Wondering if CBD is right for you? We can help. Read on to get the scoop on this increasingly popular compound and its effect on leg cramps. CBD is effective at controlling and preventing muscle spasms. In this read, we will be looking at how CBD can be used for muscle tension & spasms. Learn how CBD oil works as a potential treatment and preventative for leg cramps and muscle pain.
CBD for Leg Cramps: Does it Help?
Move over aloe vera and ashwagandha; there’s a new healing herb in town: cannabidiol. Better known by its buzzy nickname, CBD, the naturally occurring chemical compound is just about everywhere these days. You can find it in balms, tinctures, gummies, and capsules — even coffee drinks sold at small-town cafes. We’re also starting to see CBD creep its way onto cocktail menus all over the country.
Needless to say, cannabidiol is having a moment right now. And with possible benefits ranging from anxiety relief to sleep support — it’s easy to see why. But can the purported miracle compound help with leg cramps, too? We’ll tell you.
Read on to get the scoop on CBD and find out if it’s right for you.
What Exactly Is CBD?
CBD is one of more than 100 naturally occurring chemical compounds found in cannabis plants — which include both industrial hemp and marijuana. Unlike its close cousin, tetrahydrocannabinol (or THC), CBD doesn’t cause a psychoactive effect (AKA, it won’t get you “high”).
Is CBD Safe and Legal?
First, is CBD legal? The answer is – it depends on where you live — and whether the CBD derives from industrial hemp or marijuana. According to the Farm Bill of 2018, industrial hemp is legal. So any CBD that comes from hemp (which is grown to have less than 0.3 percent THC) is A-OK. CBD from the marijuana plant, on the other hand, is legal in only some states.
Now, as far as safety is concerned, the World Health Organization (WHO) says that cannabidiol does not appear to have the potential to cause harm. In fact, there is no evidence of health-related problems associated with the use of pure CBD to date.
That said, it can produce minor side effects for some people, including irritability, nausea, restlessness, and fatigue. It may also interact with certain medications and supplements, so be sure to check with your primary healthcare provider before use.
What Are Leg Cramps?
Charley horse, spasms, muscle fits — whatever you call them, there’s no denying that leg cramps can be excruciating. They predominantly affect the calf muscles, though they can also occur in the hamstrings, feet, and thighs.
More often than not, leg cramps last just a few moments before the muscle loosens and becomes relaxed, but this can leave pain and tenderness in the affected area for up to 24 hours after.
This pain can vary from person to person. For some, it feels like a clenched, contracted muscle tightened into a knot that feels no worse than a stubbed toe. For others, the pain can be severely uncomfortable and even unbearable.
What Causes Leg Cramps?
While it may seem as though there’s always a cause for a specific condition, this isn’t exactly the case for leg cramps. In fact, many people don’t know why they get them — they just do. These are called idiopathic leg cramps.
That said, there are also secondary leg cramps, which are usually a potential symptom of a more severe condition or underlying issue, such as:
- Too much muscle strain
- Muscle stiffness
- Inadequate stretching before physical exertion
- Liver disease
Leg cramps are also pretty common during pregnancy, often striking in the wee hours of the night during the second and third trimesters. This could be due to carrying extra weight, metabolism changes, fluctuating hormones, or even a vitamin deficiency, but the truth is that nobody really knows.
What we do know, though, is that our Organic Magnesium Lotion seems to help.
Made with just six organic ingredients, our organic sleepy body lotion is a coveted moms-to-be secret that can help calm your body and mind for a restful night’s sleep. Simply apply 2-3 teaspoons of lotion onto areas of pain or cramping before it’s time to hit the hay and catch some much-needed Zzzs — pain-free.
When Should I See a Doctor?
Dealing with leg cramps? Don’t worry; they’re not usually a cause for concern — especially when they follow periods of heavy use or exertion. But if you notice the intensity or frequency of your leg cramps increasing, it’s probably a good idea to get checked out by a doctor.
Schedule an appointment with your primary if your cramps are consistent and accompanied by the symptoms listed below:
- Muscle weakness
- Swelling in the ankle or leg
- Skin discoloration
- Lingering pain
Can CBD Help Leg Cramps?
