By H. Hackman
It seems that long gone are the times when the news of athletes using cannabis for health reasons would shock a person. Today, more and more athletes suffering from traumatic injuries or chronic pain are using cannabis infused creams instead of traditional opioid painkillers. At the same time, athletes are turning the stereotype of the “lazy pothead” upside down.
Compared to opiates, cannabis is considered a more “natural” pain reliever, but this does not mean that it is necessarily less effective. We often tend to think that natural medicine is by default less effective and takes more time to work. But, Cannabis seems to deliver fast relief, and today many athletes use topical creams that contain cannabis for the simple reason that it actually helps them manage pain and heal more quickly.
Cannabis is not only effective for treating pain and muscle spasticity, it has also been shown to help to heal broken bones. According to a study published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, bones healed quicker, and were stronger and more resilient against a repeated fracture.
“We found CBD alone to be sufficiently effective in enhancing fracture healing. Other studies have also shown CBD to be a safe agent, that leads us to believe we should continue this line of study in clinical trials to assess its usefulness in improving human fracture healing,” said lead author, Yankel Gabet of Tel Aviv’s Bone Research Laboratory.
It seems that instead of popping pills that can make you groggy, maybe using CBD is an effective and alternative approach to treating pain and fractured bones.
Cannabis works in a way that doesn’t affect our internal organs and controls chronic pain caused by injuries, while also helping to regulate the endocrine system without exhausting its supplies, according to this study.
Cannabis contains a non-psychoactive cannabinoid called cannabidiol, or CBD that studies have demonstrated is effective in relieving pain. The human body contains CBD receptors and when an ointment containing CBD is applied to an injured area, our body produces CBD and directs its healing efforts to that particular location. CBD actually helps the healing of an injury naturally, and there are different strains high in cannabidiol for differing medicinal needs, including pain.
Effective chronic pain management is often a challenge for athletes and physicians. While opioids are often effective, particularly in healing postsurgical pain, the tolerance phenomenon often results in patients requiring increased levels of opioids. Many patients, get only limited pain relief from the traditional interventional treatments, which often have substantial side effects.
Many scientists believe that cannabis can help break the chronic pain cycle. Because cannabis has been used to treat a wide range of different kinds of pain, it appears to be a promising source of analgesic medication. That is the reason why many countries (like Germany) are reconsidering the cultivation of cannabis for healing chronic pain.
More and more athletes turn to cannabis to manage their pain effectively, while also minimizing side-effects and improving their quality of life.
As athletes push their bodies to the limits, they face muscle pain, inflammation and other painful conditions and injuries. Many athletes use cannabis to dissipate the aches and pains. One big concern for the athletes that use cannabis is that it may show in the drug tests that they have to pass regularly. Amanda Reiman, PhD claims in an article for DrugPolicy.org that topical cannabis does not.
Recently there has been a debate in the National Football League after some NFL players publicly supported medical marijuana for chronic pain. They say that marijuana’s side effects are very minimal and easily manageable. Jamal Anderson a former Atlanta Falcon recently told Bleacher Report that he had seen many players during his career that they used cannabis to help control pain and stress.
Although there is still a lot of research looking into cannabis as a solution to chronic pain, the former president of the American Academy of Pain Medicine, Dr. Lynn Webster, gives an optimistic view saying, “We need to find better treatments for athletes and non-athletes, and cannabinoids may by one way.”
H. Hackman has studied Sociology and Law and has written about legal developments on psychedelics and cannabis for the last 10 years. He lives in Brussels.