Everything an athlete needs to know about CBD oil

July 03, 2019 15 min read

CBD oil for athletes

As regular readers of the site already know, the demand for CBD pain relief creams and topicals has skyrocketed recently. Now, the likes of CVS and big name, high street brands stock the products and sell them over the counter. Cannabidiol has never been as popular, which is why you are interested in using them for sports recovery. Bouncing back after a bad injury or even a hard session is difficult when the pain won’t stop, and you want to know if CBD therapy for athletes is the answer.

Of course, the answer to the question isn’t a simple yes or no. CBD pain relief creams have been used in the past to treat a variety of sports ailments, yet that doesn’t mean they apply across the board. To understand what you can and can’t do more deeply, it’s important to get to know the scientific pros and cons. However, you’re an athlete and not a scientist so you don’t want pore over the literature and burn the midnight oil.

This is where Enliven Essentials has your back. See, we are interested in the community as a whole and we want to learn as much as possible (nerds!). And, we want our readers and customers to access the information at the click of a button, which is why we’ve come up with this article. Below, you’ll find all kinds of info regarding CBD oils and topicals such as what it is, how it works, and why it’s helpful. So, all you need to do is continue reading our guide which we have laid out in layman’s terms. 

A History Of CBD Products

CBD seems like a relatively new phenomenon but this isn’t the case. As early as 2737 BC, Sheng Nung, the Chinese emperor, used cannabis in his tea to treat ailments such as malaria and gout. And, Queen Victoria was believed to use cannabis products to help ease menstrual cramps throughout her reign until the end in 1901. 

Still, the rise of CBD as a potential medical aid wasn’t discovered until the mid 19th century. An Irish physician and medical researcher, William B. O’Shaughnessy, published a study that outlined the benefits of the plant. Mainly, it described cannabis as a helpful anesthetic, one that doctors could use to put people to sleep. 

Later on, in the 20th century, British and American scientists expanded on O’Shaughnessy’s work and found and reported on the first Cannabidiol structure. Roger Adams, in 1942, went one step further and isolated the compound, also discovering THC along the way. 

So, What Took So Long?

There were over 30 years from Cahn and Adams’ work until a controversial bill was passed in the state of New Mexico recognizing the impact of medical marijuana. Why did it take so long? The short answer is the limited knowledge of the structure back in the 40s and 50s. It wasn’t until the 1960s when Dr. Raphael Mechoulam located the stereochemistry of CBD. Thanks to this breakthrough, scientists could better understand which chemicals were harmful and which ones were helpful.

Mechoulam also had another breakthrough – recognizing the hallucinogenic properties of THC. As a result, experts could determine that this caused the highs observed by smoking weed and not the cannabidiol. Sadly, even after the 1978 court case in New Mexico, attitudes towards drugs stopped the release of the findings. People didn’t know about the medicinal qualities of CBD, and those that did couldn’t see past the “dangers.”

Thankfully, the research didn’t stop and the 90s saw a turning point for CBD products. As the information became more widespread, a mini-revolution began to take place in the US with it gradually taking over the public discourse. By the turn of the millennium, eight states had legalized medical marijuana and many more would follow.

CBD In America Today

The 2000s weren’t a 1960s-like era where attitudes towards drugs were liberal. As late as 2003, 66% of the general public didn’t want marijuana legalized due to the perception of the drug. The fact that weed was marketed as a “gateway drug” meant average people assumed it was harmful and dangerous.

Thankfully, this changed when people began to share their experiences with medical marijuana and newly formed CBD products. As well as epilepsy and pain relief, the world started to see how powerful oil and topicals were. Once it became clear the CBD could ease anxiety, stress, insomnia, arthritis and more, conservatism turned to liberalism.

Now, hemp-derived CBD is protected under the Farm Bill of 2018 and the FDA has approved of products. The growth in popularity has led to everything from extra strength CBD pain relief cream to sleeping tablets and created a billion-dollar industry. Accessibility has never been as widespread as it is in 2019, and it is only set to continue.

