CBD Oil And Rugby


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There is a growing body of evidence that suggests CBD has potential anti-inflammatory properties. The Problems With CBD Oil Explained – We find out about research done by Liverpool John Moores University… And the need for more study in the field Learn more about Fourfive and our journey towards creating natural CBD products for athletes and people with an active lifestyle. See the full story here.

How CBD helps boost the recovery and performance of Rugby players

The use of CBD in rugby and other physically demanding sports is increasing rapidly as more players begin to experience positive results. CBD could help with the recovery process, which has a positive effect on performance. We already see stiff competition when trying to find thebest CBD for energy on the market.

Cannabinoids such as cannabidiol seem to influence various pathways, mainly through the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS helps regulate numerous processes and functions, including appetite, mood, memory, and sleep.

It is a system with two main types of receptors, CB1 and CB2. You will find these receptors throughout the nervous system and brain. CBD appears to interact with these receptors, albeit in a different fashion to THC. Indeed, experts are not in agreement as to how CBD interacts with the ECS. One suggestion is that it helps prevent endocannabinoids from getting broken down.

Despite the uncertainty, research shows that CBD could help with pain, inflammation, sleep, and several other issues. Therefore, the fact that CBD and rugby are becoming a popular combination is no surprise.

CBD in Rugby – A High Prevalence of Use

A recent study published in the International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism in 2020 looked at the high level of CBD use in rugby union and league. The researchers pointed out that rugby is a high-intensity collision sport with low-intensity aerobic activities.

While rugby union and rugby league are two different codes, they involve regular high-speed collisions between players. As a result, players from both games suffer increased levels of inflammation. In many cases, the pain is debilitating and potentially affects daily function. This pain could last for several days after a match and remain an issue for the entire season.

The study then went through a wide array of research into CBD’s potential anti-inflammatory, anxiolytic, analgesic, and anti-oxidative properties. One of these studies was by Mechoulam and Hanus and published in Chemistry and Physics of Lipids in 2002. In it, the study authors discussed the various likely benefits of CBD.

One major issue with rugby is daily muscle pain, particularly nerve pain, which has psychological and physical consequences. CBD in rugby could massively reduce the reliance on painkillers. Rugby players use approximately four times more painkillers than the general population on average.

Apart from addition, consistent use of such drugs could lead to adverse effects, including nausea, headaches, kidney damage, gastric ulceration, and gastric injury. In contrast, CBD has a significantly better safety profile.

CBD in Rugby & Better Performance

What’s clear is that adequate rest and recovery are key components in improved performance. CBD could enable rugby players to recover from inflammatory pain faster. According to the 2020 study mentioned above, up to 80% of rugby players used CBD to improve pain/recovery and sleep. The ‘mean’ use of CBD amongst players is 25%. However, it increased to 39% in those aged 28+.

The results of this use show why CBD in rugby is so popular. A remarkable 67% of players claimed they saw a benefit from consuming cannabidiol. Over 40% reported better sleep, and 14% said they felt improved pain/recovery. In the studies reviewed, none of the athletes reported any adverse side effects. This is even though the industry is unregulated, and some players may have used products with a higher or lower CBD level than displayed on the label.

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Rugby players need to use CBD with caution, however. At present, there is a lack of oversight in the industry. As a result, companies can sell products without the legal need to display the cannabinoid content. In the UK, the maximum level of THC allowed in any CBD product is 0.2%. There is a possibility that players could unwittingly consume a higher amount.

An estimated 21% of players who use CBD admitted they have no idea if the batch was tested. This leaves them potentially open to a positive result for THC metabolites during a drug screening. Such an outcome could have serious consequences for their career.

Final Thoughts on CBD in Rugby & Whether It Can Help Recovery and Performance

Further research is necessary, but thus far, there is plenty of evidence that CBD could aid recovery and improve rugby players’ performance. Its apparent ability to reduce inflammatory pain from training and playing matches enables athletes to recover faster between sessions. CBD’s capacity to improve sleep is also important, as sleep is a critical aspect of recovery.

