Do you suffer from muscle spasms or back pain? If so, CBD may be able to help. This post will explain what causes these conditions and how CBD can provide relief. We’ll also discuss dosage and how to take it for maximum effectiveness. Let’s get started…
What is cannabidiol or CBD?
One of over 100 chemical compounds known as cannabinoids, Cannabidiol is found in the Cannabis Sativa or marijuana plant and commonly called “CBD”.
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the part of cannabis that causes people to be “high”. However, unlike THC, CBD does not create this sensation because it is not psychoactive.
CBD is an appealing option for those who want a pain-relieving substance without being impaired by strong opioids. It is extracted from the cannabis plant and then diluted with a carrier oil like coconut or hemp seed oil.
A growing number of people rely on it as a way to ease chronic pain and anxiety, and to reduce spasticity.
What are muscle spasms?
Muscle spasms are caused by chemical messengers sent by the central nervous system reaching a muscle and forcing it to contract. They’re not uncommon and most people will experience muscle pain at some time in their lives. They are particularly common in seniors, athletes, and overweight individuals.
These symptoms come under the umbrella term of “spasticity” and can range from mild muscle cramping and muscle tightness to acute pain, cramps, uncontrollable twitching or involuntary muscle contractions.
Muscle spasms often happen as a result of neurological disorders such as multiple sclerosis or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease) which disrupt communications between the brain and your muscles. They can also come from motor disorders such as cerebral palsy (CP).
Chronic muscle strain can also result in spasms, as can spinal cord injury, hernia or pinched nerves in the back or neck.
Some patients develop cramps in their muscles as a side effect of prescription medications. Drugs used for asthma, high blood pressure, cholesterol issues, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s can all cause cramping.
With so many issues, it’s no surprise that many people with health conditions are turning to cannabis-based medications like CBD, which relieve pain and inflammation but don’t have strong side-effects.
How does CBD work?
CBD interacts with our body’s endocannabinoid system, enabling it to work more effectively. The name is confusing. It was named by scientists investigating the effects of cannabis on the human body, but it does not rely on the phytocannabinoids from cannabis to work, rather on our body’s own natural endocannabinoids.
What is the role of the endocannabinoid system?
Exactly how the ECS works is still a bit of a mystery to experts. However, we do know that it regulates a variety of functions and processes, such as:
- Reproduction and fertility
It uses a lock and key system, with cannabinoid receptors (the locks) all over our bodies, waiting to be activated by our endocannabinoids (the keys).
There are two different types of receptors:
- There are CB1 receptors all across the body, but especially in the brain. Movement, pain, emotion, mood, thinking, appetite, memories, and other processes are all coordinated by them.
- In the central nervous system, CB2 receptors are more frequent. They have an impact on inflammation and discomfort.
THC and CBD interact differently with the ECS. THC binds directly to CB1 receptors and can overwhelm the system, but CBD stimulates them, causing the body to use its endocannabinoids in a more efficient way.
Causes of muscle spasms
Many muscle spasms are “idiopathic” meaning there is no known cause. Some experts have theorized that one of more of the following may be to blame in most cases:
- Muscle fatigue.
- Intense exercise
- Restriction in the blood supply.
- Involuntary nerve discharges.
Who can use CBD for muscle spasms and back pain?
Due to its low impact on the body, any age group can use CBD and its anti inflammatory properties can improve the quality of life for young and old alike.
Obviously those who are considering or taking CBD products should always mention their choice to their doctor, especially if they are taking other medications or have underlying medical conditions such as liver disease, kidney disease, epilepsy, heart issues, or a weakened immune system.
A pharmacist is a great resource to help you learn about potential interactions CBD has with other medications, supplements, or herbs. It’s best not to assume that just because something is natural it can’t possibly interact with another product.
