Can CBD Oil help with bodybuilding, and if so, how?

Recent studies have examined how CBD oil can benefit bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts, and the results are quite promising.

While more research needs to be conducted, current science suggests that CBD oil has properties that may help with bodybuilding.

CBD for Muscle Growth

A study published in the Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research showed CBD’s anti-catabolic properties that enable it to help regulate hormone levels in the body(1).

By taking CBD oil, cortisol levels are kept at bay, allowing for increased muscle growth and protein synthesis throughout a workout or bodybuilding routine.

CBD’s anti-catabolic properties may also allow for the slow breakdown of muscle mass and help athletes to build more muscle. 

In addition to lowering the levels of catabolic hormones, CBD may indirectly boost muscle growth by improving stamina. 

When individuals are able to spend more time lifting or bodybuilding without the muscles getting fatigued, they see results from their hard work faster.

CBD for Weight Management

CBD can also be beneficial to people who are trying to lose weight. In a 2008 animal study published in the PLOS One Journal, it was shown that CBD inhibits a receptor in the brain so that ghrelin, which stimulates the appetite, is unable to act(2).

A study published in Nature Journal has shown that CBD could increase the levels of leptin in the brain(3). 

Leptin is the hormone that makes an individual feel full or satiated. The reduced cravings for unhealthy, calorie-dense foods may help individuals achieve their weight loss goals fast.

In another study, researchers found that CBD might interfere with the secretion of cortisol, reducing blood levels significantly(4).

Chronic stress and persistently high cortisol levels may be associated with increased appetite and weight gain(5).

CBD for Muscle Recovery

Working out can cause microscopic damage to muscle fibers. Those muscles then become inflamed, which triggers the body to respond and repair, causing muscle soreness or stiffness(6).

Studies have shown that CBD might reduce soreness and swelling by inhibiting inflammation. Also, CBD might help with pain as the body recovers from an intense workout.

CBD’s promising anti-inflammatory properties were also demonstrated in a 2018 study published in the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics(7)

In addition, CBD may also reduce muscle spasms, a feature of neuropathic damage which often manifests in painful, uncontrolled muscle twitches(8)

CBD for Improved Sleep

The best training routine, diet, and supplement program can never compensate for insufficient rest. Sleep is essential for everyone, especially for active individuals. 

Sleep affects almost every tissue in the body, says Dr. Michael Twery, a sleep expert at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). It impacts growth and stress hormones, the immune system, appetite, breathing, blood pressure, and cardiovascular health(9).

A study published in Pharmaceuticals (Basel) in 2012 compared CBD with a sleep aid called nitrazepam(10). The authors found that high-dose CBD at 160 milligrams increased the subject’s duration of sleep.

Similarly, a 2017 study published in the Current Psychiatry Reports noted that at moderate to high doses, CBD might have therapeutic potential for the treatment of insomnia(11).

CBD for Reduced Stress and Anxiety

In general, training and workouts can reduce stress. Exercise can provide psychological benefits that can help improve physical health. The stress reaction can be a survival tool, helping to keep the body healthy and the mind alert.

On the other hand, chronic stress can bring devastating effects. It can cause the body to produce too much cortisol and adrenaline, resulting in anxiety, poor concentration, irritability, and low self-esteem. 

Fortunately, CBD has been shown to possess antidepressant and anti-anxiety properties that may help reduce stress and anxiety.

In a 2019 study published in The Permanente Journal, sleep and anxiety scores were measured in human subjects, and the findings showed that CBD could hold benefits for anxiety-related disorders(12).

Meanwhile, researchers of a 2019 study, published in the Brazilian Journal of Psychiatry, looked at CBD’s effects on anxiety and stress. 

The study demonstrated that CBD might help reduce the response to stressful environmental factors when given in the optimal dosage(13). 

Conclusion

Using CBD might benefit bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts during high-intensity workouts and recovery periods.

CBD has also been shown to possess therapeutic properties that might help individuals get a restful sleep, reduce anxiety level, manage weight, and recover from soreness and muscle damage. 

Still, a consultation with a doctor experienced in cannabis use is essential before using CBD to help with bodybuilding goals.


  1. Zuardi AW, Guimarães FS, Moreira AC. Effect of cannabidiol on plasma prolactin, growth hormone and cortisol in human volunteers. Braz J Med Biol Res. 1993;26(2):213–217.
  2. Kola B, Farkas I, Christ-Crain M, Wittmann G, Lolli F, Amin F, et al. (2008) The Orexigenic Effect of Ghrelin Is Mediated through Central Activation of the Endogenous Cannabinoid System. PLoS ONE 3(3): e1797. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0001797.
  3. Di Marzo, V., Goparaju, […], and Kunos G. Leptin-regulated endocannabinoids are involved in maintaining food intake. Nature 410, 822–825 (2001). https://doi.org/10.1038/35071088.
  4. Zuardi AW, Guimarães FS, Moreira AC. Effect of cannabidiol on plasma prolactin, growth hormone and cortisol in human volunteers. Braz J Med Biol Res. 1993;26(2):213–217.
  5. Zeratsky K. (2020, March 13). Can cortisol blockers help me lose weight? Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/weight-loss/expert-answers/cortisol-blockers/faq-20058132.
  6. NHS. (2017, Nov 30).Why do I feel pain after exercise? Retrieved from https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/pain-after-exercise/.
  7. Petrosino S et al. Anti-inflammatory Properties of Cannabidiol, a Nonpsychotropic Cannabinoid, in Experimental Allergic Contact Dermatitis. Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics June 2018, 365 (3) 652-663; DOI: https://doi.org/10.1124/jpet.117.244368.
  8. NINDS. (2018, Aug). Peripheral Neuropathy Fact Sheet. Retrieved from https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/Patient-Caregiver-Education/Fact-Sheets/Peripheral-Neuropathy-Fact-Sheet.
  9. NIH. (2013, April). The Benefits of Slumber. Retrieved from https://newsinhealth.nih.gov/2013/04/benefits-slumber.
  10. Zhornitsky S, Potvin S. Cannabidiol in humans-the quest for therapeutic targets. Pharmaceuticals (Basel). 2012;5(5):529–552. Published 2012 May 21. DOI:10.3390/ph5050529.
  11. Babson KA, Sottile J, Morabito D. Cannabis, Cannabinoids, and Sleep: a Review of the Literature. Curr Psychiatry Rep. 2017;19(4):23. doi:10.1007/s11920-017-0775-9.
  12. Shannon S, Lewis N, Lee H, Hughes S. Cannabidiol in Anxiety and Sleep: A Large Case Series. Perm J. 2019;23:18–041. doi:10.7812/TPP/18-041.
  13. Linares IM, Zuardi AW, Pereira LC, et al. Cannabidiol presents an inverted U-shaped dose-response curve in a simulated public speaking test. Braz J Psychiatry. 2019;41(1):9–14. DOI:10.1590/1516-4446-2017-0015.
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