Cannabidiol—or CBD—has become one of the most preferred natural supplements for wide-ranging health conditions.
This hugely popular cannabis compound is derived mainly from hemp though it’s also found in marijuana. However, hemp CBD contains less tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content than marijuana CBD, hence the preference for the former.
CBD is highly versatile and can be used in many forms – oils, vapes, gummies, or creams. Each form has distinct merits and demerits, mostly in terms of bioavailability and effect. It also matters what you want to use CBD for.
In some cases, topical CBD may be the best, while in others, ingestible CBD may work best.
One of CBD’s enduring features is promoting muscle relaxation. Tight and stiff muscles can cause immense discomfort, so it’s understandable if you want quick relief.
While conventional muscle relaxants like Valium and Soma may provide temporary relief, they don’t address the root cause of the problem. Moreover, some may have side effects like dizziness and fatigue that reduce your functioning.
- CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system & physiological processes, CB1 receptors that regulate skeletal muscle insulin
- Studies show CDB may help improve the state of relaxation
- Terpenes beta-myrcene & delta-limonene present in cannabis also linked to muscle relaxant effects
What are muscle spasms
If you’ve ever overdone something, say exercising or physical work, you may have experienced muscle spasms. This is the sudden involuntary movement of a muscle or muscles often accompanied by sharp pain.
Muscle spasms can affect any part of the body, but the most likely affected are:
- Intercostal muscles in the rib cage
The most common causes of muscle spasms are fatigue, overuse, and muscle pain. However, stress, anxiety, dehydration, and trapped nerves can cause muscle spasms too.
Cramp pathophysiology is not well understood, but there are two hypotheses on its causes:
- Over-excited motor neurons may cause muscle spasms
- Spontaneous discharges by the motor nerves or over-excitation of motor axons terminal branches
Even though muscle spasms are common and affect almost everyone, some conditions increase your risk of getting affected. These include:
- Age – older adults are more prone to muscle spasms than their younger counterparts
- Overweight and obesity
- Nerve disorders
- Thyroid-related issues
Athletes are twice as likely to experience muscle spasms compared to the average person. This is especially so if they don’t do enough warm-ups before training or train in hot conditions.
Generally, a muscle spasm is rarely a cause for concern and typically goes away within minutes. However, they can sometimes be symptomatic of an underlying neurological condition. These conditions often trace their origin to problems in the brain.
The endocannabinoid system and muscle spasms
Every mammal has an endocannabinoid system comprising endocannabinoid receptors, endocannabinoids, and enzymes. The latter’s role is to degrade the endocannabinoids.
The entire scope of functions undertaken by the endocannabinoid system is still an area under study, but researchers believe one of the roles played by this system is homeostasis. This is defined as the maintenance of optimal conditions in the body to support proper functioning.
The endocannabinoid system is also believed to play a part in various physiological processes such as:
- The development of motor function
- Pain perception
- Appetite regulation
- Immune response
Multiple studies have demonstrated the role of the endocannabinoid system in muscle flexibility and mobility. The central finding in these studies is that the CB1 receptor primarily regulates skeletal muscle insulin signaling by highlighting the potassium channels.
Indeed, recent research shows that CB1 receptors dominate the axon terminals of smooth muscles.
Another study showed that these CB1 receptors might become overactive in skeletal muscle, especially in overweight people, due to increased endocannabinoid levels.
Furthermore, the anandamide endocannabinoid enhanced glucose uptake by muscles and stimulated vital molecules that control mitochondrial biogenesis and insulin signaling.
These are particularly interesting findings considering that research shows that intense exercise increases the levels of plasma anandamide. It is thought that the anandamide endocannabinoid—a partial agonist in CB1 receptors—can interact with other receptors, namely the TRPV1 and PPAR, and trigger beneficial metabolic effects.
The endocannabinoid 2-AG has also been shown to promote cell differentiation in the skeletal muscle by inhibiting CB1 receptor-dependent KV7 channels.
The long and short of this is that the endocannabinoid system may have a role in facilitating proper muscle function by, among other things, regulating insulin activity and substrate oxidation in the muscles.
Further, endocannabinoids like the 2-AG stimulate muscle development through complex chemical pathways.
So, the role of the endocannabinoid system in muscle health is well established in science. For this reason, it is increasingly becoming a target of pharmacotherapy.
Ways CBD treats muscle spasms
Muscle spasms can be a nuisance, and while they mostly resolve on their own within a few minutes, sometimes treatment may be necessary. Most importantly, staying hydrated does the trick, especially if dehydration is the culprit.
A more long-term solution may involve tapping into the healing powers of your endocannabinoid system with the help of CBD. This cannabis compound interacts uniquely with the endocannabinoid system by boosting its capabilities.
It’s been shown that CBD blocks FAAH, a fatty acid that aids in breaking down anandamide. Consequently, CBD increases anandamide levels in the body.
An activated endocannabinoid system can contribute to:
Damaged cells and tissues can cause inflammation, which is usually the body’s way of trying to protect itself. So one way of reducing spasms is by controlling the population of inflamed cells.
This is where anandamide comes in and helps by soothing the affected area.
CBD is an anti-inflammatory agent. Its interaction with the endocannabinoid systems has been shown to boost immune response and fight off inflammation.
This cannabis compound also minimizes oxidative stress and prevents the reduction of vital elements like selenium and zinc, which are critical components of a robust immune response.
Combating anxiety, often associated with injuries
When it comes to mood, a cluster of four hormones comprising serotonin, oxytocin, dopamine, and endorphins constitute the “feel-good” hormones. Each of these hormones plays a distinct role in promoting mental health and overall wellbeing.
