Use of Marijuana to Improve Athletic Performance

It is widely known that ingesting or smoking marijuana reduces reaction time, divides attention, and disrupts hand-eye perception and coordination and these effects of marijuana can last more than 30 hours after usage.

“According to a double-blind flight simulation study on licensed pilots “flying” through pre-specified holding patterns and assessing motor performance, it is shown that smoking marijuana increased major and minor errors significantly and this lead to greater average deviations from the normal allocated flight sequence as compared to those who were placed on placebo cigarettes. The performance of these pilots has affected adversely for up to two hours after smoking, and they were able to return to their control levels after six hours. The dose they used was 0.09 mg THC per kg, and this translates to 7 to 8 mg THC for a typical American male. This is also equivalent to 1 to 4 joint hits, depending on the marijuana strain.” This study was a human study and not mouse pilots.

The cognitive impairment that happened was due to the differential blood flow in the brain of the user. There was a considerable reduction in the flow of blood to the temporal lobe of the brain; this is the part that is crucial for focused tasks. The reduced blood flow leads to impaired performance. Fortunately, smoking marijuana increased the flow of blood to other parts of the brain like the lateral cerebellum and frontal lobes, parts linked with sexual behavior, sensory perception, decision making, and emotion.

Therefore, a strength athlete may take advantage of the bronchodilatory and pain-numbing effects of marijuana to make it through a tough strength training session. Also, a UFC fighter will experience a combination of creativity, focus, and pain-killing when he used THC in moderated doses. An overdose of marijuana before performing complicated movements may lead to disaster.

Can Athletes Benefit From the Use of Marijuana?

Even though the use of marijuana is still federally illegal in the United States, athletes are still finding it to be more beneficial to their health. With the increase in the number of states legalizing marijuana in the US now, many athletes are coming out to the public to show their weed-smoking habits. Athletes such as Nick Diaz (UFC fighter), Clifford Drusinsky (triathlete), and Avery Collins (ultramarathoner) have turned to marijuana as a help for their lifting, fighting, swimming, running, and cycling training. Arnold Schwarzenegger even said in 2007 that marijuana is a leaf and not a drug and he was filmed smoking a joint in “Pumping Iron” (1977).

According to scientists, marijuana is known to decrease nausea, improve mood, and alleviate pain. This is the reasons why it is being legalized in some states, and the use is increasing among recreational and hardcore athletes. These athletes have moved from the marijuana that affects the lungs to those that do not affect the lungs like the edibles, vaping, and the pot-based energy bars. However, the effect of marijuana on the performance of athletes is still disputable due to contradictory research results.

The Effect of Marijuana on the Brain

There are more than 700 chemical compounds in marijuana, and they are known as cannabinoids collectively. You will get all of these chemical compounds when you consume it, and they will all find a way to connect with the receptors in the brain and body. As cannabinoids control memory, emotions, appetite, and pain, the user of the marijuana feels relaxed. THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) in marijuana is the compound that brings about the feelings of euphoria and drowsiness and causing the high.

Although these receptors may help control the neurological advantage of aerobic activity (which is also known as “runner’s high”), there is an increase in the level of the naturally-occurring endocannabinoids in the bloodstream after high-intensity treadmill run. This will in turn tune up the pain threshold in our body, thereby helping us to push through a powerful workout (exactly the same way endorphins do).

A smaller amount of THC consumed can increase motor activity slightly, and this means that a little bit of marijuana may bring about an extra speed. According to some researchers in France (University of Bordeaux), there is higher production of pregnenolone in a brain that is exposed to marijuana. This hormone is a precursor to the produced steroids, which is usually used as a supplement to increase energy and reduce fatigue. While some people get high and fall apart when they use marijuana, many others get high and always want to work because their muscle memory is locked in.

Effects of Marijuana on Your Body When Consumed

The legislation in the USA defines marijuana as part of the cannabis sativa plant that contains hundreds of chemical compounds. The main active ingredients in marijuana are the cannabinoids which include THC that is responsible for psychoactive effects. It is also the most studied part of marijuana.

The peak blood concentrations of cannabinoids after you inhale occur in 3-8 minutes as opposed the 60-90 minutes after eating oil-containing edible or a weed. The neural effects of inhaling cannabinoids begin after 20 minutes, and it maximizes for between 2 to 4 hours. Cannabinoids react with the cannabinoid receptors on peripheral cells and neurons, and the receptors are generally engaged by natural endogenous substances which are known as endocannabinoids that the body generates. However, substances from exogenous sources can also bind with them.

THC reacts with cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB1), which is mainly restricted in the brain and cannabinol (CBN) reacts with CB2 which is found on immune cells. Although CBD does not bind with any receptor, it affects numerous metabolic processes in the body such as stress reactivity, immune function, muscle and fat tissue signaling, appetite, pain sensation, and hormonal secretions.

There are other benefits of marijuana for athlete performance. An example is the fact that it helps to improve the growth of muscles. It also helps to increase the performance of the body hormones to prepare the athlete for training or any sport. This is one of the reasons why athletes result in smoking or eating marijuana before performing a workout or going to the field.



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