How CBD Works

This is where things get complicated because the human body mixes with jargon to cause the mind to explode. However, in layman’s terms, the process involves CBD and something called the endocannabinoid system. Surprisingly, the human body has a method to deal with cannabinoids – hemp extract – because they occur naturally. Phytocannabinoids interact with your ECS in the same way the nervous system deals with dopamine to balance chemical reactions. 

Where does CBD come into play? Well, cannabinoids work in the same way as phytocannabinoids and boost your ECS. As a result of a higher level of homeostasis, the ECS has been shown to affect pain perception, appetite, and mood, among others. The CBD pain relief cream and topicals we offer here at Enliven Essentials use high levels of hemp extract to impact athletes.

How Does It Block Pain?

As an athlete, the thing that will interest you the most is the idea of reducing pain. Regular exercise means pushing the body to the limits and that causes it to break down from time to time. A cure, or a product which eased the tension, would be a massive game-changer regarding your lifestyle.

CBD therapy for athletes is about restricting the neurons that fire and cause the body to feel pain. Extra strength CBD pain relief cream does this, for example, by binding to receptors and preventing the release of neurotransmitters. The main receptors, CB1 and CB2, are found throughout the brain, spine and immune system, meaning they have a level of control over pain and inflammation. Enliven Essentials’ products target these specific receptors depending on the situation for your benefit.

Another reason the CBD pain relief creams we sell work effectively is down to the impact on the ECS. Introducing extra CBD into your system helps the control mechanism retain order and find a good balance between positive and negative transmitters.

Why Athletes Use CBD In Sports (Part 1)

There is a host of different medicines and medications available, so why has CBD therapy for athletes become popular? The obvious answer is it works and it does so effectively. Anything that can give an athlete an edge, as most of us are all too well aware, is fair game.

Of course, there isn’t anything untoward about CBD products and that’s one of the major advantages. As long as they are hemp-based and there is no THC, pain relief creams are perfectly legal, as attested by WADA and USADA. However, it isn’t only the lawful side-effects that are interesting as CBD has carved a niche within society. 


CBD pain cream for athletes


Pain Treatment: The Rise Of Pharmaceuticals

Statistics don’t make for pleasurable reading concerning America’s battle with prescription drugs. The “Opioid Crisis,” as it’s billed, claims over 130 lives in the US daily. And, more people are hooked on them and can’t find a way to break the addiction. Current figures believe a potential 30% of patients prescribed prescription opioids misuse them in some form, which is why 12% develop an addiction. 

How It Happened

It happened because of a mixture of greed and a lack of information. In the 90s, the big pharmaceutical companies assured patients they couldn’t become addicted to painkillers. As a result, hospitals and clinics started to hand them out more liberally with alarming regularity. Also, supermarket stores increased sales of medications over-the-counter to compound the problem. 

What happened next was a huge increase in the number of sufferers, and the 2000s was the turning point. As recently as 2017, 1.7 million Americans suffered from substance abuse and not only painkillers. More than 5% of the population of opioid users developed stronger urges and started to use heroin, too. Today, some 650,000 Americans are addicted to heroin, and, while the two drugs aren’t mutually exclusive, there is an undeniable link.

Where CBD Picks Up The Baton

Not only is a CBD pain relief cream effective at reducing pain, but it’s also non-addictive. When the THC is taken from the plant, the mind-altering effects are no longer a problem and that means users don’t have to worry about addiction. While taking painkillers may not seem dangerous, the epidemic in the US especially, and around the world, proves it’s a slippery slope.

Why Athletes Use CBD In Sports (Part 2)

Research proves that CBD is a three-dimensional medicine and can impact athletes’ lives on many fronts. Here are some of the extra reasons you may want to consider CBD therapy for athletes.


