How can cannabis improve your workout experience?
Do you work out? If you’ve ever felt the gentle buzz or the smooth rhythm after finding your pace on a long run, then you’ve experienced the “runners high”. It’s no wonder that this very topic was recently the focus of a study to determine if endorphins are the true source of the “runners high” or if they could be contributed to something else. Endocannabinoids.
We know that cannabis has anti-inflammatory and pain-reduction benefits that pair well with the impacts of exercise. Alongside these benefits, it’s been recently discovered that endocannabinoids, not endorphins, are responsible for the runner’s high euphoria. In a recent study, German researchers set out to determine whether or not mice felt a runner’s high if their CB1 cannabinoid receptors were not intact.
The study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, demonstrated that the endocannabinoid system is crucial for two main aspects of a runner’s high. Without intact cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB1) receptors the mice didn’t feel the anti-anxiety properties felt by those who had intact CB1 receptors. Additionally, pain reduction is dependent on the activation of peripheral CB1 and CB2 receptors. What does that mean in plain English? Without your endocannabinoid system, even endorphins wouldn’t give you the euphoric feelings from working out alone.
So what does this mean when it comes to utilizing cannabis and working out? This is just the tip of the iceberg. There are many aspects of how cannabis may interact with our bodies that still need formal studies. Currently, organizations like Athletes for Care are in the process of commissioning research to study the effects of CBD on the brain, but there is still much to be learned. In the meantime, let’s dive into what we do know.
How exercise and cannabis interact within our bodies
In a study titled “Exercise increases plasma THC concentrations in regular cannabis users”, scientists reported that the major psychoactive ingredient of cannabis, Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), accumulates in fat tissue. THC is stored in fat tissue and slowly diffuses back into the bloodstream when fat cells are utilized for energy, often producing a slightly euphoric feeling like that of consuming a small amount of cannabis.
This is especially true amongst regular cannabis users who have larger amounts of dormant THC that have been stored in fat cells. This also means that long after your initial high wears off from consumption, your body may utilize THC for a second time. Yes, you read that correctly. Your body can get “high” for a second time if you exercise. In this study, THC blood levels increased by approximately 15% immediately after moderate exercise, yet this increase was no longer present two hours after the workout.
Cannabidiol has shown amazing benefits such as pain relief, the reduction of inflammation, and the reduction of soreness between workouts. The cause of delayed muscle soreness from exercise is unlike chronic pain in that it is controlled primarily by the endocrine system. Cannabidiol has shown promise in aiding pain-relief of non-injury-related pain. In addition, CBD encourages the death of T cells and dendritic cells, two immune system cells that trigger and play a significant role in the inflammatory response. Fighting inflammation increases the recovery speed between workouts and endurance during them.
How to utilize the benefits of working out with cannabis:
Utilizing cannabis regularly may aid your body by improving insulin sensitivity. A recent study showed that regular cannabis users have lower fasting insulin rates. Working out burns glycogen, a form of glucose that is stored in the muscles. One of the main functions of insulin is to lower blood glucose levels by enabling glucose to enter the cells of the body, where it is used for energy or stored for future use. In addition, this study saw that regular cannabis consumers had smaller waist circumferences.
When considering cannabis as a part of your workout routine you should consider your goals. Cannabis and CBD can be beneficial consumed the day before a workout, just minutes before a workout, after a workout, or consistently as part of a daily regimen. If you are looking to experience the euphoric effects of cannabis while you work out, a pre-workout smoke session may be a good option for you. Want to overcome the mental component of pain from a workout? A topical application or a CBD/THC combination in a patch may be best for you. The options are endless and can be accommodated to your needs.
- THC Cannabis products for euphoric effects during a workout
- THC/CBD combo to overcome the mental component of pain post-workout
- CBD is a daily anti-inflammatory to keep muscles and joints feeling healthy
- THC-infused foods consumed pre-workout timed to release alongside or after a workout is complete
- CBD pre and post-workout for a bookend of healthy cannabinoids to heal and rejuvenate
Before you smoke, think about the best way to consume for the purpose you want to achieve. In this free ebook, Papa & Barkley describes various delivery methods and the potential effects they may achieve. It’s also wise to consider cannabis-based versus hemp-based products. There are big differences between the two, and you should be informed so you know which option to choose.
Why OTC pain relievers are not the best answer for your workout:
Are you taking over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers pre-workout to keep aches and pains at bay? Many people, especially those who experience chronic pain, do this. However; healthcare professionals almost universally warned against this. When you experience aches or soreness, the tissues in your body are producing a group of lipid compounds called prostaglandins. These compounds tell the body when to swell tissue (inflammation) or raise body temperature (fever). Many OTC painkillers block important enzymes (COX enzymes) required for prostaglandin to reduce pain and inflammation. The COX-1 enzyme plays a role in protecting the stomach and intestinal lining and taking OTC pills that block them, can cause injury when used regularly before workouts.
