Posted on

Cbd oil for muscle fasciculations

CBD Oil As a Muscle Relaxant [Try this All-Natural Treatment]

There’s a lot of misconception about the difference between muscle relaxers and painkillers. There’s also confusion regarding the role CBD oil plays as an alternative treatment option for both.

First, painkillers function via the central nervous system (CNS). They work to “deceive” the mind into thinking there is no pain, when in reality there is.

Consider a serious bone fracture. A skateboarder shatters his tibia into 19 different pieces and rushes to the nearest emergency room. Once doctors shoot him up with dilaudid (or morphine, or whatever), pain receptor function ceases and he becomes none the wiser regarding the searing pain that’s coursing through his body. In fact, he’s probably happy as a clam.

Do muscle relaxers work the same?

Muscle relaxers (known in the clinical world as ‘neuromuscular blocking agents’) work differently. Instead of functioning through the CNS by blocking pain transmission at the brain, they function at the actual site of the muscle(s). This cuts off nerve transmission at the acute musculoskeletal level. Think of painkillers as affecting the brain, and muscle relaxers as affecting actual muscles.

Understandably, this brings about some confusion as to what cannabis’ exact role is in terms of pain management. We all know that CBD is an excellent pain modulator within the central nervous system, but does it function at the actual site of muscles as well? In other words, is CBD oil as a muscle relaxer an actual thing, or are people just getting the terms ‘muscle relaxers’ and ‘painkillers’ mixed up?

As it turns out, cannabis does function well as both a neurological “painkiller” and an acute neuromuscular blocking agent.

In this article, we’ll go over exactly how CBD as a muscle relaxant functions at the physiological level. Many people are switching over from their prescription relaxant medications to CBD oils. This is for a number of different reasons, which we’ll talk about below.

As is always the case with health, however, it pays to know what’s going on at the physiological level before you jump headlong into a new treatment option.

Muscle Relaxers: What are they, and why are they dangerous?

Liked we explained briefly, muscle relaxers work by severing neurological communications between the CNS (the brain) and the actual muscles themselves. In that regard, relaxants and painkillers are indeed similar. The only real difference is the specific location where the nerve transmission interruption takes place.

Now bear in mind that is a broad, relative explanation. If a neurologist were to read that, they’d probably feel inclined to elaborate on several dozen different things to provide a more exacting definition. But for our purposes, it will suffice.

In terms of the different kinds of muscle relaxers out there, several different types are commonly prescribed to treat localized spasticity. More often than not they’re used as acute (temporary) treatments, but sometimes they can be used along with opioid painkillers for effective treatment of chronic pain as well.

Common Muscle Relaxers

Xanax and Valium are probably the two most well-known muscle relaxers. These drugs are called benzodiazepines. Though they’re often used as anti-anxiety or sleep medications, they have good muscle-relaxing properties as well. Valium especially is a frequently prescribed relaxant for mild-to-moderate acute musculoskeletal pain wherein full-strength opioid painkillers are unnecessary.

Drugs like Zanaflex (tizanidine) are also common and work to reduce spasticity in cases of spinal cord injury or multiple sclerosis (of which CBD is another great treatment option, by the way).

Prescription medications like Soma (carisoprodol), Flexeril (cyclobenzaprine), and Robaxin represent the strongest class of muscle relaxants. These are Schedule IV Controlled Substances (as are Xanax and Valium). They produce meprobamate as a byproduct of their chemical breakdown. Meprobamate is a powerful tranquilizer that produces a sensation of whole-body euphoria. It is dangerous because it can galvanize dependence, abuse, and full-on addiction.

While not statistically as dangerous as opioid painkillers, prescription muscle relaxants still present a dangerous array of potential side effects (such as depression, low blood pressure, and liver problems), and can even be fatal when combined with alcohol or over the counter sleep medications. (Sadly, many combine muscle relaxants with heavy alcohol use as a potential means for suicide).

