Why CBD May Be Your Go-To Recovery Tool in 2019

By: Annie Daly

Published: January 16, 2019

As someone who is clearly interested in health and fitness, you’ve probably heard about the wellness darling that is CBD — it’s seemingly everywhere right now. Perhaps you read the recent New York Times piece devoted to CBD, or maybe you’ve seen people raving about it all over your Instagram feed, or perhaps you’ve watched as it’s popped up on menus all around your neighborhood, from your local coffee shop to your smoothie bar and more. But while you probably know that CBD is all the rage right now, you may not fully understand why — or that it can help you improve your fitness regimen in a major way. Allow us to explain.

First things first: What is CBD, exactly?

CBD is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid compound that’s found in the marijuana plant, but is actually legal to sell in most states (though not all). Unlike THC, another cannabinoid that, as you know, is not legal to sell, CBD can help deliver some of the same therapeutic effects as THC—but it doesn’t get you stoned. Or in trouble with the law. If anything, people say it’s more of a body high, rather than a mental high. And though there’s still limited research on CBD, some preliminary studies have shown that it can help all sorts of ailments, from epilepsy to schizophrenia to insomnia to anxiety and depression.

But where CBD may be most helpful, as far as fitness fans like you guys are concerned, is its ability to help with pain relief. CBD has been shown to suppress your body’s inflammatory response, which basically means that it can help relieve tension from your sore muscles and other workout-induced aches and pains. CBD has also been shown to help support a stronger immune system in general, which helps keep your body in top form overall. That means that, if you’ve been upping your fitness game lately—maybe you’ve started doing more yoga or began working out with a trainer—CBD could be the recovery move for you.

In fact, CBD’s association with pain relief also fits right into a greater, incredibly zeitgeisty cultural narrative: recovery in general. As more and more athletes are pushing themselves to the max in crazy-intense boutique fitness classes or with a private trainer, the whole concept of “active recovery”—in which you make intentional moves to recover instead of just having a much-needed couch day—is gaining serious traction these days. Yes, people are finally realizing that they need to prioritize their “recovery practice” just as much as they pay attention to their workout routine, or else they’ll burn out entirely. It makes sense, then, that CBD is becoming more and more popular in the recovery world, too.

But wait: Is CBD safe?

Of course, it’s also important to note that the verdict is not officially out on the effectiveness of CBD—we’re still in the early stages of research, and simply do not know enough yet to be fully clear. Some doctors say that CBD may not mix well with certain medications, for example. And in the New York Times article I mentioned above, Dr. Esther Blessing, an assistant professor at New York University School of Medicine who studies CBD, also points out that most of the products we’re putting CBD in, like food and coffee, may not have enough CBD in them to even be effective. “There’s no solid evidence that they contain enough CBD to do anything,” she told The Times. “A CBD coffee may only have five milligrams in it. In order to treat anxiety, we know you need around 300 milligrams.”

And then there’s the legal issue. Even though it is technically legal in many states—but not all— it’s still not fully regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. In June 2018, the FDA approved the first CBD medication ever, Epidiolex, which is specifically designed to treat seizures associated with two particularly rare forms of epilepsy. But even though that was a big historical moment for marijuana in general—truly the first government-sanctioned use for CBD!—it was by no means conclusive or sweeping. The regulation status of CBD overall is still hazy at best. In fact, the DEA still considers other CBD products aside from Epidiolex to be a Schedule 1 drug, which, believe it or not, is the same category as heroin. Still, many states, especially those in which medical or recreational marijuana is legal or likely on its way to being legal, are selling more CBD than ever before.

How to take CBD

All of this said, if you find yourself in post-workout pain and live in an area where CBD is widely available, it can’t hurt to give it a shot for recovery purposes—just be sure to check with your doctor if you are taking other medications first. There are tons of ways to take CBD, but the best way in terms of ailing sore muscles is likely in lotion form (the other most popular forms are by oil, capsule, and candy). The popular CBD company Lord Jones makes a great CBD Body Lotion, for example, and Select Muscle Rub is also a good option. There are even recovery protein powders made with CBD, like altrufuel’s collagen + CBD recovery blend.

Bottom line: CBD is the current darling of the wellness world for good reason. Though the research on the trendy, mystical wonder compound is still in the beginning stages, it’s certainly promising, especially when you factor recovery into the mix. So while we’re not saying it’s guaranteed to work for you, it’s worth trying it out so you can give your body the TLC it needs—and set yourself up for your healthiest year yet.