Jun 13, 2016 9:10 AM

What Is the Science Behind Performance-Enhancing Effects of Marijuana?

While we all know that cannabis can be a way to enhance your energy and make you more active, an old stereotype that after smoking marijuana you can only sit on a couch prevails when we are talking about the connection between cannabis and sports. However, the plant has already proven to be an effective performance-enhancing solution.

In fact, the idea of using cannabis to improve the performance is not a new notion and has been practiced since hundreds of years ago. For example, the plant was used in ancient times to make warriors more alert, focused, and even to help some of them overcome their fears.

Besides, the distinction between warriors and successful athletes was blurry, and only well-trained people could become fighters. And since some cultures used marijuana in their warfare, it is quite possible that they used the same way of performance enhancing for their athletes. The history of ancient Greeks says that both soldiers and athletes drank wine and used herbs to show better skills. Similar to ancient Greece, Indians also provided their finest warriors and sportsmen with bhang, a traditional cannabis paste, for centuries.

Despite the fact that cannabis has been left outside of sports for a long time, today it is becoming more and more popular in the area. More and more athletes and fitness trainers admit to using marijuana to enhance their performance.

A year ago, a prominent ski enthusiast and journalist Gordy Megroz reported having a functional high that made him fearless and ready to reach the new heights. Was it actually the reason why ancient warriors were so keen to use the herb before battles? Does it really make you fearless instead of relaxed and calm?

Scientific Confirmation

The answer to this question was provided by Stanford Medical School Professor Keith Humphreys. The professor says that THC hits the receptors in our bodies that reduce anxiety, and the natural response is that you feel more aggressive. But why do patients who use medical cannabis to reduce anxiety feel relaxed and not aggressive?

There are many factors that determine the plant's influence on us and their range is very complex. A 2013 study on the cannabinoid treatment of anxiety claims that among the factors are genetics, the infused dose, and the state of health. It is possible that people in prime physical condition respond to cannabinoids differently from people with any kind of disorders.

Some cannabinoids are also well-known for having analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects—the athletes who use cannabis feel less pain. This means that sportspeople can use cannabis instead of usual painkillers.

Studies also show that cannabis can act as a temporary bronchodilator. The increased airflow to the lungs is another property of marijuana that can help athletes. When all our organs receive a steady supply of oxygen, the performance is also boosted.

Does Smoking Marijuana Affect Our Lungs
Does Smoking Marijuana Affect Our Lungs
As with everything surrounding the cannabis plant, the question of whether it helps keep our lungs healthy is still rather controversial. Many scientists studied the effects that smoking or vaporizing marijuana can have on us. The results show that there are both positive and negative consequences.

Some recent studies examine the role of the endocannabinoid system in a phenomenon known as “a runner high.” The scientists highlight a possibility of cannabinoids enhancing the natural high and thus making the exercise even more effective.

New Runner's High: Can Weed Make You Better Athlete?
New Runner's High: Can Weed Make You Better Athlete?
In the case of weed, there is plenty of scientific evidence of the potent medicinal properties of this plant: it relieves pain and stress, improves focus, accelerates metabolism, relaxes muscles, and so on.

After all, numerous studies prove that cannabis has a number of positive effects on our bodies and minds. And many of these effects are beneficial for people who keep their body healthy and well-trained.

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