What are Muscle Relaxants Used for?

Muscle relaxers are used for uncontrollable muscle spasms that originate via neurological impulses sent from the central nervous system. These spasms (which can be extremely painful) originate from several different things:

  • Spinal cord injury or damage (the brain and spinal cord compose the CNS)
  • Diseases like multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, and fibromyalgia
  • Acute muscle strains and tears

Some use prescription pharmaceutical relaxants to treat these involuntary muscle contractions. The relaxants work by interrupting neurological communication at the site of the muscle. Spastic signals from the CNS come to a stop, and the muscles relax and shut down. (Surgical procedures also sometimes incorporate relaxants to provide temporary paralysis).

You can see then, the difference between the function of painkillers and muscle relaxants; in our aforementioned hypothetical situation of the skateboarder with the shattered tibia, a muscle relaxant would be an entirely insufficient treatment – he’s dealing with severe acute trauma, not spastic neurological signals between the CNS and various muscle groups.

CBD Oil as Muscle Relaxant: So how does it work?

With the fundamental understanding of muscle relaxants and what they do behind us, we can now look into the physiological roles of CBD (cannabidiol) oil, and how it functions as a neuromuscular blocker.

When muscle groups contract (whether voluntarily or involuntarily), it is in response to a nerve impulse that originates from within the central nervous system. Long neurons extend from the spinal cord and stretch outwards to various organs and muscle groups throughout the body. When these neurons reach the synapse of a particular group of muscle fibers, cell-to-cell communication takes place and the fibers contract. (That’s an elementary way to put it, but it will have to suffice in order to skip talking about action potentials, sarcomeres, and ion differentiation across cell membranes).

In any regard, in order for CBD to work as a muscle relaxant, cannabinoid receptors must be present at the site of muscular synapses. This is where the endocannabinoid system comes in.

If you haven’t heard of the endocannabinoid system (ECS), you need to inform yourself now. In short, it is an innate network of cannabinoids and cannabinoid receptors that occur 100% naturally in the human body. Everyone has the receptors, whether they’ve smoked marijuana every day for 50 years or have never touched the drug in their life.

The ECS: A complex yet remarkable receptor network

Studies have shown the ECS to be present in virtually every single physiological system in the human body. In a nutshell, this explains the incredibly far-reaching medical potential of cannabis.

The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) has called the endocannabinoid system “… the most important physiologic system involved in establishing and maintaining human health.”

In terms of the ECS acting as a muscle contraction regulatory device, studies have found cannabinoid receptors in the signaling machinery of skeletal muscle. In other words, it appears cannabinoids (such as CBD) may play a significant role in the communication between muscle groups and the neurons that control them.

Remember research is still a long way off in regards to pinpointing how this works. Also, it is unclear how exactly the ECS functions regarding the chemical pathways of cell-to-cell communication. One thing is for certain, though — cannabinoids absolutely play a part in the alleviation of muscle spasticity.

In fact, cannabis has for years shown excellent results in multiple sclerosis patients that deal with chronic spasticity. It’s only been somewhat recently, though, that individuals started using the oil to treat spasms stemming from other conditions.

Why CBD Oil?

If you’re wondering why we keep talking about CBD, or if you’re wondering what the heck it even is, it’s essentially a non-psychoactive cannabinoid that comes from the marijuana plant.

The two primary cannabinoids in marijuana are THC and CBD. THC is the psychoactive component that’s responsible for getting us high. When you smoke a joint, for example, you inhale both CBD and THC. CBD oil is an all-natural extraction of the non-psychoactive cannabinoid. That is, a way to receive all the medical and therapeutic benefits of cannabis without having to get high.

CBD as a Muscle Relaxant: The Bottom Line

Alleviating muscle spasms at the molecular level is just one of the many potential uses of CBD. Thousands of people have switched over to it from prescription medications (like carisoprodol or benzodiazepines) due to the high costs and dangerous side effects of the latter.

