Drug Free Sport Staff Writers

Drug Free Sport Staff Writers

Friday, June 9, 2017

Weight-Loss Supplements: Warnings for Athletes

Contributed by: Anna Filardo, Education Program Manager, Drug Free Sport

As summer approaches, there has been an increase in weight-loss/thermogenic supplement (WLT) inquiries in Drug Free Sport AXIS™.  These types of supplements come with increased risks and dangers to athlete health and safety. It is important for athletes to know the risks associated with taking any dietary supplement. Lacking regulation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the FDA does not review or test supplements before they are available for consumer purchase. Read on to learn more about the dangers associated with WLT supplements.

One of the Top Three Supplement Categories Recalled by the FDA (1)
WLT supplements are regularly recalled by the FDA, due to undeclared pharmaceutical ingredients present in the bottle. Recalled WLT products often contain sibutramine (an ingredient found in a drug called Meridia), which was removed from the market in October 2010 by the FDA due to causing heart problems and strokes (2). Not only can products with undeclared pharmaceutical ingredients cause a positive drug test, but they can also create serious harm to the body.

Often Contain Banned Stimulants (3)
WLT supplements often list ingredients that are banned under the “Stimulants” drug class by sport organizations. Look out for synephrine, AMP citrate, bitter orange, ephedra, hordenine, in particular. These ingredients are likely to cause a positive drug test in most sports organizations testing for performance-enhancing substances. Athletes may also experience adverse health effects from taking these stimulants, especially when they are combined into one product formula, or consumed with energy drinks and other secondary stimulant sources.

Harmful and Dangerous Side-Effects (3)
Users may experience harmful or dangerous side-effects after taking a weight-loss/thermogenic supplement. Side-effects users have experienced when taking these supplements include liver failure, anxiety, nervousness, increased blood pressure and heart rate, chest pain, and heart attacks(4). Additionally, these products have been cited to react adversely to prescription medications by increasing or minimizing the prescription drug’s intended effect. (5)

Product Marketing Often Contains False Claims (2)
Dietary supplements are not tested for efficacy or safety; therefore, many claims made by dietary supplements are false and not proven by reliable scientific research. Beware of products making claims such as “promotes weight loss,” “scientific breakthrough,” “incinerates fat,” and “significantly reduces BMI.” These claims are often unsubstantiated and may cause more issues than assistance.

Solution: Use Nutrition to Reach Weight-Loss Goals
Eating whole foods, following a balanced eating plan, and getting regular physical activity is the best and most effective way to lose and maintain weight. Athletes are recommended to work with a sports dietitian to evaluate their meal plan and find the best solution to reach their weight-loss and performance goals. Check out Drug Free Sport AXIS™ for athlete-friendly recipes in our Athlete Recipe Box.

Bottom Line: WLT supplements are commonly contaminated or adulterated, may cause adverse health effects, and are not as effective as a balanced meal plan accompanied with regular exercise.
Learn more about dietary supplement safety by viewing our short video on YouTube.
Athletes that are part of subscribing member organizations can have your dietary supplement(s) reviewed by submitting a dietary supplement inquiry on Drug Free Sport AXIS.


Thursday, May 4, 2017

What's the deal with CBD Oils and Creams? Do they contain THC?

Contributed by Anna Filardo, Education Program Manager

Cannabis|noun|can•na•bis|\’ka-nә-bәs\: any of the preparations (as marijuana or hashish) or chemicals (as THC) that are derived from the hemp plant and are psychoactive.1

Essentially, marijuana is a species of cannabis, specifically named Cannabis Indica or Cannabis Sativa. There are more than 100 different cannabinoids that make up the marijuana plant; the most widely known are Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (or THC) and cannabidiol (or CBD). THC is commonly attributable to the psychoactive or euphoric side effects, while CBD is known for its more medicinal effects. Marijuana (specifically THC) is banned by a majority of sports organizations and is not eligible for medical exceptions or therapeutic use exemptions (TUEs). So what about CBD?

Recently, CBD oils and creams available for purchase in stores or on the internet have been growing in popularity, as seen in an increase of Drug Free Sport AXIS™ inquiries for these products. CBD has been cited for having some medicinal benefits, and homeopathic doctors are prescribing CBD oils and creams for treatment. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) classifies CBD extract as a Schedule I Controlled Substance, which means it is illegal in states that have not passed medical marijuana laws.2

Manufacturers may claim their products are “pure CBD” and do not contain THC. However, there is no way to be certain the products do not also contain THC. The DEA asserts that it is “not aware of any industrially-utilized methods that have achieved this result [of 100% CBD].” 2  In February of 2016, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) tested the composition of 22 CBD tinctures, oils, and creams. A majority of the products were marketed to be “100% Pure CBD.” Upon testing, the FDA found that almost all of the products tested did not have the amount of CBD claimed; some products did not contain any CBD, while others contained far less. THC was also present in measurable amounts in most of the products.3

CBD products are not approved by the FDA for marketing or distribution as safety and effectiveness have not been proven, and the federal government classifies marijuana as an illegal substance. Therefore, the FDA does not test these products before they are available to consumers. Since the FDA does not test CBD products before becoming available to consumers, there is no way to tell the amount of CBD (or THC) in each product. Therefore, AXIS classifies CBD oils and creams as high risk products. 

Dr. David Kuntz, Ph.D., Executive Director of Analytical Toxicology for Clinical Reference Laboratories, affirms 
“Plants are being specifically developed to have high concentrations of CBD to maximize the compound in the bud.  It is my understanding that there are no 100% pure CBD products on the market, and these products will contain minor to significant amounts of THC in the oil depending on their purification steps.”

