There is a growing interest in the use of CBD Oil in BJJ with a number of articles springing up on the internet as well as well known brands such as Scramble and Hyperfly now selling CBD products. I’ve recently started using CBD oil for reasons I will elaborate on later and found it was like a secret society – nobody spoke out about it but a lot of people used it! So it made sense to write an article!
The reason I started using CBD oil was a simple one. I was injured and in pain. A few weeks from the World Masters I suffered quite a bad back injury that was causing me pain on and off the mats. One of my sports therapists had an honest discussion with me about pain management and introduced me to a CBD balm which had some benefits so I then looked into the oil and found that it not only helped as an anti-inflammatory but also reduced the number of painkillers I had to take. Since then I have tried a couple of balms as well as oil (drops and spray) and tablets. The one method I cannot comment on personally is vaping as I have no real desire to try it.
Isn’t CBD Oil just Cannabis?
The short answer is no! They both come from essentially hemp plants but the main difference s to do with THC levels. THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) refers to a psychotropic cannabinoid which is present in Cannabis and is essentially what causes the “high affects”. CBD Oil depending on the brand contains only trace amounts.
Is it legal?
I would always advise readers outside of the UK to check their own national (and state laws) on the subject as they do vary slightly. In the UK the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency has issued an opinion on the regulatory status of products containing CBD. In the UK if it is being used for medical purposes then it is classed as a medicine. This means they must have a product license (marketing authorisation) before they can be legally sold, supplied or advertised in the UK, unless exempt. Licensed medicinal products have to meet safety, quality and efficacy standards to protect public health. I’m led to believe that the agency has been working with the larger suppliers to help them become licensed.
What about drug testing?
From an anti-doping viewpoint in 2017 CBD Oil is still classed as a Cannabinoid which means that it is legal outside of competition but illegal as part of in competition testing. However, as of 2018 Cannabidiol is no longer prohibited. However, cannabidiol extracted from cannabis plants may also contain varying concentrations of THC, which remains a prohibited substance.
Current tests are actually designed to only check for THC levels which as I have mentioned above aren’t present to the same extent in CBD oil. This means that in theory, the 2017 ruling was pretty meaningless as you won’t test positive for just CBD Oil use currently in a standard urine test. However, it isn’t totally impossible so it is important even with the new regulations that you check the THC levels in the products you use and the testing they have done themselves on it. Especially as there is the potential for traces to be retained in fat tissue follow frequent use. Also as linked to this, significant weight loss over a short-period of time (such as cutting for a competition) can cause cannabinoid metabolites stored in fat to be released in detectable levels.
How best to take it?
According to research sublingual (under the tongue) and inhalation routes are the most efficient in delivering CBD to the bloodstream. Oral administration is the easiest to take but as a result of digestion results in lower concentration levels. The most efficient (but most inconvenient) is actually through the rectum in terms of concentration levels and speed of effect but for obvious reasons, it isn’t commonly used! But using this rationale oil drops or spray seems the best way to take it maximising absorption and ease of use.
Research is one thing but personal experience counts too. I’ve personally tried 4 type of product that is currently on the market:
- Balms – I’ve had mixed experiences with the balms. Due to the injury being quite severe and affecting my lower back I’m not sure if it was the balm making the difference or regular massage from rubbing it in or simply doing the rehab and rest. But it certainly didn’t do any harm! I think it works better on joints and general muscle aches rather than anything that covers a large area (like my glutes!) or for really deep tissues. My favorite balm at the moment is the Erva Biosciences one due to containing other useful oils and being a really nice consistency.
- Oil – I’ll be honest I hate the taste of it and pulled a face like a toddler the first time I did it! It’s also tricky to get the dosage right as you’re trying to use a dropper under your tongue. n used it on an evening and other than the horrible taste found it appeared to work well in terms of pain relief and inflammation overnight. I also seemed to sleep better too! On the downside, I found myself little groggy in the morning if I accidentally took too much and I also had a few more vivid dreams that I could remember in the morning.
- Spray – This works in the same way as the oil but as you’re spraying it under the tongue you have a controlled dosage and you can get flavored ones which I definitely prefer and it’s the current type of CBD that I’m using! Like the oil, it works well on pain and inflammation and I’ve found it helps promote a good night’s sleep but for whatever reason (possibly the more controlled dosage) I haven’t had as many dreams or felt groggy in the morning.
- Tablets – these have the advantage of being measure dosages and tasteless but they tend to be more expensive. I also found them to be weaker which I now understand after researching how the body processed it (see the point above). However, there obviously easier to use when traveling away from home etc and I’d use them again. I didn’t notice anything specific when taking them other than pain relief and reduced inflammation. It was really comparable to taking a couple of ibuprofen the night after a hard training session.
I don’t have any affiliation with these but there a range of stockists on the market. Some I have come across:-
CBD Oil UK – Sell a range of products including my current flavored spray
Leaf and Oil – offer a range of products
Fiddlers Elbow – the first balm I used. I’d recommend getting a fragranced option
Erva Biosciences – USA based and where sponsors of the World Masters, I particularly liked their sports balm but they also do a tablet option
References / further information
WADA Prohibited List
US Anti Doping Association
UK Medicine and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency
CBD Bioavailability Analysis