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Looking for an effective muscle relaxant that doesn’t entail the laundry list of severe side effects? Your search may end after reading about the benefits of CBD for sore and stiff muscles.
People usually turn to over-the-counter or prescription pills when they’re in pain after a long workday. While they may provide short-term relief or serve as a quick fix for incidental stiffness, the risk of dangerous reactions is more troubling than muscle pain down the road.
CBD — one of the main active ingredients in cannabis — may be an effective natural muscle relaxant that does much more than just masking the symptoms. By interacting with the endocannabinoid system (ECS), this botanical compound can help you maintain the balance between important processes — including muscle function.
Today, we’re going to explore the benefits of using CBD as a muscle relaxant; we’ll :
- Dive into the relaxing properties of CBD oil
- Discuss the dosage
- Compare CBD with other natural relaxants
- Help you choose the best type of CBD for muscle relaxation
Let’s start by highlighting the role of the ECS in mobility and muscle function.
Muscle Function & the Endocannabinoid System
The endocannabinoid system is frequently mentioned as the most important regulatory network in all mammals. As medical researchers explore the therapeutic role of this system in humans, we can get a better understanding of how it affects so many important functions throughout the body.
The fact that ECS affects nearly every other system in our bodies explains the far-reaching therapeutic potential associated with CBD and other cannabinoids.
The ECS consists of cannabinoid receptors, enzymes, and endocannabinoids — which are neurotransmitters.
Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers that regulate all sorts of functions in our brains and bodies. For instance, neurotransmitters such as serotonin travel from a presynaptic cell across the synapse (the space between nerve cells) and bind to postsynaptic cells — triggering specific reactions.
Endocannabinoids — neurotransmitters made by the ECS, such as anandamide and 2-AG — work oppositely. They travel from the post-synaptic cell across the synapse to the presynaptic cell. This process allows for a flow-control mechanism, signaling the presynaptic cell when it’s had enough or needs more of a particular neurotransmitter.
The ECS is engaged in various physiological and psychological processes, including mood, memory, pain perception, sleep cycles, reproduction, body temperature, appetite, immune function, neurogenesis, and muscle function.
CBD As a Muscle Relaxant
Muscles contract due to the communication between the aforementioned neurotransmitters in the central nervous system (CNS). From there, they travel to the muscle, triggering contraction. Without proper endocannabinoids, nothing can slow down the influx of these excessive chemical messengers, causing muscles to contract continuously. A chronically insufficient supply of endocannabinoids is a medical condition known as Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency (CECD ).
CBD interacts with the ECS by engaging with its enzymes and hormones; this changes how cannabinoid receptors function and translates to higher concentrations of anandamide and 2-AG. Improved endocannabinoid signaling can result in the reduction of muscle tension.
Many studies have analyzed the relaxing effects of CBD in people who have been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) — a disease in which the immune system turns against the nervous system’s protective tissues. This often results in movement-related issues, such as an unsteady gait, tremors, and spasms.
A 2017 study reported that a combination of CBD-THC in the form of an oral spray offered MS patients relief in their symptoms on top of helping to “normalize muscle fibers.” In a 2019 study, the authors further found a pattern that using CBD might also reduce muscle spasticity in people with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) .
The above studies go on to explain that CBD works on a cellular level to relieve muscle tension. However, if that tension is caused by chronic exposure to stress, CBD can indirectly ease the physical discomfort by reducing anxiety through serotonin receptors.
Physical relaxation also contributes to mental stress relief. Once the brain and the body are both calm, sleep quality can improve. The mind isn’t boggled by racing thoughts, so you can easily fall asleep and rest through the night without waking up due to strained muscles.
CBD and Chronic Stress
Problems like muscle tension, rigidity, and spasticity often result from chronic stress or overload. CBD demonstrates great potential in helping reduce anxiety levels and improve stress management, which is a significant health bonus for people using CBD oil as a muscle relaxant.
According to a 2015 study published in Neurotherapeutics :
“current evidence indicates CBD has considerable potential as a treatment for a range of anxiety disorders, with the need for further study of chronic and therapeutic effects in relevant clinical populations.”
If you experience anxiety and believe there’s something wrong with responding to daily stressors, CBD may help you feel less anxious and contribute to a calmer state of mind.
CBD for Post-exercise Soreness
There’s a reason why using CBD oil by athletes has become such a hot topic recently. Although exercising brings many positive effects on your health, it can sometimes create excess muscle tension and soreness. Studies suggest that CBD can help ease these effects thanks to its anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and neuroprotective properties .
