Just now, spinning in the thrall of some stupid “mindfulness” exercise intended to keep my brain from running off the rails, it suddenly sprung up to me I should jot down something more productive. Like the third and final installment of this series of CBD articles: my own first-hand experience.
In the first article, I gave an overview of the current state of my own body— after 22 years of competition. (That state is maybe best described as FUBAR.) I explained I’d decided to compete in at least three more full power meets before retiring and I outlined some of the obstacles I was facing as a result of the reality of my circumstances. The topic of Cannabidiol as a potential alternative to NSAIDs, as a means to control inflammation and related pain was introduced, as well as the fact that I’d spent a nice amount of time researching and reviewing the available data. There turned out to be a considerable amount.
The second article covered a bunch about my tour of a cannabis processing facility, Extract Labs, where CBD concentrates and tinctures are produced. I touched on the specifics I learned about the chemical processes involved in the isolation of certain compounds, such as CBD. I explained a bit about what I learned from the available scientific data and my take on the “why,” “when” and “how” for Cannabidiol as I understood it. Also, I outlined some key points to consider in terms of requirements when choosing where you purchase CBD, given the fact that there is no current regulation or oversight regarding purity or label claims of dosing.
If you would like to brush up on the above-mentioned articles or read them for the first time, which I’d strongly recommend, they can be found here:
Like I mentioned, this final installment will simply be a summary, recounting my experience using CBD as a means to combat some complications of inflammation, including the pain related to that. As I write this, it’s been just over three months I’ve been using the stuff. The results have been positive, for certain.
I had two main points of concern when I made the decision to embark on this vain, selfish journey to compete again in full power. The first was inflammation in my right hip from training with the weights I would need to, for the volume I would need to, in order to properly prepare for a meet. A little inflammation in a hip never killed anyone, but, like I touched on in my first article, when I broke my spine and had pieces of two vertebrae removed, had part of a disc removed, and had a root nerve relocated: considerations like inflammation in my hip became a bit more unnerving. All stupidity and frankness on my side, this was a lesson I learned the hard way the last time I attempted this foolish pursuit.
Hip inflammation became SI joint dysfunction and that changed the way I was loading the vulnerable portion of my spine during training. The end result, which was cumulative, was less than desirable, to the tune of me laying flat on my back on the floor of an airport terminal, by myself, in the most excruciating pain I could imagine.
Luckily I didn’t do any permanent damage to the repairs and I was able to treat the issue with nonsurgical means. You’re probably asking yourself why on earth I would continue to break myself against a thankless pursuit like this, with so much on the line. But it’s human nature. At least, it’s my nature.
I cannot find a lucid enough epithet to describe this characteristic, this relentless pursuit of miseries disguised as freedoms that we, as a species, largely seem to take part in. Maybe “confused sick, hunger” is the best I can do.
My second concern was my right knee, which I’ve already had cleaned up once, and I will certainly need a replacement for at some point. In the recent past, consistent, heavy squat training has wreaked havoc on it. Again, this is a cumulative issue and directly related to inflammation.
I’d already decided to wear single ply briefs in training and committed to taking CBD regularly, both of these as preventative measures against the concerns I listed above.
So how did it all work out?
First I will tell you that I was not always consistent with wearing the briefs. Sometimes I did, sometimes I didn’t. Most of the time I did wear them. I was very consistent with the CBD, however. I started dosing it at 33 milligrams 2-3 times per day. This dose gave me a noticeable effect, but I’d say it wasn’t anywhere near the point of diminished return, based on what I tried next.
After the first month I upped my dose to 66mg, twice per day, and sometimes I’d go as high as 100mg per dose. Between 66 and 100mg per dose seemed to be the sweet spot for me. I realize this stuff is expensive. So it sucks to hear that higher dosing may be necessary. But I used a third party tested product from Extract Labs, and there are measurement lines on the dropper— so I know the dosing was accurate. Between 66 and 100mg per dose is what it took for me to achieve the desired result.
And achieve, I did. I never would have thought in a million years my body would be able to handle the weights or volume I’ve been able to consistently train with these past months. Yes, all my stuff still hurts. I’ve been doing this for a quarter century. I am not operating under any illusions that I’ll make it through this unscathed.
But, for now, I’m making it through.
I’m almost scared to type this, but both my hip and spine are functioning at 100% with no day to day pain and nothing residual after training, other than normal training soreness. It feels great to be able to abuse those areas enough to actually build some of the muscle back up.
On the topic of my knees, the bad one is as good as new. The good one, however, not so much.
Last night after about fifty total deadlifts, including MSM’s, I got on the leg press to knock that part out before cutting the session and finishing in the morning. Let’s just say I wish I had cut it. On the second rep of leg press I felt a pop in my left knee. And on the third. And the fourth. I stopped there and I could feel that it was heating up and getting angry. I thought for sure I did something to the meniscus like I did on the other one, but now I’m not so sure.
My fingers are crossed and I’m hopeful, because after a couple of megadoses of CBD (135ish mg) I’m able to bend it and walk on it today. I’m not out of the woods by any stretch, but I’m hopeful that in a few days this will resolve and be back to normal. My instincts tell me this is nothing major, but I have to take these things seriously if I expect to finish this course.
There is one more aspect of regular CBD supplementation I want to mention. This was a kind of serendipity, really.
I struggled with anxiety for many years, though I developed a skill set to battle it proactively over that time. It worked so well, I can honestly say that until this year I hadn’t dealt with anxiety of any kind in a very long time. More recently, some circumstances in my personal life have leveled stress on me in a way I was not able to escape using my conventional means.
When I began to take my nighttime dose of CBD after training, I can honestly say there was a noticeable impact on anxiety. Not just anxiety, but my restless mind in general. It helps me to stop the wheels from spinning in my problem-solving brain, as I lay in bed at night, waiting for sleep. Once I do go under, I am usually able to stay there for a decent amount of time, even after my last dose has worn off.
That is, of course, unless I am jerked into consciousness by some shrill, hoarse moan from my gargantuan dog or a gust of wind blowing against the church. Once something wakes me, this same wall of wretchedness is always waiting, and I know I won’t get back to sleep again. CBD or not.
Essentially everyone I work with who is supplementing with CBD (including the living legend Ellen Stein) has reported a similar positive effect with sleep. Ellen says it makes her “sleep like a bear.”
I don’t understand the mechanisms at play there. It could have something to do with the action CBD has on the TRPV1 receptor we discussed in the last article. It could be something else, entirely. Regardless of mechanism— it does seem to help. So that may be an added benefit for those using it to battle inflammation.
Clearly, I am giving this stuff a thumbs up for reducing or preventing inflammation and offering a wholehearted recommendation on a “definitely worth a try” basis.
If you’ve found this series to be insightful or helpful at all, please share it on your socials. As always, feel free to reach out to me with topics for future columns.