For example, dopamine is linked to the reward system in the brain and is responsible for inducing pleasant feelings. On the other hand, serotonin is associated with increased happiness because it reduces anxiety and depression.
Helping with sleep
Good sleep is essential for proper body functioning. However, there are numerous disruptors that can prevent you from enjoying a quality life. These transcend your daily life, work, relationships, and mental health.
If you’re going through a hard time, it’s normal to feel anxious, sleep poorly, and in worst-case scenarios, get depressed. Fortunately, CBD may help you relax and get the good night’s sleep you need.
Most studies on CBD’s sleep properties mainly focus on full spectrum CBD and, in particular, the entourage effect.
These studies hold that combining CBD and THC with other cannabinoids and terpenes could help improve sleep.
Keep in mind that most body healing and recovery processes occur during sleep. That cramped muscle will recover well when the body is well-rested. Other processes like growth also happen during sleep.
This underlines the importance of sleep and why in some cases, the best medication a medical practitioner can prescribe is bed rest.
Improving the state of relaxation
CBD has been widely studied for its relaxing properties. For example, a 2019 study investigating the effects of CBD on sleep and anxiety found that almost 80% of the participants reported decreased anxiety within the first month.
Further, nearly two-thirds of the participants recorded improved sleep scores in the first month. However, sleep quality fluctuated over time, suggesting the need for more controlled experiments.
Nonetheless, CBD’s calming effects are well-established in folklore. Since time immemorial, cannabis has been used as a sleep aid in ancient Chinese and Indian societies.
While the traditional healers in these ancient societies may not have known precisely how cannabis works, studies have shown that CBD targets receptors in the endocannabinoid system across the nervous system.
In fact, relaxation is often cited by many cannabis users as the primary motive for using cannabis. This adds to a growing body of anecdotal evidence suggesting that CBD may help promote relaxation.
Researchers believe this is due to its influence on serotonin activity in the ECS, thereby inducing relaxation.
CBD for back muscle spasms
Through its interaction with the endocannabinoid system, CBD may help reduce muscle spasms principally by altering communication between your muscles and the central nervous system.
Several studies have demonstrated CBD’s effectiveness in resolving muscle spasms and cramps. For example, a 2004 study exploring the effects of cannabis on multiple sclerosis found that it benefited the study participants.
As a result, the researchers concluded that cannabis “could lower spasm frequency and increase mobility” in MS patients.
A more recent study conducted in 2010 at the University of California also showed that CBD and THC could reduce pain and sleep disturbances in patients with MS.
But even more importantly, the presence of beta-myrcene and delta-limonene in cannabis has been linked to its muscle relaxant effects. These two also exhibit sleep-promoting and anxiety-reducing properties.
CBD may also reduce muscle spasms by promoting lower stress levels. The body and mind are intricately connected, and often, when the mind is sick, the symptoms manifest in the body. Neurological diseases and brain disorders are examples.
So, by helping reduce anxiety-related symptoms and stimulating the release of mood-boosting neurotransmitters like anandamide and serotonin in the brain, CBD may promote muscle relaxation.
CBD is also believed to be effective in promoting reduced stress levels. It does this by lowering cholesterol levels in the blood, thereby reducing tension and protecting you from the adverse effects of cortisol.
Benefits of using CBD to treat muscle spasms
One of the major benefits of CBD is that it has no documented side effects. Numerous studies investigating various properties of CBD have almost unanimously concluded that CBD does not have serious side effects.
Unlike conventional pain relievers like NSAIDs that may relieve pain just as well, they have been associated with severe health complications such as stomach ulcers, headaches, allergic reactions, and heart diseases, mainly when used for a long time.
The other benefit of using CBD to treat muscle spasms is convenience. CBD is increasingly taking many forms as people develop different ways to use it. Today, you can find CBD products in virtually any form – oils, vapes, creams, capsules, and edibles.
The beauty of this is that you can use a double-pronged approach to cure muscle spasms. You can apply CBD creams and lotions directly on the affected parts for a more localized impact, then take CBD oil, gummies, or capsules for a delocalized effect.
By ‘localized,’ we mean addressing the pain and discomfort at the exact location where the spasm or cramp occurred. Conversely, a ‘delocalized effect’ refers to the myriad of health benefits that you get from getting CBD into your systemic circulation.
So instead of merely relaxing the affected muscles, you also get to sleep better, have more energy (depending on dosing), calm your mind, and so on.
Another benefit of using CBD is it goes deeper into the root cause of the problem. Over-the-counter medications for muscle spasms typically work by preventing injured cells from producing prostaglandins that alert the body through pain.
On the other hand, CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system to alter pain perception and trigger a host of physiological processes to address the root cause of the spasms. Therefore, you are more likely to enjoy long-term benefits.
Best CBD gummies for muscle spasms
So, without a doubt, CBD is increasingly becoming a less harmful but more impactful natural remedy for various health conditions.
If you’re considering using CBD for muscle spasms or muscle recovery, here are vetted and high-quality CBD products from FOCL to consider.
Our Premium CBD Gummies are delicious gummies that come in three tasty flavors. Don’t let their tastiness fool you, though – these gummies are brimming with premium CBD’s relaxing properties and organic ingredients to help calm your mind and soothe the body.
Each delicious gummy contains 25mg of high-quality, broad spectrum or full spectrum CBD to help you relax fast and get on with your daily activities. These also come in three mouth-watering flavors to make chewing feel like a treat!
For those stubborn muscle spasms that don’t seem to go away, how about you take them head-on with our all-powerful CBD + CBN Sleep Gummies? These gummies combine broad spectrum CBD and CBN to relax those tight muscles and get you sleeping in no time. Each gummy packs 25mg of CBD and 15mg of CBN to relax the body and mind.