CBD and How it May Help Muscle Spasms If you’ve ever “over done it” while exercising or working in the yard, especially in hot weather, and felt a sudden muscle contraction and sharp pain, you Learn about the current research and benefits of using CBD oil to reduce muscle spasms and spasticity so you can decide if it’s the right treatment plan for you.
CBD and How it May Help Muscle Spasms
If you’ve ever “over done it” while exercising or working in the yard, especially in hot weather, and felt a sudden muscle contraction and sharp pain, you may have experienced a muscle spasm. Muscle spasms can be quite painful, and now some doctors are recommending cannabis – CBD and THC – to help deal with the pain, giving people an alternative to prescription opioids like oxycodone and hydrocodone, which can be addictive and are often misused.
What is a Muscle Spasm?
A muscle spasm is a sudden, involuntary movement in one or more muscles. Muscle spasms are very common. They can happen in any part of the body, but they tend to affect the:
- intercostal muscles, which are around the rib cage
Muscle pain, fatigue, and overuse are the most common causes of muscle spasms. Other causes include stress or anxiety, which can lead to muscle twitches in the face. Trapped nerves can result in spasms in the back.
How Can Cannabis Help Muscle Spasm Pain?
Cannabis is an anti-inflammatory and analgesic (pain-reliever) with chemicals that interact with the endocannabinoid system to influence how the body interprets pain. THC, CBD, and terpenes are three prominent elements in cannabis (among others) which play a synergistic, integral role in fighting pain.
- THC produces the euphoric effects or “high” in cannabis which many people find helpful in alleviating pain.
- CBD appears to balance THC’s euphoric effects, reduces anxiety, and studies show it is helpful for reducing pain and inflammation.
- Terpenes are what gives all plants their flavors, aromas, and potential medicinal benefits. In cannabis, the presence of certain terpenes helps determine how it affects your body. Terpenes may induce relaxation, sedation, and stimulation in complimenting the effects of THC and CBD.
“[Muscle spasms are] actually one of the major categories that cannabis is used for,” says Three Wells Chief Medical Adviser Dr. Deborah Malka. “They’re very effective. As a matter of fact, if you’ve had something like a motor vehicle accident and your muscles are all tight from whiplash, you can use pain medication such as opioids or anti-inflammatories, and they don’t touch the muscle spasm. So the muscle spasm component of an injury is really best treated by cannabis.”
Choosing the Right Cannabis Product, Method and Dosage
When picking the best cannabis product to help relieve pain from muscle spasms, a lot depends upon what your condition is. If it’s a simple pulled muscle, topical cannabis applied to the affected area may be your best bet. Topical cannabis creams or oils are often an effective treatment because you can apply it to a localized area, numbing your spasm and easing your muscle out of its contraction.
“With topicals you’re looking at 4-6 hours of relief, so you’ll have to use it several times a day,” Dr. Malka says. “Topicals could have THC or CBD – or preferably both – because they act on different endocannabinoid receptors. A combination of both would be giving you the most coverage.”
If there is chronic muscle spasm or spasticity, this will require internal use like an edible or tincture , Dr. Malka says. You may need high doses of a THC/CBD mix, with a dose of 10-20 mg three times per day. More THC in the mix will produce more psychoactivity, which is fine for some, but, ratios of CBD/THC up to 20:1 will relax muscles.
If you prefer inhalation, you’re in luck, since all strains have muscle relaxant properties. Those containing the terpene myrcene, found in indicas, are not only sedating but have additional muscle relaxant properties. “If you prefer to inhale then you’re going to have to do it 4-5 times a day,” Dr. Malka said.
Since all muscles of the body relax with ingested cannabis, a combination of internal and topical use can augment relief in the affected area.
Choosing the Right Cannabis Strain
We researched five popular cannabis strains for dealing with pain, and keep in mind there are many more that may help. For these five strains, though, you’ll see that the general THC to CBD ratio and main terpenes fluctuate. They may also vary depending on the source of the strain, and whether it is natural flower or processed cannabis product like an oil, concentrate, tincture, etc.