Research also seems to confirm that CBD stimulates muscle recovery after a strenuous workout session. According to a 2020 study, supplementing CBD post-workout helped reduce creatine kinase levels. The authors concluded that this effect contributed to lessening muscle damage and also spurred muscle regeneration .
Which Is Better for Muscle Relaxation: CBD or THC?
While CBD is a potent natural muscle relaxant, studies in mice, such as the one published in 2010 in the Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology , indicate that a combination of CBD and THC in a 1:1 ratio is even more effective than pure CBD . If you live in a state where medical or recreational use of marijuana is legal, you can try marijuana-derived CBD oils with such ratios to put the hypothesis to the test yourself.
CBD and THC work better in tandem due to the entourage effect, which is a phenomenon where all cannabis compounds work synergistically to create stronger therapeutic effects than each of the compounds alone. It also refers to a situation where some of the potentially unwanted effects of certain cannabinoids (THC) are mitigated by others (CBD).
How to Use CBD As a Muscle Relaxant
If you’re considering trying CBD as a muscle relaxant, it’s best to start with a small dose to make sure you respond well to cannabidiol. Once you know that your system can handle CBD oil without any side effects, such as feeling lethargic or having gastrointestinal issues, you can slowly increase the dose until you reach a more therapeutic dose.
Below we elaborate on different forms of CBD and how to use them as muscle relaxants.
CBD Oil for Muscle Relaxation
CBD oil is taken under the tongue. You take a dropper out of the bottle, measure out the desired amount of oil, and squeeze it under the tongue, where you hold it for up to 60 seconds.
This method ensures a faster onset of effects and higher bioavailability than oral forms of CBD like gummies and capsules. That’s because CBD travels to the bloodstream via the mucous membrane in the mouth, avoiding the first-pass metabolism in the liver.
The effects of CBD oil usually last up to 6 hours, with peak plasma concentration levels achieved within 1.5 hours from ingestion.
CBD Vapes for Muscle Relaxation
Vaping is the fastest and the most effective way to deliver CBD to your system. When you inhale the vapor from CBD flowers or vape liquid, their content enters the bloodstream through the lung tissue, ensuring almost instantaneous effects (speaking of anxiety and pain). Vaporization also demonstrates the highest bioavailability of all consumption methods. Studies on the pharmacokinetics of cannabinoids show that the bioavailability of vaporized CBD is around 56%. That being said, the effects last shorter than from oils or capsules — usually up to 4 hours.
CBD Gummies for Muscle Relaxation
CBD gummies are a category of cannabis edibles that resemble regular gummy bears from your childhood. But, they also pack an extra kick of adulthood with a fixed dose of CBD. The premeasured amount of cannabidiol makes dosing easier for people who don’t want to use a dropper or divide the potency of their product by the number of puffs from a vaporizer.
For example, if your gummies have 10 mg CBD each, and your optimal dose is 30 mg, you just take 3 gummies throughout the day, and you’re done. CBD gummies are available in plenty of different flavors, shapes, sizes, and formulas — allowing you to tailor the effects to your needs. Oral ingestion also means longer-lasting effects because CBD is gradually released from the liver into the bloodstream. Unfortunately, the longer route of administration also results in a delayed onset and lower bioavailability. Only up to 20% of CBD from the gummies ends up in your system, not to mention that the effects may need about 30-90 minutes to take hold.
CBD Cream for Muscle Relaxation
Using CBD cream is the best way to apply CBD for muscle relaxation. There are many different types of topical products infused with CBD, but creams and gels are the most popular forms. They often also include other relaxing ingredients, such as lavender, beeswax, lanolin, etc. They also contain a blend of fats that improve the absorption of CBD. When you apply CBD to the skin, it interacts with its CB2 receptors — reducing inflammation, pain, swelling, redness, and stiffness.
The absorption time may vary depending on the formula, but the effects are usually noticeable within an hour after application.
Best Type of CBD for Muscle Relaxation
CBD is a potent muscle relaxant, but it’s even more effective when you take it alongside other cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids from hemp. As mentioned, the higher efficacy of full-spectrum CBD extracts is explained by the entourage effect, which is why full-spectrum CBD is the go-to option for most consumers.
There’s also broad-spectrum CBD, which is quite similar to its full-spectrum counterpart, save for the lack of THC. The intoxicating compound is removed during the later stages of extraction.
