On January 1st, 2018, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) removed CBD from their list of banned substances. This has led to a surge in CBD use amongst professional and amateur athletes alike. Ever since Cannabidiol (CBD) was made legal in the U.K. in 2016, CBD startups have been springing up everywhere. One of the latest is fourfivecbd, created by two rugby players and aimed at athletes and health conscious people. Learn more about Fourfive and our journey towards creating natural CBD products for athletes and people with an active lifestyle. See the full story here.
CBD and Sports Athletes (with a focus on Rugby)
For some time now, athletes and international sports federations have removed CBD from their list of prohibited substances. Although CBD’s anxiolytic, antidepressant, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties have been shown and reported, the research is not conclusive; in fact, scientists are testing these new cannabinoids on the health and performance of athletes.
The physiological mechanisms by which CBD influences sports performance are not yet fully understood, although there are several scientific studies that show evidence that CBD can help athletes recover from physical and emotional fatigue.
Recovery from fatigue due to physical exertion has become a key problem in modern sports research. After physical, physiological, and cognitive exertion, the functional ability of the athlete must be evaluated, but anxiety and depression are also frequent symptoms of central and peripheral fatigue, especially when combined with competitive pressure.
How does CBD work in the human body?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a phytocannabinoid found in the Cannabis sativa plant. Unlike the psychotropic molecule THC, CBD is neither addictive nor psychoactive. Instead, CBD has been shown in clinical trials to help treat chronic pain and spasticity, mood and sleep problems, immunosuppression, and anxiety.
As CBD is generally approved for medicinal and recreational use, its application among athletes is increasingly gaining momentum, especially in the practice of sports injury treatment. There is a variety of scientific information on the possible benefits of CBD, although, without a direct study of the potential of CBD in sports rehabilitation, there can still be no proven scientific evidence.
The endocannabinoid system directly impacts the human brain, positively affecting mood and memory, and giving a feeling of induced pleasure, tranquility, and bliss. Endocannabinoids such as anandamide and 2-Arachidonoyl (2AG) behave like cannabinoids by activating CB1 and CB2 receptors, while the breakdown and absorption of anandamide enhance receptor binding of the CB1 and CB2 endocannabinoids found in the CNS and SNP. Here is scientific research that offers an introduction to the endocannabinoid system, in case you want to learn more about it.
CBD in sports medicine and sports injury treatment
Further studies are needed to better understand CBD’s impact on physiological process; as the interest in the use of CBD in the rehabilitation of sports athletes continues to develop, the CBD molecule would allow many athletes to treat conditions of physical stress and joint pain in an effective and completely natural way, without risking doping charges.
When taking CBD before, during, or after a workout or competition, its effects should be further examined for its possible benefits, efficacy, and safety profile. Future studies in the field of sports science and medicine are focusing on the role of CBD in physiological processes such as the inflammatory process, neuroprotection, analgesic, anxiolytic use, muscle strengthening, and neuromechanical function.
Other possible research areas include, but are not limited to, an optimal dosage based on physical and physiological load; effectiveness in terms of administrative timing; chronic and acute effects; cumulative responses with other recovery strategies; differences in tolerance and effectiveness by gender, professional level, and level of fitness; and other individual and variable conditions. The inflammatory signaling of CBD is an important part of the healing process; while there is still a lot of work to be done, studies indicate that CBD should be compared to conventional drugs in terms of efficacy.
Focus: Rugby and CBD. How CBD has changed the lives of professional rugby athletes
Rugby is a physically demanding sport, and as athletes get older and stronger, their pain and physical health management increases. Recovery for rugby athletes relies on strength and exercise, diet, and sleep. But that’s not always enough, so players turn to drugs like anti-inflammatory pills and opiates like Tramadol.
The culture of rugby has changed over the past five years, making it more difficult for players to take opioid drugs and pain relievers, but the agony of the sport persists, leaving players searching for natural and healthy alternatives.
Jerome Kaino, a two-time World Cup winner with New Zealand, was “always” taking anti-inflammatories before training and matches before discovering CBD and told the BBC: “You would be amazed how many athletes use the heavier painkillers to get rid of pain due to impacts, for us pain is a physical condition we have to live with every day, in the long run, the anti-inflammatories I was taking made me sick. I was constantly having stomach problems, but I had to take them to make my joints work properly and to be competitive.” Given the ease of availability, Kaino claims to have seen teammates become addicted to opiates.