It seems that CBD in rugby is extremely common. The 2020 study surveyed 472 players, and 133 of them had used the compound. Many of those who didn’t use CBD took this step because of a concern over anti-doping regulations. Reputable CBD brands sell products low in THC, so rugby players should have no concerns over failing a drug test.

About the Author

With a Master’s Degree in Nutrition and Dietetics, it is fair to say that Kayla Burns knows more than most about health, fitness, and supplements. After coming across CBD, Kayla decided to embark on detailed research to learn more about whether this cannabinoid is beneficial. She is now convinced that it can help with various issues such as anxiety and is also extremely useful for athletes hoping to recover from their exertions.

The Problems With CBD Oil Explained

“If we go back about five years, I had players I worked with asking me about CBD,” says Graeme Close, professor of Human Physiology at Liverpool John Moores University and nutrition consultant with England Rugby.

“Five years ago it was quite an easy conversation: ‘It may be useful, it may not – I didn’t know much about it – but it’s prohibited by WADA (the World Anti-Doping Agency)’.

“Then in 2018 they removed it (from the banned list). As an academic/practitioner, that was not a good enough answer anymore.

“The starting point for me was with all the anecdotes you hear about how often it’s being used, (we had to) assess as many pro rugby players as we could, how prevalent was its use, why are people turning to it, what are the main reasons? How much do they know about it from an anti-doping perspective, and what are the perceived benefits so far?”

You may have seen rugby personalities talk about CBD – the cannabinoid found in the hemp strain of cannabis that has been linked to enhanced recovery, better sleep, relief with muscle soreness. Yet as was suggested by Dr Mark Ware in our companion piece, Chronic Pain, Cannabis and Rugby, with quality research “there is nothing on human pain and CBD. It’s astonishing that we don’t have data on that.”


So in August, Close, his colleague Andreas Kasper and LJMU released the results from a study they had done that highlighted the high prevalence of CBD use among professional rugby players, despite warnings that there are still risks attached to its use. They found 26% of professional players surveyed (517 professional league and union players from UK-based competitions) had tried CBD oil and 8% were currently using it.

Worryingly, the team at LJMU found that only 16% of professionals surveyed had sought advice from trained sport nutritionists. A whopping 73% were getting their information from the internet, despite the risks of anti-doping violations.

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Decision makers: World Anti-Doping Agency (Getty Images)

Although not prohibited by WADA, CBD often contains traces of other cannabinoids such as THC (the psychoactive compound tetrahydrocannabinol, the part of cannabis that creates the ‘high’), which is prohibited and illicit in quantities above 1mg per bottle. The real risk is that there is evidence to show that many CBD products have much higher levels of THC than stated on product packaging.

Close takes a balanced view. He tells Rugby World: “We published a paper, maybe five years ago now, which basically shows that rugby league players are in pain every day of their life during a competitive season. It subsides as it gets towards the game day but you’re never back down to zero.

“What we also know is that with some traditional pain medication (like non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)), even Ibuprofen, if you take it long enough it’s related to stomach ulcers. Then you move on to the opiates like tramadol, and we know that they are addictive. There are problems with players who have openly admitted at the end of their careers to being addicted to opiate-based painkillers.

“So if we’ve got something with a side-effect profile that appears to be less than the traditional (painkillers), and the anecdotes suggest it’s effective in pain relief, I do think as academics we’ve got a responsibility to investigate it.

“The huge caveat to all that is at the moment it’s still a big anti-doping risk. I do believe it is still too soon for any athlete to be using it. I think people like myself have a responsibility to research it, and if it’s safe and it helps with pain relief and it’s got less side effects, then we have to work together with the authorities to find a way to make it able for athletes to use.”

Talking point: CBD products are part of a national discussion (Getty Images)

With the need for higher quality control in the field – as with the aforementioned issues with misleading labels – and new products coming out, quality research is imperative. There are different avenues yet to be explored, too.

