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Across the country, more people are turning to cannabis-based remedies to address medical issues, from insomnia to anxiety, to chronic pain. THC and other components of cannabis exhibit promising early evidence in supporting a wide variety of health needs, including relaxing muscle spasms and cramping.
THC in cannabis binds with receptors in the body, which may help prevent inflammation and spasmatic activity after an injury. Weed may also work as a muscle relaxant and can even mitigate or remove the sensory experience of pain. These factors and others all point to cannabis as a handy tool for addressing muscle pains and cramping, especially when compared to traditional muscle relaxant prescriptions.
Read on to learn more about how THC relaxes muscles, using cannabis for muscle spasms, and what to consider before trying marijuana for muscle-related needs.
- THC works on the body’s endocannabinoid system to address inflammation, commonly associated with muscle pain and spasms.
- THC and CBD are practical cannabis-based tools for soothing muscle pain and cramps with few side effects.
- While they work separately, THC and CBD are most effective at combating muscle spasms when combined in a 1:1 ratio.
How THC Works in the Body
The body’s endocannabinoid system regulates several processes, including metabolism, sleep regulation, the immune system, and pain response. One chemical involved in those processes, anandamide, is structurally similar to THC.
THC impacts the body in so many ways, in part because it is like our naturally produced chemicals. Its psychoactive effects come from THC’s impact on the endocannabinoid system, which makes it handy in regulating dysfunction - such as muscle spasms - in such processes.
How THC Helps Muscle Spasms
Muscle relaxants are a group of prescription drugs that relieve muscles by relaxing tension and addressing spasms or cramps. Some muscle relaxants have the secondary effects of pain relief.
Medical marijuana’s usefulness, as described above, comes from THC, CBD, and other compounds’ ability to work with the body’s endocannabinoid system. Regarding muscle spasms, THC binds to the receptors and triggers a reduction and prevention of inflammation.
Since the endocannabinoid system is body-wide, specific consumption methods may universally apply to all muscles, or a topical application of THC could effectively target a particular location, such as the calf or shoulder.
A study on multiple sclerosis, a disease involving inflammation in nerve fibers, found that THC and CBD reduced inflammation compared to placebos. Another study covering MS found that medical cannabis reduced spasticity and improved the relief of muscle cramps by more than twice the success rate of placebo subjects.
These and several other studies have indicated THC’s efficacy in treating inflammation, making them both viable targets for helping soothe muscle spasms. This is precisely why so many states have legalized medical marijuana and listed spasticity and chronic muscle pain as an approved treatment option.
CBD also presents a promising tool for soothing inflammation and reducing overall muscle spasticity, though evidence suggests that mixing both THC and CBD allows consumers to benefit from the Entourage Effect, producing more successful results than either compound alone.
Users tend to experiment with different combinations of THC and CBD to find what works best for their unique needs. Cannabis-based remedies for muscles come in many formats with several consumption options available on the market, including:
- Flower, for smoking
- Portable vapes and cartridges
- Concentrates such as live rosin or resin
- Edibles, such as infused brownies or gummies
Muscle Relaxants vs. Cannabis
Muscle relaxants are targeted, time-specific prescription medications for treating muscle-related issues, including spasms, cramps, pain, and spasticity. As they are not intended for constant use, most prescriptions are on an as-needed basis to address such symptoms.
Current muscle relaxants on the market are only available by prescription, and most have adverse side effects such as fatigue, drowsiness, depressed mood, and others.
Conversely, cannabis is considered a multi-faceted medical tool, able to address several issues simultaneously. THC and CBD work with the endocannabinoid system to aid muscle relaxation and induce a range of other helpful effects in the body. Additionally, other cannabinoids and terpenes can add to the benefits of THC and CBD, depending on the strain and consumption method used.
Besides working as a muscle relaxant, other natural benefits that cannabis may offer include:
- Relief from stress
- Relief from anxiety
- Increased appetite
- Fighting insomnia
- Reduced nausea
Cannabis is not without its adverse side effects, however. Dry mouth, dizziness, paranoia, and anxiety can all occur with THC use, though it depends on the potency consumed. It’s best to start with a small amount of THC, mixed with some CBD, and gradually increase the dose or change the ratio of the two cannabinoids to find a best-fit amount to address specific muscle spasm needs.
The Bottom Line
If you are seeking an alternative to prescription muscle relaxants, THC and CBD - both separately and together – may offer a natural, side-effect minimized option to address muscle spasms and cramps. Cannabis is not specifically classified as a muscle relaxant, but it may have similar pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory effects that do the trick. THC’s other effects also offer additional health benefits, making it a multi-use medical tool.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is CBD or THC better for muscle relaxation?
While both CBD and THC are effective at soothing muscle tension and reducing pain, research indicates that mixing both cannabinoids in a 1:1 ratio is the most effective combination for muscle relaxation.
Does CBD and THC help sore muscles?
Plentiful research indicates that both CBD and THC are helpful in soothing sore muscles by targeting inflammation and pain receptors in the body.