Without getting too technical, the human body contains an internal system (aka the endocannabinoid system) that is made up of cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2. Regardless of whether you use CBD, this incredible system is part of everyone’s biology.
Endocannabinoids are cannabinoids that are made inside the body and help to regulate a number of functions and processes, including:
- Mood and emotion
- Immune response
In the same way that endocannabinoids interact with your body, cannabinoids from the cannabis plant (aka phytocannabinoids) do, too — including cannabidiol. They do this by interacting with the CB1 and CB2 receptors.
With this in mind, many studies have shown that CBD (a naturally-occurring cannabinoid found in plants) can interact with these receptors in the body to reduce inflammation and aid in pain relief.
So, can CBD help with leg cramps?
Since spasms are an inflammatory response, CBD may help with leg cramps, but more research is needed to make sure there aren’t any unwanted side effects.
Are There Alternative Solutions?
Don’t want to use CBD? There are many other options to achieve relief from leg cramps — here are some of them:
- Take a warm bath. Not only is a warm bath oh-so relaxing, but it can help to loosen up cramped muscles, too. Make your bath extra indulgent with our Therapeutic Bath Salts.
- Apply ice. To reduce inflammation, try massaging your cramped muscle with ice.
- Stretch. Stretching boosts circulation, which can help relax the muscles. Gently rub the cramped area and lightly stretch the muscle.
- Drink water. The moment a painful cramp strikes, grab a tall glass of H2O — preferably with electrolytes. In a recent study, experts found that those who consumed electrolyte-enhanced water were less susceptible to leg cramps than those who didn’t adequately hydrate.
- Magnesium. There are a number of studies that suggest the use of magnesium to combat leg cramps — that’s why we use pure magnesium in our Organic Sleepy Body Lotion. Simply lather some lotion onto the areas of pain and watch as your cramps slowly fade away.
So, can CBD help with leg cramps?
At present, clinical evidence that the naturally occurring compound can help with leg cramps is lacking. There is quite a bit of early research that indicates CBD has anti-inflammatory properties — and seeing as spasms are an inflammatory response, it makes perfect sense how the cannabinoid might be able to provide support.
That said, if you’re one of the many moms-to-be struggling with leg cramps, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends steering clear of cannabis or any type of CBD product as it may cause harm to your developing baby. Instead, reach for a pregnancy-safe solution like our Organic Sleepy Body Lotion made with pure magnesium to combat restless legs and ease pain.
At the end of the day, the choice to use CBD is yours. Just be sure to talk with your doctor first to make sure it’s a good fit for your unique health and wellness needs. While experts say pure CBD is generally safe, there is so much about the cannabinoid that is still unknown so it’s wise to use it with care and under the guidance of a primary healthcare provider.
CBD Oil for Muscle Spasms: Is Cannabidiol an Effective Treatment?
CBD is a great way to relieve the symptoms of muscle spasms.
In this article, we will be looking at the best CBD for muscle spasms.
We’ll cover how it works, what dose to use, what forms work best, and what side-effects to watch out for.
What Are Muscle Spasms?
Muscle spasms, also known as muscle cramps, are the result of involuntary contractions. Muscle spasms can become an issue if they cannot be relaxed naturally.
Anyone can suffer from muscle spasms with the most common muscle groups being the thighs, claws, arms, hands, and feet.
Pain levels range from mild annoyance to severe pain.
When you suffer from muscle spasms, the affected muscle may feel harder and look distorted. This is due to the involuntary contractions. These spasms can last a few seconds to 10 minutes or more.
Muscle spasms can happen at any time to people of all ages. When you’re exercising, sitting still, sleeping, or even walking to the shop you can experience these cramps.
Some people suffer more than others. People with diabetes, anemia, MS, spinal injuries, or kidney disease can suffer more from this issue than people in good health.
What Causes Muscle Spasms?
Whether you suffer from the above ailments or not, there are a few common issues that can cause muscle spasms. See the list below.