- ACDC is a Sativa Hybrid with a low THC and high CBD ratio. Its terpenes are typically Beta-Caryophyllene, Linalool, Beta-Myrcene, Alpha-Pinene, and D-Limonene.
- Grandaddy Purple is an Indica strain with a high THC to low CBD ratio. The terpenes are generally Beta-Myrcene, Linalool, and Alpha-Pinene.
- Harlequin is another Sativa Hybrid with a fairly even THC to CBD ratio. Its terpenes are Linalool, Beta-Myrcene, Alpha-Pinene, D-Limonene, and Beta-Caryophyllene.
- OG Kush is an Indica with a high THC to low CBD ratio, and its terpenes are Aryophyllene, D-Limonene, and Beta-Myrcene.
- Skywalker OG is an Indica Hybrid that is also known for a high THC to low CBD ratio. Its terpenes are generally D-Limonene, Beta-Caryophyllene, and Linalool.
If you’re dealing with muscle spasms and decide to use cannabis as a muscle spasm treatment, Three Wells is here to help you find the right product, strain and ingestion method that fits your needs.
Muscle Spasms and CBD Oil: Relief from Cramps and Pain
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.
Benefits of Using CBD Oil to Treat Muscle Spasms
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.
Effectiveness of Using CBD Oil to Treat 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.
CBD Oil for Stopping 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.
CBD Oil for Relieving Pain from Cramps
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.”
CBD Oil as a Muscle Relaxant
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.
How to Use CBD Oil for Muscle Spasms
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.
Best CBD Oil for Muscle Spasms
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.
- Buy organic. Buying a CBD oil that has been extracted from organic hemp ensures your product is free of any nasty pesticides or herbicides.
- Check for a Certificate of Analysis (COA). Any reputable CBD company should have a Certificate of Analysis dated within 6 months for the product you are thinking about buying. A COA is a lab report, ideally provided by an independent, third-party laboratory, that provides a chemical analysis of your CBD oil product. A COA will tell you how much CBD is in your product, and whether there are harmful chemicals or heavy metals present.
- Read the ingredients. Avoid products that contain artificial or chemical additives. Also, check for the THC content if this is an ingredient you wish to avoid. Most quality CBD oils will contain a small list of ingredients and use naturally derived terpenes and flavorings.
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.
- C Vaney et al. Efficacy, safety and tolerability of an orally administered cannabis extract in the treatment of spasticity in patients with multiple sclerosis: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study – National Library of Medicine https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15327040/
- Jody Corey-Bloom et al. Smoked cannabis for spasticity in multiple sclerosis: a randomized, placebo-controlled trial – National Center for Biotechnology Information https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3394820/
- David J Rog et al. Randomized, controlled trial of cannabis-based medicine in central pain in multiple sclerosis – National Library of Medicine https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16186518/
- Eric P. Baron et al. (2018) Patterns of medicinal cannabis use, strain analysis, and substitution effect among patients with migraine, headache, arthritis, and chronic pain in a medicinal cannabis cohort – National Center for Biotechnology Information https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5968020/
- T Gurgel do Vale et al. Central effects of citral, myrcene and limonene, constituents of essential oil chemotypes from Lippia alba (Mill.) n.e. Brown – National Library of Medicine https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12587690/
- Raquel Linge et al. (2015) Cannabidiol induces rapid-acting antidepressant-like effects and enhances cortical 5-HT/glutamate neurotransmission: role of 5-HT1A receptors – National Library of Medicine https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26711860/
- Dale G Deutsch A Personal Retrospective: Elevating Anandamide (AEA) by Targeting Fatty Acid Amide Hydrolase (FAAH) and the Fatty Acid Binding Proteins (FABPs) – National Library of Medicine https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27790143/
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