The Use Of Cannabinoids In Wellness And Recovery

While cannabinoids like CBD can aid in fitness and skin recovery, the use of ingestibles and topicals after cosmetic surgery procedures is still in question.
Written by Jeannine Morris Lombardi
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The Use Of Cannabinoids In Wellness And RecoveryChristin Hume/Unsplash

Thousands of cannabidiol (CBD) products hit the market last year and there’s no slowing down. It’s become so mainstream that experts and consumers are finding all different ways to add the powerhouse ingredient to their beauty and wellness routines. According to BDS Analytics, a National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) data partner, the CBD market is expected to exceed $20 billion in the United States by 2024. Known for relieving achy muscles and joints, reducing anxiety, aiding in sleep, and helping fight inflammatory skin conditions, those numbers are not all that surprising.

Intrigued by the rapidly growing industry, we spoke with wellness experts and doctors to find out how cannabinoids like CBD help or hinder the recovery and healing process. Here, we explore the role of cannabinoids post-workout and post-op to understand how they can complement fitness and aesthetic regimens.

What Are Cannabinoids?

To start, let’s explore what cannabinoids are and how they work. Cannabinoids are naturally occurring compounds found in the Cannabis sativa plant that work with your endocannabinoid system (ECS) to help your body maintain balance. The most common cannabinoid is CBD, which is why you’re seeing it pop up on labels everywhere. Your body’s endocannabinoid system is made up of a series of receptors. CB1 receptors are primarily in the brain, while CB2 receptors are abundant all over the body. The cannabinoids found in CBD act as messengers to these receptors to help manage pain, inflammation, muscle control, and more. For a detailed report on cannabinoids and how they work, read our Cannabinoids 101 guide.

While there is a small but growing body of research surrounding the benefits of cannabinoids, CBD and the like is currently not approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). As such, we recommend speaking with your doctor before adding any oral or topical supplement to your routine.

CBD Post-Workout

For years, the name of the fitness game was “faster, better, stronger, harder,” (thanks, Kanye). Today, the focus is on recovery to enhance performance and reduce the risk of injury. This concept has manifested in the form recovery-based studios, flotation therapy, cryotherapy, and even vitamin-infused IV therapy. Thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties, CBD has become just as trendy.

“Muscle recovery is the most important part to working out,” explains Rhys Athayde, chief experience officer and founding trainer at DOGPOUND. “The purpose of working out is to get stronger, and the only way you can do that is by tearing the muscle fibers and letting them recover. Whether you’re in the gym every day or training for a marathon, you need to allow your body to rest. Working out breaks down your body. If you don’t recover, you’re only putting yourself at greater risk to get hurt.”

Studies have shown that CBD helps to improve mobility and has substantial anti-inflammatory benefits. When used topically, CBD binds to the CB2 receptors in your skin to help reduce localized pain. If you are interested in adding a cannabidiol-based balm or oil into your recovery routine, education is key. “I would recommend a client do a thorough amount of research before trying anything,” Athayde says. “If they feel ready to add it into their regimen for recovery, I would advise to begin topically on areas of extreme pain or discomfort before bed.”

CBD To Treat Skin Flare Ups

We’ve already reported about the benefits of adding cannabinoids to your skincare regimen, and the learnings led us to consider how they could help control flare ups related to stress-induced breakouts, irritation from a skincare product, sunburn, or post-procedure (think: laser skin resurfacing) sensitivity. “CBD is a great ingredient if you’re into taking a holistic approach to skincare,” says Erica Cerpa, aesthetician and founder of EC Beauty Studio in Hoboken, NJ. “It can help to bring down redness and inflammation, as well as soothe irritations.”

In the past, our go-to natural ingredients to soothe sunburn and the like have been aloe vera and chamomile. But, since it’s an antioxidant, CBD has anti-inflammatory and anti-aging benefits. As a result, it’s become a replacement recommendation for aestheticians. Whether you’re ready to add it to your daily skincare routine or not, keeping a CBD balm or lotion on hand can come in handy when skin flare ups or sensitivity arise.

CBD And Cosmetic Surgery Recovery

With aesthetics at the core of what we cover here at The AEDITION, we’re particularly interested in how natural remedies and holistic practices can impact traditional medical procedures. “I don’t like to write off supplements or natural ingredients that may help,” says Jonathan Cabin, MD, a board certified facial plastic and reconstructive surgeon in Beverly Hills. “But I worry that the lack of regulation for natural ingredients like CBD can lead to a number of problems.”

When you consider oral CBD supplements, for example, providers worry about an increased chance of bleeding. Many surgeons make blanket statements like, “avoid all herbal supplementation,” in their pre-op instructions for this reason. Dr. Cabin also checks to be sure there are no known interactions between the supplements being taken and the drugs that are being prescribed for the surgery, as they could cause unpredictable changes and complications. “When in doubt, I have them stop one month prior to surgery and for two weeks after to recover,” he says.

There are studies (mostly done with rats) that prove the anti-inflammatory benefits of using CBD for pain relief. Post procedure, ask your doctor if they are okay with you adding a topical CBD product (think: a balm or oil blend) to the affected area. The answer will vary depending on the provider, procedure, and patient’s needs. But, just like with muscle relief, topical CBD products can be beneficial to ease discomfort. For more information on what to look for in a product, check out our guide to cannabinoids.

The Takeaway

At the end of the day, beauty, skincare, and wellness is a lot about finding what works best for you. While it is always important to consult with a doctor before introducing new products or supplements to your routine (especially before and after medical or elective procedures), honing in on the perfect routine is a very personal experience. “I believe that if someone feels they are getting a positive effect from something, it can actually have a real positive effect,” Dr. Cabin concludes. “There is a strong mind-body connection.”

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JEANNINE MORRIS LOMBARDIis a contributing writer for AEDIT.
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