Through my own recent experience, I've learned about the incredible antianxiety and anti-inflammatory powers of CBD, the nonpsychoactive compound found in hemp and cannabis plants — it has made a powerful improvement to my life and mental health. But recently, I wondered what this natural supplement could do for my fitness routine. As it turns out, it may make an excellent pre- and post-workout essential.
If you need to create a sense of calm and eliminate stress so you can focus on a workout, CBD supplements may help you before you head to the gym or studio. Though yoga on its own can be calming for me, sometimes it's a little harder to leave the stress and anxiety off the mat (the same goes for classes like barre, Pilates, and megaformer) — but that's where CBD can come in. It's been studied (and proven) to have antianxiety properties. That said, I don't just take it before more low-key classes — it works for HIIT, too! I've had positive (or even neutral) experiences when taking CBD before a more intense class like Barry's Bootcamp and Orangetheory.
And while CBD is typically pretty calming, Dr. Sunil Kumar Aggarwal, MD, PhD, FAAPMR and practitioner at SageMD, said "CBD can have a stimulating effect." It will depend on your body and your body's reaction to CBD, but you may find CBD helpful to get both focused and energized before your favorite exercise class or gym session.
I also spoke with Dr. Jordan Tishler, MD, Harvard physician and president of both InhaleMD and the Association of Cannabis Specialists, about using the anti-inflammatory effects to your advantage when it comes to CBD and exercise. His take? It could be a helpful part of your recovery routine, but you might even want to opt in for something stronger. "I think that the anti-inflammatory aspects of CBD would likely help post-workout recovery, but only with high dose and very consistent use," said Dr. Tishler. "For acute pain during or after workouts, you'd need to focus on [using] THC."
Dr. Aggarwal discussed using "the full bounty of nature" to achieve optimal health and said combining Ayurvedic herbs with CBD and/or THC could be especially helpful. From trying this firsthand with turmeric and CBD capsules from Sagely Naturals, I personally love how the two anti-inflammatory herbs combat muscle soreness after an especially tough workout with weights. I recently tried taking three capsules before a challenging Orangetheory Fitness class and two afterward, and it helped significantly with both my focus and my recovery.
If pain or inflammation is keeping you from working out, cannabis may be a lifesaver, like it was for Jason Genet, a disabled vet who lost 150 pounds thanks to the help of CBD (and a new diet). "CBD is the only thing I can take," he told POPSUGAR. "It allowed me to get moving."
The evidence as of now is somewhat anecdotal, as not much scientific research has been done. However, both doctors recalled multiple studies proving CBD's efficacy in multiple areas. Dr. Tishler also reminded us that placebo is real, but placebo also works. "Placebo gives you a real benefit," he said. "It's just not biological."
How much you'll need to take is impossible for us to recommend or even speculate on, as it varies based on each person, their biology, their needs, and their goals, so we'd highly recommend talking to a doctor or medical professional before beginning your supplement routine.