There’s nothing like exercise. Sure, it’s a lot of work . . . but it feels soooooo good once you are done!
But, have you ever stopped to ponder why it feels so good?
Believe it or not, emerging research has found that endocannabinoids may play a role.
Yep, you read that right. Those same receptors that respond to cannabis may play a role in those “runner’s endorphins.”
In a PNAS study first published in October 2015, researchers found that “wheel running increases endocannabinoids and reduces both anxiety and sensation of pain in mice.”
While many people believe that exercise releases endorphins, researchers discovered that “running exercise increases blood levels of both β-endorphin (an opioid) and anandamide (an endocannabinoid).”
Let’s keep breaking it down.
What is an Endocannabinoid?
According to Healthline, the endocannabinoid system is a “complex cell-signaling system.” It regulates a broad spectrum of functions, including mood, sleep, appetite, memory, and reproduction.
Whether you use cannabis or not, your body produces endocannabinoids. Their primary goal—according to Dustin Sulak, DO, in “Introduction to the Endocannabinoid System”—is to maintain homeostasis. He defines homeostasis as your body’s way of maintaining internal balance, despite fluctuations in its external environment.
Your body also has two main endocannabinoid receptors: CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptors are found in the nervous system, and CB2 receptors are generally found in the peripheral nervous system (i.e., immune cells).
The endocannabinoids bind to them to signal the body’s system to take some sort of action. The reaction you feel is the result of the receptors binding to a particular endocannabinoid. Healthline explains that endocannabinoids might bind with CB1 receptors to relieve pain, or they might bind with CB2 receptors to signal inflammation.
Once the process is complete, enzymes will break down the endocannabinoids to be eliminated from your body.
The Endocannabinoid System and CBD
Well, truth be told, there is still much research to be done on this topic. Here’s what we do know: THC, the compound found in marijuana, is powerful because it binds to both CB1 and CB2 receptors.
While the verdict is still out on CBD’s effect on the endocannabinoid system, many believe that it works by “preventing endocannabinoids from being broken down, allowing them to have a greater effect on your body.” Others believe that it acts on a third receptor that we have yet to discover.
CBD and Exercise
While scientists are still trying to discover how this complex endocannabinoid system works, many athletes have decided to give CBD a try. Better yet, many swear by its anti-inflammatory properties and overall benefits.
In a recent Aaptiv article, Carina Wolff explains that CBD can benefit athletes by:
- Reducing pain
- Easing muscle soreness
- Shortening recovery
- Boosting your endurance
CBD, Endocannabinoids, and You
If you are training for the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic (Durango’s classic bike race, where cyclists try to “beat the train” to Silverton) or Silverton’s Hardrock 100 (Silverton’s annual 100.5 mile ultramarathon that climbs and descends a measly 33,050 feet), CBD may be just what you need to improve your endurance and accelerate recovery time.
However remember that not all CBD is created equal. The market is still relatively unregulated, so it’s important to trust your source. (Shameless plug: 4 Corners Cannabis was one of the nation’s first CBD companies, and we pride ourselves on using only the highest quality, organic, non-GMO, food grade ingredients in our products. Our complete spectrum CBD is a step-up from full spectrum CBD because we control our entire production process—from soil to oil!)
Whew. That was a lot of information. Time to lace up those shoes and head out for a run . . . just make sure that bottle of CBD is waiting for you when you get back!