Dive into the electrifying universe of eSports, where video games transform into an adrenaline-pumping competitive battleground. With millions of passionate gamers and enthusiasts worldwide, this billion-dollar industry may soon enter the grand stage of the 2024 Olympic Games in France. But it's not all fun and games. In this high-pressure environment, gaming-related injuries are common.
In a quest to level up their mental agility, lightning-fast reflexes, and banish physical discomfort, more professional gamers are using CBD. Researchers have linked cannabidiol – the main non-psychoactive compound in cannabis plants – to therapeutic benefits, including pain relief, restful sleep, and more.
Below, we will discuss the reasons why more eSports athletes are using CBD and highlight the studies proving its effects on the mind and body. Before we dive in, let's take a quick glance at what eSports entails.
"eSports" or "electronic sports" describes the world of competitive, organized video gaming. Its early beginnings date back to the 1970s, when Magnavox launched The Odyssey: the first home console.
eSports athletes engage in solo quests or team-based competitions across multiple video game genres, including sports simulation games like Rocket League and FIFA International, as well as multiplayer online battle video games like Dota 2, Smite, and League of Legends.
Despite being a recent phenomenon, eSports has gained immense popularity, with the market reaching $1.22 billion in 2022. Expectations remain high, as experts project the eSports market to hit $5.48 billion by 2029.
Benefits of CBD for Gamers
Pro gaming tournaments around the world offer gamers the opportunity to take home massive fortunes – some soaring as high as millions of dollars. Given these high stakes and significant financial rewards, competitive gamers are treating their profession with utmost seriousness and dedication.
CBD's effects may help professional eSports athletes prepare for tournaments and achieve peak performance. In particular, here are three reasons CBD and gaming could be a winning combination:
1. Reduces Musculoskeletal Pain
Although the nature of eSports is sedentary and gamers can compete while sitting comfortably, pain is inevitable. In fact, some professional eSport athletes have retired due to career-ending injuries. Thomas "ZooMaa" Paparatto, a competitive Call of Duty player, is one example. He sustained a severe thumb injury early on in his career, forcing him to retire at 25.
Archie Pickthall, an 18-year-old (as of 2023) pro Rocket League player, considered retiring at 16 years old due to unbearable wrist pain in 2020-2021. "I had a rough period where I could hardly do anything because the pain was so bad," he shared.
The majority of injuries prevalent in video gaming affect the tendons and ligaments in the wrist, shoulder, and elbow. In particular, some common eSports injuries include:
- Mouse elbow. Gripping and squeezing a computer mouse frequently and for extended periods can damage the tendons on the elbow's outer side. Aside from pain, the grip may weaken, making it difficult to do simple wrist movements like clicking a mouse.
- Carpal tunnel syndrome. The wrist has a channel called the carpal tunnel, through which nerves and tendons pass from the forearm into the hand. Repetitive wrist bending during intense and prolonged gaming can cause carpal tunnel constriction, compressing the nerves within. Persistent wrist pain is a telltale sign of CTS.
- Lower back pain. Of 188 eSports athletes involved in a sectional study, 31.3% struggled with back pain. Hours on end of sitting can cause lower back pain for several reasons. It can compress the spinal discs in the lower back, cause poor posture, and reduce blood flow. Combined, these factors can lead to muscle fatigue, pain, and discomfort.
In 2020, a four-week randomized and placebo-controlled trial involving patients with peripheral neuropathy showed a noteworthy decrease in intense pain, sharp pain, as well as cold and itchy sensations after CBD use. The research demonstrated that the transdermal application of CBD oil could deliver substantial improvements in patients dealing with neuropathic pain.
In a 2022 cross-sectional study, 83% of the respondents diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis experienced reduced joint pain after CBD use. Many of them reported reductions in their use of anti-inflammatories (31.1%), acetaminophen (18.2%), and opioids
(8.6%). In comparison, some have completely discontinued using anti-inflammatories (17.8%), acetaminophen (17.8%), and opioids (18.9%) following CBD use.
Research published in 2016 shared similar findings. The authors concluded that CBD topicals have therapeutic potential for alleviating pain and inflammation without causing side effects.
CBD is becoming more popular among eSport professionals for reducing pain and inflammation from heavy, prolonged gaming. However, remember that CBD does not cure severe, chronic, and debilitating disorders. Instead, CBD may help relieve the painful symptoms associated with fatigue and certain conditions.
Related: How are CBD Products Used in Pain Management?
2. Improves Sleep Quality
Sleep is critical for optimal cognitive performance. As insomnia and sleep deprivation can deter a pro gamer's focus, attention, and alertness, they leave more room for errors and concentration difficulties – both of which are crucial to avoid when participating in eSports.
Studies suggest that CBD may combat insomnia and improve sleep patterns. One investigation concluded that a CBD dosage of 160 milligrams lengthened sleep duration. The researchers also found that CBD dosages as low as 40 and 80 milligrams helped the participants fall asleep.
Typically, levels of the stress hormone cortisol are high in the morning, but gamers with insomnia may experience elevated cortisol levels in the evening. When cortisol levels peak at night, falling and staying asleep can be challenging regardless of insomnia. A 2019 case series revealed that individuals who took 300 or 600 milligrams of CBD oil experienced a significant reduction in cortisol levels, suggesting that CBD may affect cortisol release and potentially act as a sedative (in this case, for pro gamers).
Related: Can CBD Help Me Sleep?
3. Prevents Stress-Induced Cognitive Decline
Stress provides eSport players a short-term advantage by increasing alertness and sharpening reflexes. However, prolonged, unaddressed stress can have brain-damaging consequences. Researchers found that "repeated stress" triggers inflammation in the brain, resulting in a gradual decline of neuronal function. For those relying on mental acuity to excel in competitive gaming, cognitive impairment can be detrimental to their performance and career.
Substantial clinical evidence supports cannabidiol as an effective means to constrain the stress response and protect the brain against neurodegenerative conditions. For instance, according to a large-scale analysis of seven clinical trials on CBD for stress, the active ingredient effectively reduces the stress response and its manifestations (depression, anxiety, fear, and burnout). Further research on medical cannabis demonstrated that CBD protects neurons and astrocytes, helping prevent neurodegeneration.
Is CBD Banned in eSports?
The Electronic Sports League (ESL) enforces rules and regulations to prevent potential injuries and unfair advantages among contestants. Following revelations of players using performance-enhancing drugs, ESL implemented a ban on specific substances. The league's anti-doping list mirrors the World Anti-Doping Agency's Prohibited List, which includes cannabinoids – except for hemp-derived CBD. eSports athletes with upcoming competitions should only use pure, isolated 0.00 THC Free CBD products to pass mandatory drug testing.
CBD for eSports: Maximize Your Gaming Potential
The fascinating world of eSports is growing rapidly, with organizers giving contestants a chance to win millions of dollars. This competitive environment motivates athletes to take extra steps to maintain their performance. For some, CBD may be a viable option. Pure CBD for professional gamers offers comprehensive support by mitigating pain from prolonged gaming, improving sleep patterns, and safeguarding the brain from the adverse effects of chronic stress. Unleash your inner champion with CBD for eSports now.