With CBD being heath and wellness’ hottest trend, it is no wonder that its use has moved into the world of sport for its benefits. Many athletes use CBD to improve performance, recovery time, or to help manage pain relief. The most recent sport to adopt CBD is golf. Scott McCarron, professional golfer, first tried CBD as a sample to help with some of his ailments. Where he found the most benefit was with his sleep. He tracked his sleep for a week and noticed a huge improvement in the quality and uninterrupted time of his sleep. He has since been using the product and is one of many golfers on the Champions Tour to use CBD for various reasons.
Athletes were hesitant to use CBD at first due to misinformation and perceptions surrounding the product. There has since been a lot of education and change in regulations, and more and more athletes are giving it a try. We are now starting to see sponsorships and high-profile players endorsing various products. Part of the reason for CBD being so popular in golf is that many of the players are aging and are looking for safe and natural ways to help them remain competitive. Some also believe that older players are more willing to speak about their CBD use as they are not tested for drugs as players under the age of 50 are.
CBD is a derivative of the cannabis plant but contains very small trace amounts of THC which is the psychoactive component of marijuana. Even though CBD is considered a health and wellness product versus a drug, it is not yet regulated by the FDA and so there exists inconsistency among products. Due to this uncertainty, younger players are hesitant to use CBD as they do not want to be flagged during a drug test. CBD itself is not illegal, but consumers and athletes need to be cautious about what is in their CBD and thoroughly research the companies and their products.
Functional Remedies EndoSport is a company recognized by the Champions Tour and now has 50 athletes using their products ranging from CBD capsules to topical ointments. Athletes are comfortable with the low THC levels. The PGA tour also accepts CBD as it falls under the category of allowed supplements. They do however caution players to do their homework as some products contain ingredients that are not listed on their labels. This same rule applies to all supplements including multivitamins and protein powders as there is very little regulation from the FDA for supplements as a whole.
In addition to inconsistencies that exist among products, because CBD is considered a supplement and not a medicine, companies are not permitted to make any medical claims. Reviews are therefore word-of-mouth testimonials and there is not a lot of scientific research and evidence currently. With that said, many players testify to improved sleep, recovery, focus and reduced anxiety. Bubba Watson, a big-name golfer, partnered with cbdMD and even wears the company’s logo on his gear during tournaments. cbdMD is another renowned company that producers its own CBD and carefully monitors THC levels.
There is still a lot of education required and companies continue to face resistance in the athletic community. As more and more players adopt the natural treatment, others are more willing to try it. What is crucial is that companies invest in independent scientific research as well as pay close attention to each sport’s regulations. There is also an NSF certification that companies can get that will give players the peace of mind to try their products. Currently, no cannabis derived product has such certification and the PGA Tour only partners with products that are NSF certified. Without further science to back up companies’ claims, they will not receive this certification.
McCarron continued to say that players who would often turn to drugs like Ambien to sleep and Advil to control pain, are now turning to CBD as a safer and healthier alternative. It is important to understand the effects of CBD, but many athletes take drugs like Advil often without considering the effects on liver and kidney function. He goes on to say that he rarely takes any anti-inflammatory medication since taking CBD which he feels is beneficial because taking such drugs so frequently can be really harmful. He also talks about alcohol being a go-to drug for golfers to deal with anxiety and suggests CBD as a safe alternative for the stress and anxiety that professional golfers, and athletes, experience.
The Champions Tour is surely only the beginning and we are likely to see an increased number of athletes and sports adopting CBD products. Further research is necessary and as it is published, hopefully more people will be able to benefit from various products. As CBD becomes more widely accepted, and perhaps even certified, players will be more likely to try the product and potentially replace the current pharmaceutical drugs that they are using. Further, players who currently use CBD will be more likely to speak about it and advocate for its use. The prospects are positive, and we will certainly be hearing a lot more about it.