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The Athlete's Guide to CBD: Treat Pain and Inflammation, Maximize Recovery, and Sleep Better Naturally Paperback – September 24, 2019
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How to (Smartly) Buy CBD
Let’s say you’re intrigued enough to try CBD. You’ve considered the various ways to take it and have a rough idea of how to start (when, how much, etc.). You go online to investigate your buying options and . . .
You’re overwhelmed. Whether you’re looking for tinctures or powders, capsules or creams, you’ll find a seemingly infinite number of options. Prices, strength, and supposed benefits are all over the place. At the same time, your eyes can glaze over because so many products seem alike; which of the 73 one-ounce tinctures that your search suggested should you get?
You can also get incapacitated by too many choices in a store. That was my experience the first time I bought CBD. Not knowing any better, I asked for a tincture. I now realize that’s akin to walking into Whole Foods and asking for a piece of organic produce. The salesperson showed me a dozen or so options while saying all sorts of things that meant nothing to me at the time. I went with the least expensive one (and now realize I got what I paid for).
Things don’t have to be so confusing. Here’s how to be a savvy CBD shopper.
Choose a Product Type (or Two)
As we saw in the previous chapter, CBD is making its way into an ever-growing range of products. But as we also saw, there are a handful that are most likely to be effective additions to your active lifestyle. So while bath bombs and lip balms might make nice Valentine’s Day presents, let’s focus on the types most pertinent to athletes.
If you’re going to take CBD orally, your main choice is between tinctures and capsules. (See the previous chapter for why I’m omitting vape and food products here.) Tinctures are probably the better choice if you’re new to CBD. You’ll be able to experiment with different dosages more easily. Taking capsules will mean limiting yourself to whatever the amount per pill is. Put another way, tinctures are digital, capsules are analog.
Capsules might be a better choice if you have an idea how much CBD per day works for you. They’re also preferable if swallowing a (usually) flavor-free pill is more appealing than placing an odorous oil under your tongue.
Some athletes are interested primarily in site-specific help with injuries or chronic sore spots. Topicals are the best starting point in these cases.
If you’re convinced CBD works for you, a range of product types can be best. I find the combination of an oral (usually tincture) and topical to best address my goals of improved sleep, lowered overall inflammation, and TLC for acute problem spots
Choose Full-Spectrum or Isolate
Almost all products will be described as “full-spectrum” or “isolate.” This distinction doesn’t have to do with how strong or concentrated a product is. The difference: fullspectrum products contain not only CBD but additional cannabinoids and other parts of the hemp plant, including terpenes (plant chemicals that impart flavor and fragrance) and flavonoids (plant chemicals that impart color). In isolate products, CBD is the only part of the hemp plant present. (There will be other ingredients, such as the coconut oil in tinctures that carries the CBD.)
Advocates of full-spectrum products tout the “entourage effect,” which is another way to say that the various components of the plant work together to be more than the sum of their parts. For example, flavonoids in fruits and vegetables are widely believed to have antioxidant and antiinflammatory properties; theoretically, these benefits should accrue in addition to whatever anti-inflammatory work CBD does.
Tim Drennan, who develops products for several CBD brands, including his own, MYKU Wellness, explains the entourage effect with an analogy. “Think of the receptors in your brain as light switches,” he says. “Some combination of on, off, and neutral will get a blue light to appear. You take a CBD isolate, and it hits maybe 70 of 400 receptors, but the blue light doesn’t come on. So you try a broad-spectrum product—CBD with a few other cannabinoids. Now maybe 200 of the 400 switches are being used, and you get a faint blue light. So you try a full-spectrum product. Now all 400 switches are being activated in some way, and you get the strong blue light you want.”
On a theoretical level, the entourage effect makes sense, in the same way that you’re better off eating an orange than taking a vitamin C pill—the orange will include fiber, juice, and other parts of the plant that evolved to coexist. At the same time, even someone like Drennan is wary of how the supposed advantage of full-spectrum products is stated as a fact.
“There’s a lot of hippie science in the hemp industry,” he says. “There’s no peer-reviewed research right now that proves the entourage effect is better on something like inflammation. I have consumer metrics that show a positive trend toward broad- and full-spectrums being more efficacious than isolates. But there’s not the hard science yet.”
