CBD vs. NSAIDs for athletes

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Cannabidiol comes in various forms, including CBD vape oil. Let us find out if such alternative medications can be helpful to athletes.

Why do athletes need pain reliever medications?

No matter what sports they play, athletes are constantly under immense physical stress. They resort to different pain management techniques to cope with the daily aches. These can range from massages to medicines. Taking over-the-counter (OTC) pain relief medicines, widely known as NSAIDs, is a popular remedy. But over the past few years, many athletes have switched from these old-school techniques to modern ones. As a result, CBD has become a common alternative. This article will know the reasons behind this switch, its pros, and its cons. Before jumping into that, however, it is essential to learn what exactly NSAIDs and CBD are.

What are NSAIDs?

The word NSAIDs stands for non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. So, any medicines you find over the counter for pain relief come under this category. So, this includes Aleve, Ibuprofen, Naproxen Sodium, etc. You do not need to produce a prescription from a healthcare provider to get these drugs. Thus, they can be a quick way of healing any ache or pain in the body. For decades, athletes have been taking these drugs to deal with their day-to-day injuries.

But using NSAIDs at high doses for an extended period can be detrimental to one’s health. There are several studies, large and small, which prove this. These medicines’ most common side effect comes from gastrointestinal (GI) problems. Peptic ulcers, renal failures, and even strokes can occur as a result. Heart attacks and high blood pressure are also known. Aside from the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, NSAIDs can interfere with liver and kidney functions, leading to toxicity. But athletes have to take some pain reliever regularly to endure their exhaustive play or exercise routines. So, they are more likely to be subjected to these harsh side effects than non-athletes.

What is CBD?

CBD or cannabidiol is a compound we get from cannabis and hemp plants. It is available in various forms in the market, including oils, capsules, tinctures, edibles, and beverages. So, what does it do? It is essentially an alternative medicine, which helps to relieve body pain. Aside from having anti-inflammatory properties, it can also be a mild sedative. Thus, it allows users to sleep better. Anecdotal evidence confirms that it is also effective in lowering anxiety levels. Due to these benefits, more and more athletes are opting to use CBD products for everyday use. Hence, they are an excellent option for anyone looking to manage their chronic aches better.

While CBD is primarily a cannabis-based compound, it does not have psychoactive effects like tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). So, you can get positive aspects like pain relief without experiencing the “high” feeling. That, in turn, lowers the risk of addiction and other problems like paranoia, anxiety, etc. In addition, cannabinoids, unlike NSAIDs like Ibuprofen, exhibit very few side effects. Some studies suggest that even when taken in high doses, CBD does not affect the human body negatively.

Should you be wary of CBD?

Every new product excited in the market is not suitable for your health. So, should you be concerned about CBD? The answer is yes and no. As a compound, cannabidiol is safe for consumption. That is at least the case for short-term usage. There is not enough research to show how cannabidiol can affect the human body for an extended period. In addition, it is often difficult to know how a company sources its drug. So, for instance, if it is cannabis-derived, it can contain large amounts of THC, which can be detrimental. That makes finding the right product a challenging task. Thus, it is always best to get third-party tested goods and avoid brands that make unrealistic claims.

Is CBD consumption allowed for athletes?

Athletes have to abide by a set of rules to ensure everyone starts at an equal playing field. Thus, this imposes various restrictions on what medicines they can take. Marijuana being a schedule 1 controlled drug is not legal, according to the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA). Similar is the case for the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). However, in 2018, CBD was made legal for athletes both in and out of season. So, if you are in sports and wish to consume it to elevate some of your pain, you are free to do so.

What is the correct dosage for CBD?

So, this drug can be an excellent option for anyone who suffers from aches daily, including athletes. But how much should one take? Unfortunately, there is no set dosage when it comes to CBD. Since it is a largely unregulated substance, there is often no guarantee of how much is present in a product. Besides, scientific studies on CBD are still in their infancy. So, finding the correct dosage for you will be a bit of trial and error. But to stay on the safe side, always start with a lower dose before taking higher quantities. It is best to restrict the dosage between 10-400 milligrams.

How do CBD products and NSAIDs interact with each other?

Both CBD and NSAIDs are anti-inflammatory in nature. But the course of action of an NSAID differs from that of CBD, and so do its side effects. So, what happens when you combine them and use them together? Some small-scale studies indicate a synergistic relationship between the two classes of compounds. So, if you take a drop of CBD tincture under your tongue, you will need far fewer pain reliever pills.


According to an athlete, switching from NSAIDs to CBD is justifiable. The reduction in side effects, additional benefits like getting better rest and less anxiety, etc., outweigh the cons. But you should still be careful. So, choose trusted brands and always follow cbdnews for more updates.

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