Athletes strive for optimum performance and physical prime, exerting themselves every day for the majority of their life.
This evidently leads to the human body being put under intense strain, which is beneficial in some ways but also has a downside. This prolonged physical exertion can frequently lead to pain and injury.
It’s no secret that several countries have issues with chronic misuse of over-the-counter medicines. Despite the fact that these methods of pain reduction are effective, they pose a huge health risk and have the potential to become abused by users.
America finds itself in the depths of an opioid epidemic and, in many cases, users claim their addiction began as an innocent prescription for an injury. The National Institute on Drug Abuse provided a report detailing the harrowing statistic that more than 130 people in the United States die every day after overdosing on opioids.
Following years of this crisis, it’s clear to see why athletes and athletic institutions alike are turning their heads towards other alternatives, with CBD being a frontrunner in the race.
As of 2018, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) removed Cannabidiol (CBD) from its prohibited list after increasing awareness of the beneficial aspects. The benefits include pain relief, a reduction in inflammation, both of which are necessities for athletes, as well as the possibility of neuroprotective benefits for athletes prone to head and brain injuries. Football players and MMA fighters have been outlined as probable victims for such injuries by a scientific journal by Frontiers in Integrative Neuroscience.
Aurora Cannabis and UFC partnership
Following these new studies and revelations, Canada-based Aurora Cannabis Inc – a medical marijuana producer and distributer – has announced a joint venture with UFC, the largest mixed martial arts company in the world.
The two conglomerates will launch a joint clinical research program producing multiple studies to enhance knowledge on the relationship between CBD and athlete wellness. The duo will also research the potential use-case as an effective treatment for a multitude of ailments including inflammation relief and recovery.
“Our partnership with UFC is about committing to the science that will educate and advocate,” Aurora CEO Terry Booth stated.
“We are going to work together to change the way people think, to change the industry, and to launch the first hemp-derived CBD products that are backed by scientific research.”
Aurora and UFC expect to proceed with phase one as soon as possible and hope that phase two will be well underway within the next six months. The entire research partnership is to continue for eight years with the focus on research, safety, health and wellbeing of the athletes.
The UFC president Dana White also claimed that “about 50% of elite players use some sort of CBD which raises concerns on safety and authenticity of the products currently being used”.
CBD: preventative measures for concussions
Dr Ann McKee, a neuropathologist, examined the brains of 202 deceased American football players, 111 of them being NFL players, from a brain donation program and shockingly found that chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) was present in 110 of the samples tested.
CTE is believed to be caused by repeated blows to the head, a habitual injury in American football where concussions are commonplace since the game can be an aggressive contact sport. These specific head traumas can “lead to a build up of tau – a protein that’s been found in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s”, according to WebMD.
Sadly, there is currently no way to diagnose CTE other than through an autopsy.
Taking into account all the proven and plausible benefits of CBD and its pain management properties, CBD and cannabis could be a beneficial choice for American football players.
Eugene Monroe, a former NFL player told Rolling Stone magazine “I don’t take any pharmaceutical drugs, I’ve been managing my pain with marijuana”.
He announced his early retirement at the age of just 29 over concerns about his long-term health.
“All of the information regarding CTE and head issues, the science isn’t really advanced,” he added.
“I do still deal with a lot of issues. I still feel like I’m recovering from the concussion even though the team cleared me to come back on the field and play.”
Across the pond in the UK, professionals have been raising similar concerns over athletes’ welfare, in particular football (soccer) players heading the ball. Calls for restricting the move have been in talks after emerging scientific discoveries on the topic of CTE.
Dr Bennet Omalu, who discovered the brain disease, said in an interview with BBC Radio 5 that “it does not make sense to control an object travelling at a high velocity with your head”.
In 2002, aged just 59, England and West Bromwich Albion striker Jeff Astle died from brain trauma caused by heading heavy leather footballs, an inquest into his death found. Astle had developed Alzheimer’s after a 16-year career and suffering from the disease for almost 10 years before his death.
His daughter has called for further studies to be done via the ‘Justice for Jeff’ campaign, hoping to shed light on the potential links between CTE and heading footballs.
Athletes jumping on the movement
Following ongoing research on the benefits of CBD, which not only helps athletes reach peak performance but also remedies a multitude of ailments, many renowned athletes are becoming advocates for the use of cannabis in sports.
Most notably, former world heavyweight champion boxer Mike Tyson has announced plans to build a weed ranch to accompany his supply chain company Tyson Ranch, where he plans to grow cannabis and fund further research into the medical benefits of the plant.
Alongside his already popular cannabis plant, concentrates and edible offerings, He aims to build a cannabis-inspired resort incorporating glamping campgrounds, an edibles factory, supply store and the Tyson Cultivation School for educational cannabis orientated sessions.
Liz Carmouche, one of the first females to introduce women’s mixed martial arts (MMA) to the UFC has revealed she also uses CBD to heal faster and train harder. She became a spokesperson for Medical Marijuana Inc and aims to spread awareness on the beneficial components of CBD for athletes and others alike.
Another ex-NFL player – Ricky Williams – has embarked on a new journey of studying herbalism and alternative holistic therapy after founding his own line of cannabis-based products, Real Wellness.
The sheer volume of professional athletes endorsing CBD, sharing their own struggles and revealing how beneficial they’ve found the compound is extraordinary. It reiterates the need for further science-backed research into how it can save lives for future generations of athletes.
American number one male tennis player John Isner recently signed a CBD endorsement deal. Read about it here… https://theleafdesk.com/john-isner-signs-first-cannabis-deal-in-tennis/