By Bonnie Hagen, Founder of Bright Energy Wellness
The turning of the seasons ushers in a wave of athletes of all ages to fields, pools, and courts across America. From swimming to bowling, softball to pickleball, and tennis to speed walking, participation in organized sports is on the rise. According to the Physical Activity Council, 218.5 million Americans participate in athletic pursuits – that is more than 70% of the population. As the number of athletes grows every year, so too does the number of sports and recreation-related injuries, especially among active older adults.
As we age, physical activity is a great way to spend our time, improving both mental and physical health, and enhancing our quality of life. Yet, it does come with some risk. The main reason for sports injuries among active older adults is that flexibility and reflexes decrease with age. If you’ve ever had a sports-related injury yourself- a twisted ankle, a trick knee, a wonky back- you may have tried a few months of physical therapy or visited a chiropractor. Or, you may have popped an Advil (or three) every morning. Still, the pain lingers. Even professional athletes, with team-sponsored health services and therapists, have trouble kicking the injury bug. You’re doing everything you can to recover, but how do you manage the pain? Enter CBD.
CBD (short for cannabidiol) is the non-intoxicating cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant – whether hemp or marijuana. CBD has many potential therapeutic benefits, including anti-inflammatory, analgesic, anti-anxiety, and seizure-suppressant properties.
Reducing inflammation is key to recovering from many sports injuries, and that is exactly where CBD shines. The Food and Drug Administration does not permit companies to make any claims about products with CBD despite the clinical and anecdotal evidence that exists. The following are not claims, but rather personal experiences with CBD reported by clients of Bright Energy Wellness, along with research from the National Institute of Health database.
CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system, which is our body’s system that regulates cell health and coordinates healing. Because of its access to the immune system, CBD can tell your body to stop sending so many warrior immune cells to the injury. Using a CBD topical on an affected area can help reduce the swelling and relieve pain.
Muscle cramps are another common occurrence when working out or playing sports. Muscle cramping is often due to premature fatigue. CBD topicals work very well for muscle spasms as they are a muscle relaxant and can specifically target the problem area.
We’ve all heard the stories of athletes being prescribed opioids for pain and the addictive nature of these treatments. CBD has no addictive properties, making it a very attractive option for dealing with pain. In fact, CBD is being used to treat opioid addiction. In 2018, The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) deemed CBD okay for athletes to use.
So, the next time you get shin splints from a session on the treadmill, having some CBD on hand could literally change the game. Just make sure you do your homework about the product you choose. It can’t fix your form (maybe get a trainer!), but the right CBD product can help reduce pain, reduce inflammation, and help you recover from an injury faster.
What follows are the personal experiences reported by clients of my company, Bright Energy Wellness. While every person responds in their own unique way to CBD, I thought it would be useful to share the positive experiences that active, athletic older clients have had using CBD.
Jean, Reporting On The Experience Of Her Husband Dan:
My husband, Dan, loves to play tennis, but he started to experience pain and burning on the outside of his elbow. He went to see the doctor. Besides anti-inflammatories, his doctor recommended physical therapy, where they did exercises to strengthen his elbow and surrounding area and showed him how to rest his elbow in a pain-free position. After a few weeks, the pain subsided a bit, but he still felt weakness in his forearm and had a weakened grip. He was anxious to get back to the tennis court but didn’t because he was afraid the pain would intensify again. After a few months of physical therapy, avoiding the tennis court, and taking anti-inflammatories daily, my husband felt he had plateaued in his recovery. After having another evaluation by the physical therapist and the doctor, surgery was recommended to him.
Dan was not thrilled about the prospect of having surgery but felt he had no other option. We started to plan for the surgery, meeting with the surgeon, calling the insurance company, making pre-op appointments, and letting our son and daughter-in-law know that we couldn’t babysit for our grandchildren during this time. That was when our daughter-in-law, Tina, told us about CBD and how it had helped her with her neck pain after she was in a fender-bender. She said her mother uses it regularly to help reduce the pain from arthritis. We were starting to become very hopeful until she told us that CBD was from the cannabis plant. Dan and I politely refused to try it. After all, we grew up in the ‘reefer madness’ generation.
Tina corrected our misperceptions about CBD. She explained that it is now legal, it does not intoxicate people, and there is new medical research that points to the many health and healing benefits of CBD. She found us a high-quality formula that didn’t have any artificial ingredients, fillers, or dyes. She got us a salve that Dan puts on his elbow and the surrounding area every morning. She also got us a tincture that he takes twice a day – holding it under his tongue for thirty seconds before he swallows it. It took exactly 8 days and then Dan did not have any pain or weakness whatsoever. Dan canceled the surgery. His doctors and physical therapist could not believe his recovery.
Dan stopped taking his anti-inflammatory medication on day 14 and the pain did not resume. He still continued to put the salve on his elbow every morning and take the tincture twice a day. On day 21 Dan decided to play tennis. He took it easy at first, but in no time, he was back to his usual self.
