CBD For Rugby Players
At the start of the World Cup, excitement runs rampant around rugby pitches and pubs alike. Twenty international teams will clash over the course of multiple weeks, delighting fans and exciting the rugby community with the goal of being crowned world champion. Regardless of who you support, your team is full of tough, fit, and hardened athletes. After a long professional season, these guys have to pick themselves back up and compete at the highest stage.
How do they do it? And moreover, how can you do it? As an international rugby player myself, I’m all too familiar with the bangs and bruises of training. Not to mention the grueling dogfights of test matches. During my time at two women’s world cups, we had four days between test matches to somehow recover and compete at our best. While proper nutrition, sleep, pool sessions, and constantly seeing the physio rule best recovery practices, there’s a dark horse sneaking up on the rugby community and its providing incredible benefits- CBD.
CBD has made its way across all populations, as it’s known to combat pain, improve symptoms of anxiety and depression, treat parts of Alzheimers, epilepsy, or schizophrenia, and even improve the lives of pets. Therefore, large parts of the general public now use CBD as part of well-rounded health and wellness. But there’s an argument to be made that rugby players might need it the most. CBD And with the recent rulings of the World Anti-Doping Association, we might finally be in the clear.
What is CBD?
In case you haven’t heard, CBD is short for cannabidiol, just one of the cannabinoids found in Cannabis sativa. If all you heard from that sentence was cannabis, we don’t blame you. It’s not the same illicit drug as marijuana, however.
While technically CBD does come from the same plant, it’s an extract. Furthermore, there are strains of Cannabis sativa called hemp, which are required to have less than 0.3% THC concentrations when grown in the United States. As THC is the high-producing compound in marijuana, the likelihood of feeling effects from hemp are slim to none. Moreover, when the CBD is isolated from that plant, there’s absolutely no chance you’re getting high.
This is great news for rugby players. As World Rugby follow WADA, cannabidiol is now legal and safe to use in competition. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be cautious about your sources, however. Here’s the direct quote from WADA’s recent press release:
“Cannabidiol is no longer prohibited. Synthetic cannabidiol is not a cannabimimetic; however, cannabidiol extracted from cannabis plants may also contain varying concentrations of THC, which remains a prohibited substance.”
Great! But what does it do for rugby? Let’s talk about the endocannabinoid system, and how CBD works.
The Endocannabinoid system
Our bodies constantly regulate a large variety of systems, from our circulation to nerves and hormones. Recently discovered, the endocannabinoid system runs alongside these common processes to maintain homeostasis. Through naturally-occurring cannabinoids, this system regulates appetite, inflammation and pain, nervous health, sleep, and more.
CBD Benefits For Rugby Players
Rugby, in my biased opinion, is the toughest sport out here. I know there are plenty of other contact sports – football, boxing, MMA, ice hockey, etc. But you can’t deny the constant joint pounding of sprinting, side-stepping, and diving for a try. Of course, there’s black eyes stemming from a fight at the bottom of a ruck, and contorted positions we find ourselves in during scrums and mauls. Oh – and don’t forget the tackling bit.
CBD not only offers much-needed pain relief for rugby players, but it can also promote sleep, aid endurance, and reduce overall stress.
CBD offers an alternative to opioids for pain relief
Opioids have come under fire recently, as their addictive qualities continue to destroy lives. Despite their original medicinal intention, they’re now considered dangerous for long-term use. Unfortunately, rugby players are in pain – a lot – and need some kind of treatment. CBD provides an alternative everyday solution for pain relief with little to no side effects.
Interestingly enough, opioids activate the neurotransmitter dopamine through the endocannabinoid system. If these drugs already use the target system of CBD, why not go straight to the source?
General pain, chronic inflammation, and even acute inflammation (think sprained ankle), run through something known as a vanilloid receptor. As injury occurs and swelling ensues, vanilloid receptors transmit signals to your central nervous system. Basically, they press play on the button that screams “pain” in your body. In some cases, this is a good thing, as you might need to stop doing the painful activity for your own safety. In others, like a rugby game, you want that feeling to subside. According to the British Journal of Pharmacology, CBD works on those vanilloid receptors to limit pain signalling.
CBD For Sleep
Cannabidiol’s greatest effects on sleep follow stress relief. Overtraining, worrying about selections, or life’s other stressors can negatively affect our sleep. Lack of sleep decreases mood, vigilance, visuospatial relations, power output, and so much more. Sleep is its own performance-enhancing drug, and CBD can calm you down at night.
