Former NFL player Cullen Jenkins turned to the natural benefits of CBD to manage pain in his retirement, after over a decade in the league.
Playing football in the NFL means enduring unimaginable amounts of pain for the entertainment of viewers around the world. Cullen Jenkins endured more than most. While the average NFL career lasts less than five years, Jenkins played for over a decade. He registered 49 sacks, 349 tackles and recovered 9 fumbles. In 2010, with the Green Bay Packers, he played an integral role in the 3-4 defense that would eventually win a Super Bowl.
Back on the Field
To be successful in the NFL requires that you learn how to deal with intense pain. Jenkins tore his pectoral muscle and played with bone bruises and calf injuries. His livelihood depended on quick recoveries. When you’re playing professional football you have a lot of help treating medical conditions. And though it may be well-intentioned, it can actually have a negative impact long term.
“What a lot of people don’t understand from an athletic standpoint, you’ve got doctors – and many of them treat you like they truly do care – but any time you’ve got a staff employed by an employer, the main focus is to get you back on the field and playing,” Jenkins told us. “So they’re maybe not looking for the best, organic alternatives, they want to get you back out on the field. And it puts you in harm’s way at times.”
Managing Pain After the NFL
When his playing time was over and he no longer had access to team doctors, Jenkins had to take responsibility for his own pain management. It was important to him that he find ways to treat the effects of his career on his body without sacrificing overall health and well-being.
This is something that’s actually a supplement.
“When you play as long as I have, you get used to things, how to deal with pain. You get used to taking things. Over the counter things, stronger and stronger,” he shared. “And then when you finish, you need to find ways to cope, but you only know those old ways. So when I finished I was looking for a new way to heal and treat my body.”
Cannabis wasn’t Jenkins’ first choice. It probably would have been his last, thanks to years of unfavorable propaganda and the resulting stigma. Testing positive for cannabis in the NFL can lead to a suspension and lost paychecks.
“For the many years that you play, you’re taught that weed is bad,” said Jenkins. “You don’t want to fail a drug test. You want to stay away from it.”
Cannabis for Wellness
But Cullen Jenkins is a fast learner. Through a partnership with Fresh Farms CBD, a company based out of California, he began to understand that, far from being a “dangerous drug” or crazy, mind-altering substance, cannabis could be used as a wellness product.
His perspective changed quickly. “When you’re not educated, you think of anything involved with cannabis, it gets you high,” Jenkins related. “But once you’ve learned, there are so many options out there that won’t get you high, but are helping you. This is something that’s actually a supplement.”
Jenkins found that regular CBD use helped to alleviate the pain he’d been living with for years. It’s allowed him to exercise in ways that previously wouldn’t have been possible.
“One of my big problems was my ankle. I had a bone bruise that just wouldn’t heal. I had to have surgery. And it still bothers you. The mobility isn’t the same,” he said. After beginning a CBD regimen, though, even his ankle improved. “I took a trip to the Dominican. And with my trainer I ran 24.6 miles to get ready for the trip.”
Proudly pharmaceutical-free, Jenkins enjoys a quality of life that eludes many retired NFL players. In his free time he’s taken up wood-working. He says CBD even helps him be a better carpenter:
“At first I was skeptical, but then I tried [CBD], started using it every day, and I felt a lot better. I don’t even take pills anymore. And it’s helped so much with my mental life. Helps your mind from wandering. Now I’m taking carpentry classes, and I’ll take it before class and it really helps me focus. It’s pretty amazing.”
I want to live a long and healthy live. This gives me that option. And it’s natural. It’s not tearing up something to make something else better.
CBD has had such a positive impact on Jenkins that he wants to help educate other athletes on its benefits, which he believes go beyond pain relief. Jenkins has experienced firsthand how CBD can help both the physical ramifications and the mental challenges of a high-intensity occupation (like football, or parenting):
“You play for so long, and you take these pills, and when you’re done, you’re left on your own to figure out these kinds of treatments. So I think other athletes could learn about this and whether it’s beneficial. Especially with some of the mental things you go through. If your mind is wandering, if you’re getting easily agitated. It helps me focus. I feel it’s the same for parents.”
Heal the Mind, Heal the Body
With two teenage daughters, it’s as important now for Jenkins to be mentally and physically healthy as it ever was during his playing career. He’s intent on finding treatments that heal the whole body without harmful side effects. After having access for years to the NFL’s medical technologies, Jenkins feels like it’s natural plant medicine that will grant him a fruitful retirement:
“It’s going to be a major part for me. I’m 37. I’m closing in on 40, and with all the stuff I’ve taken, I want to get healthy. I want to live a long and healthy live. This gives me that option. And it’s natural. It’s not tearing up something to make something else better.”
Anyone who has dealt with chronic pain knows that it can be as mentally debilitating as physically. Cannabis allows Jenkins to manage his pain without the mental side effects that come with conventional treatments. “It brings me to the level where I’m more comfortable and able to communicate with my kids better,” he told us.
There is no official evidence that taking CBD will make it easier to communicate with your teenage children. But Cullen Jenkins, with a successful NFL career behind him, now fully immersed in his life as a father of two, knows how much it has helped him. He’s feeling great and thinking clearly. Or as clearly as possible with two teenagers in the house. “It’s given me a positive outlook,” he said. “You heal the mind, you heal the body.”