Why MMA Fighters Look to CBD for Recovery

Why MMA Fighters Look to CBD for Recovery

In 2016, Nick Diaz vaped at a post-fight media conference while discussing the benefits of CBD. But he wasn’t smoking cannabis. Diaz was inhaling CBD (cannabidiol). This active ingredient in the cannabis plant is not psychotropic, unlike its fellow terpene THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), which is psychotropic. CBD provides numerous benefits to the human body. So, Diaz was supporting his recovery following a fight.

The UFC’s anti-doping partner organization, the USADA (US Anti-Doping Agency), took issue and gave Diaz a warning. But this wasn’t Diaz’s first brush with the USADA. In 2015, he was fined $165,000 for testing positive for cannabis. But Diaz, his brother Nate, and other MMA fighters, including luminaries like Jake Shields and Joe Lauzon, are committed to sharing the benefits of CBD with their fans. The Diaz brothers have even launched their own CBD nutrition business!

And as CBD comes to be accepted as a medicinal substance with genuine benefits, organizations like the USADA are embracing normalization. In 2019, the organization removed CBD from its list of substances banned in competition. And in 2021, cannabis followed. Testing positive is no longer considered a violation in MMA competitions.

A Challenging Sport

As CBD comes to be understood more fully, more athletes are benefiting. A 2020 survey revealed that almost 50% of MMA fighters use CBD for recovery. And there’s good reason for that, considering the challenging nature of MMA fighting.

An MMA fighter isn’t just called on to model exceptional strength, endurance, and fighting skills. The mental toughness demanded by MMA is another area that must be developed to produce a well-rounded fighter. The benefits of CBD as a tool for recovery are many but some of the highlights are:

  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Anti-oxidant
  • Promotes sleep
  • Promotes relaxation

The body of an MMA fighter takes a beating and CBD, due to its properties, is the ideal support. CBD is a tool that helps fighters’ bodies repair themselves by reducing inflammation and promoting cell recovery by preventing oxidation. More importantly, perhaps, CBD promotes meaningful, healing rest.

CBD: Replacing PEDs

We all know that performance-enhancing drugs are banned for use in official competition. That doesn’t mean all athletes are on board. Some MMA fighters continue to use PEDs like anabolic steroids to help them train longer and recover more quickly. But CBD enhances the body’s ability to heal itself.

A naturally occurring substance that works with the endocannabinoid system in the human body, CBD promises to eventually make PEDs a thing of the past due to some of CBD’s incredible benefits to athletes. Let’s examine those benefits to understand why MMA fighters look to CBD for recovery.

To Repair Muscles

When muscle tissue is damaged, the body responds by increasing blood flow to the area that’s been compromised. This, in turn, increases oxygen and nutrient supply, serving to start the repair process. Chronic inflammation, like the kind you get when you’re regularly pummeled in MMA fights, can lead to conditions like cancer, stroke, and arthritis if not attended to decisively.

CBD, with its anti-inflammatory effects, works with the human body, aiding in recovery by calming muscle spasms and reducing inflammation. The calming effect of CBD for muscle repair is also implicated in alleviating stress from injury and allowing the uninterrupted sleep necessary for the body to do its healing work.

To Prevent Brain Damage

One of CBD’s lesser-known abilities is protecting the health of the brain. And this is a big one for MMA fighters as blows to the head are part of the sport. Traumatic brain injuries are common in MMA, due to the sport’s aggressive nature.

But CBD has the ability to lower the risk of TBIs in the sport, due to its neuroprotective abilities. The anti-inflammatory action of CBD also helps in the event of a head injury, addressing swelling in the brain and the influx of anti-inflammatory fluid that occurs following injury to the head. CBD also reduces known mental health consequences of TBIs like depression and anxiety.

To Boost Energy

MMA fighting demands explosive power, endurance, speed, and intense focus, making CBD an excellent support for fighters. Working with the body’s endocannabinoid system, neurotransmitters are balanced, resulting in greater overall physical harmony. And when the systems of the body are balanced and in good working order, the results can be profound.

CBD has the effect of improving metabolism (the rate at which what you consume is used by your body). A high metabolic rate means that your body is producing more glucose as it consumes existing stores, which is then used as fuel (energy). The natural enhancement of existing physical systems is where the benefits of CBD become more obvious. The production of energy sourced naturally is an excellent example of this enhancement.

To Relieve Pain

Even a casual consumer of MMA will know that pain is part of the sport. So, CBD comes to the rescue, bringing with it significant pain reduction properties. While some fighters combine CBD with kratom for brief periods, CBD can accomplish a great deal when used in isolation.

CBD’s pain reduction strategy is tied to its anti-inflammatory action but also hinges on its ability to block pain signals to the brain. Again, this is due to the harmonization of non-psychoactive CBD with the human endocannabinoid system. This means that pain is addressed on a neurological level, preventing the effect of masking the pain, which can lead to reinjury.

CBD’s time has come and the sporting world is taking notice. What MMA fighters like the Diaz brothers and other elite athletes have known for years is only now being applied at the institutional level, across all types of sports.

Clearly, cannabidiol has numerous benefits for MMA fighters. The advocacy of fighters and players in all sporting sectors is the engine behind the changes in attitude we’re seeing. And in MMA, CBD has made a home as a tool that supports optimal fighter performance.

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