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61% Of NFL Players Say They Prefer CBD For Pain Relief, ESPN Study

CBD and the NFL have a long and complicated relationship. Fortunately, it looks like the NFL is finally coming around to recognizing the pain relief and inflammation benefits of cannabinoids like CBD and CBG (cannabigerol).

Top NFL players have argued for years that the benefits of CBD for pain and inflammation relief far surpass the traditional pharmaceutical drugs they take to knock down the week in, week out aches and pains associated with being a professional football player. In fact, several players even started their own cannabis brands shortly after retirement for the specific purpose of marketing pain relieving therapeutic compounds.

Before we look at what some of the biggest name players in the NFL are doing in their retirement years, let’s get an understanding of why CBD has the benefits it does and what new medical studies published in 2020 are saying about the ability of CBD and CBG to treat pain, inflammation and even anxiety?

How Does CBD Work

Cannabinoids like CBD and CBG work because they mimic naturally occurring chemicals in the body called <i>endo</i>cannabinoids. “Endo” is short for endogenous which simply means that a compound was made in the body—not from some outside source.  Unlike endogenous cannabinoids, CBD is a naturally occurring cannabinoid but it’s not made in the body. It’s made by the cannabis plant. Cannabinoids made by plants are called phyto cannabinoids.

In fact, it’s still a little bit of a mystery to medical science exactly how CBD works. What’s known is that when you consume CBD your body responds to it as if CBD were an endogenous cannabinoid or a cannabinoid that the body made itself. That’s why CBD has therapeutic effects. The body responds to CBD as if it were an endogenous cannabinoid (a cannabinoid made by the body). That’s the key to the underlying biology of CBD effects and from where CBD gets the ability to change how you feel.

CBD Pain And Anxiety Relief

Medical studies have shown CBD mimics a powerful endogenous cannabinoid called anandamide. Anandamide is a naturally occurring chemical in the body that is part of your central nervous system. It’s used as a signaling agent or neurotransmitter to transmit commands throughout the central nervous system.  The central nervous system includes your brain, spine, and extends throughout your arms and legs.

Anandamide signals several specialized systems in your body that they should either turn on or off as a response to conditions like pain or inflammation. Those specialized systems signaled by anandamide then get about the business of creating still other chemicals that affect how your body perceives pain and how it responds to inflammation.

In general, anandamide is used by your body to help maintain the chemical balance or homeostasis that is associated with good health and a sense of well being. For example, if you’re feeling anxious, depressed, or in pain, anandamide is supposed to kick-in and communicate to specialized systems throughout your body that they need to turn on or off in order to restore the natural chemical balance that keeps you feeling normal. Taking CBD is a natural way of short-circuiting that process.  When you take CBD, your body responds as if the level of anandamide in your blood was increased. The specialized systems that are signaled by anandamide jump to action and start creating the chemicals that relieve pain.  The result is that you begin to feel better.

Endocannabinoid System

Anandamide is only one small part of an important system called the Endocannabinoid System or ECS. The ECS was discovered in 1992 and has significant and far-reaching effects on health and how you feel.

The ECS has an incredibly diverse range of functions. It helps control mood, emotions, fertility, pain sensation, inflammation, sleep, motivation, relaxation, metabolism, and even more. The ECS is poorly understood and the subject of intense study in the medical research community.

Regardless, what we do know is that taking CBD and CBG significantly affects the ECS. They help the ECS signal to specialized subsystems when to turn on and off. It’s those subsystems that cause the change in how feel emotionally and physically. That’s why CBD and cannabinoids are said to have such wide-ranging effects including both anxiety and pain relief.


Ok. Now that we know a little about the biology of how CBD works, let’s take a look at why it has become popular with NFL players.

While a career in the NFL is the opportunity of a lifetime, it does come with the risk of serious injury. In cases of serious injury, players usually turn to strong pharmaceutical painkillers, surgery, and months or years of rehab. But, as you can imagine, every game or practice for a professional football player causes minor and moderate injury requiring low to moderate strength painkillers and inflammation relief.

According to an ESPN study that surveyed active NFL players, players often turn to pharmaceutical painkillers and even stronger medications to relieve their everyday chronic aches and pains. Many of those pharmaceutical treatments have a significant risk of addiction and adverse effects. According to the survey results, a sizable majority of NFL players would rather be using something like CBD for pain because it has a better safety profile, fewer side effects, and is not habit-forming.

In fact, 61% of NFL players surveyed by the ESPN study believed they would be able to substantially decrease their reliance on injections of pharmaceutical drugs if cannabinoids like CBD were available as a treatment for chronic pain and inflammation symptoms.

And they should know, right? Getting clobbered daily by three hundred pound linemen will quickly get you acquainted with aches and pains. Finding out which compounds really work for pain and inflammation? That’s something they would make it their business to find out quickly. That’s for sure.

After becoming familiar with the therapeutic benefits of CBD and cannabinoids during their playing career, it’s only natural that several retired NFL players would go on to start CBD related businesses.

The A-list of NFL stars who have gone on to start CBD and cannabis businesses includes names like:

               Tiki Barber (Grove Management Group)

               Eugene Monroe (Green Thumb Industries)

               Joe Montana (Calvia)

               Marvin Washington (Isodiol International)

               Ricky Williams (Real Wellness)

Impressive list, right? When it comes to pain and inflammation relief, NFL players know what works and they prefer CBD for pain and inflammation relief.