Publish Date: 05/24/2021
Fact checked by: Simon Briffa
CBD is famous for its diverse range of health benefits. Athletes in particular have much to gain from it. You don’t have to take my word for it—public advocates for CBD include some of the greatest sportspeople in the world.
If you want a boxing example, look no further than Mike Tyson. The former heavyweight champ has described CBD as “a miracle drug.” He credits it with successfully treating the chronic pain he suffers from as a result of two punishing decades in the ring (something he says prescription drugs were never able to do). Now he sells his own line of CBD products through his company Tyson Ranch.
And it’s not just Iron Mike. Anthony Fowler, Teofimo Lopez, and Shannon Briggs are also big CBD enthusiasts.
Now that your curiosity is piqued, let’s get down to the nuts and bolts of what CBD is, how it works, and why boxers are so enamored of it.
CBD is a cannabinoid, which means it’s a natural chemical compound found in the cannabis plant. Cannabis contains more than 100 cannabinoids, but they’re not all of equal importance. The most significant, in part because they’re the most abundant, are CBD and THC.
THC, which is short for tetrahydrocannabinol, is main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, and the reason why you feel stoned after smoking or vaping marijuana. It’s also why marijuana is still against the law in many parts of the United States.
CBD is not intoxicating; it will not get you high or affect your ability to operate machinery (or win a boxing match). Also, whereas THC can cause side effects that are difficult for some users to tolerate, CBD is very well tolerated. Even at exceptionally high doses, it causes only minimal side effects, if any.
Last but not least, CBD is perfectly legal. Most CBD products come from industrial hemp, which was legalized across the board in 2018. Since hemp contains only minute quantities of THC, you don’t have to worry about CBD hemp products getting you high. They could, however, trigger a positive drug test for THC—so be careful.
Each of us has something called an endocannabinoid system. It consists of a nexus of receptors that interact with the cannabinoids naturally produced by our bodies, as well as the external cannabinoids we ingest via cannabis and related products.
Since it was only discovered around 30 years ago, there’s still a lot we have to learn about the endocannabinoid system. However, available scientific evidence suggests that it regulates an array of biological processes, including sleep, pain, mood, anxiety, appetite, memory and immune system.
When CBD enters your system, it stimulates your endocannabinoid system, which then acts to restore the proper balance to the above-mentioned functions.
Research tells us that CBD has a wide variety of positive effects, many of which can directly benefit boxers. Below are a few of them.
Boxers are intimately familiar with inflammation. During a hard training session, whether you’re sparring, lifting weights or jogging to boost your aerobic capacity, your muscles and joints take a beating. The resulting inflammation can put you out of commission for a while if you’re not careful.
CBD, particularly in topical form, is a great way to reduce inflammation in your body and prepare it for the next workout.
Boxing and pain go hand in hand. You can’t do the former without experiencing a ton of the latter. Boxers know this going in. But even the toughest of fighters have a pain threshold that they simply can’t work beyond. CBD helps to naturally soothe your bruised muscles so that you can go harder for longer, with less down time.
Nothing helps your body recover from a fight or a hard workout like a solid eight hours of shut-eye. It’s while you’re asleep that your body repairs itself and regenerates damaged tissue. If you fail to get enough deep rest, you’re never going to reach your physical potential, and your boxing performance is sure to suffer.
Several studies have looked into the potential of CBD to treat insomnia, and the results are promising. There is also an abundance of anecdotal evidence supporting CBD as a sleep aid. Try taking a CBD capsule or a few drops of CBD oil just before hitting the sack at night.
Boxing is strongly associated with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain condition caused by repeated blows to the head. It’s a serious disease with major implications for a fighter’s long-term health and well-being.
While it’s too early to say whether CBD can help prevent or mitigate CTE in boxers, it’s proven to carry impressive neuroprotective properties. Definitely something to think about.