Southern tests CBD on human performance
Hunter O. Lyle – Sports Editor
As the green revolution of CBD and THC-infused products takes over the United States, many organizations are looking to research the rapidly popularizing products, with Southern being one of them.
Director of the Human Performance Laboratory William Lunn, who specializes in nutrient intervention and supplementation and heads the CBD study at Southern, said he was interested in CBD because of the sudden rise in popularity and prominence even though there is little to no data on the chemical itself.
“With CBD specifically, the past two or three years, a lot of athletes are using CBD. You see it everywhere now. Not just athletes, but a lot of athletes are using it for recovery, to help them sleep better and to enhance performance,” said Lunn. “They say, ‘I think I perform better when I’m on this, I think I’m definitely recovering better,’ which is good anecdotal evidence, but there’s very little to no empirical or scientific evidence that says yes, if someone takes CBD oil, they’ll have these better [outcomes].”
Cannabidiol, or CBD, is the second most naturally abundant cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant and the most abundant in the hemp plant according to the World Health Organization, and while it comes from the same plant, it does not give the user the common “high” as found in THC products.
It is also legal in all 50 states and in recent years, researchers have found that it can be used to treat serious disorders like epilepsy and seizures, as well as less serious conditions such as anxiety and moderate pain relief.
Nowadays, with the help of the 2018 Farm Bill, which legalized the farming of hemp, CBD infused products have been popping up on the shelves of many different stores, with even some athletes, like former Patriot tight-end Rob Gronkowski, launching their own brand of CBD products.
In fact, according to Lunn’s research outline, “The NCAA reports that approximately 30 percent of student-athletes consume cannabis products, and 32 percent of athletes regardless of sport affiliation reported twice-daily cannabis use frequency. ‘Less pain’ and ‘improved athletic performance’ were listed among the major positive endorsements of cannabis use.”
Lunn’s study, which will take place over the next several months and consists of the participation of students across campus — ideally 30 for Lunn — will look at the effects of both acute and chronic doses of CBD on physical strain and soreness.
Participants in the study will be given either CBD oil from the Colorado company New Leaf Naturals, hemp seed oil — the controlled variable — or a placebo supplement by random choosing. They will also engage in vigorous leg exercises that are designed to make their leg muscles contract, thus causing soreness. In the following days after the exercises, Lunn and his team will assess the participants’ pain, range of motion and inflammation in the muscles.
“[The study is] the acute versus the chronic daily dosing. When they first come in, they get this larger acute dose. So it’ll be a little bit less than a tablespoon of CBD oil, which is a lot,” said Lunn. “After that, when we start the daily dose for a month, they’re going to be capsules.”
Besides the physical tests, participants will be assessed on anxiety levels, sleep monitoring, problem solving and weekly health checks. Participants will also be given a $40 gift certificate for each week they are involved in the study, totaling to $200 at the end of the five weeks.
Psychology and nutrition major Belledy Herrera, a senior, is one of many students that Lunn reached out to. She said she was interested in the study because of the void of information surrounding CBD.
As of now, Herrera has not started her portion of the study, but has begun to prepare for it to start, which includes initial screenings and working out now, since she cannot work out while the study is being conducted.
“The number one thing that turned me off was no lower body exercises, [but overall] of course I am excited to be a part of this study,” said Herrera. “Exercises that [Lunn] did say we could do was light cycling.”
For Lunn, this one study is not the definite answer to anything. Granted all goes well on the scientific and methodical side, Lunn said he will likely continue research going forward.
“That’s the great thing about research, nobody should ever look at just one research outcome and say, ‘Oh yup, that’s it, that’s going to be etched in stone and that’s what it is,’” said Lunn. “I mean you can get a lot of good information from [one study,] and that’s what’s great about research, is you can’t do everything in one study, and there’s always going to be follow up, there’s always going to be questions that come up during the study. So depending on the results, I think it would be kind of interesting to follow this with follow up studies.”