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CBD 101  

How Does CBD Help the Athlete?

Through exercise and training, all athletes, whether they  are amateurs or professionals, place stress on the body,  most notably on the muscles, joints, and skin. This wear  and tear causes inflammation, which in turn leads to  injury. Chronic use of nonprescription pain relievers,  such as NSAIDs (naproxen sodium and ibuprofen), can  cause kidney damage and potentially increase risk for  stroke and cardiac events. Chronic use of prescription  pain relievers can lead to addiction and overdose. While direct clinical studies of CBD use in athletes are unavailable at this time, information available on nonathletes  can be extrapolated to the athlete population.  CBD may offer the following benefits to athletes:

  • Anxiolytic - calm anxiety  which plays a role in race performance
  • Non steroid anti-inflammatory benefits to manage training injuries
  • Improves sleep
  • Calms gut discomfort 

Skin benefits of CBD :

  • Anti-inflammatory/ antioxidant 
  • Decreases inflammation
  • Neutralizes damage  from environmental free radicals
  • Minimizes oil production


What Is CBD?

CBD is one of over 100  naturally occurring compounds found in a group of flowering  plants called Cannabis Sativa.  THC ( tetrahydro cannabinol) is the most  notorious of the compounds  because of it’s psychotropic effects  or “high” when used.   On the other hand, CBD and the many  non THC  compounds derived from the cannabis sativa plant have the potential to offer many medicinal benefits without the “high”. 

The Cannabis Sativa plant grows quickly and , for centuries,  has been used to create  fiber for industrial use. It’s products include textiles, paper, building materials and food.  At some point today you will likely use a product derived from the Cannabis Sativa plant.  This plant has two species- hemp and marijuana which  can be considered  close relatives, not twins.  CBD  is derived from the Hemp plant and, by definition, containing less than 0.3 %THC by dry weight while Marijuana classifies the variety of cannabis sativa that contains more than 0.3% THC by dry weight and can induce a “high” or psychotropic effect.  Hemp contains higher levels of CBD which helps our bodies maintain overall wellness with no psychoactive effect.


How does CBD work?

In order to understand how CBD works in our bodies we must first understand how our cells function.  Our cells communicate with each other through a complex cell messenger or signaling system.  Cells can change their behavior based on the message they receive.  The message (key) is received by a receptor (lock) located on the cell.  When the key fits in the lock, the behavior of the cell can change.  This complex signaling system, which was discovered in the 1990s is called the endocannabinoid system (ECS).  It plays a role in regulating many of our bodily functions related to our overall health and sense of wellbeing including sleep, mood, pain, immune,  skin and nerve function.

The ECS has three components:


  • Endocannabinoids  are neurotransmitters (messengers) which are produced by our bodies and interact with receptors to keep our body functioning properly.  Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids are important in our body’s production of endocannabinoids.   Phytocannabinoids are plant derived sources and include CBD, THC which function similarly to our bodies endocannabinoids.
  • Receptors bind endocannabinoids. They are scattered throughout our bodies function as a lock and cannabinoids act as the key.
  • Enzymes help to make and then break down the endocannabinoids



Is CBD legal?

Yes! Since 2018 the World Anti-Doping Agency no longer prohibits the use of CBD and the world health organization categorizes CBD as safe and well tolerated in humans.   THC is still prohibited by these organizations.

The 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp as a controlled substance  and legalized hemp cultivation with restrictions.  CBD is legal federally  but must adhere to federal guidelines that it be sourced from the hemp plant and contain less than 0.3% THC by dry weight.  State laws may vary. provided updated information on the laws of each state regarding CBD


Hemp vs  CBD oil

Both Hemp and Marijuana plant species have seeds, leaves, stalks and flowers.  Hemp seed oil is made only  from hemp seeds and is used for cooking and is a  staple in skin care products due to it’s non pore clogging properties.  

CBD oil is made from the leaves, stalks and flowers of the hemp plant which contain a higher concentration of CBD but and is non psychoactive as it contains < 0.3% THC.

CBD oil absorbs into the skin and binds to cannabinoid receptors in the body.


Other terms you should know

  • Isolate:  contain only CBD from the cannabis plant. Broad Spectrum
  • Broad Spectrum:  contain other compounds and cannabinoids found in the  plant such as terpenes
  • Full Spectrum: Broad spectrum + low quantities of THC ( <0.3% )
  • Terpenes: fragrant oils found in plants.
  • Flavenoids: phytonutrients  seen in fruits and vegetables
  • Entourage Effect: enhanced benefit of all components working together as seen in a full spectrum product. 


How to use CBD and Dosing


FDA approved dosing is available only for Epidiolex, the   one prescription cannabis derived product used for the treatment of seizures and epilepsy.  All other products have no official guidelines for usage.  Before starting any CBD product one should consult with their doctor.

The amount of CBD  that one takes depends on the type of product and the  way in which it is taken.  CBD comes in many forms

CBD comes in many forms:

  • Ingested: Capsules, gummies, pills, tinctures
  • Topical: muscle rubs,  balms , creams, oils, lotion
  • Inhaled : vaping. Offers fast absorption however inhaling any product comes risk of lung damage.

Look for products that have been tested by a 3rd party to assure the label’s accuracy and certificate of analysis.

CBD should not show up on any drug test as long as you are purchasing third party tested CBD with no added THC. Professional athletes drug testing is often more sensitive and they could potentially test positive for trace amounts of THC if using CBD products.


Hemp Oil versus CBD Oil 

Both hemp and marijuana plant species have seeds,  leaves, stalks, and flowers. Hemp seed oil is made only  from hemp seeds. It is used in cooking and as a staple in skin-care products because of its non-pore-clogging  properties. 

CBD oil is made from the leaves, stalks, and flowers of  the hemp plant, which contains a higher concentration of  CBD than the marijuana plant, but is nonpsychoactive  because it contains less than 0.3 percent THC.

CBD oil absorbs into the skin and binds to cannabi noid receptors in the body. 

CBD Oil Hemp Oil
Extracted from the whole hemp plan. Extracted only from hemp  seeds.
Low in THC No THC
Rich in CBD (cannabidiol)  No CBD 
Contains additional canna binoids, such as CBN, CBG, and CBC Rich on omega-3 and omega-6
Primarily used for medical purposes Primarily used in cooking, as a moisturizer, and as a  daily supplement.


What to Look for in a CBD Product 

Derived from whole hemp, which is sometimes called “full spectrum” 

Certificate of analysis by an independent third party.

Consider products by Joyla™, which is a company that focuses on skincare for athletes, many of which contain CBD. Visit for more  detail about CBD and skincare products for athletes. 

CBD should not show up on any drug test as long as  you are purchasing third-party-tested CBD with no  added THC. Because drug testing in professional athletes  is often more sensitive, they could potentially test positive  for trace amounts of THC if using CBD products.