- Insufficient stretching before physical activity
- Muscle fatigue
- Physical activity in hot climates
- Electrolyte imbalances
- Too much caffeine
- Exhaustion and lack of sleep
- Certain prescription medications
Methods to Reduce or Prevent Muscle Spasms
As well as using CBD for muscle spasms there are some ways you can reduce or prevent the spasms entirely. Of course, if you suffer from a disease, illness, or take medication that causes muscle spasms, these pointers may not help.
If you regularly suffer from muscle spasms, then implementing a few of the points below may help you:
- Stay hydrated
- Make sure to stretch before strenuous activity
- Try and lower your stress levels (CBD is great for this)
- Get a full 8 hours rest at night
- Take mineral supplements that include magnesium, potassium, and sodium
- If prescription meds are causing issues, speak with your doctor about alternatives
- Cut down on the caffeine
- Avoid over-exercising
Muscle Spasms & the Endocannabinoid System
The endocannabinoid system is made up of cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2. It’s a complex cell-signaling system that was first identified in the 1990s.
Regardless of whether you use CBD or other cannabis products, this system is part of everyone’s biology.
Endocannabinoids are cannabinoids made inside the body. They help regulate a range of functions and processes. See the list below for a few of these.
- Mood and emotion
- Immune response
In the same way that endocannabinoids interact with the body, cannabinoids from the hemp plant do as well — including CBD. They do this by interacting with CB1 and CB2 receptors.
CB1 receptors have been identified predominantly in the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord). They’ve also been found in connective tissues, the intestines, gonads, and other peripheral organs.
CB2 receptors have been identified in white blood cells, the spleen, tonsils, thymus, and lymphatic system.
CBD and other cannabinoids interact with these receptors. Studies have shown that CBD impacts receptor activity. They can interact with neurotransmitters, reduce inflammation, and aid in pain relief.
When a muscle contracts, causing cramps and spasms, it’s because of a chemical message from the central nervous system. The body’s endocannabinoid system can take care of this and reduce contractions and pain.
If the body struggles to produce enough endocannabinoids to stop these chemical signals, then muscle spasms will continue to cause discomfort.
This is where CBD comes in.
CBD interacts with the CB1 receptors in the central nervous system and effectively slows the chemical signals that are causing the spasms .
This results in muscle relaxation and fewer muscle contractions. Pain relief coincides with these effects.
Can CBD Relieve Muscle Spasms?
As mentioned in the last section, CBD interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system to relieve muscle spasms and the pain associated with it.
CBD Relaxes the Muscles
CBD is a great muscle relaxant. Unlike painkillers, muscle relaxants work to solve the issue of muscle cramps rather than just numbing the pain that results from it.
The beauty of CBD is that it gets to the root of the problem and influences the chemical signals that cause muscle spasms (as mentioned in the last section).
Unlike spasmolytic and neuromuscular blockers, CBD has few negative side effects and works with your body’s natural functions rather than against them.
Spasmolytic muscle relaxants are particularly dangerous, especially for older people. They can increase heart rate, and blood pressure, and can be incredibly addictive as this type of medication is part of the opioid group.
CBD certainly isn’t dangerous, doesn’t increase the heart rate, and there are no documented cases of addiction to the cannabinoid.
CBD Reduces Stress
CBD helps reduce stress which can be a trigger for muscle spasms.
There is a lot to say about CBD reducing stress and anxiety . The cannabinoid is commonly used to help these problems by people all over the world.
Although stress is not directly related to muscle spasms, it can be one of the reasons you’re experiencing these issues.
It’s important to address the cause of an issue. If stress is giving you muscle spasms, you should work toward reducing or eliminating it completely. Lowering stress levels using CBD could be a great long-term treatment if stress is the cause.
CBD Can Aid Sleep
Lack of sleep and exhaustion can cause muscles to spasm. CBD can help you get to sleep faster and achieve a full nights’ rest.
If you struggle with sleep, high-doses of CBD before bedtime can help you doze off into a deep sleep. Stress is often the cause of lack of sleep, so both factors go hand in hand.
Some research shows that CBD can have an effect on cortisol levels .