The crisis with opioids is real and it’s a massive issue, but it isn’t the only side-effect of over-the-counter drugs. NSAIDs are anti-inflammatories that normally come in the shape of Ibuprofen, and competitors have been using them for years. For the most part, like painkillers, the scientific community believed they were harmless. However, studies show links between NSAIDS and renal damage in athletes that participate in long training sessions.

But, the rest of the athletic community isn’t safe from the impacts of NSAIDs. Unfortunately, long-term use of these drugs may increase your chances of heart failure or a stroke. Although the research of CBD topicals is in its infancy, there is no proof to suggest any of the above. 

At the time of writing, side-effects occur when CBD is mixed with other medications.


Society as a whole is becoming more aware of the importance of sleep. As an athlete, you will understand the need to get a solid 8 hours per night for the sake of your body. To recap, the benefits are:

-    Tissue regeneration: sleep is the body’s chance to take stock and make repairs.

-    Better decision-making: tired performers don’t react as quickly as their brain function is lower.

-    Higher concentration levels: people who get quality sleep benefit from more focus.

-    Improved mood: it also regulates mood, making it less likely to react negatively and break down mentally.

CBD pain cream, oil, and topicals are effective as they improve the quality of sleep. Getting 8 hours isn’t healthy unless you achieve REMS. It does it by introducing ATP into the body and encouraging the brain to reuptake it. ATP is a carbohydrate you break down while exercising, and it accumulates in the brain. The result is a greater volume of adenosine for the neurons to take advantage of by binding with them and slowing the release of transmitters. What happens next is a reduction in brain function and that helps you feel calmer and less on edge, inducing sleep. CBD exacerbates the process by preventing the use of ATP, causing it to build more quickly.

The fantastic thing about ATP levels is they lessen during the night as the body metabolizes them. So, in the morning, you’re encouraged to wake up and start the process over to replenish their stores. 

Settled Stomach

An athlete’s stomach can be one of the main causes of pain during competition. While overheating and dehydration aren’t aided by CBD, it can reduce the level of discomfort in the gut. For long-distance runners, this is a major plus because it’s a big reason to drop out of a race. Thanks to the CB1 and CB2 receptors in the colon, CBD pain relief cream tackles the symptoms and reduces pain and inflammation. 


Exercising is rough and it usually results in aches and pains. You might feel good after a workout, but it doesn’t matter – the DOMS will get you. Delayed Onset of Muscle Soreness is when muscles suffer from tiny tears due to swelling. Ingesting protein is a good option as it helps regenerate muscle mass, but not everyone feels like eating or drinking after an intense session.

CBD binds with CB2 receptors to tackle inflammation and help reduce tension in your muscles as well as joints.


As well as developing an addiction, pharmaceuticals are bad for dropping off. What this means is the effectiveness becomes less as the body gets used to the medicine. After a while, the dosage needs to increase and this leads to problems with dependency. And, if athletes don’t up the amount, their performance will plateau.

Because CBD therapy for athletes revolves around naturally occurring substances, this isn’t the case with creams and topicals. While everybody reacts to cannabidiol differently, there’s no need to increase the amount once the balance is perfect. In short, it’s a recovery mechanism that never runs out and doesn’t lose its potency.

Why Do Athletes Need To Manage Pain And Recover Quicker?

At the top level, athletes need to churn out performances week after week to maintain their high standards. Some professionals, such as soccer players, can take part in two or three games a week depending on the schedule. The human body isn’t built to follow a hectic calendar won’t recover in time. Obviously, the first thing to go is performance as a high level of pain will make it impossible to execute weekly. 

Next, there is the long-term health of the individual to consider. To us, health equates to a rudimentary level of fitness and wellbeing, but not to athletes. To competitors, it means being able to get the most out of their potential to increase their earning power and leave a dominant legacy. Niggling injuries that prevent them from doing this are actively hurting an athlete’s bank balance as well as their career progression.

