Can a supplement with cannabinoids, BCAAs, and magnesium improve exercise recovery? Original paper

The results of this randomized controlled trial suggested that supplementing with cannabinoids, branched-chain amino acids, and magnesium reduced muscle soreness after resistance exercise.

This Study Summary was published on February 2, 2024.

Quick Summary

The results of this randomized controlled trial suggested that supplementing with cannabinoids, branched-chain amino acids, and magnesium reduced muscle soreness after resistance exercise.

What was studied?

Whether taking a supplement containing cannabinoids, branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), and magnesium improves exercise recovery.

The primary outcome was muscle soreness, rated on a numerical scale.

The secondary outcomes included muscle stiffness, discomfort doing daily or physical activities, and sleep quality, all of which were measured with ratings scales as well as pressure threshold (the level of pressure that causes a sensation of pain), active and passive range of motion, muscle circumference and relaxed elbow angle, and mood disturbances.

Who was studied?

40 exercise-trained participants (average age of 27; 52% men, 48% women).

“Exercise trained” was defined as exercising 3 or more times per week for at least 30 minutes per session over the preceding year. To be included in the study, the participants could not have used cannabis or cannabis subproducts within 4 weeks of the first study visit.

How was it studied?

In this 3.5 day randomized controlled trial, the participants took either 2 doses per day of a supplement — containing 35 mg of cannabidiol, 50 mg of cannabigerol, 25 mg of β-caryophyllene, 3.8 g of BCAAs, and 420 mg of magnesium citrate — or a placebo 1 hour before performing resistance exercises involving eccentric contractions of the biceps.

After exercising, the participants were given 7 more doses of the supplement or placebo, which were taken twice daily. The outcomes were assessed 24, 48, and 72 hours after the resistance exercise session.

What were the results?

Compared with the placebo group, the evidence suggested that muscle soreness was lower at 72 hours and discomfort during daily activities was lower at 48 hours in the supplement group. There were no other differences between the groups.

Anything else I need to know?

A limitation of this study is that the researchers did not assess exercise recovery using an objective measure of physical performance (e.g., maximal voluntary isometric contraction). Arguably, improvement in a measure of physical performance indicates the utility of a supplement for exercise recovery more than a subjective measure, such as perceived muscle soreness.

This Study Summary was published on February 2, 2024.