While we may be aware of the reputable brands who have the low levels of THC they claim, there needs to be a study into the possibility of accumulating THC to such a level that a player fails a drug test.


Of course the issue is how to go about conducting such studies?

As Kasper points out, you cannot use elite athletes as a control group for something like this because you risk them failing a test. Certain amateur competitions come under the WADA code, too. You have to carefully consider who you use.


So is it an exciting time to be looking into this?

“If you were to ask me as an academic, with my professor of human physiology at LJMU, is this exciting or worrying, I’d say it’s exciting,” says Close. “We’ve got something here that has got so much potential.

“It’s like a skier finding (untouched) white powder snow. You can go and have some fun with it. Who knows what we’re going to find?

“You’ve got to remember that the way all this was discovered was people were trying to work out what was going on with cannabis, particularly THC – why was it having all these effects on the human body?

“And then we discovered the human endocannabinoid system. There’s a system in place whereby these cannabinoids bind to receptors and have major effects, and then you find a body producing its own endocannabinoids. It’s got so much potential.

Elite level: England in action during the Six Nations (Getty Images)

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“Then you say, ‘Graeme, as consultant nutritionist with England Rugby, is this exciting or worrying?’ I’d say it’s terrifying because it’s a failed drug test waiting to happen!”

He again brings up recent studies that showed it’s “the wild west out there”.

And in February, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) set a deadline of March 2021 for CBD businesses to provide more information about CBD products and their contents. It also advises the pregnant, breastfeeding or those taking any medication not to consume CBD products, and said healthy adults should take no more than 70mg a day.

From the elite sports perspective, Close and his cohorts are keen to get to the bottom of a few key issues: does it actually work, what dose does it work at, and what are the WADA and safety issues related to that? Know all that, they say, and they will be in a much better position to advise athletes.

As for the performer, it’s best they seek the advice of professionals away from the testimony of mates, instead of scrolling through the internet.

Can’t get to the shops? You can download the digital edition of Rugby World straight to your tablet or subscribe to the print edition to get the magazine delivered to your door.

About fourfive

George Kruis is a professional rugby player with 12 years of experience playing International and club level rugby. His love for the sport and his exceptional skills have led him to not only gain three European titles and four Premiership trophies for English Premiership club Saracens; but also achieve over 45 caps for England during 2 World Cups and a British and Irish Lions tour.

Dom Day was a professional rugby player for 14 years. He played in the 2015 Rugby World Cup for Wales, and has over 250 top flight games to his name. His long rugby career has taken him around the globe to places including Australia and Japan, finishing his career as a proud member of the English Premiership club Saracens where he fell in love with George & CBD.

At fourfive, our mission is simple – we want to help people lead healthier, happier lives through the power of CBD and Vitamin supplements – and we only use the highest quality plant extracts and ingredients. Our premium blends are designed by world class scientists to fit seamlessly into your daily routine, whether you’re taking CBD oil, capsules or vitamins.

Our Story

We created fourfive after both suffering from a string of injuries and discovering the power of CBD in our recovery. As sportsmen we were immediately shown the direction of prescription drugs that had numerous adverse effects on our bodies and minds. We set out to find an effective, natural remedy to our pain and loss of sleep associated with injury and were surprised by the lack of sports trusted CBD products in the UK.

Using CBD had a transformative effect on our injuries, we were able to come off painkillers and continue injury free so we decided to create the UK’s first BSCG and Informed Sport tested CBD and Vitamin nutrition supplements brand. To bring a premium, top quality and trusted health supplement brand to the market that included top quality supplements and CBD. We believe in the power of CBD on your everyday health and wellness, you don’t need to be a top sports professional to feel the benefits of using quality CBD oils, capsules and Vitamins in your everyday routine, but you can trust that we’ve created the very best. After all your body is a temple, let’s not fill it with rubbish.

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