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. Wondering if CBD is right for you? We can help. Read on to get the scoop on this increasingly popular compound and its effect on leg cramps.
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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CBD for Leg Cramps: Does it Help?
Move over aloe vera and ashwagandha; there’s a new healing herb in town: cannabidiol. Better known by its buzzy nickname, CBD, the naturally occurring chemical compound is just about everywhere these days. You can find it in balms, tinctures, gummies, and capsules — even coffee drinks sold at small-town cafes. We’re also starting to see CBD creep its way onto cocktail menus all over the country.
Needless to say, cannabidiol is having a moment right now. And with possible benefits ranging from anxiety relief to sleep support — it’s easy to see why. But can the purported miracle compound help with leg cramps, too? We’ll tell you.
Read on to get the scoop on CBD and find out if it’s right for you.
What Exactly Is CBD?
CBD is one of more than 100 naturally occurring chemical compounds found in cannabis plants — which include both industrial hemp and marijuana. Unlike its close cousin, tetrahydrocannabinol (or THC), CBD doesn’t cause a psychoactive effect (AKA, it won’t get you “high”).
Is CBD Safe and Legal?
First, is CBD legal? The answer is – it depends on where you live — and whether the CBD derives from industrial hemp or marijuana. According to the Farm Bill of 2018, industrial hemp is legal. So any CBD that comes from hemp (which is grown to have less than 0.3 percent THC) is A-OK. CBD from the marijuana plant, on the other hand, is legal in only some states.
Now, as far as safety is concerned, the World Health Organization (WHO) says that cannabidiol does not appear to have the potential to cause harm. In fact, there is no evidence of health-related problems associated with the use of pure CBD to date.
That said, it can produce minor side effects for some people, including irritability, nausea, restlessness, and fatigue. It may also interact with certain medications and supplements, so be sure to check with your primary healthcare provider before use.
What Are Leg Cramps?
Charley horse, spasms, muscle fits — whatever you call them, there’s no denying that leg cramps can be excruciating. They predominantly affect the calf muscles, though they can also occur in the hamstrings, feet, and thighs.
More often than not, leg cramps last just a few moments before the muscle loosens and becomes relaxed, but this can leave pain and tenderness in the affected area for up to 24 hours after.
This pain can vary from person to person. For some, it feels like a clenched, contracted muscle tightened into a knot that feels no worse than a stubbed toe. For others, the pain can be severely uncomfortable and even unbearable.
What Causes Leg Cramps?
While it may seem as though there’s always a cause for a specific condition, this isn’t exactly the case for leg cramps. In fact, many people don’t know why they get them — they just do. These are called idiopathic leg cramps.
That said, there are also secondary leg cramps, which are usually a potential symptom of a more severe condition or underlying issue, such as:
- Too much muscle strain
- Muscle stiffness
- Inadequate stretching before physical exertion
- Liver disease
Leg cramps are also pretty common during pregnancy, often striking in the wee hours of the night during the second and third trimesters. This could be due to carrying extra weight, metabolism changes, fluctuating hormones, or even a vitamin deficiency, but the truth is that nobody really knows.
What we do know, though, is that our Organic Magnesium Lotion seems to help.
Made with just six organic ingredients, our organic sleepy body lotion is a coveted moms-to-be secret that can help calm your body and mind for a restful night’s sleep. Simply apply 2-3 teaspoons of lotion onto areas of pain or cramping before it’s time to hit the hay and catch some much-needed Zzzs — pain-free.
When Should I See a Doctor?
Dealing with leg cramps? Don’t worry; they’re not usually a cause for concern — especially when they follow periods of heavy use or exertion. But if you notice the intensity or frequency of your leg cramps increasing, it’s probably a good idea to get checked out by a doctor.
Schedule an appointment with your primary if your cramps are consistent and accompanied by the symptoms listed below:
- Muscle weakness
- Swelling in the ankle or leg
- Skin discoloration
- Lingering pain
Can CBD Help Leg Cramps?
Without getting too technical, the human body contains an internal system (aka the endocannabinoid system) that is made up of cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2. Regardless of whether you use CBD, this incredible system is part of everyone’s biology.
Endocannabinoids are cannabinoids that are made inside the body and help to regulate a number of functions and processes, including:
- Mood and emotion
- Immune response
In the same way that endocannabinoids interact with your body, cannabinoids from the cannabis plant (aka phytocannabinoids) do, too — including cannabidiol. They do this by interacting with the CB1 and CB2 receptors.
With this in mind, many studies have shown that CBD (a naturally-occurring cannabinoid found in plants) can interact with these receptors in the body to reduce inflammation and aid in pain relief.
So, can CBD help with leg cramps?
Since spasms are an inflammatory response, CBD may help with leg cramps, but more research is needed to make sure there aren’t any unwanted side effects.
Are There Alternative Solutions?
Don’t want to use CBD? There are many other options to achieve relief from leg cramps — here are some of them:
- Take a warm bath. Not only is a warm bath oh-so relaxing, but it can help to loosen up cramped muscles, too. Make your bath extra indulgent with our Therapeutic Bath Salts.
- Apply ice. To reduce inflammation, try massaging your cramped muscle with ice.
- Stretch. Stretching boosts circulation, which can help relax the muscles. Gently rub the cramped area and lightly stretch the muscle.
- Drink water. The moment a painful cramp strikes, grab a tall glass of H2O — preferably with electrolytes. In a recent study, experts found that those who consumed electrolyte-enhanced water were less susceptible to leg cramps than those who didn’t adequately hydrate.
- Magnesium. There are a number of studies that suggest the use of magnesium to combat leg cramps — that’s why we use pure magnesium in our Organic Sleepy Body Lotion. Simply lather some lotion onto the areas of pain and watch as your cramps slowly fade away.
So, can CBD help with leg cramps?
At present, clinical evidence that the naturally occurring compound can help with leg cramps is lacking. There is quite a bit of early research that indicates CBD has anti-inflammatory properties — and seeing as spasms are an inflammatory response, it makes perfect sense how the cannabinoid might be able to provide support.
That said, if you’re one of the many moms-to-be struggling with leg cramps, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends steering clear of cannabis or any type of CBD product as it may cause harm to your developing baby. Instead, reach for a pregnancy-safe solution like our Organic Sleepy Body Lotion made with pure magnesium to combat restless legs and ease pain.
At the end of the day, the choice to use CBD is yours. Just be sure to talk with your doctor first to make sure it’s a good fit for your unique health and wellness needs. While experts say pure CBD is generally safe, there is so much about the cannabinoid that is still unknown so it’s wise to use it with care and under the guidance of a primary healthcare provider.