As CBD regulates the release of neurotransmitters, it subsequently controls a balance of stress and relaxation. CBD keeps your mood on the positive side, limiting anxiety and controlling mood. Moreover, regular CBD supplementation has been shown to improve overall sleep quality, regardless of mood.
Respiratory and Endurance benefits
In a pilot study out of the journal of Chronic Respiratory Disease, subjects were asked to rate their experience of breathlessness with and without CBD supplementation. Although the lack of participants proved results statistically insignificant, the study showed decreased unpleasant associations with breathlessness. In simpler terms, CBD can potentially reduce the feeling of “I’m going to die” when you’re out of breath.
However, these results came primarily in subjects with COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Healthy subjects didn’t report alterations with or without CBD. Despite the obvious limitations of this pilot study, it’s an interesting prospect for further research. If CBD can help athletes feel better when breathless, maybe that’ll make fitness easier.
Speaking of fitness, there’s the question of how CBD affects endurance. Since CBD can both increase pain tolerance and reduce perception in the first place, it makes sense that it could help endurance. While no research proves a direct correlation between CBD and athletic endurance, it’s all very new. If CBD can help improve sleep, mood, and pain perception, it follows that you’ll be able to train harder for longer.
What’s the Best CBD for Rugby Players?
With so many options emerging, how do you know which to choose? We have to discuss the elephant in the room first – drug testing. Rugby players still need to pass a drug test, even though CBD is permitted now. WADA cautions against certain types of CBD products that might put you at risk, so there’s three main distinctions you should know about.
Full Spectrum, Broad spectrum, and CBD isolate
Full-spectrum CBD uses the entire cannabis plant to make the end product. Even when taken from hemp, there’s a risk of it including trace amounts of CBD. While it does add other benefits, such as terpenes, flavonoids, and even THC itself, it’s too risky for competitive rugby players.
Broad-spectrum, on the other hand, uses the whole plant but actively removes THC. You get the entourage effect of an entire plant, yet reduce the risk of a positive drug test. Again, however, competitive rugby players should exercise caution.
Finally, CBD isolate is pure CBD. Nothing else. Assuming it’s extracted using high-quality CO2 methods by a reputable organization, this is your go-to.
In summary – if you’re subject to drug testing, take CBD isolate. Otherwise, choose the other versions. Now, let’s look at some of the top brands across the categories.
Hempura UK offers elite CBD products straight from organically-sourced hemp. They offer full-spectrum CBD, including secondary cannabinoids as well. These yield a well-rounded effect on the entire endocannabinoid system for maximum results. However, that also includes a tiny amount of THC. Although this combination has been shown as more effective for chronic pain treatment, it remains illicit in sport.
We included it here just in case that’s not a concern for you. If it is, they also include broad-spectrum options (which can still show up on drug tests over time). Plenty of recreational rugby players can benefit from all Hempura has to offer. Try their third-party verified formulas from their website.
Our choice for broad-spectrum CBD products comes from Joy Organics. They individually test each product in a lab before release, ensuring they’re all void of THC. Yet they still integrate terpenes and other cannabinoids in to their products, such as the CBD salve and CBD gummies. What’s best about Joy Organics – outside of the wide variety of products – is their bioavailability. Added oils bind topical CBD creams to the skin, while emulsification processes make oral CBD water soluble in the digestive system.
Finally, if you’re determined to get CBD isolate, look no further than CBDistillery. They offer THC-free gummies, oils, tinctures, and more.
In the near future, CBD will likely become commonplace amongst the rugby community. Right now, it’s still early days, but that doesn’t mean some prominent names haven’t caught the bug. England international George Kruis and Welsh international Dom Day have put aside their differences on the pitch to create their own CBD company, FourFive CBD. Learn more about CBD for rugby from the men themselves here, and enjoy using it to elevate your game.
Aidan Lehane is an entrepreneur who has a lifelong passion for CBD, Hemp and allowing people to find an effective natural remedy to many of their pains and illnesses.
Aidan has been a constant advocate for cbd and hemp legalization for over 2 decades and is often found researching & creating blogs and videos about CBD, on the Great Hemp Youtube channel while testing and reviewing countless products for quality and effectiveness.