If you dislike the botanical taste of full-spectrum and broad-spectrum CBD oils, you can try CBD isolate — which is pure CBD. Isolates are flavorless and odorless, and they carry the highest amount of CBD per serving. That being said, there’s no entourage effect due to the lack of other cannabis compounds, so such products may not be as effective as the aforementioned variants.
CBD vs Other Natural Muscle Relaxants
Wondering which natural muscle relaxants go hand in hand with CBD oil? Here’s your cheat sheet:
- Cherries: cherries are high in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. In a 2018 review, cherries were found to reduce post-exercise pain and muscle damage .
- Blueberries: blueberries are a great source of antioxidants and polyphenols, which exert anti-inflammatory effects when consumed. A small study found that blueberry supplementation may positively affect exercise performance aside from reducing inflammatory markers.
- Protein: taking care of adequate intake is important for muscle relaxation because it could help reduce muscle stiffness and inflammation. A review of studies examining exercise-induced muscle damage in women found that supplementation of whey and casein reduced muscle damage.
- Magnesium: Magnesium is essential for nearly all biological functions, but it’s vital for proper muscle contractions. Magnesium deficiency is associated with muscle spasms, twitches, ticks, and poor cardiovascular health .
- Curcumin: an active ingredient in turmeric, ginger, and cinnamon. Curcumin is a potent anti-inflammatory agent shown by some research to decrease inflammatory markers after exercise and contribute to relaxed muscles and a healthy diet .
- Pomegrenate juice: pomegranates are rich in polyphenols. Their juice has three times stronger antioxidant properties than green tea. One study on professional weightlifters found that pomegranate juice may help improve muscle recovery .
- Capsaicin: Capsaicin can be found in the pith of the fleshy part of chili peppers. It has been mentioned by multiple studies for its pain-relieving and muscle-relaxing properties when applied to the skin .
- Peppermint oil: this herbal extract is a popular home remedy for muscle pain and gastrointestinal issues. In a 2018 review, the authors concluded that taking peppermint orally may effectively reduce pain. There’s also some evidence supporting the topical use of peppermint oil for muscular relaxation, pain relief, and a cooling effect .
- Lemongrass: some studies suggest that lemongrass may be effective in treating inflammation and neuropathic pain. People with arthritic joint pain and inflammation turn to lemongrass as an alternative for easing their discomfort .
- Massage: if your muscles are tense, a deep tissue massage from a professional physiotherapist is a great way to relax them. The massage should be firm but not painful. A visit to a physiotherapist can also help determine the underlying cause of muscle spasms.
Summarizing the Benefits of CBD As a Muscle Relaxant
Muscle pain and stiffness are common problems in modern society due to a sitting lifestyle and daily stress experienced by peer pressure and fast-paced times.
Fortunately, you don’t need to rely on OTC or prescription painkillers to relieve physical discomfort. Pharmaceutical medications are good as a means of intervention in acute pain relief, but they don’t reach the underlying cause of the problem. Moreover, long-term use of such medications can lead to dependence and severe withdrawal symptoms.
As more people start to appreciate the health benefits of natural remedies, products like CBD oil become more popular among health-conscious consumers. CBD’s interaction with the endocannabinoid system helps reduce pain and inflammation, improves communication between nerve cells, and ensures proper muscle movements and contractions.
When shopping for CBD oil online , make sure to purchase your products from reputable brands that use organic hemp and regularly test their extracts in independent laboratories for CBD content and purity. Doing so will help you avoid the problem of “CBD oil doesn’t work for me.”
Do you use CBD as a muscle relaxant? Share your experience in the comments!
- Russo E. B. (2016). Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency Reconsidered: Current Research Supports the Theory in Migraine, Fibromyalgia, Irritable Bowel, and Other Treatment-Resistant Syndromes. Cannabis and cannabinoid research , 1 (1), 154–165.
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Nina created CFAH.org following the birth of her second child. She was a science and math teacher for 6 years prior to becoming a parent — teaching in schools in White Plains, New York and later in Paterson, New Jersey.
Best CBD Gummies for Muscle Spasms
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.
Read on to see how CBD gummies can help you manage muscle spasms.
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 K V 7 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 can 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 like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s are good examples.
So, by helping reduce anxiety-related symptims 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, here are vetted and high-quality CBD products from FOCL to consider.
Our CBD Fruit Chews 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 gummy contains 10mg of broad spectrum hemp CBD to ensure you can get a delectable dose of CBD anywhere.
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If you want something that offers more bang, then our Premium CBD Gummies are your best bet. 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!
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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.
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