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Sports Medicine

CBD Oil for Athletes : An MMA Case Study

CBDCaseStudy
A German MMA Fighter read my article on CBD in Athletes and was willing to share his experiences with CBD. For obvious reasons he decided to stay anonymous.
 
 
Gerrit : Tell us about the requirements of MMA and where CBD fits in there for you.
 
MMA Athlete : As an MMA Fighter you have to be really good at many things. You have to be good at punching, punching defence, kicking, kicking defence, takedowns, takedown defence, ground game, submissions, defending submissions, fighting against the cage, ground and pound, you have to be strong, and most of all you have to have incredible endurance if you want to actively compete.
I constantly try to improve my game by practicing Boxing, Muay Thai, Wrestling, Judo, and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. I practice and compete in all those disciplines, but mostly Boxing/Kickboxing and Jiu Jitsu.
As a fighter you are basically like a decathlete. But with the difference, that it is always possible to face specialists. So it is sometimes not enough to be fairly good at all disciplines. When you face a specialist, you have to be above average at his discipline at least, to survive his game, and then be better than him at the other disciplines to win the fight.
So as you can imagine we need lots of training volume. 5-6 days a week going twice a day is what I need to stay ahead of the curve. Even when I train hard for 15-20 hours per week I still feel like I need to work more on certain aspects of the game. Thats why CBD became so interesting to me.
 
 
Gerrit : So managing regeneration is the game changer here. The fighters who recover more efficiently are able to adapt best to these training loads. How did you manage that?
 
MMA Fighter : Yeah exactly. I am always looking for ways to recover more efficiently. You know obviously there are synthetic and illegal ways of optimising hormones for recovery, but that was never an option to me. For me training is an investment in my future, and I do not want to exploit my body. I want to be in this game for a long time, and I want to be healthy when I am older. So I want to find natural and organic ways of improving my recovery.
When I was training late I would sometimes stay awake for a long time. My body would just feel like it is still awake, even though my mind wants to sleep. When I feel asleep I would be restless and move a lot. In the morning I would feel like a truck ran me over.
 
 
Gerrit : Sleep is obviously the main part of recovery. Improving sleep must have been your primary goal. Did CBD have an impact on your sleep?
 
MMA Fighter : You know I am still a little confused and dont really know if I can trust my senses here. You know it might all be the placebo effect, but YEAH it helped me to fall asleep and stay sleep! Since I tried CBD I feel very well rested in the morning. Some of my friends experienced the same things when they started using CBD. I wake up early and feel ready to go. I also fall asleep a lot sooner at night. Its easier to come down after intense practices or competitions. Usually I would lie awake and my head would run circles around me. Now this still happens to me every once in a while, but in general CBD helped me to relax much better at night.
 
 
Gerrit : Is there anything else you did to aid your sleep?
 
MMA Fighter : Yes I supplement Magnesium-Glycinate and try do all the other basics to get a good nights sleep. Every once in a while I also drink a CBD tea before I go to bed.
 
 
Gerrit : So you take the CBD only before going to bed?
 
MMA Fighter : Yes thats where I mostly use it. I have used it after the first training session in the morning. I felt euphoric and my muscles became noticeably relaxed. Just like when you smoke Marijuana, but without any of the side effects on my consciousness. Only the body became relaxed and I felt more awake. Again, it could all be the placebo, but for me it feels really good and improves my training.
 
 
Gerrit : There are many different products on the market. What did you look for when you started?
 
MMA Fighter : I read about effects and side effects on the internet first. There are a lot of articles about CBD. Most are not as in-depths as your article, but it helped me to get a general idea of what to look for. I looked for an oil that was Co2-extracted and from biological, organic sources of Marijuana. I started with a 5% CBD Oil.
 
 
Gerrit : How did you approach dosing?
 