It’s possible that hard science will never exist. In Chapter 1 we saw how nonuniformity among whole-plantderived products makes replicable research difficult. “The FDA is never going to approve as medicine products that vary from batch to batch, that you can’t quantify precisely,” says Scott Palmer, MD. “It’s convenient to say there’s an entourage effect, but nobody can precisely define it because nobody’s ever separated out all the isolates and then recombined them to show the best mix. Nobody does that because nobody has the time or money, so they just say it’s the mixture of the components that works.”
The primary concern with full-spectrum products is that THC, the cannabinoid responsible for a marijuana high, will likely be present in trace amounts. (Remember, by definition hemp contains no more than 0.3 percent THC.) In CBD products that contain what they claim—more on that in a bit—the amount of THC present isn’t enough to give you a buzz. It’s possible, however, that these trace amounts could trigger a false positive result for marijuana use if you’re subject to workplace or other drug testing.
Unless you’re concerned about potentially consuming trace amounts of THC, there’s no real reason not to buy full-spectrum. (In some brands, isolate tinctures and capsules are about five dollars less expensive than the fullspectrum version of the same potency.) The main exception in this regard are powders, which will usually be CBD isolates. These are likely to be the sort of thing you branch out into once you’ve established whether CBD works for you.
Consider the Manufacturing Process
The most common method used to get CBD and other cannabinoids from a hemp plant into something you buy is called supercritical CO2 extraction. Pressurized carbon dioxide pulls out the plant’s desired contents, with the caveat that the extraction process isn’t 100 percent effective. (Talk to industry insiders, and they’ll bemoan the loss of some terpenes and flavonoids during extraction.) This method is the current industry standard because it’s relatively efficient and doesn’t involve using a solvent, resulting in the basis for an all-natural product.
Some companies use different processes with the goal of increasing bioavailability. Remember from the previous chapter that it’s widely believed that about only 10 percent of the CBD you take in oral form enters your bloodstream. The CBD molecule is “hydrophobic,” meaning that it tries to move away from water, but “lipophilic,” meaning that it’s soluble in fat. These alternative methods trap CBD molecules in a colloidal solution that, theoretically, allows for better transport through the body. Look for words like “liposome” or “lipid-infused.”
Another alternative is to trap the CBD molecule in a water-soluble shell. For example, Oleo, which offers CBD isolate in powder form, calls its process “microencapsulation.” Oleo’s site provides the results of a mechanical model that shows greater absorption of their product. It’s reasonable to think that would also happen in humans, but so far this is unproven.
The nexus of the manufacturing process and bioavailability can be tricky to navigate. “The broad range of available formulations on the market make the degree of specific improvement unknown,” says Palmer. The onus is on companies to prove that their processes lead to greater CBD absorption in humans. Until that proof exists, claimed differences in bioavailability on the basis of manufacturing processes aren’t something to get too hung up on.
- Item Weight : 5.6 ounces
- Paperback : 160 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0593135806
- ISBN-13 : 978-0593135808
- Product Dimensions : 5.16 x 0.42 x 7.98 inches
- Publisher : Rodale Books; 1st Edition (September 24, 2019)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #971,181 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Douglas reviews the different formulations of CBD; the most commonly used forms are tinctures, sprays, and topicals. Tinctures and sprays are taken 'sublingually', that is under the tongue. There is quick absorption via that route. While some might be averse to putting something under the tongue, there are CBD capsules that can be taken orally, but keep in mind that the absorption from the GI tract is slow and not much gets absorbed overall. Topicals are applied to the area of the body that is causing problems. There is research that supports better absorption of CBD topically vs orally.
Other topics covered in the book include CBD and sleep, recovery, and anxiety. At the end of each chapter, Douglas summarizes key points in a handy little chart, which I found really helpful. At the very end of the book is a glossary as well as a checklist to help the reader make smart decisions when purchasing a CBD product. If you want to learn more about CBD, Douglas' book is a great place to start. I'm excited to see what the future holds for this amazing product.
I found Douglas' book very interesting. In fact, the entire book was a quick, easy read and I couldn't put it down until I was finished. If you like books that have just the facts, The Athlete's Guide to CBD will work for you. Douglas is a writer for Runner's World, and he does a great job of gathering a lot of information about CBD and putting it into an immensely readable book.
A great resource for anyone wanting to learn more about CBD especially athletes. I give this book a 4 out of 5 stars.
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.