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Is Marijuana a Performance Enhancing Drug?

is marijuana a performance enhancing drug?

Need yet another reason to get your Texas Marijuana Card? How about the fact that marijuana can make you a better athlete?

OK, that’s not exactly true, and marijuana isn’t exactly a performance enhancing drug, at least not in the sense that steroids are. In fact, a 2017 review of 15 studies on marijuana’s effect on athletic performance found that marijuana does not improve athletes’ strength or speed, and in some of the studies it was even shown to worsen performance.

So why then are so many athletes starting to sing the praises of cannabis as a valuable addition to their fitness routines?

“I think all athletes—whether they’re NFL or NBA pros or just serious athletes wanting to better their fitness—are learning about the therapeutic potential of this plant,” physician and psychiatrist Suzanne Sisley told Men’s Journal. “Athletes are teaching each other how to do this. It’s like a peer-mentoring process.”

The fact of the matter is, whether you’re an athlete, a weekend warrior, or just trying to keep healthy, marijuana can help you get the most out of your exercise routine.

Is That Why They Banned That Poor Lady From the Olympics?

While it’s true that U.S. track and field star Sha’Carri Richardson was not selected for the U.S. relay team competing at the upcoming Olympics in Tokyo because she tested positive for THC, it isn’t necessarily because THC is a performance enhancing drug.

The World Anti-Doping League (WADL), which regulates what substances Olympic athletes may use, bans substances based on three criteria: “It can enhance or potentially enhance performance; it represents an actual or potential health risk; or it violates the ‘spirit of sport.’” While THC is on the WADL’s banned list, the organization does not reveal which criteria landed individual banned substances on the naughty list.

Still, given the aforementioned studies finding marijuana isn’t a performance enhancer, it seems unlikely that it has been banned by the WADL for violating that criterion.

So Then How Can Marijuana Enhance My Exercise Routine?

More and more athletes are going public about their cannabis use and its role in their performance. Soccer superstar Megan Rapinoe, her fiancée WNBA champion and four-time Olympic gold medalist Sue Bird, UFC commentator and Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt Joe Rogan, and professional ultramarathon runner Avery Collins are just a few of the athletes who have been open about the role cannabis plays in their athletic success.

But if it can’t make them faster or stronger, what is cannabis doing for them?

Marijuana Aids in Recovery

For exercise to produce maximum results, it’s important to rest between workouts, a practice known as recovery.

According to Everyday Health, all workouts stress the body and cause inflammation. This damage that you’ve done to your body triggers the immune system to repair that damage, and when your body tissue recovers, they become a little more fit than they were before the workout. That way, the next time you perform the same workout, you won’t suffer as much damage.

“But you have to cause some damage to your body for it to adapt,” Dr. Adam Rivadeneyra told Everyday Health.

It’s the repetition of this process of stress and recovery that leads to improved fitness, and marijuana can help in the recovery process.

“After a 30- to 40-mile run, I’ll sit down, and my legs will keep throbbing and pounding; it’s like they think they’re still supposed to be going,” Avery Collins told Men’s Journal. “That’s when the CBD compounds help tremendously. They calm down your legs and, because they’re anti-inflammatory, let them recover faster.”

A study in the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine found that marijuana improved athletes’ pain thresholds, allowing them to shorten up recovery time and workout more often and more intensely.

“CBD has become part of my all-natural recovery system that I use throughout the day to help with pain and inflammation,” Megan Rapinoe told Forbes. “Instead of taking Advil or other pain management meds, I've almost exclusively substituted with Mendi CBD products.”

That’s consistent with a trend Men’s Journal reported, saying “this new wave of sports-world acceptance puts cannabis forward as a ‘biohack.’ That is, a plant-based alternative to opioid pain-relief drugs such as codeine or OxyContin.”

Marijuana Can Aid Sleep Quality

Getting an adequate quantity and quality of sleep is vital to the recovery process, and that’s another way marijuana can help you maximize your performance.

In fact, getting poor or insufficient sleep can negate the value of a workout, and some fitness experts even suggest skipping workouts the day after a bad night’s sleep.

And if you have trouble getting the sleep you need, marijuana, specifically CBD, might be what you need. According to the Sleep Foundation, “CBD can help with a number of sleep disorders, including insomnia, REM sleep behavior disorder, and excessive daytime sleepiness disorder. Additional preliminary research suggests CBD can also help patients improve sleep and reduce anxiety.”

Marijuana Can Also Help Ease Anxiety

Sometimes the problem with your on-the-field performance is actually in your head.

According to an article published in the Open Access Journal of Sports Medicine, “It is well known that sport has the potential for high levels of stress and anxiety, and that practicing and employing a range of psychological strategies can be beneficial in anxiety management. Equally, growing evidence also suggests that anxiety can play a role in sport injury prevention, occurrence, rehabilitation, and the return to sport process.”

So less anxiety means better results, and this is yet another way marijuana can improve your athletic performance.

While Texas does not yet recognize anxiety as a qualifying condition for medical marijuana use, many states do, and with good reason.

According to an article published in Monitor on Psychology, a journal published by the American Psychological Association, studies have shown that patients “who used cannabis to treat a range of medical problems including anxiety, had largely improved cognitive performance, reduced clinical symptoms and anxiety-related symptoms as well as a reduced use of conventional medications, including opioids, benzodiazepines, and other mood stabilizers and antidepressants.”

In other words, reducing your anxiety helps your athletic performance and reduces your recovery time. And getting better sleep reduces your anxiety and your recovery time. And reducing inflammation raises pain tolerance and reduces recovery time.

And medical marijuana can help them all work together smoothly.

Could Medical Marijuana be Right for You?

Whether you’re looking for pain relief, anxiety reduction, and sleep aid for their own benefit, or whether you’re looking to up your sports and exercise game, medical marijuana could very well be what you’re looking for.

If you’re ready to learn more about medical marijuana and the benefits it has to offer, why not reserve an appointment with one of our doctors today? As soon as we’re cleared to start seeing patients, we’ll schedule your appointment.

Together, you and your doctor will discuss your condition and whether or not medical marijuana might be right for you. You’ll also receive $25 off the cost of your appointment, and a full refund if your doctor decides not to recommend you for a Texas Marijuana Card. You have literally nothing to lose, and a whole new level of physical performance to gain!

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