CBD oil has hit the headlines recently for its use in the treatment of Parkinson’s Disease, but how far-reaching are its benefits for muscle spasms? Is it only for the most severe cases, or can it help with mild spasticity too?
Whether due to a medical condition that involves symptomatic muscle spasticity, long days sitting at an office desk, or strenuous exercise, muscle spasms can affect anyone. Ranging from a mild twitch to acute and chronic pain, the severity of muscle spasms can vary greatly: while mild spasms can often be stretched or rubbed away, some can be debilitating.
Luckily, CBD oil may be able to help, offering a gentler and potentially more effective alternative to traditional muscle spasm treatments.
If you suffer from chronic or acute muscle spasms, you’ve probably found yourself reaching toward the medicine cabinet to find a Valium, Flexeril, or another drug that offers the possibility of relief. While muscle relaxants like these may provide a temporary solution, they don’t address the actual cause of your muscle spasms. And some of them have side effects, such as drowsiness, that decrease your ability to function.
What’s more, certain muscle relaxant medications can be highly addictive and leave you at an increased risk for misuse or abuse.
CBD oil offers relief from spasticity without the habit-forming properties or side effects of pharmaceutical medical relaxants.
To fully understand how CBD oil treats muscle spasms, you need to first have an understanding of the endocannabinoid system (ECS). Located predominantly in the brain and central nervous system, the endocannabinoid system affects many other areas and functions in the body through a network of cannabinoid receptors.
Endocannabinoids are compounds naturally produced by your body that regulate this system by acting on CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors; phytocannabinoids, which are present in plants like cannabis and hemp, can also work seamlessly within your endocannabinoid system because they mirror the chemical structure of your body’s own endocannabinoids.
CBD oil's main ingredient, cannabidiol (CBD) is one of over 100 phytochemicals found in the hemp plant and is able to act on your endocannabinoid system in a way that is natural and familiar to your body. By acting on your endocannabinoid system, cannabinoids like CBD may be able to reduce the pain and frequency of your muscle spasms.
If you’re considering using CBD oil instead of pharmaceuticals to stop your muscle spasms, you want to be sure that it’s going to work. With that in mind, here’s what the science has to say about using CBD oil to treat muscle spasms.
Through its work in the endocannabinoid system, CBD oil can reduce muscle spasms by altering the way the central nervous system communicates with your muscles; this is what makes it so effective in treating multiple sclerosis.
In 2004, a placebo-controlled crossover study examining cannabis’ effect on multiple sclerosis was undertaken in Switzerland. Researchers tested two groups of patients with multiple sclerosis and found that cannabis provided beneficial results for the test subjects. The researchers concluded that “a standardized Cannabis sativa plant extract might lower spasm frequency and increase mobility with tolerable side effects in MS patients with persistent spasticity not responding to other drugs.”
The University of California conducted a similar study in 2010. The randomized, placebo-controlled crossover trial examined the use of cannabinoids on patients with multiple sclerosis and spasticity. A total of 30 people completed the trial, and the results showed an average reduction of 2.74 points on the Modified Ashworth scale (used to measure spasticity in multiple sclerosis patients) compared to the placebo.
Within the endocannabinoid system is CB2, the cannabinoid receptor responsible for pain. CB2 can reduce the experience of sudden or chronic pain caused by muscle cramps and is impacted by cannabinoids like cannabidiol (CBD).
A 2005 study examining the effects of cannabinoids in MS patients who suffer from spasm-related pain yielded promising results. After four weeks of testing, the group that received a cannabis-based medicine containing both THC and CBD reported reductions in pain. The study even concludes, “Cannabis-based medicine is effective in reducing pain and sleep disturbance in patients with multiple sclerosis related central neuropathic pain and is mostly well tolerated.”
The cannabis plant contains two anti-inflammatory substances that have been shown to act as muscle relaxants. Delta-limonene and Beta-myrcene both exhibit properties that reduce anxiety, promote sleep, and display motor relaxant effects. Limonene and myrcene are two of many naturally occurring compounds in the hemp plant called terpenes, which give many fruits and plants their unique flavor and aroma.
An additional way CBD can help relax muscles is through its ability to reduce anxiety and promote relaxation by increasing levels of mood-enhancing neurotransmitters like serotonin and anandamide in the brain. CBD oil is also able to reduce cortisol levels, turning down tension and protecting your body from the negative effects this “stress hormone” can have on your physical and mental capacities.
Whether you suffer from occasional cramps or from chronic muscle spasms, you want fast and effective relief that is available the moment you need it.
Because vaped CBD oil goes directly into the bloodstream via the lungs, the effects come on instantly. Because of their fast-acting nature, CBD vapes are perfect for on-the-spot relief from muscle spasms. When vaping CBD, the benefits typically only last for 30 minute to an hour, so if you’re looking for a more long-term solution, you might want to consider taking CBD drops, capsules, or edibles as well.
CBD topicals like lotions, gels, and salves, may also be a great option for addressing muscle soreness or spasticity. While not as quick to act as CBD vapes or drops, CBD topicals combined with massaging the area can provide targeted relief that normally lasts 4-6 hours. There are some companies that even sell CBD-infused massage oil!
In terms of dosage, the amount needed can vary depending on your weight, metabolism, tolerance, and a variety of other factors. It is always best to start with the lowest suggested serving on your CBD product and adjust up from there if need be. For general CBD dosage information, check out our dosing guide; for personalized advice and guidance, consider speaking with a cannabis doctor who can analyze your condition and provide you with specific recommendations.
Most importantly though, speak to your primary physician before taking CBD oil for muscle spasms. Even though CBD oil is largely free of side effects, it can interact negatively with some prescription medications.
In order to find the best CBD oil for muscle spasms, there are a number of considerations that you should take into account.
Before purchasing CBD oil, find the cannabis and CBD laws specific to your state so you can be sure you are acting within the law. CBD oil is widely available in a majority of U.S. states, with CBD-THC blends also accessible in states which have legalized marijuana for recreational or medicinal purposes. (Some of the studies on muscle spasms, multiple sclerosis, and spasticity mentioned above used a CBD-THC blend.)
Regardless of the method you choose for taking your CBD oil —vape, topical, drops, or all of the above—it’s of the utmost importance that you purchase a high-quality product if you want to see results.
Here are our top tips for finding the best CBD oil:
As a starting point in your search for the brands producing the best, safest, and most effective CBD products out there, check out our top-rated brands.
If you are unhappy with the way you’ve been treating your muscle spasms or cramps, CBD oil may provide a great alternative option.
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