Is CBD a Placebo?


Growing up as a competitive baseball player and later becoming competitive in CrossFit, I was always excited to try supplements to see if they would help a skinny kid - me - become stronger and more athletic. Over the years I’ve taken various multi-vitamins, fish oil, protein, and a host of products claiming to increase muscle gain or endurance, all to minimal effect. After testing out so many products and brands, there are a couple that have managed to stay in the mix, and I feel these are effective for the vast majority of people.

Protein, carbohydrates, creatine, and CBD - I choose NeuAxiom.

None of these are powerful enough to overcome a poor work ethic or a lack of nutrition in your diet. They are supplements, and that is what I use them for. Protein is something you eat anyway - powder simply puts a little more in your system so you don’t have to spend as much time chewing. Carbs, while often demonized, provide essential energy and capacity for recovery when you are fit and training hard. Creatine helps me personally most with explosive training like jumping and Olympic weightlifting, not necessarily with pure strength. A benefit is a benefit and I enjoy feeling springy, so I use it.

CBD has two main benefits: it reduces inflammation and it promotes a feeling of calm. I use a balm on my forearms and wrists because I train handstands for 2 hours 6 days per week. The wrists get sore, like they’re made of glass, and massaging CBD balm into them post workout and again before bed always has them recovered enough to get through the next training session. Sleep has always been something I struggle with, and the subtle calm induced with the NeuAxiom VITAL spray helps me get better rest at night.

Since sleep is a struggle, I’ve developed something of an evening routine to help make it more consistent. The first time trying the VITAL spray, I took the standard dose on the bottle and proceeded to meditate for 20 minutes. I fell asleep,  slept all night, and woke up in the morning, non-groggy, but wondering what the hell had happened. I normally don’t fall directly to sleep, and I never stay asleep all night. I usually wake up two to three times per night stressed about writing programs for my clients. I’ve even been told I talk in my sleep and explain how to squat and perform other exercises as if I’m working with clients in the gym.

After this first night, my interest was piqued. Excited to test it out the second night, I was pleasantly surprised to experience similar results again, and this happened the following nights as well. This was about two years ago, and while not every night is perfect, I generally sleep through the night when I use the product in conjunction with meditation before bed.

Meditation in conjunction with CBD is an important factor to consider. While the CBD never knocks me out like a sleeping pill might, I prefer this. If I need to wake up early for an important event, I don’t have to worry about sleeping through my alarm and missing it. If something crazy happens, like the house catching fire, there won’t be any issues with waking up and being alert enough to handle the situation appropriately. So, while it probably won’t do much if you sit in bed flipping through apps on your phone, my personal experience shows that it does promote better sleep when used in the intended way.

Getting quality and consistent sleep is probably the most effective performance enhancing drug that is not sold on the open market. It is elusive for many, and anything that helps without negative side effects is something worth considering. 

So is CBD just a placebo? If it is, it still works, and results is all I am after. However, I’ve seen too many people have success with it to believe it’s in all of our heads. If CBD oil can help me, or possibly you, get to sleep and stay asleep without side effects, I think it is worth considering adding it to your routine.