NFL hall-of-famer enters the cannabis space for athletic recovery

By Beth Newhart

- Last updated on GMT

Defy drinks contain 20mg of non-psychoactive CBD extract per 16oz bottle.
Defy drinks contain 20mg of non-psychoactive CBD extract per 16oz bottle.

Related tags Cbd Cannabis athletes functional beverage Functional drinks

Former Denver Broncos running back Terrell Davis is set to launch a CBD-infused beverage this spring designed for high-performance athletes. The Defy beverage will be the first in a collection of CBD products.

Davis started getting migraines as a child and suffered through them throughout his professional football career. He relied heavily on strong painkillers for much of his life, knowing the toll they took on his body. But as the conversation around the health benefits of legalized cannabis grew, he started taking CBD tinctures as a dietary supplement in lieu of medication. Since making the switch more than a year ago, he claims he hasn’t experienced a migraine or other chronic pain.

This personal experience got him interested in the burgeoning cannabis space, particularly with how it relates to high-performance athletes like himself. Davis has stated that he believes if he had started using CBD earlier it could have prolonged his football career.

Davis won two Super Bowl titles with the Broncos and was a three-time Pro Bowler and three-time First Team All-Pro in his seven NFL seasons. He struggled with knee injuries at the end of his career but was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2017.

High-performance cannabis

Davis formed a partnership with friend Beau Wehrle to bring Defy to life and position a CBD beverage as a natural alternative to anti-inflammatory pills. Wehrle acts as CEO and co-founder of the company, and Megan Bushell rounds out the team as COO.

The Defy drinks will launch with the flavors Lemonade, Mixed Berry and Orange Mango with 20mg of CBD extract per 16oz bottle. Defy will start off with a performance line, but hopes to evolve the brand into more categories and products, like tinctures and a lifestyle drink.

The company has faced challenges in bringing the brand to market, and Wehrle told BeverageDaily that Defy uses a delivery system that’s been in the pharmaceuticals and nutraceuticals industry for several years.

“One of the main obstacles in creating a beverage with CBD is that CBD is not water soluble. Any time someone tells you they have a water-soluble CBD solution, that’s not accurate. It needs to be in some sort of delivery system that can be suspended within the drink without breaking down and sticking to the sides,”​ he said.

Though the drinks can be enjoyed by everyone, Defy emphasized that they are skewed toward high-performance athletes. It’s recommended to consume them pre-workout, during workouts and post-workout, and the effects are usually felt after about 30 minutes.

“It’s for everybody. The professional athlete, the weekend warrior, somebody who is just trying to have a healthier edge on their life. Somebody who wants to have their daily defiance at work. It applies to everybody,”​ Wehrle said.

According to the Defy team, the CBD it is using is much more bioavailable than other forms of CBD on the market. The company is currently working with partners to conduct clinical trials with collegiate athletes and collect more data on the beverage’s effectiveness later on in 2019.

“The CBD space is extremely in need of proper regulation and players who are willing to voluntarily take on and put in place the proper protocols to ensure consumer safety of the product. We’ve invested in a lot of science and research to find the right CBD suppliers and delivery system, to develop the gold standard in the industry that the consumer can trust,”​ Bushell told BeverageDaily.

Defy is in the process of finalizing its website, where it will be sold in all FDA-compliant states. The brand will get into some brick-and-mortar locations with the launch, with immediate availability in Colorado where the company is headquartered.

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1 comment

Defying the market momentum?

Posted by Anthony L. Almada, MSc, FISSN,

The almost ubiquitous description of CBD as being "non-psychoactive" is misplaced and incorrect. Because the human research-validated form of cannabidiol (which no non-Rx commercial brand has yet demonstrated they possess/contains) indeed demonstrates psychoactive effects e.g. upon acute anxiety, CBD (like caffeine, ethanol, a certain sage extract) is indeed psychoactive. Rather, an accurate descriptor is non-intoxicating (as the WHO has used with CBD).

The assertion of using a "much more bioavailable..." form of CBD, coupled with ensuring "consumer safety of the product...." and the investment in "...a lot of science and research..." would imply that the ACTUAL product has evidence of superior bioavailability, and safety and efficacy in humans. (Notable is the lack of mention of a chief scientific officer as part of the team...). To date, no human studies affirm an anti-inflammatory effect of pure/Rx-shape CBD [one study—10 mg, Rx-shape, showed no effect), and zero human studies with a CBD-centric hemp extract (only in dogs, and half of the "CBD" was not CBD). The superior bioavailability claim demands some robust pharmacokinetic data and analytical chemistry--this remains painfully absent in the marketplace.

Since the product is non-refrigerated this also demands compelling shelf stability data, for the myriad of constituents in a CBD-centric hemp extract. Lastly, the positioning for high performance athletes yearns for any such germane "science and research". To date, no science exists, with one high dose (600 mg) Rx-shape CBD human study suggesting a possible performance-compromising effect.

“The CBD space is [indeed] extremely in need of proper regulation.” Does the hemp extract that Defy is using enjoy an NDI allowance or GRAS status??

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