Anke Thiel was 15 miles into a 50-mile bike ride on the last day of a week-long cycling get away. Her back started to ache.
“I thought ‘Uh-oh, I know this feeling.’ I’m not going to make it through this ride,” said Thiel, a registered dietitian, and an avid sports cyclist. She remembered she had some of a CBD bar left over and ate it.
“I didn’t think about any aches or pains for the rest of day and I thought this is really something good that is happening,” Thiel said.
Short for cannabidiol, CBD is one of more than 100 compounds called cannabinoids contained in cannabis, now legal in California. Once common only in dispensaries, CBD is now starting to pop up in mainstream health stores and holistic wellness websites.
You may soon find it in another surprising place: your neighborhood fitness nutrition store.
“It helps with aches and pains. It helps with stress,” Thiel said. “It definitely supports sports athletes, but it also works for the everyday individual as well.”
CBD is no longer on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s 2018 list of banned substances, prompting many professional athletes like UFC star Nate Diaz, ultrarunner Avery Collins and former NFL player Ricky Williams to tout the benefits of CBD as an anti-inflammatory and athletic recovery aid.
Similar in structure to endocannabinoids, which the body naturally produces, cannabinoids are most well-known for their feel-good effects and could have added benefits for athletes such as acting as an anti-inflammatory, anti-anxiety, and sleep aid, experts say.
CBD differs from THC -- the active ingredient in marijuana that produces the psychoactive effect or "high."
Inspired by her quick recovery on that long ride, Thiel partnered with San Diego-based PlusCBD oil to make whole food energy bars with CBD in them. The “lemon cream crisp” and “chocolate cherry almond” flavors are made from all organic plant-based foods, which Thiel says helps the body absorb the nutrients of the superfoods and the CBD better.
“I have been hit by cars on my bicycle, and had to have a bunch of physical therapy, and using the CBD alleviates the discomfort and I’m back at riding again,” Thiel said.
Each of the bars contains 15 mg of CBD and sells for $8. Currently, they are sold in boxes of 8 for $64 on her website.
Research on CBD’s effectiveness as an anti-inflammatory or workout recovery is still in the early stages. The federal government continues to consider marijuana, and the CBD found in it, a schedule 1 drug, on the same level as heroin or LSD, making it difficult for researchers to gain access for studying.
In California, the legal product is gaining so much popularity; you may soon find CBD rubs or lotions in your chiropractor’s office or at the spa.
A 2018 review published in Frontiers in Neurology concluded that CBD is an effective way of improving pain and mobility in patients with multiple sclerosis, since it reduces inflammation.
Some doctors warn there have not been long-term studies about doses or side effects with CBD. As with any pain management treatment, patients should consult their physician before trying any new treatments, according to multiple studies on CBD.
“It has definitely helped with my cycling performance and it has helped with inflammation,” said Thiel, who is soon expanding her CBD sports nutrition bars business. “But it also helps you feel an overall balance, a mind-body balance.”