NFL Invests in CBD Research for Player Pain Management

August 16, 2023 08:00 am ET Estimated Read Time: 5 Minutes
NFL Invests in CBD Research for Player Pain Management

In an unprecedented move that embraces the evolving landscape of sports health and wellness, the National Football League (NFL) has recently made a significant investment in cannabidiol (CBD) research, aiming to explore its potential as a pain treatment alternative for players suffering from concussions. 

This initiative reflects the NFL’s commitment to the well-being of its athletes. It brings to light the critical role CBD could play in managing players’ pain while potentially sidestepping the harmful effects of opioids. With the NFL delving deeper into CBD research, let’s take a closer look at the significance of this endeavor, its impact on the players, and the possible future of pain management in professional sports. 

The NFL and the Players Union Announce a Joint Statement

The historic announcement came in June 2023, as the NFL and its player’s union, the NFLPA,  jointly revealed their commitment to back further independent CBD research. A $526,525 pledge from the union and the league will support two major studies. 

The NFL’s commitment to exploring the therapeutic potential of CBD and other alternatives is underscored by a statement from the league’s Chief Medical Officer, Allen Sills. In a recent press release, he remarked:

“We are always seeking new knowledge, techniques, and tools to ensure that NFL athletes are treated with the best possible care. We are proud to lead the way on investigating how the use of CBD and other alternative measures could positively impact pain management for players. As within the broader scope of player health and safety, we want to ensure every treatment at our disposal clears the appropriate medical standard for wider use.” 

His comments affirm the league’s dedication to both player welfare and the pursuit of innovative treatments that are medically sound.

What the Two Funded CBD Research Studies Hope to Learn

The goal is straightforward: determining whether CBD could be a feasible alternative to opioids for managing pain in players who’ve sustained concussions. One of the funded studies will be spearheaded by the American Society of Pain and Neuroscience (ASPN). It aims to examine the promising effects of CBD and non-invasive vagal nerve stimulation (nVNS) for treating post-concussion headache pain.

This innovative research would put nVNS and CBD against current standards of pain management. These ventures into CBD research and the nVNS world could shift the narrative on concussion treatment, offering alternatives that might prove less harmful than opioid-based approaches. 

Charting the NFL’s Evolutionary Journey Toward Embracing CBD Research

In recent years, the NFL has steadily ramped up its commitment to CBD research and cannabinoids as an alternative to opioid painkillers. In 2020 the NFL changed its drug testing policy, which was a significant development. In response to a collective bargaining agreement, the policy was revised to state that players would no longer face suspensions due to THC-positive drug test results. 

Apply For Your Medical Marijuana Card Today

Veriheal has satisfied hundreds of thousands of patients nationwide

  • Get approved or your money back
  • Appointments available on-demand
  • Customer support available 24/7

In 2022, a $1 million funding plan for CBD research was previewed by the commissioner of the NFL and the league’s players union, which was also well received. These steps reflect a progressive shift in the NFL’s stance toward CBD and its potential benefits for player health.

Is the Tide Finally Turning? Changing Attitudes in Other Pro Sports

The NFL’s progressive stance on CBD research is not just a characteristic of the NFL. Other prominent sports leagues are also altering their views on the subject, mirroring a broader shift in society’s view of cannabis. Among them are: 

  • The National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) is considering removing cannabis from its prohibited substances list as part of its commitment to the health and well-being of student-athletes. 
  • The National Basketball Association (NBA) has taken this a step further by modifying its drug policies and abolishing THC testing entirely
  • Nevada’s sports authorities have proposed a policy change that would prevent the punishment of athletes for possessing or using cannabis following state laws.
  • In 2021, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) embraced a more progressive stance, declaring that fighters would no longer face penalties for THC-positive tests.

Further evidence of the changing dynamics around CBD research and other cannabis-related changes is evident in the recent partnerships between sports teams and cannabis brands. Major League Baseball (MLB) teams, the Chicago Cubs and the Kansas City Royals, for example, have formed innovative partnerships with cannabis brands. They aim to promote education on the therapeutic properties of CBD. 

These collaborations serve as a testament to the shifting attitudes toward cannabinoids in sports. Additionally, they emphasize the growing acceptance of the potential health benefits offered by cannabis, which may contribute to an improved quality of life for players.

League-Wide Partnerships and Endorsements

In another historic deal, the MLB announced a league-wide partnership with Charlotte’s Web Holdings, one of the country’s most recognizable hemp-derived CBD companies. With this partnership, Charlotte’s Web was declared the “Official CBD of MLB,” solidifying its position in the sports industry.

The implications of this partnership are enormous for both the CBD industry and the sports world. It not only legitimizes the role of CBD in sports health management but also opens up possibilities for other sports leagues to follow suit. The partnership indicates the potential for a future where alternative, potentially less harmful treatments like CBD become mainstream in sports-related pain and injury management. This heralds a new era of player wellness, with professional sports leading the way.   

NFL CBD Research in a Nutshell

The landscape of sports health and wellness is on the brink of significant evolution. The NFL and other sports organizations are increasingly exploring CBD research to discover its benefits. This shift is evident in increased funding for independent research, revised drug policies, and groundbreaking partnerships with cannabis brands, all of which point towards a proactive approach to player health and welfare. 

Looking ahead, the future of sports health could see CBD playing a central role in managing player health and pain and shifting societal attitudes toward cannabis use. Only time will tell how these developments will transform the world of sports, but the journey has undoubtedly begun.

Post Your Comments