Much like OTC NSAIDS which aim to reduce inflammation, studies have shown that cannabis is known to inhibit the release of pro-inflammatory molecules. Cannabis also displays synergistic effects with other systems that influence analgesia (the inability to feel pain), especially the endogenous opioid system.
Is cortisol the culprit in the inability to lose weight?
Have you ever experienced plateaus in weight loss or difficulty with gaining muscle? One primary limiting factor may be due to the catabolic hormone, cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone produced during physically and mentally high-stress situations. Cortisol also reduces protein synthesis and actively prevents tissue growth. The tricky part about getting in that rigorous workout is that a strenuous exercise session could trigger your adrenal glands to flood your system with cortisol. So what are you to do if working out is creating a hormone that impacts the effectiveness of your exertion?
In a study published in September by the Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research, CBD was found to interfere with the production of cortisol through mechanisms within the body’s Endocannabinoid System (ECS). CBD supports the endocannabinoid system, which studies have shown to be tied to the endocrine system (the glands that control hormone production). Supplementing your daily activities with CBD, or consuming it before a workout may help to control cortisol levels, helping you to get the most out of your workout.
Holistic methods that may positively affect your work out session
Are there additional things you could be doing to ensure your body is set up to get the most from your workout regimen? With minimal effort, these tips could help you prime your body to absorb proper nutrients and get those gains you’re looking for.
- Ensure hormones are properly balanced
The hormones that affect the body most during a workout are also integral to several other systems like the body’s sleep-wake cycles or the way our bodies utilize carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. When the body is working overtime to compensate for deficiencies in these other systems, it can hurt exercise efficacy.
- Increase hours of sleep and utilize melatonin
Logging hours of sleep are absolutely important, but may not be enough to have a positive impact on the body’s natural circadian rhythm. That’s why some people may need to support sleep with increased melatonin intake as well. Melatonin levels play an important role in both causing the “sleepy” feeling people feel before going to sleep, and reducing the body’s overall cortisol response.
- Include stress-fighting foods in your diet
Choosing a diet with nutrients like Omega 3, Potassium, and complex carbohydrates will specifically combat these effects. Potassium-rich foods like avocado, leafy greens, and tomatoes also help keep blood pressure in check, which tends to spike when stress hormones are released.
- Utilize an Ice bath
Plunging into a bath of cold, icy water (about 45 °F) for at least five minutes is worth the chill. Many elite athletes use cold water immersion as part of their regular recovery regime to hasten the muscle repair process. The most beneficial time to utilize an ice bath is as soon as possible after your workout.
- Drink Cherry Juice
Cherries are red thanks to anthocyanins – pigments that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Drinking cherry juice post-workout can help to reduce muscle soreness and exhaustion.
- Ensure hormones are properly balanced
Some things to consider about cannabis and your work out:
There are many reasons why cannabis may be a good supplement to your exercise routine. However; If you are looking to build mass, THC may not be the best option immediately after your workout. Although there is still a need for more evidence, some research has shown that THC may reduce testosterone levels slightly, which is an important hormone in the process of building muscle.
What are some useful cannabis & CBD products for working out?
Papa & Barkley Releaf Patch 1:1
When sore muscles need a dose of healing cannabinoids, a slow-release patch has the potential to offer up to 12 hours of pain relief. This slow-release patch sticks to the skin with a quick and easy application, offering transdermal delivery of full-spectrum cannabinoids. Depending on the ratio of THC to CBD you choose, the product has the potential for some psychoactive effects.
California Dreamin Sparkling Pomegranate Juice – 10mg
A low-dose beverage may be the perfect pre-workout option for someone looking to have the helpful euphoric effects of THC to fuel their workout. Made simply of fruit juice, cannabis, and carbonation, this beverage steers clear of the sugary additives that are harmful to a workout. The low amount of THC makes this the perfect pre-workout drink because it is enough to overcome aches and anxieties without the lack of motivation that may come with a higher dose.
Receptra Active – 2oz – 1000mg
Receptra Active full spectrum hemp extract aims to defend against muscle, joint, and mental fatigue with naturally occurring cannabinoids, antioxidants, neuroprotectants, and a proprietary blend of essential fatty acids. With 1000mg of CBD, turmeric, MCT oil, and fatty acids from avocado/grapeseed oil, this blend supports healthy blood flow while supporting the body’s ability to burn fat.
This gel pen is intended to be applied directly to the area where you most feel pain and soreness. The effective dermal delivery is intended for proper absorption, and support, and reducing taxation on your internal systems. This fast-acting application can be felt in as little as 5 minutes.
No matter how you plan to utilize cannabis for your workout regimen, it may take patience to determine the best combination of timing, product, and dose. Be patient with the process and document the effects to narrow down the right options for you. Don’t be afraid to consult with a cannabis-focused doctor to get their insight on the best options for your health goals.
By Bri Smith
This website is informational and cannot diagnose or treat illness or disease. Medical marijuana aka cannabis should be used under the direction of a licensed healthcare provider. This site is intended for adults and legal medical marijuana patients. This site contains links to products we sell on our marketplace.
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