Forms of CBD available
There are many different types of CBD available on store shelves including oils, isolated concentrates, tinctures, creams and gels, flowers, edibles and capsules, as well as prescription medicines such as Sativex and Epidiolex:
There are many methods of taking CBD oil, but the quickest is sublingually – placing a drop under your tongue where it will enter the bloodstream rapidly. Whilst this is simple, it can be tricky the first time you do it, so you might find it helpful to start in front of a mirror. Oils and tinctures are generally best for chronic pain as they stay in your system for 6-8 hours, giving 24 hour relief
CBD tinctures are absorbed quickest when they’re taken sublingually or beneath the tongue. They can also be mixed inside food and drinks for slower absorption. Some CBD oils can also be used topically – applied directly on the skin – as long as carrier oil is being used.
Some makers offer CBD flowers in pre-rolls that look like cigarettes. These are convenient to use, and you can take them with you for a quick CBD smoke break on the go. Otherwise, grab some grams of high CBD hemp buds, grind them up, and roll them, or put them into a vape designed for the purpose like a Pax.
Topical creams and balms
CBD Creams and balms can be of great therapeutic benefit for anything from muscle soreness to mild spasticity. Just rub on your skin to help relieve pain or discomfort. Apply the cream as needed, and within minutes, you should feel it doing its work. You can apply creams up to five times per day and many patients find these helpful for targeted relief. A CBD infused massage oil can also be a great muscle relaxant, although you need to take care with acute muscle spasms.
CBD edibles are made using extracts in a food-based form. CBD edibles can be found as drinks and food items like teas or chocolate bars. Gummies are a common type of CBD edible, and can be bought in various strengths and flavours. The advantage of edibles is their ease to take. The disadvantage is that it can take several hours for the effects to be felt.
Prescription drugs: Sativex and Epidiolex
Sativex was the first cannabis-based drug to receive a license in the UK for reducing muscle spasms caused by multiple sclerosis. It contains 1:1 CBD:THC. This medicine can be used as an addition to treat symptoms if other treatments showed ineffective or have intolerable side effects, but due to the psychoactive component THC, it is hard to get a prescription and few MS patients actually receive it.
Prior to gaining approval for its use in treating muscle spasms, Sativex had been studied for its effects on common symptoms of people with multiple sclerosis, including pain, bladder symptoms, tremor and sleep disturbance. In 2022 the UK will also be conducting a large trial into its use for aggressive brain tumours.
Epidiolex is a prescription drug approved by the FDA to treat seizures caused by epilepsy, Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS), and spasms of tuberous sclerosis complex.
Epidiolex contains just cannabidiol (CBD). It is a liquid solution for swallowing and is safe for both adults and children.
Dosage of CBD for back pain and muscle spasms
Everybody’s body is different and the dosage needed to stop muscle spasms will vary for everyone. You may need to experiment a bit with dosages until you find the one that works. Start low, and steadily increase your doses until you get the desired result.
If you are struggling with chronic muscle spasms, a high-potency CBD oil may ultimately be the best option, but there’s no problem with starting with a low solution and working your way up. CBD oils tend to come in 2%, 5%, 10%, 15% 20% and 30% solutions, and within a range, the higher the CBD content, the higher the price.
In order to know how concentrated a CBD oil is, divide the quantity of liquid (10ml for example) by the quantity of CBD per unit volume (1000mg for instance). A 10ml bottle containing 1000mg of CBD will be 10% (1ml being 10% of 10ml).
Potential Side Effects of using CBD for back pain and muscle spasms
CBD is generally well-tolerated, but there are some possible side effects.
Common side effects for medical marijuana patients, according to a 2017 review in Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research, include:
- Changes in appetite
- Weight gain
Also be aware that taking CBD oil may affect the efficiency of other medications.
Additional ways to relieve your symptoms with other treatments or therapies
Muscle tightness and soreness is normal at times. Here are a few natural muscle relaxers you could try alongside CBD or instead of over-the-counter medications:
- Ice or heat therapy
As patients are becoming resistant to conventional medications, an increasing number of people are turning to cannabis as their preferred treatment for muscle spasms.
Studies so far have been encouraging: Cannabis works on the body’s endocannabinoid system, decreasing pain and symptoms related to inflammatory conditions by interacting with nerve cells.
If you’ve been suffering from muscle spasms and back pain, CBD may be a good muscle spasm treatment for you.
You may also want to speak to your doctor about Sativex if it is available in your area.
Have you found any success in using these products? Let us know!