MMA Fighter : I did what the packaging of the oil told me to do. Like I said it was a 5% oil and I started with 8-10 drops before bedtime. It worked beautifully. It tasted very bitter, with a slight nutty taste. I switched to a 10% oil later and worked up to a maximum of 10 – 12 drops per day. The only side effects I noticed when I took „too much“, was that I became a little sleepy. So now I feel really good with around only 4 drops of the 10% oil.
 
 
 
Gerrit : Do you think you could become dependent? I mean not in a physical way, we know there are no mechanisms of physical dependancy to CBD, but I mean more in a psychological way. CBD makes you feel good, it helps you sleep a lot better. Do you think you could become dependant on the effects of CBD?
 
MMA Fighter : I am very cautious of that. Thats why I cycle CBD off for 1-2 weeks every once in a while. I do the same with Magnesium. The interesting thing is that I can still sleep in those „off phases“. I dont know if CBD fills up some type of reservoir, meaning I do not need to take it everyday, and I can still have benefits from it even if I stop taking it now and then.
 
 
Gerrit : Did you feel any noticeable improvement on your inflammation in terms of muscle soreness, joint pain, or rate of infection?
 
MMA Fighter :  I can’t say anything definite. Flu season went past me without me getting ill, but I take in a lot of ginger, Zinc, Vitamin C, D3, and a lot of fresh fruit. So it might have played a part, but I dont know. 
For a while I have a had on and off pain in my back and problems with my hip mobility. My hips feel tight and the tight muscles seem to push on my nerves. CBD relaxed the region quite a bit. Nothing was completely gone, so no magic bullet, but it definitely did help. I definitely feel less soreness after goods night sleep. So maybe via that route the CBD helps reduce soreness for me.
 
 
 
Gerrit : Did you feel any emotional changes? When we look at the research it seems possible that it reduces anxiety. As an MMA Fighter you are not an overly-anxious person to begin with, but we all carry some form of fear in us. The fear of failure, the fear to disappoint oneself or the coach, you name it. Have you noticed any impacts on self-consciousness, anxiety or psychological performance?
 
MMA Fighter : Haha, to face anxiety and fears is one of the main tasks of a martial artist. Thats true. You need to be brave somehow otherwise you wouldn’t go and join a class neither you would go an take a fight. but being brave doesnt mean you are free of fear, it just means you still act and dont freeze. You face your fears and try to overcome them.  It will go differently everytime, sometimes its not so bad, sometimes it’s one of the reasons you named and sometimes its just bad and irrational and you just dont know why.
I haven’t made any experience with cbd in fight situations. Of course you want to be as calm as possible in a fight to just flow and be the best you can be at the moment, experience and routine help a lot. For me competing in Martial Arts is a lot about your own achievements, your abilities, how you can conquer your fears, how you can be free! I dont think I would want to take anything away from this before a fight even if it is legal and organic like CBD.
 
 
But of course there are a lot of other situation in life, like conflicts, insecurities and so on. I actually noticed that drinking the CBD tea while I was in a very bad argument helped me to stay calm! I’m sure it has a positive effect on the mood as well. I still have my normal feelings, when im sad im sad, when im angry i am angry.etc. but it never goes over the top.
I also have a friend that suffers from depression. When she decided to cut her meds of her emotional stability got out of control. CBD helped her alot to stay on a level!
 
CBD is not a magic pill. People should not overestimate the impact it has. It is only one piece of the puzzle. For me it is a valuable piece of the puzzle. Nothing more. 
 
 
Gerrit : Thank you for sharing your experience and your very personal insights. Much appreciated!
 
MMA Fighter : Thank you, too!
 
 
 
If you have your own experiences with CBD in a competitive environment let us know in the comments. If you haven’t read my article on CBD Oil for Athletes, you can check it out HERE.
 
May the FLOW be with you!
Gerrit Keferstein, MD

Gerrit Keferstein is a Medical Doctor specialised in Performance & Functional Medicine. He is most known for his work on the optimisation of recovery and adaptation in elite athletes.

Tags : sleepcbdrecoveryregenerationmartial artsmmafightingfearperformance docperformance medicine

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