Extracted from the marijuana flower, cannabidiol revolutionized the treatment of diseases such as epilepsy and other central nervous system syndromes. Now, with the advance of the understanding of its medical properties, the substance has become an ally of high-performance sportsmen.

The marathon runner Daniel Chaves was diagnosed with bipolar depressive syndrome shortly after the Rio Olympics in 2016. He lost the chance to qualify for the competition for 18 seconds on the race of 10,000 meters. The absence of games led to psychological problems and many difficulties in his career as an athlete, until Chaves found his physical and mental balance, with the help of cannabidiol (CBD). In the Tokyo Olympics, Chaves is one of the Brazilian athletes who most promote the use of the non-psychoactive. The substance extracted from Cannabis sativa has immense therapeutic potential and helps in cases of anxiety depression and pain (chronic or not), in addition to improving the quality of sleep.

Without the new legislation of the World Anti-Doping Agency Wada Chaves and other sportsmen would be in a completely different situation. Since January 2018, cannabidiol is no longer considered doping and has been used by Olympic athletes.

However, things are not that simple: athletes must ensure that the product with CBD does not have more than 0.3% THC the psychostimulant substance of cannabis and responsible for the main effects of the drug marijuana.

American athlete Sha’Carri Richardson, for example, tested positive for marijuana on the doping test and received a one-month suspension, enough to keep her out of the Olympics this year.

For the time being there is no data on how many athletes use the CBD. A series of coincidences, however, caused it to have a special growth in the last year: in 2020, Wada banned athletes from using steroids from 2021, with no expectation that the games would be delayed by the pandemic.

Corticosteroids have anti-inflammatory properties and are widely used in sports. With the ban and the Olympics moved to the following year, the athletes looked for another substance with the same antiphlogistic benefit: cannabidiol.

Italo Penarrubia, 30, is not in Tokyo, but began using Hemp flower products in 2016 to deal with chronic pain, anxiety and sleep difficulties. Penarrubia has a 16-year career in skateboarding and has already won the gold medal in the X Games tournament, considered the “Olympic Games of extreme sports”.

The role of the CBD

Recent scientific research has demonstrated the benefits of CBD flowers in the treatment of numerous neurological diseases such as epilepsy, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis and depression.

More recently, due to its anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects, there are indications that the substance is ideal for patients with chronic pain, such as osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia and, in the case of high-performance athletes, for accelerating post-exercise recovery.

Cannabidiol, unlike corticosteroids and opioids, or even ibuprofen, which is most used in everyday life for pain relief, does not cause damage to the gastrointestinal tract, and does not have a conflicting interaction with other substances, such as alcohol. There is also a neuroprotective effect. Athletes are very prone to mild brain injuries, and at this point, CBD has a great capacity to alleviate this inflammation and even worsen some neurological problem.