How many muscles do you think you have? 50? 100? 200? Incredibly, we have over 650 named muscles. When counting muscles within muscles, some estimates go as 840. That’s a lot of muscles! With so many muscles it’s not hard to imagine that our body works hard maintaining them at an optimal level. For people with particular medical conditions, however, severe or persistent muscle spasms are a part of their everyday life. Many turn to cannabis. However, can cannabis be an effective muscle spasm treatment for these individuals?
What Are Severe and Persistent Muscle Spasms?
A muscle spasm is the involuntary contraction of one or more muscles. They occur spontaneously. For most people, it’s not serious. Acute muscle spasms usually occur when muscles are stressed from overuse, dehydrated, deficient in magnesium or potassium, or when an individual has poor circulation.
When an individual regularly experiences severe muscles spasms or persistent muscle spasms that occur daily (or near-daily), it is often a symptom of a more serious condition.
Severe muscle spasms are usually the result of damage or extreme stress on nerves that disrupt nerve root signals from the spinal cord. That could be any number of things, including a spinal cord injury, hernia, or pinched nerve in your neck or back.
Persistent muscle spasms (daily or near-daily) are usually caused by an underlying medical condition that is systemic or neurological. They can also be related to vascular, hormonal, or toxic-metabolic problems.
What Medical Conditions Cause Persistent Muscle Spasms?
Persistent muscle spasms are often the result of a movement or neurological disorder such as:
- Multiple Sclerosis (MS): Possibly the most common condition associated with persistent muscle spasms.
- Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS): Also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
- Dystonias: Prolonged, repetitive contractions that cause twisting/jerking movements.
- Torticollis Syndrome: Also known as“wry neck.”
- Blepharism: Involuntary blinking.
- Myoclonus: Sudden, irregular, involuntary contractions
Can Cannabis Treat Muscle Spasms?
Muscle spasms, especially those caused by MS, are usually treated with pain relievers (analgesics), anti-inflammatory drugs, anti-anxiety medication, muscle relaxers, or, in some cases, Botulinum toxin. However, many patients find these drugs produce intolerable side-effects or aren’t effective. This has lead to many patients turning to cannabis as a muscle spasm treatment.
Recent scientific research has proven cannabis and cannabis-derived drugs can help patients with persistent muscle spasms. After an extensive review of all available medical research, in 2018 National Academy of Sciences produced a report — The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids — that states:
“Conclusive or substantial scientific evidence has shown that marijuana products are effective at treating chronic pain, calming muscle spasms caused by multiple sclerosis, and easing nausea from chemotherapy.”National Academy of Sciences
The review identified substantial evidence that cannabis-derived oral cannabinoids are effective in treating spasms from multiple sclerosis. Further, both oral cannabinoids and inhaled cannabis can treat chronic pain in adults.
After reviewing substantial medical evidence, researchers report:
“Oral cannabis-based drugs contain THC, the intoxicating compound in pot, or cannabidiol (CBD), a non-intoxicating chemical in marijuana that appears to have some therapeutic benefit.”National Academy of Sciences
However, they also cautioned that because THC and CBD levels can vary considerably between cannabis strains, unless researchers create standards it will be challenging to comprehensively assess the impact of different strains with variable THC and CBD levels.
But, Wait, There’s More!
For many years, Israeli researchers have been isolating integral chemical components in cannabis to study the effects of cannabis on numerous medical conditions.
A 2013 Israeli study published by the Journal of Neuroimmune Pharmacology reported various naturally occurring chemicals found in cannabis might decrease spinal cord and brain inflammation. The study’s findings for people suffering from severe or persistent muscle spasms is encouraging.
Likewise, scientists from the Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research at the University of California, San Diego have found compelling evidence to support cannabis as effective in treating muscle spasms.
In addition, anecdotal evidence offered by patients who have chosen to use medical marijuana to alleviate symptoms such as severe pain, muscle tremors and spasms generally tend to be positive. Patients who are using medical marijuana seem, as a majority, to believe they are receiving medical benefits as a result and they are achieving results that improve their quality of life.
Popular Strains for Muscle Spasm Treatment
According to crowd-sourced reviews on Leafly, users with muscle spasms report positive results from the following strains:
Muscle Spasm Treatment: Hybrids
- ACDC (high-CBD)
- Canna-Tsu (high-CBD)
- Chemdawg 4
- White Widow
Muscle Spasm Treatment: Sativa-Dominant
- Great White Shark
- Charlotte’s Web (high-CBD)
- Sweet Diesel
- Jamaican Dream
As patients find conventional medications ineffective, an increasing number turn to cannabis as their preferred muscle spasm treatment. Cannabis is an anti-inflammatory and analgesic (pain-reliever) with chemicals that interact with the endocannabinoid system to influence how the body interprets pain. Research thus far has been encouraging. However, does that mean cannabis is an appropriate muscle spasm treatment for you? That’s a highly personal decision that you should make with your preferred medical professional (hopefully one who is knowledgeable about cannabis).
If you decide to use cannabis as a muscle spasm treatment, we’re happy to help you find the right strain and ingestion method that works for you. You can visit our online dispensary menu to search for the type of cannabis product that you like, or schedule an appointment for assistance.