect by reducing cytokine production. Cytokines are proteins produced by your body that cause an inflammatory response. Reduce Gut Inflammation

Inflammation in the intestines is quite common among endurance athletes. CBD does not solve this problem altogether, but it helps relieve underlying inflammation. There are CB1 and CB2 receptors in the colon that the CBD activates.

Improve sleep 

Getting more sleep is the best way to stay healthy and help achieve better training gains. Athletes who consume CBD tend to sleep better, as the CBD inhibits the adenosine levels.

basketball game


Muscle Recovery

As athletes put extra stress on their muscles during exercise, they often experience sore muscles. CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system, helping with inflammation and post-workout muscular recovery. When inflammation is reduced, muscles can recover faster.

Appetite Stimulation 

CBD consumption helps stimulate appetite as it reduces inflammation in the digestive system, particularly in intestines that are often inflamed by excessive workout. As a consequence, it can help you gain weight. 

Concussion Protection

Studies on CBD use on athletes have shown that it influences the blood brain barrier as well as neurotrophic factors, cognitive capacity, cardiovascular physiology, and, finally, neurogenesis. All these elements are thought to be altered by concussions.

There are studies conducted on rats that prove that CBD had protective effects on the brain. This has to do with the fact that the endocannabinoid system plays an important role in protecting the nervous system and on its recovery from injuries.

CBD Post Workout Drinks

Nowadays, there are CBD infused protein powders, muscle rubs, and all kinds of supplements for athletes. CBD post workout drinks enter the digestive system and act quite quickly.

Which Athletes Use CBD?

According to the Basketball Online Society, since the Big3 introduced its interest in CBD use in athletes, many basketball players have stated they have incorporated CBD into their daily routines. Players who use CBD include Lamar Odom, Al Harrington, Jamal Mushburn, Rick Barry, and Raul Pierce.

basketball stadium


CBD Sports Performance

CBD products like oil, edibles, and topical creams have gained great popularity as consumers are in love with its all-natural therapeutic properties. While there is a lot of marketing around these products, there is empirical evidence that it has improved athletes’ performance.

In 2019, a research study conducted at the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) and the  McGill University in Canada found out that CBD binds to receptors involved in anxiety and pain.  Sports Medicine published a study led by Danielle McCartney of the University of Sydney that came to the conclusion that CBD is beneficial for exercise performance and sports performance.

Though 15 years ago cannabis use was forbidden in all sports competitions by WADA, in 2018 it was removed from the list of prohibited substances and now is even seen at sports events. 

Can athletes take CBD oil?

Yes, athletes are legally allowed to take CBD products such as oils and beverages as long as they do not test positive for THC consumption as it is a psychoactive component of cannabis. Keep in mind that some drug tests are not able to distinguish between the different cannabinoids. It is best to stick to broad spectrum products and topicals, and even then there is a risk for a false positive drug test.

The NBA and CBD

As high-profile players such as Lamar Odom and Al Harrington make public their use of CBD, the prohibition of the use of this substance has been revoked. Plus, the NBA is currently introducing CBD during some events. However, marijuana and all of its byproducts, including CBD, are still banned by the NBA and NBPA Anti-Drug Program. NBA commissioner Adam Silver has stated his will to revoke this ban on cannabinoids and allow players to use this substance.

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