By the time I finish my Thursday night Muay Thai sparring sessions, I'm beat — and beat up. The kicks I take to my legs don't always leave bruises, but they still smart. It's also my second workout of the day after a 7 a.m. lower body lifting session, so I need a little something extra to help my sore muscles recover.
Lately, I don't turn to ice or compression therapy to soothe my aches. Instead, I've been trying out CBD supplements. The cannabis byproduct, also known as cannabidiol, is only one of nearly 100 chemical compounds called cannibinoids found in the plant.
Cannibinoids interact with the body's endocannabinoid system, and there is substantial evidence that the compounds have therapeutic properties for treating various health conditions and managing pain. For some, CBD is also appealing because it lacks the mind-altering effects of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive compound in marijuana.
I settled on two CBD supplements to test: an oil, and a topical cream. To help better understand what effects the CBD might be having on my body, I spoke to Dr. Tanuj Palvia, an interventional sports and spine specialist who often treats patients using alternative pain management techniques.
Generally, Palvia said CBD is great for muscle recovery. In his experience, he's observed a wide range of benefits, including reducing inflammation, stimulating appetite, relaxing and soothing sore muscles, and improving sleep. There's still a dearth of scientific research on CBD, but preliminary research backs up some of its alleged benefits.
What it is: Oil CBD, derived from hemp.
How to take it: Orally, Place under your tongue for a count of 30 seconds to 1 minute and then the remaining oil you will want to swallow it.
How it tastes: Earthy with a hint of Strawberries (we also have Mango and Peppermint) 2000mg, but not unpleasant. There was no weird aftertaste, and I wasn't burping the flavor after washing it down with water, like I have in the past with fish oil supplements.
I started my CBD recovery trial by taking a dose of oil twice a day, first thing in the morning and right before bed.
Aside from the taste, I didn't feel much of an immediate effect from the oil. That shouldn't come as a big surprise, according to the expert. "Most sublingual formulations of THC or CBD cannabis products, such as the hemp oil, will take 20 to 40 minutes to produce any therapeutic effect," said Palvia. "The advantage here is that sublingual administration results in therapeutic benefit in all muscles."
My sore muscles didn't feel much different than under any other recovery protocol over the long term — but after a few days, I did feel like my early mornings were less groggy. Researchers believe CBD can help with sleep, so that squares with the data we have available. Rest is a major factor in recovery, so I considered the oil effective in that sense.
What it is: CBD cream made from hemp oil and other ingredients like aloe and menthol. I went with the 500mg Joint and Muscle Rub Pain Cream
How to take it: Take a small dab of cream on your hands and rub it onto the affected area. Apply every 4 to 6 hours or as needed.
How it feels: Since there's menthol involved, it's not much different then many different pain rub creams except for the CBD.
Using the cream was messier, there is a slightly oily residue on the applied area with the cream, which gets messy if you have lots of body hair or need to put clothes back on immediately. To eliminate this you will want to rub the cream in completely. This will get rid of most of the oily residue.
The hot and cold sensation was strong with the cream, and I felt the effects for longer. The smell also followed me around longer, after having used my fingers to spread out the goop. If you have a habit of touching your face, you will want to make sure you wash your hands after you apply the cream.