Keep in mind though that CBD oil for muscle spasms will not work for everyone. If you’re considering using it for your own condition, do your research and select a reputable tincture.

The oils we’ve selected below have been some of the most reputable and proven brands in recent years. They have shown good results for a variety of muscle and pain-related conditions, including spasticity.

See also  Cbd oil for toddlers

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.

  • Over-exercising
  • Insufficient stretching before physical activity
  • Dehydration
  • Stress
  • 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
  • Sleep
  • Memory
  • Appetite
  • Fertility
  • Immune response
  • metabolism

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 [1].

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 [2]. 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 [3].

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 [4]. 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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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 Ashton

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.

See also  3 to 1 cbd oil thc for sale

Leave a comment Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.

How cannabis combats muscle spasms

Muscle spasms can leave you feeling like you’ve lost total control of your body. Whether it’s rigid limbs or general muscle twitching, many sufferers are switching to medical cannabis in an attempt to harness the plant’s antispasmodic properties. The evidence, scientific and anecdotal, is building in favor of treating spasms with cannabis, and patients in the U.S. and abroad are finding relief. Cannabis is also thought to be helpful in treating other muscle-related disorders.

Muscle spasms explained

When a muscle suddenly contracts, it’s referred to as a muscle spasm. Sometimes it’s just the one muscle that’s affected, on other occasions it can be an entire group. Spasms vary in frequency and severity – the pain may come in short, sharp bursts, or it may be delivered in extended, crippling fashion. The worst muscle spasms can even cause groups of muscles to “lock up”, inducing temporary paralysis.

The San Diego School of Medicine at the University of California carried out a study on muscle spasms and cannabis in 2012, and they reported positive findings. The researchers analysed the responses of 30 Multiple Sclerosis patients with walking impairments. One group was administered a synthetic THC treatment, while the other was given a placebo. Several patients were dependent on walking aids to manage their condition.

The group that smoked synthetic THC cannabis experienced around a 30% reduction in muscle spasticity, compared to the patients who took the placebo. The THC group also agreed that their muscles were causing less pain.

Muscle spasms and contractions can be caused by many factors. Some, and these tend to be the most serious, can be the side effect of another disorder. Dehydration and remaining still for long periods can also lead to spasms and contractions.

Medical cannabis can have all kinds of positive impacts for various kinds of muscle spasms. The best cannabis product for you (consider the method of delivery and non-psychoactive CBD) is often determined by the types of spasms that you’re experiencing. Sometimes, cannabis acts to hide the symptoms of muscle spasms. However, some research indicates that in specific scenarios, cannabis works directly to treat the root of the problem (i.e. the disorder causing the spasms).

Different types of spasms? Different types of cannabis products? If you’re feeling a bit intimidated by this first section, rest assured, we’re going to break the facts down in to an easy-to-digest format.

Cannabis and cramps

Up to 1 in 3 Americans suffer with some sort of muscle spasms, typically foot and calve cramps while in bed. The shooting pain from these cramps is sometimes painful enough to wake the affected person up – it’s not always easy to find a working treatment for these cramps, either.

Scientists have yet to ascertain just why painful cramps occur in some people but not in others. Poor blood circulation and bad lifestyle choices are easy targets when looking to place blame, but vitamin deficiencies (particularly a lack of potassium and magnesium) can play a role. Poor circulation can be caused by laying or sitting in the same position for too long.

Cannabis sadly won’t cure these cramps, but it can have a significant impact in easing the symptoms – notably the pain – from them. Since muscle spasms affect a certain area of the body, cannabis creams tend to be the best method of delivery, as they combat the spasms in a localized manner. Furthermore, not even THC creams will get you high when you apply them onto the skin.

The ideal time to spread on a cannabis cream is immediately after a cramp starts – this allows your muscles to begin relaxing as quickly as possible.

