Former Denver Broncos running back Terrell Davis, who trained by running with tractor tires strapped to his waist and all that, has an easy marketing hook for his new cannabis 'athletic recovery' drink; if I am wrong, then why do I have two Super Bowl rings and a spot in the NFL Hall of Fame?(1) 

It sounds ridiculous when it's so on-the-nose, but that kind of strategy is common because it works. It is why athletes lend their name to products, and why friends of athletes want them involved in companies. As is happening with this Defy beverage, which touts that it contains cannabidiol (CBD) extracted from the marijuana and is being pushed by David, a friend of the CEO.

The bad news: there is no way this is an anti-inflammatory

Defy claims that this cannabidiol-infused drink is an anti-inflammatory. We are talking about a marijuana extract here, and "medical" marijuana became a joke because users who wanted to smoke it legally came up with all kinds of claims about what it would heal.  If any drug could show in an actual clinical trial it helps with a dozen different ailments, including anxiety, inflammation, pain, nausea, glaucoma, cerebral palsy and more, it would be a trillion dollar business.

Instead, it is off in supplement land, where products can claim almost anything they want as long as it has that weasel-y disclaimer that nothing that say has been scientifically proven to the U.S. FDA. They can't claim to cure cancer but "reduce inflammation", sure, that is a great non-specific benefit that no one can prove isn't happening with an expensive Orange Mango drink containing 20 mg of CBD extract.

The good news: there is no way this is an anti-inflammatory

There is no evidence a CBD extract in any form actually does anything meaningful, it is one of over 100 cannabinoids in cannabis, a but in a supplement world of alkaline water, antioxidants, microbiomes, and probiotics, marketing matters more than evidence. Grape is a complex flavor, for example, so synthesizing the most important compound one gets you close to grape flavor, but has anyone really tasted artificial grape and declared it as just as good as the real thing?(2)

The same applies here. The CBD "infused" into this is a solid 40% of the cannabinoids in cannabis but unlike grape soda, where you could just be getting a bad taste, you could be getting nothing at all. No one knows if it is helping you. It's unlikely to be hurting you, and that is a good thing, as noted farther below.

However, the marketing is spot on. By claiming it is for "high-performance athletes", they are virtue signaling to weekend gym warriors and those who wrap themselves in the flag of Crossfit. By saying for maximum benefit they should be used pre-workout, during workouts and post-workout, they are selling volume, and by claiming the benefits will happen within 30 minutes, they are appealing to the miracle supplement shopper.

There is zero evidence - none - that any CBD in this product will actually be bioavailable, and if it is bioavailable that the effect will be positive. But some people insist fancy expensive yogurt is having an impact on only the "good bacteria" in the trillions of bacteria in their bodies so it's possible this will be a hit. 

That it does nothing it claims is actually a positive. While anti-inflammatory is a popular buzzword, inflammation actually prevents injury. You don't want to suppress your immune system because you spent 30 minutes walking on a treadmill, and if you have chronic inflammation, you are not taking an untested supplement to treat it.


(1) It's Gwyneth Paltrow logic. If you know Goop is nonsense, all she has to do is note that she looks like Gwyneth Paltrow and people will spend $7 on asparagus water and whatever on jade eggs. 

(2) Bananas are the opposite, which is why artificial banana flavor is common. It's popular. Few can really tell the difference.