Cortisol regulates your sleep cycle. Some people (particularly insomnia sufferers) have high levels of cortisol at night which keeps them awake.
Taking high doses of CBD at night can decrease cortisol levels, getting you to sleep easier and faster.
CBD Aids Muscle Recovery
CBD is believed to aid in muscle recovery . Many athletes and fitness fanatics use CBD as it can speed up the muscle recovery process.
If you’re experiencing muscle spasms after exercise or excessive physical activity, this benefit will help you get instant and long-term relief.
During strenuous exercise, the muscles tear and rebuild during the recovery period. During this period some people experience cramping and spasms. If you can recover more efficiently you will experience less discomfort.
How Much CBD to Take for Muscle Spasms?
High-potency CBD oil is the best treatment for muscle spasms.
How much you take will depend on you and how your body reacts to the CBD. If you’ve never used CBD before it’s best to start small and work your way up.
The dosage needed to stop muscle spasms will vary from person to person, so a bit of self-experimentation is needed to find your balance. Steadily increase your dosages until you get the effect you’re looking for.
Oils are the easiest way to find out how many milligrams of CBD you need to control muscle spasms. You can adjust the dosage by increasing or decreasing the drops of oil taken.
Final Thoughts: Does CBD Work for Muscle Spasms?
CBD is a great way to reduce muscle spasms and pain you may have as a result of them. Unlike other muscle relaxants and painkillers, CBD has few negative effects on your body and is a natural product.
As well as solving the problem directly, CBD has a number of benefits that work together to reduce muscle spasms for the long-term.
If you got to the end of this read, you’ll know exactly how CBD can help muscle spasms and what to look for when it comes time to purchase a treatment.
If you have any questions about CBD and muscle spasms, please comment down below.
Thanks for reading.
References Used in This Article
- Shenglong Zou and Ujendra Kumar. (2018). Cannabinoid Receptors and the Endocannabinoid System: Signaling and Function in the Central Nervous System. International journal of molecular science,19(3): 833.
- Esther M. Blessing, Maria M. Steenkamp, Jorge Manzanares, and Charles R. Marmar. (2015). Cannabidiol as a Potential Treatment for Anxiety Disorders. Springer Neurotherapeutics, 12(4): 825–836.
- Scott Shannon, Nicole Lewis, Heather Lee, and Shannon Hughes. (2019). Cannabidiol in Anxiety and Sleep: A Large Case Series. The Permanente Journal, 23: 18-041.
- Danielle McCartney, Melissa J. Benson, Ben Desbrow, Christopher Irwin, Anastasia Suraev, and Iain S. McGregor. (2020). Cannabidiol and Sports Performance: a Narrative Review of Relevant Evidence and Recommendations for Future Research. Springer Sports Medicine-Open, 6: 27.
Livvy is a registered nurse (RN) and board-certified nurse midwife (CNM) in the state of New Jersey. After giving birth to her newborn daughter, Livvy stepped down from her full-time position at the Children’s Hospital of New Jersey. This gave her the opportunity to spend more time writing articles on all topics related to pregnancy and prenatal care.
Can CBD Help Stop Leg Cramps?
It’s never a pleasant feeling, waking up in the middle of the night to the sharp, sudden tightness of a leg cramp. While cramp may, on the surface, be a minor medical issue, the pain can occur randomly and last for hours, compromising one’s ability to stand or relax.
CBD has been touted as a potential remedy to stop leg cramps, but what does the research say about its usefulness?
While explicit clinical evidence studying leg cramps is lacking, CBD has proven itself a valuable anti-inflammatory. CBD products can indirectly help relieve pain associated with leg cramps and muscle spasms by diminishing the sensation of pain rather than soothing the muscle’s tension. And unlike other muscle relaxants and painkillers, CBD is a natural remedy with virtually zero adverse effects on the body.
Download Free Guide to CBD
What Causes Leg Cramps?
Leg cramps, also known as muscle fits or spasms, are a sudden, uncontrollable contraction of the muscles in the leg. They predominantly affect the calf muscles, though leg cramps also occur in the thighs and hamstrings.
