Three little letters have been taking the health and fitness world by storm over the past year or so. CBD, which is derived from the cannabis or hemp plant, has a whole range of claimed benefits. It is used, quite literally, by everyone and their dogs, but is attracting a particularly strong following in the world of boxing.
Hemp oil and CBD – what are they?
There is a tendency for the terms CBD and hemp oil to be used interchangeably. While they certainly have common properties, they are, however fundamentally different. Hemp oil is extracted from the seeds of the hemp plant. It is highly nutritious and contains protein, minerals and healthy fats. CBD, on the other hand, is extracted from the flowers of the plant. Unlike hemp oil it is a cannabinoid, which when ingested interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system.
Clearly, the benefits of hemp oil for a boxer are manifest. A product that contains concentrated amounts of protein without the addition of sugar or unhealthy fats is a valuable addition to any boxer’s diet. But the benefits that boxers can derive from CBD oil are even more profound.
In any bout that goes beyond the opening round, both combatants will inevitably emerge with a few battle scars. Fighters are always eager to start preparing for the next encounter, but if they are bruised and swollen, it can be painful and impractical to get back into training at full pace.
CBD is the ideal solution. For one thing, it is a natural pain killer, so will provide comfort without the need for over the counter analgesics like ibuprofen. Even more useful, however, is that CBD works as a highly effective anti-inflammatory. By taking a regular dose of CBD, boxers can reap the benefits of swifter and more comfortable recovery from even the toughest fight.
There is more to CBD and boxing than simply taking it to help the bruising go down, however. Research has shown that taking CBD every day in a controlled dose helps to improve focus and concentration. In the high-pressure environment of the boxing ring, with all the noise and distraction that goes with it, that could make the difference between being floored in the first round and grinding out a points victory over 12 rounds.
Exactly how CBD achieves this is a topic that researchers are still puzzling over. However, the most popular theory is that it interacts with the endocannabinoid system to encourage more of the neurotransmitter serotonin into the brain. This in turn triggers certain receptors, providing a feeling of wellbeing and acuity, while supressing those associated with anxiety and sleep.
A natural partnership
Given the obvious benefits that CBD and hemp oil can deliver, it is no surprise that some big names in boxing are going into partnership with industry brands. These include Shannon Briggs, who says CBD was instrumental in his 2014 comeback, and now works in partnership with one of America’s major CBD research companies.
At the opposite end of the weight spectrum, IBF lightweight champion Teofimo Lopez has spoken out about his daily use of CBD and penned a sponsorship deal with CBD company Green Roads in 2018.