Pain Management and Recovery In General

It’s easy to dismiss the above as out of your league; you’re not a world-class athlete, so why bother. The truth is pain management and recovery tactics are big factors for the general public too. To maintain a relatively healthy lifestyle, it’s vital to exercise a couple of times a week and be consistent with your program. Of course, it’s difficult to do so when you wake up the next day with discomfort.

Humans only need a whiff of an excuse to quit, and pain is the perfect justification to pull out of a gym session. There is a connection between not working out and a sedentary lifestyle, and that means you can suffer from a multitude of complications. They include:

-    heart disease

-    stroke

-    obesity

-    reduction in lifespan

-    high cholesterol

The above is only a selection of the problems associated with not managing pain and recovering correctly. The good news is a CBD pain relief cream can stop the neurons from firing and limit the damage by regaining control of your internal ECS. So, with the help of a quality CBD product, there’s no reason to put your wellbeing at risk.

How To Use CBD Products

We’re a CBD distributor, so we know better than anybody else how many products and services there are on the market. Today, it’s possible to get your hands on everything from tablets and topicals such as lotions to edibles. There are even vapers for those who prefer to smoke them rather than inject, swallow or rub into the skin.

What you need to know is how to use CBD products in the correct way, and we have you covered. The trick is to choose the right method depending on the situation, the time limit, and what makes you feel comfortable.

Ingest Or Rub In?

The first thing you need to decide is whether you want to ingest CBD or rub it into the skin. To decide, start by going with the option that feels the best and is least invasive. For example, some people don’t like creams because they are sticky and take a while to absorb. In that case, tablets and edibles will go to the top of the list.

Absorption Rate

How you consume CBD will affect how long it takes to feel the effects. Generally, the quickest option is to inhale it via an electronic cigarette or to use drops and tinctures. Topicals are also pretty quick, with the slowest being edibles as they need breaking down before they are effective. If you need to feel the effects ASAP, avoid the latter and go with the former.


Where a CBD pain relief cream comes into its own is the taste: it doesn’t have one. It will do if you put it in your mouth, but there’s no need. Simply apply it, let it soak in and go about your day as normal. Edibles and oils, however, are a different matter as they are ingested and users often report a bitter taste.

How Athletes Get In Trouble

Because athletes use CBD for pain management, relief, and recovery, it doesn’t mean it’s not harmful. While the side-effects are few and far between from a physical perspective, professionals have to factor in the rules and regulations of their sport. Break them and athletes run the risk of a heavy fine, a suspension, and even legal action. Lance Armstrong is a perfect example.

Unfortunately for them, they don’t need to cheat on purpose as a positive sample is enough to force disciplinary proceedings. The following is what they have to consider before using a CBD pain relief cream or any cannabidiol product.

Is It Prohibited?

No, CBD is a legal substance in sport and has been declassified by the likes of WADA and USADA, the two biggest regulatory bodies.

Does That Make It Safe?

No. The bad news is cannabis plants from where the CBD is extracted contain 115 known cannabinoids that scientists know of at this moment. And, there is talk that there is more. All 115, including THC, are banned substances and will result in a positive test for athletes.

Why Is There So Many?

It’s two-fold: the plant and the extraction process. The plant creates excess cannabinoids in the first place and there is no way to avoid contamination. It’s a long and tricky procedure and the products aren’t usually free of THC or the other 115 contaminants.

Can They Get Away With It?

Probably not. Testing has advanced in recent years after lots of high profile cases of cheating. Also, CBD isn’t athlete-friendly as it stays in the system long after ingestion thanks to its potent half-life. As a result, athletes have to think long and hard before choosing a product which might cause them to test positive.

Is There A Way To Be Certain?

Yes, with FDA-approved products, but there is only one – Epidiolex. And, it’s only used for the treatment of seizures that are associated with two rare forms of epilepsy. So, the chances of getting a prescription for this drug are very low.

Of course, there is always a Therapeutic Use Exemption yet any misuse lands athletes in hot water, too. British cyclists have had to contend with questions about their use of TUEs, most notably Tour de France winners Chris Froome and Bradley Wiggins.

