CBD and The NHL: The Lasting Impact of CBD on Hockey Players
Written by Jason Brett
Edited by Cathy Rozyczko on
January 5, 2022
All professional sports require a certain amount of athleticism and endurance, but there is perhaps no sport as physically and psychologically taxing as hockey.
One of the world's most popular sports, hockey is sometimes seen as a cross between ice skating, lacrosse, and boxing, and it is known for placing a great deal of stress on the body.
Physical and psychological trauma resulting from intense training schedules, long hours, and fights on the ice rink can leave their mark on players, so it’s no big surprise that many players are turning to CBD oil for relief.
As the natural benefits CBD can provide become more well-known, athletes around the globe have begun to turn to CBD for pain relief.
In the NHL, hockey players are leading the way towards making the use of cannabis accepted in professional sports.
Whether you are a curious hockey fan or an aspiring hockey player, you may find yourself wondering why hockey players are using CBD and whether they are allowed to do so.
Are hockey players risking their careers by supporting the use of CBD? Here is a quick look at the use of CBD in the NHL.
CBD and the NHL
A common concern for players and fans alike is whether a hockey player could face repercussions for using CBD. Fortunately for hockey players looking for alternative treatment for ailments they face on and off the rink, The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) recently dropped CBD from its banned substances list, paving the way for athletes around the world to take advantage of the health benefits CBD can provide.
As long as a hockey player uses a hemp-based CBD product that contains less than 0.3% THC (THC is the psychoactive component in cannabis, which is still banned by WADA), they do not need to worry about facing repercussions when playing for the NHL or at international events such as the Olympics.
However, some players find that they benefit from using products that contain both THC and CBD, and these players may wonder what the NHL's official stance is on players who use cannabis.
Unlike stricter leagues such as the NFL and MLB, hockey players do not face automatic repercussions if they are caught using cannabis, as cannabis isn't currently on the NHL's list of banned substances.
While players are still tested for cannabinoids under the NHL Players Association (NHLPA) Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program, if a player tests positive they are not publicly identified. Action is only taken if a player regularly has high levels of cannabinoids in their system.
In these instances, a player may be deemed in need of substance abuse training. So, while many activists within the NHL believe that the organization still has a long way to go in changing the way it treats players who use cannabis, players who use CBD, and even those who use THC, do not have to fear losing their jobs.
How CBD Can Help Hockey Players
Due to the NHL and WADA's acceptance of CBD use, more hockey players have been able to start incorporating CBD products into their regular healthcare routine. As more players begin to use CBD, more discoveries are being made as to how CBD can benefit hockey players. Here is a look at just a few of the ways CBD has been shown to help hockey players.
Reduce Stress and Anxiety
To an outsider, it may seem as though a professional hockey player lives a stress-free life of luxury; however, this is often far from the truth. The fact is that professional hockey players face a great deal of stress, and many struggle with chronic anxiety and PTSD.
Not only can a busy schedule lead to sleep deprivation, which is a known cause of anxiety, but many players struggle with performance anxiety and a fear of being injured on the ice. All these factors can take a toll on one's mental health.
Fortunately, many players are finding relief from their anxiety through CBD.
While the mechanism involved in CBD's ability to reduce anxiety is still not fully understood and is the subject of intense study, it is believed that CBD reduces anxiety due to the way it interacts directly with the CB1 receptors in the brain. CB1 receptors are neurotransmitters that affect serotonin levels, which play a big part in quelling anxiety.
CBD has been studied to be particularly beneficial at helping to treat social anxiety and panic disorder, which could help provide relief for hockey players with performance anxiety or for those with a fear of returning to the rink after an injury.
Aid in Training Recovery
Due to the intense physical nature of hockey, hockey players have to train hard, which can put a great deal of strain on the body. Unfortunately, this strain that players put on their bodies can cause inflammation that can inhibit post-workout recovery.
For hockey players who want to bounce back faster after training and get more time in on the rink, CBD may be the answer they've been looking for.
CBD has been shown to act as a powerful anti-inflammatory, which can help one's body recover quicker after workouts and injuries. CBD can also help promote muscle relaxation, reducing tension after intense workouts, which can boost recovery and reduce the likelihood of injuring or straining overused muscles.
CBD as a Treatment for Brain Injuries
Unfortunately, impact sports are notorious for causing brain injuries, and hockey is no exception. In fact, traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are particularly common in the NHL due to fights that frequently break out on the ice.
The fact is that concussions are a regular occurrence for hockey players, which can have a long-lasting effect on their physical and mental health. Fortunately, CBD may provide the protection from traumatic brain injuries that hockey players have long been searching for.
CBD has been shown to have strong neuroprotective properties when taken after sustaining an injury to the head. This has caused many NHL players to advocate for the use of CBD in hockey as a way to protect players from the potential long-term effects of repeated concussions.
What we can learn from hockey players who use CBD
As scientists continue to learn more about the health benefits that CBD can provide, it is likely that hockey players will discover more ways in which using CBD could improve their health and maximize their performance.
The fact that CBD has proven anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective benefits is a huge plus for anyone who engages in impact sports.
And the promising science behind using CBD for anxiety is good news for athletes and active folks who engage in high-adrenaline activities like surfing.
At the end of the day, these research-backed benefits make CBD a smart choice for active adults. Provided the CBD is safe, tested, grown sustainably, etc…
That’s why we’re here!
See our Guide to CBD for Athletes for more information.
+ 9 sources
JWRX io. “5 Professional Athletes Who Use CBD.” Medium, 3 Dec 2018.
Kaplan, Emily. “Is the NHL the future of marijuana in pro sports? Why it could be.” ESPN 7 Mar 2019.
World Anti-Doping Agency. “Prohibited List January 2018.” WADA
Dube, Jacob. “NHL is slowly warming up to CBD use for treating players.” The Growth Op, 08 Sep 2019.
Campos, Alline Cristina et al. “Involvement of serotonin-mediated neurotransmission in the dorsal periaqueductal gray matter on cannabidiol chronic effects in panic-like responses in rats.” Psychopharmacology vol. 226,1 (2013): 13-24. doi:10.1007/s00213-012-2878-7
Blessing, Esther M et al. “Cannabidiol as a Potential Treatment for Anxiety Disorders.” Neurotherapeutics : the journal of the American Society for Experimental NeuroTherapeutics vol. 12,4 (2015): 825-36. doi:10.1007/s13311-015-0387-1
Nagarkatti, Prakash et al. “Cannabinoids as novel anti-inflammatory drugs.” Future medicinal chemistry vol. 1,7 (2009): 1333-49. doi:10.4155/fmc.09.93
Lia, Nick. “CBD may be a good option for treating pro athletes’ traumatic brain injuries, advocates say.” The Toronto Observer, 21 Apr 2020.
Bakas, T et al. “The direct actions of cannabidiol and 2-arachidonoyl glycerol at GABAA receptors.” Pharmacological research vol. 119 (2017): 358-370. doi:10.1016/j.phrs.2017.02.022
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