Dan considered discontinuing the CBD once his tennis elbow healed, but he noticed other benefits of taking CBD. He noticed his sleep improved. He says he doesn’t wake up as much in the middle of the night and he sleeps deeper – he feels more refreshed when he wakes up in the morning. I also notice that he experiences less anxiety than normal in certain situations. Tina said that many people incorporate CBD into their regular wellness routine, like taking vitamins daily, and with no negative side effects, there really is no reason for Dan to stop taking it. I started taking the tincture too, at the same time that I take my multi-vitamin every morning. Dan continues to take the tincture twice a day every day, and we save the salve for times when a topical approach to healing is needed. We are both so grateful that our daughter-in-law told us about CBD and addressed our initial objections. It has changed our life for the better.
NOTE: Dan used a 300 mg salve, applying it once per day and a 750 mg tincture, taking 25 mg in the morning and 25 mg in the evening. Jean also uses a 750 mg tincture and takes 25 mg before bed. Results vary by individual.
Frank – An Avid Golfer:
My golf buddies and I (all retired doctors) have been using CBD for a little over two years now. We all decided to try it together because we heard a former colleague speaking at a conference about how CBD can improve sports performance because it assists in post-workout recovery. He also said that it can help to regulate the immune system and suppress inflammatory responses, which can help prevent and treat injuries.
We all thought this was a little hokey at first because using any sort of cannabis product, at that time, was not really popular in mainstream medical circles. There were definitely people in the audience who dismissed him but knowing him as well as I did, it made me think that this warranted more investigation. And, if you have a golfer in your life, you know that he or she will go to all lengths to improve their game! I can’t tell you how many books, videos, and gadgets I have!
My golf buddies and I arranged to meet with our former colleague a few weeks after the conference. He shared all sorts of information with us about how his patients’ conditions were improving when they used CBD. What really surprised me was that CBD is not intoxicating, like its famous cousin, THC. What also surprised me is that, although CBD comes from the cannabis plant, not all CBD is created equal. People plant it differently, harvest it differently, and extract the CBD from the plant differently. Variations in all these methods can result in variations in the quality of CBD. That is why some people say that CBD doesn’t work for them. They probably have a low-quality formulation.
My buddies and I will only use CBD that is full-spectrum, which means that there are more cannabinoids (compounds in the cannabis plant) besides CBD in the formula. This is important because the various cannabinoids play off each other and increase the effectiveness of the CBD. A “pure” CBD – or CBD isolate – without the other cannabinoids is just not as effective as full-spectrum CBD. Also, because we are so health conscious and eat food that is organic, non-GMO, and doesn’t use any added sweeteners or artificial ingredients, we will only use a CBD formula that is also organic, non-GMO and doesn’t use any added sweeteners or artificial ingredients. Plus, if your CBD is extracted from the plant using a method that leaves residual chemicals like hexane or butane behind, you risk introducing those dangerous chemicals into your system and making your condition worse.
I use a tincture every day because it helps my mind stay focused and my body recover, so I can always play my best. Dosing is not based on body weight like, say, antibiotics. It is more an art than a science. So, on days that I play golf, I use a little extra. And, if I happen to twist or turn in a way that causes any sort of discomfort, I have my topical cream handy to apply it on the spot.
My buddy, Sam, always used to talk about the incredible level of mental stress and anxiety that comes with golf. Since starting his CBD regimen, he no longer complains about stress and anxiety on the golf course. In fact, I can see that his game has dramatically improved.
My buddy, Joe, says that he had the general aches and pains of aging and could only play golf once or twice a week, but since taking 150 mg of CBD daily, now he plays 5 days a week, weather permitting. He used to only play nine holes and now he plays 18 holes.
Now I see CBD everywhere. CBD products are even appearing in golf course pro shops, right next to gloves and golf balls. I haven’t tried any of those. Based on the information on the packaging, I am not sure that those formulas would be as effective (or as safe) as the formula I am taking now. My buddies and I are having great success with the formula our former colleague recommended and we have no desire to change anything.
Bonnie Hagen is the principal and founder of Bright Formulations LLC, a health and wellness company that specializes in hemp extract with CBD. The Bright Energy ® brand of hemp extract with CBD was launched with the intention of helping people achieve their health and well-being goals, using the all-natural hemp plant. Bonnie helps people use the hemp plant to free themselves from pain, insomnia, stress, and discomfort. Seeing repeatedly how this incredible plant provides protection, grounding, balance, regeneration, clarity, purpose, and peace to those who use it wisely, Bonnie decided to build a different kind of company around it. Using clean and sustainably grown ingredients in her formulations, Bonnie brings to the marketplace hemp extract with CBD that is grown without chemical pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers, is extracted without using harmful solvents and is bottled without any artificial ingredients or fillers.