What About The Dosage?

This is another sore spot for athletes as it’s hard to regulate CBD usage. Everyone is different and it doesn’t work the same for one person as it does another. Therefore, it’s not difficult to over-medicate and flood the body with cannabinoids. When the product contains more than CBD, then the trouble starts and they have to answer lots of tricky questions.

CBD Outside Of Sport

If you think you’re excluded from the dangers of CBD because you’re not an athlete, think again. Although they are legal, cannabidiol has to hit certain criterion to be deemed acceptable. 

The main one is the amount of THC. If the product contains more than 0.3%, it’s registered as a controlled substance at a federal level. Even if it’s only used to help with pain medication, there are potential legal ramifications. So, you need to be careful where you buy the product from and use a respectful company such as Enliven Essentials.

The FDA has guidelines for people or businesses selling CBD too. Essentially, it’s illegal to promote CBD as a cure or treatment for epilepsy, diabetes, Alzheimer’s or anxiety, and stress.

The Science

It’s not possible to say CBD is perfect and there is nothing wrong with it. Otherwise, there wouldn’t be rules surrounding its use and the FDA would support more than one product. The honest answer is the research is relatively new and there are new nuggets of info released on a semi-regular basis. The FDA can’t rally around cannabinoids for this very reason.

Still, there are promising signs for athletes and anyone who likes to participate in sport or exercise regularly. In a review of over 130 studies, Frontiers in Neurology surmised it could improve pain, mobility, and inflammation. According to the authors, it’s got anti-inflammatory, antioxidative, antiemetic, antipsychotic, and neuroprotective properties.

Does This Change Anything?

For now, it’s still a no. Although medical journals are well-respected, they don’t impact legislation directly. For that to happen, there needs to be more empirical evidence regarding the impacts of CBD. 

What this means is that nobody can say for certain CBD prevents pain and aids recovery, but it’s probably the case.

What It Means For Athletes

In professional terms, the uncertainty surrounding the science means they have to be careful about what they put into their bodies. However, the term “athlete” doesn’t only apply to performers who participate for money. Anyone who is a competitor falls into the bracket, so it’s important for you to understand the dos and don’ts.

Do: Buy From A Trusted Source

Here at Enliven Essentials, we put all our effort into sourcing the best CBD products for our customers. That means you don’t have to worry about suffering from the side- effects associated with contaminated topicals. Our CBD pain relief cream is free of other cannabinoids and we’re confident because we test our range with a certified third-party. 

Don’t: Use It Without Consulting A Doctor

Because it’s impossible to be certain about usage and dosages, you should always talk to your doctor before using CBD for the first time. Go back for regular consultations to track the impact.

Do: Check Out The Side-Effects

It’s important to know what can go wrong as well as what can go right. That way, you weigh up the pros and cons and make an informed decision. With CBD, there is the potential to suffer from:

-    dry mouth

-    diarrhea

-    reduced appetite

-    drowsiness and fatigue

Don’t: Mix With Other Medications

Mixing medications is a sure-fire way to harm your body, and it’s no different with CBD. Blood thinners are believed to be the worst partner, so ask your doctor if you are on them or read the back of the packet if it’s an over-the-counter drug.

Do: Differentiate 

Some people think CBD and marijuana are the same and use them as if they are one. They aren’t and you need to keep that in mind. Our CBD is free of THC and mind-altering chemicals whereas marijuana isn’t and can have mental side-effects.

The Future Of CBD

There is no doubt CBD therapy for athletes will go from strength to strength in the coming years once the evidence accumulates. Popularity in the US is already very high with more people beginning to understand the benefits of CBD. And, as the athletic community takes strides forward, the rest of us will benefit hugely.

There is indeed some stigma surrounding CBD but it’s not going anywhere. It’s here to stay and hopefully this billion-dollar industry will only grow.

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