Bottom line: The use of CBD oils, creams or tinctures may cause adverse health effects and/or a positive drug test.

To learn more about the difference between THC and CBD, view this short video and check out the new Marijuana tab on Drug Free Sport AXIS™



Other Resources:

Friday, April 7, 2017

FREE Stress Management Apps for Athletes

 Contributed by Anna Filardo, Education Program Manager

An athlete's mental health is a vital component of their overall well-being, and can also play a significant role in sports performance outcomes. Whether the athlete is competing at the high school, collegiate, or professional/elite level, it is important to arm them with tools to address the cerebral side of sport. Some of the easiest tools to add to an athlete's toolbox are mobile applications (apps) that are easily downloaded right to their smartphone and support activities of daily livingor in this case, well-being. In this post you'll find reviews (in no particular order) of four different apps that address anxiety and stress management. Try them out, share them with athletes you know, and use the comments to tell us which one you prefer the most!

SAM: Self-Help for Anxiety Management

Synopsis of the App:
SAM helps the user to understand and manage anxiety through daily tracking, breathing exercises, and support.

Platform and Price:
Free. Available via iOS/Apple and Google Play.

  • Developed by a team of university-based psychologists, computer scientists and student users.
  • Ability to track anxiety and how users are feeling in that moment.
  • Allows the user to determine different triggers for anxiety, allowing them to potentially avoid these situations or to be better prepared in the future.
  • SAM employs techniques such as breathing exercises, picture reveals, and relaxation.
  • Social Cloud is a place where users can communicate with each other. This is a great tool to recognize that anxiety affects many people, and allows users to share messages with others using the app.
  • Easy to take on-the-go and alleviate anxiety the moment it hits.
  • Provides educational information about anxiety, common anxiety symptoms and triggers.

  • The app does not notify users when someone comments on their Social Cloud posts.
  • There is not a walk-through for the Muscle Relaxation or Tense-and-Relax Exercise techniques.

Bottom Line:
Anxiety can happen at any time to anyone. SAM guides the user through anxiety management and helps track what triggers a panic or anxiety attack. It’s an ideal app for anyone that experiences extreme stress and/or anxiety.

Personal Zen

Synopsis of the App:
Personal Zen is a game-based app that teaches the user to focus on the positive, instead of the negative.

Platform and Price:
Free. Available via iOS/Apple.

  • Scientifically-validated.
  • Based on 20 years of brain training and anxiety-reduction research.
  • Directions for the game are easy to follow and understand.
  • A great app for avoiding and decreasing stress/anxiety.
  • Helps the user to focus on the happy face.
  • User can set a goal for the amount of the time they participate in the activity each week.
  • Easy way to zone out and allow for a mindless moment.
  • Since it is an app it is easy to take on-the-go and alleviate anxiety in the moment.
  • Does not require users to participate in the activity for a long amount of time (1-2 min/day).
  • Background music is calming.

  • Activity is repetitive and may get boring.
  • Activity is easy.
  • May pose issues to those that have been diagnosed with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) or are anxious about being perfect. Since users have to touch every piece of grass in the game, it may cause more issues than it solves.
  • Not yet available on Android devices.

Bottom Line:
This app is more about mindlessness and zoning out for a short period of time. While it may seem easy to some, it is effective in focusing on the positive face.


Synopsis of the App:
Pacifica provides daily tools for stress and anxiety and provides a built-in support community.

Platform and Price:
Free. Available via iOS/Apple, Android, and Web.

  • Track feelings and write about what is going on in the moment.
  • Create a Hope Board with pictures, goals, inspiration, etc.
  • Set small goals. There are some daily goals already outlined within the app that help motivate the user to reach overall goals.
  • Tap the goal when completed and record the difficulty of completing it.
  • Track and log different anxiety traps and triggers.
  • Shows the user their personal connection between emotions, thoughts, and experiences.
  • Teaches how to reframe the situation (i.e. What could you have done differently to allow for a better outcome?).
  • Tracks sleep and exercise.
  • Guides users through various techniques to manage stress, anxiety, and depression.
  • Includes verbal instructions for breathing exercises, meditation, and muscle relaxation.
  • Community posts allow users to talk to others about shared experiences or hardships.
  • Easy to take anywhere and track anxiety/stress in the moment.

  • Must pay for some “Thought” tracking techniques.

Bottom Line:
Pacifica is a valuable tool for people susceptible to anxiety or stress. It allows users to track their stressors and learn ways to cope and avoid these situations.


Relax Melodies

Synopsis of the App:
Relax Melodies provides users with white noise and meditation to help them fall asleep.

Platform and Price:
Free. Available via iOS/Apple and Google Play.

  • Users are able to select different sounds they like and put them together.
  • "Melodies" section allows users to submit their favorite sounds.
  • Ability to submit a personal sound mix so others can listen.
  • Add and delete sounds to allow users to go back to the sounds that work the best.
  • Ability to vary the volume of each sound selected.
  • Great for traveling, especially when accustomed to white noise (such as a fan on at home).
  • Relax Melodies notify users when it is time for bed based on the time set as a target.
  • Timer: set the white noise to stop after 30 minutes or play through the night.
  • Alarm function can wake users up with white noise.
  • Guided meditation helps users clear the mind and fall asleep.
  • Easy to take on-the-go.
  • Clean platform and easy to navigate.

  • Some saved sounds are only available on the paid version.
  • The user must upgrade to the Pro/paid version in order to utilize all guided meditations.

Bottom Line:
Relax Melodies is a great app that provides white noise, meditation and relaxation for those that have insomnia or difficulty falling asleep.

Which is your favorite? Use the comments below to share!

**Please note that our reviews are not a product endorsement of any mobile application and should not be seen as such.