We’ve all experienced the debilitating agony of muscle tightness. For some of us “lucky” ones, the experience is a temporary annoyance, like suffering from a “Charlie horse” or having a nighttime cramp in your leg that jars you awake.
But for millions of Americans suffering from diseases ranging from Tourette’s syndrome to multiple sclerosis to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease), the pain is a constant companion throughout the day. In recent years, cases of adolescent epilepsy and Dravet’s syndrome have made national headlines as families have moved to other states in order to treat their children’s’ excruciating pain.
Coping with stiff, aching, cramping muscles is a way of life for most of the 2.5 million people in the world who have multiple sclerosis. Many of the 15 million people with spinal cord injuries also suffer from the same symptoms, which cause pain, limit movement, and rob people of needed sleep.
For most patients, conventional pharmaceutical treatments are simply not as effective as cannabis. Additionally, many patients discover that side effects of prescription medication are just as bad as the disease itself.
Here’s What the Science Says
More and more studies have demonstrated the efficacy of cannabis in decreasing muscle pain and spasticity.
According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, spasticity “refers to the stiffness and involuntary muscle spasms that are indicative of the disease.” The condition can range from mild spasticity, which feels like muscle cramping and tightness, to severe spasticity, which can cause acute pain and uncontrollable twitching.
Nine out of 10 MS patients will eventually develop spasticity. Some patients experience this condition as mild muscle stiffness; others endure constant ache, cramps, or involuntary muscle contractions (spasms). These spasms often affect the legs and can disrupt sleep. In the most severe cases, patients become partially or even completely paralyzed.
Marijuana Reduces Muscle Spasms And Pain
In a 2012 study, researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine discovered that patients that consumed cannabis experienced a one-third decrease in spasticity, compared with participants given a placebo. But even more revealing was that cannabis reduced the patients’ perception of pain by 50 percent. Putting it in plain terms, marijuana may help half of the patients suffering from muscle spasms. There is no other medication that comes remotely close to this result.
Cannabis Oil and Parkinson’s
In another study, this one from 2014 published in Clinical Neuropharmacology, found that patients suffering from Parkinson’s disease reported a reduction in tremors and involuntary movements after using cannabis. Also in 2014, a report from the Journal of Psychopharmacology revealed that Parkinson’s patients reported an increase in quality of life and wellbeing after being treated with a daily 300-mg dose of cannabidiol (CBD) oil, a non-psychoactive ingredient found in cannabis.
How It Works
Researchers are still trying to isolate the exact reasons cannabis is helpful in reducing muscle spasms and pain, it is generally understood that it is the anti-inflammatory properties that hold the key. A study conducted at the University of South Carolina found that the immune system’s response, such as to a muscle injury, is reduced and the systems inflammatory proteins are deactivated by cannabis.
CBD + THC = Pain Reduction
But it is not just the CBD at work; studies show that THC, the psychoactive component in cannabis, starts the anti-inflammatory response which prevents inflammation and muscle spasms.
What to Look For
For those of you who suffer from muscle spasms – whether they are minor or severe – and want to try cannabis as a treatment, it is advisable to look for CBD-dominant cannabis. It is also important to start low and go slow in your consumption. Your Greenlight Approved cannabis guide can help you find the right product to get you started.
For some sufferers of severe muscle pain and tightness, a topical or transdermal patch applied directly on the affected will help ease the agony. These are great products for localized pain for ailments such as neuropathy, fibromyalgia and cramps.
For more serious symptoms related to MS, epileptic conditions and ALS, tinctures high in CBD have been found to be most effective. Interestingly, some studies show that smoked or vaporized cannabis is preferable – most likely because or the immediate relief it provides.
Once again, consult with your Greenlight Approved cannabis retailer. It may also be wise to experiment a little. Buy a few products and see for yourself what works best for you.