In recent years, the star in rugby is certainly CBD oil. The use of CBD oil by athletes has increased considerably after CBD has been removed from the list of prohibited substances in 2018, many athletes, for example, have used the CBD products to quit smoking and detoxify from nicotine addiction, and this has allowed them to have better athletic and cardiac performance.
In the world of rugby, more than any other contact sport (except for the “cousin” sport, American football), athletes are subjected to high doses of physical and mental stress. As rugby is a very violent contact sport, rugby athletes are subject to multiple joint and motor problems. In recent times, 28% of rugby athletes, therefore, decided to replace anti-inflammatory and pain relievers with CBD-based products, as CBD not only helps decrease muscle / skeletal inflammation but also helps the athletes in the recovery phase, improving sleep.
Scottish rugby union player Finn Russell uses CBD to sleep, New Zealand rugby union player Jerome Kaino uses CBD for knee pain, while Scotland national team player Jim Hamilton stated that he needs CBD to deal with his physical ailments, even though he has ended his sports career. Among others, many other players of the British and Irish Lions, the Scotland national team, and the two-time World Cup champions All Blacks regularly use CBD to manage the agony caused by the violence of the sport.
More about scientific research in the medical and sports fields
There are many scientific studies about the role of CBD in sports recovery, and they all suggest that CBD increases the effectiveness and efficiency of recovery processes during exercise and sports-related fatigue. Cannabis-derived CBD appears to have several characteristics that could help athletes recover faster after exercise, practice, and specifically after sports injuries. These properties include anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective, analgesic, anxiolytic and pain-relieving effects.
While the effects of CBD are still subject to several scientific studies to prove its effectiveness beyond any doubt, as previously described, many professional athletes have been regularly adopting CBD for some years. Unlike opiates or chemical drugs, Cannabidiol has no side effects, is not addictive, and those who make use of CBD claim it has tangible and concrete benefits, helping their body in restoring physical performance. With further recovery techniques combined with the physiological mechanisms of action of CBD, it is possible to minimize the accumulated fatigue that occurs during a match or during intensive training.
The most used CBD product in the field of competitive sports is certainly CBD oil, which is regularly used for its convenience of administration since it can be both massaged on the painful part and ingested. Some CBD oils on the market combine a blend of medicinal herbs and cannabis-derived CBD, which makes the CBD oils tastier. A good example are the products of MA True Cannabis, which offers a wide range of very effective and pleasant-tasting broad-spectrum CBD oils, blended with essential oils in a combination with MTC oil, that helps in terms of faster absorption by the metabolism.
The potential therapeutic benefits of CBD have been underestimated for years, but the current practice in sports injury treatment may allow for a greater understanding of this natural molecule and its effects. Furthermore, from an administrative point of view, a clearer and more comprehensive strategy for the use of cannabis in sport should also be developed and implemented.
The Rugby Players-Turned-Entrepreneurs Driving The CBD Market In The Sporting World
Ever since Cannabidiol (CBD) was made legal in the U.K. in 2016, CBD startups have been springing up everywhere. One of the latest is fourfivecbd, created by two rugby players and aimed at athletes and health conscious people.
Founded in January 2018 by England rugby player George Kruis and former Wales international Dom Day, fourfivecbd launched its first range of products this year, including a zero THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) product.
The CBD industry is a booming industry, with recent reports forecasting a 700% increase in market growth to $2.1 billion by 2020. In the U.K. the market for CBD is generating around £50 million ($63 million) annually.
But what made two successful professional rugby players – Kruis will play for England at the World Cup in Japan in September this year – decide to go into business together?
“We saw an opportunity and wanted to create a product that people can trust; for athletes, by athletes,” says Kruis. “Also, because professional sport is a short career, like many other athletes we are starting to plan for life off the field.”
The idea for their business first emerged during changing room chatter when a number of players were talking about the health benefits of CBD. The pair, who had suffered their share of injuries on the pitch, had been interested in finding out about more natural alternative therapies. Having done some research into CBD they decided to try it for themselves.