While sometimes leg cramps happen for no apparent reason (called idiopathic leg cramps), other probable causes of muscle cramps include:
- Long hours of muscle stillness
- Too much muscle strain
- Inadequate stretching before physical exertion
In rare conditions, muscle cramps could be a potential symptom of more severe concerns, such as liver disease or a reaction to a medication. If the cramps continue for longer than 10 minutes despite attempts to unclench the muscle, or they occur after encountering a toxic substance, it’s worth seeking medical attention.
How CBD Helps Relieve Leg Cramps
CBD interacts with the body via the endocannabinoid system (ECS) , which substantially regulates how we experience pain. CB1 and CB2 are spread throughout the brain and body, and the body’s natural endocannabinoids interact with these receptors to maintain homeostasis.
When one consumes CBD oil, the CBD acts on the ECS receptors by modifying how they bind to cannabinoids. In effect, CBD enhances the capacity of the ECS to do its job. It extends the concentration of anandamide , the body’s “bliss” molecule, in the body for longer, allowing it to reduce pain sensations and soothe inflammation in the damaged muscle.
To note: CBD doesn’t bind to CB1 or CB2 receptors in the way THC does. CBD is, in scientific terms, what is known as a non-competitive negative allosteric modulator . Put, CBD dampens or blunts CB1 receptors, making them less receptive to THC and anandamide.
CBD does not intoxicate or produce paranoia via overconsumption like THC does, and it’s virtually impossible to overdo it. You can use as much as needed to get pain relief, and there are a variety of consumption options available for those seeking to use CBD oil for leg cramps.
Vaping CBD oil via a cartridge is perhaps the fastest way to introduce it to the bloodstream via the lungs. Once inhaled, CBD circulates through the body and quickly reaches the pain sensors in the brain, helping to reduce inflammation and anxiety while relaxing the leg muscles.
Dosing CBD oil with sublingual drops is another faster-acting option to attain relief from muscle cramps. Start with a few drops placed under the tongue and swallow after five seconds.
Topicals are another popular option for fast-acting leg cramp relief. With topicals, the CBD interacts directly with the ECS in your skin to provide relief. Massaging the affected area with a CBD oil lotion or gel will quickly ease the pain and last five to six hours from application.
Does cannabidiol have different effects at different dosages? The Biphasic Effects of CBD
Yes, CBD does have different effects at different doses. CBD can have more stimulating effects in low doses (around 20 mg or under). At higher doses (around 40 mg – 50 mg +), CBD has more sedative effects.
By blunting CB1 receptors, CBD can increase the amount of anandamide available in the blood. It has a similar effect when used in combination with THC, where using low to moderate doses of CBD with higher doses of THC can both reduce the “high” of THC and elongate its effects. This is because CB1 receptors aren’t “soaking up,” processing and eventually breaking down the THC/anandamide.
Alternative Ways to Get Relief
Besides CBD, there are other options to achieve relief from leg cramps, though they may not be as fast-acting or effective.
Doctors often prescribe pain relievers or muscle relaxants to address chronic pain and cramps , though they have their share of side effects. Prescription drugs are another alternative, though there is no recommended medication to cure cramps specifically.
Stretching, foam rolling, yoga , massage, or the use of a heating pad may all be valuable tools in releasing the tension in a muscle cramp if CBD oil or painkillers aren’t nearby.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is CBD oil a good muscle relaxant?
CBD oil helps to relax muscles by way of its anti-inflammatory properties. By interacting with the ECS, CBD slows the reuptake of endocannabinoids and allows the body to quickly repair tense muscles and soothe the pain associated with muscle tension.
Does CBD oil help with restless leg or leg cramps?
Yes, CBD oil can help soothe the pain and inflammation that go hand in hand with leg cramps. And while the evidence is lacking, anecdotal reports suggest that CBD also may help calm the spasms associated with restless leg syndrome.
Article written by
Shanti Ryle Content Writer
Shanti Ryle is a content marketer with more than half a decades’ experience writing about cannabis science and culture. Her work has been featured in Forbes, Weedmaps News/Marijuana.com, Wall Street Journal, and other publications.
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