Can Cannabis Offer Pain Relief for Athletes?
Although most of us associate athletes with health and clean living, we seem to forget all the negative effects that can come from pushing your body too hard or not getting enough rest. Combine that with acute and chronic pain from injuries and we get anxiety, depression and poorer quality of life.
Cannabis has many healing properties and there are some studies that support the notion that cannabis is effective in treating neuropathic pain.
Nevertheless, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) issued a consensus statement saying that “current evidence does not justify the use of cannabinoids for pain management in elite athletes”. Clearly, more research is needed to substantiate or disprove the statement.
The latest survey aimed to examine the link between cannabis use and pain among athletes. The study included 1,161 participants, 301 of whom were cannabis users. The majority of participants in the survey were male and under the age of 40.
The data from the study suggests that most adult athletes use cannabis for medical reasons. 30% of the respondents used cannabis recreationally and only 10% stated that they took cannabis more than two times a day. The cannabis users in the study also overtrained with 63% of them exercising 5-7 days a week.
The participants were divided into three clusters, depending on the type of cannabis they took and the reason for use. The largest cluster of 152 participants included respondents who all differed in terms of age, types of cannabis they used, as well as the frequency and duration of use.
The third cluster that used COMBO, a combination of THC and CBD, for medical and recreational use, demonstrated the strongest adverse effects. The members of this cluster also used cannabis the longest. The first group included 72 CBD-users who took cannabis solely for medical purposes.
Overall, participants in the study reported more positive than adverse effects on wellbeing and anxiety from cannabis use.
The study also managed to touch upon the issue of which cannabinoid is best when it comes to treating chronic pain. Is it the anti-inflammatory CBD that does not get you high? Or the euphoria-inducing THC? The answer is a combination of both. Although the exact ratio between the two cannabinoids has not been determined, the survey showed CBD alone does not provide the same therapeutic effects on pain and anxiety.
The final recommendations from the study: start your pain treatment by taking 5-10 mg of CBD 2 times a day, then increase the dose in 2 months until you are pain-free. Add 1-2.5 mg of THC and slowly increase the dose until you achieve the desired effect.