Pubdate: Thu, 22 Aug 2019
Source: Westword (Denver, CO)
Copyright: 2019 Village Voice Media
Author: Nina Petrovic


A group of Colorado researchers recently studied how cannabis use
affects athletes and found a possible role between the plant and pain

The study, "Cannabis use in active athletes: Behaviors related to
subjective effects," looked at cannabis use patterns and its effects
in a community-based sample of adult athletes. According to the
study's authors, there had been no previous academic research done on
cannabis use's subjective effects for adult athletes.

"There was not a lot of research on how weed helps," explains Dr.
Joanna Zeiger, one of the researchers who conducted the study for
Canna Research Group. "Athletes typically don't sleep well and are
anxious, so we wanted to see what percentage of them use cannabis,
their patterns of use, and what the effects are."

For Zeiger, part of the motivation for conducting this cannabis study
came from her past athletic career. A professional triathlete from
1998 to 2010, she won multiple Ironman events and placed fourth in the
2000 Olympics. In 2009, a bike accident that resulted in a broken
collarbone and structural and neuropathic damage to her rib cage
eventually led her to use cannabis for help with chronic pain.

"There was a huge stigma against using weed at the time," she
remembers. "When it became legal, it removed that barrier of stigma,
and my personal reluctance to share my experience changed."

Zeiger hoped others might feel the same, so she put the word out. In
order to reach as many athletes as possible, a survey was administered
online for any English-speaking athletes who were at least 21 years

The results showed that out of 1,161 athletes who had completed the
survey, 301 reported being current cannabis users, with the majority
of this group being males over forty; over half of the cannabis users
reported consumption three or fewer times per week.

"We looked to address a certain defined population of healthy, active
athletes," says Dr. William Silvers, a professor at the University of
Colorado School of Medicine who helped conduct the study. "We wanted
to see what role cannabis is playing, and what effects cannabis has in
this population."

The study showed that cannabis had an effect on an athlete's
well-being, with varying calming and adverse side effects such as
anxiety or paranoia. A combination of THC and CBD use was the most
beneficial in well-being and calming factors, and had low adverse
effects, according to the research.

Athletes reported using cannabis primarily for medical conditions such
as chronic pain and anxiety; a combination of CBD and THC gave greater
relief for pain and anxiety than CBD alone.

The research into cannabis use and certain groups won't be stopping
anytime soon, as Zeiger and Silvers want to study cannabis use in more
demographics. "Older adults are the fastest-growing demographic
initiating cannabis use," Zeiger says. "They turn to cannabis to see
if it will help with various ailments, and we want to look at benefits
and harms for cannabis in older adults."

As they continue studying cannabis consumers, Silvers is interested in
the long-term effects and popularity of pot products. "It'd also be
important to see how products people put out affect consumers, and use
the outcome to see what people are using now and in the future."
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MAP posted-by: Matt