“Between us we have 20 years’ experience in professional sport and have been under the surgeon’s knife 12 times,” says Day. “After taking CBD as part of our recovery from different setbacks, we saw a dramatic improvement in a number of symptoms.”
Their positive personal experience highlighted the opportunity to create a product for athletes and people who lead active healthy lifestyles that they could trust.
Clearly there was a demand from fellow professional athletes, coaches and nutritionists who have seen the benefits of taking CBD, but many had concerns about the provenance of products currently available on the market.
The company supplies a full spectrum (including traces of THC), largely for non-drug tested, active people, and broad spectrum (zero THC), mainly for our drug tested athletes or people who are subjected to drugs testing in their workplace.
“As athletes, we both have regular random drug tests,” says Day. “To ensure that we and our fellow athletes can continue to enjoy the benefits offered by CBD we needed to create the safest product possible to provide peace of mind when taking it.”
fourfivecbd is currently the only batch tested zero THC CBD product that is also tested for the cross contamination of banned substances. This was achieved through the US gold standard testing group, BSCG. Its CBD oils are made without the use of pesticides and herbicides, 100% natural and vegan and vegetarian friendly,and its hemp is sourced from across Europe.
One of the challenges they faced in starting their business was getting a bank and a solid payment system in place, because of the way that some banks still view hemp-based products. Acquiring the skills they needed to make key business decisions was also a completely new experience for them.
“We enlisted the help of some good mentors, including Peter Harvey, who was previously from Barclays, while our rugby club Saracens and the Rugby Players Association have also been very helpful,” says Kruis.
The other big challenge of course has been juggling their time between playing and being entrepreneurs.
“Running a business is actually a way for us to have something else to focus on besides rugby,” says Day. “Most people do sport to relax when they are not working; for us it’s the other way round. When we aren’t around we have an excellent team in place that we empower to make things happen.”
So far the two founders have self-funded the business and are very close to securing a first round of investment that will help drive sales of their zero THC range and purchase stock for a move into the wholesale market.
“Our main target market is the active and wellness markets, which our product lines reflect,” says Kruis. “We are also looking to expand overseas with selected European countries being our initial targets.”
Sales are growing rapidly and fourfivecbd is on course to reach a £1 million turnover by the end of this year. Their current focus is on a major push into wholesale and expanding their product line over the next 12 months or so.
Day says: “While our main focus is very much on CBD, we are planning to broaden out and focus more generally on the sports and active lifestyle market. However our long-term goal is to establish fourfivecbd as the brand that athletes and active people can trust when it comes to using CBD.”
George Kruis is a professional rugby player with 12 years of experience playing International and club level rugby. His love for the sport and his exceptional skills have led him to not only gain three European titles and four Premiership trophies for English Premiership club Saracens; but also achieve over 45 caps for England during 2 World Cups and a British and Irish Lions tour.
Dom Day was a professional rugby player for 14 years. He played in the 2015 Rugby World Cup for Wales, and has over 250 top flight games to his name. His long rugby career has taken him around the globe to places including Australia and Japan, finishing his career as a proud member of the English Premiership club Saracens where he fell in love with George & CBD.
At fourfive, our mission is simple – we want to help people lead healthier, happier lives through the power of CBD and Vitamin supplements – and we only use the highest quality plant extracts and ingredients. Our premium blends are designed by world class scientists to fit seamlessly into your daily routine, whether you’re taking CBD oil, capsules or vitamins.
We created fourfive after both suffering from a string of injuries and discovering the power of CBD in our recovery. As sportsmen we were immediately shown the direction of prescription drugs that had numerous adverse effects on our bodies and minds. We set out to find an effective, natural remedy to our pain and loss of sleep associated with injury and were surprised by the lack of sports trusted CBD products in the UK.
Using CBD had a transformative effect on our injuries, we were able to come off painkillers and continue injury free so we decided to create the UK’s first BSCG and Informed Sport tested CBD and Vitamin nutrition supplements brand. To bring a premium, top quality and trusted health supplement brand to the market that included top quality supplements and CBD. We believe in the power of CBD on your everyday health and wellness, you don’t need to be a top sports professional to feel the benefits of using quality CBD oils, capsules and Vitamins in your everyday routine, but you can trust that we’ve created the very best. After all your body is a temple, let’s not fill it with rubbish.