The growth of cannabis topicals

Did you know that the cannabis industry beyond the herb itself and edibles? Cannabis topicals are enjoying increased recognition, with infused balms, creams and salves of varying cannabinoid profiles typically the products of choice. Even better, these topicals double up as beauty products – cannabinoids are great for the skin, and many creams also include essential oils. Marijuana topicals don’t get you high either, hence you can medicate with THC without feeling baked.

The effectiveness of cannabis creams is not in doubt, although topicals rarely receive the spotlight. For treating chronic pain and muscle spasms, these products are perfect, as they are applied to a localized, affected area. This means the THC and CBD cannabinoids can link up with the cannabinoid receptors in the part of the body that most needs relief.

Cannabis topicals can help with cramps and spasms all over the body, from your neck to your glutes.

Using cannabis creams

To medicate with marijuana creams, simply apply some of the product to an affected joint or spastic muscle and top up every half an hour or so. It’s important to keep the affected area well circulated, so consider remaining active while medicating and perhaps undertake some light stretching exercises. If you still find no relief after using marijuana topicals, consult a doctor about your spasms or assess your diet for any nutrient deficiencies that may be causing them.

You don’t have to treat your cramps with cannabis topicals, smoking bud or indulging in a tasty edible will produce similar results, albeit at varying speeds. The unique advantage of topicals is that they combat the problem head-on, by directly treating the affected spot.

If you’re seeking a low-cost way of using cannabis skin products, you could even make your own. Coconut oil is great for rubbing on your skin and is the perfect base for a topical.

How can I benefit from medical marijuana?

Muscle spasms are sometimes brought on by injuries. Musculoskeletal disorders are especially prone to causing spasms – these occur when a muscle has been overused or repeatedly injured.

Musculoskeletal disorders are much more common than you’d perhaps imagine, and they aren’t necessarily the result of serious injury. Overuse of muscles doesn’t have to involve heavy work either – typing for hours on end can throw up similar muscular issues to a long day of intense manual labour.

The level of physical exertion required to do a task can be irrelevant in causing strain. For example, somebody who works at a desk on their computer for a living is repeatedly making the same muscular movements with their fingers, hands and wrists. A manual labourer, on the other hand, puts strain on their lower back, legs, hips and maybe other areas depending on the work. Repeatedly using those muscles for weeks, months and years – without extended breaks – can lead to inflammation. If a muscle is inflamed, then the likelihood that it will spasm increases.

However, marijuana has anti-inflammatory properties. This helps to reduce pain and eliminate the inflammation at its source. Once the inflammation is treated, muscle spasms should clear up.

What makes cannabis an anti-inflammatory?

When the body is injured or invaded, it’s natural response is to become inflamed. Unfortunately, muscle spasms are one of the most common symptoms of muscle spasms. Inflammation affects joints, nerve cells, tendons and muscles – without treatment, inflammation will continue to harm affected tissues.

Cannabis can modulate your body’s immune response, which helps facilitate the healing process. Immune cells are activated as soon as an injury occurs, hence why it’s important to act quickly.

As scientists have become more familiar with the endocannabinoid system, their understanding of how it influences the immune system has improved. The cannabinoids (CBD, THC etc) found in cannabis work as catalysts, and sends different messages to the cells responsible for post-injury swelling.

Cannabis is an anti-inflammatory, whatever the method of delivery. Once the cannabinoids have made it into the bloodstream, they can begin linking up with receptors in the ECS and change how the body responds to injury. If you are enduring inflammation-related pain throughout your body, then smoking, vaping or cannabis edibles should serve you well. If your pain is specific to certain areas, then experimenting with localized treatments such as creams and transdermal patches is recommended.

Treating spastic disorder with cannabis

We mentioned further up that cannabis doesn’t just cover-up inflammation and reduce pain as it occurs, but that it can even treat the cause directly in some scenarios. As yet, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is yet to recognize cannabis as medicine for muscle spasms, nor has the agency conducted trials to determine marijuana’s potential at combatting any condition.

Therefore, take the following with a pinch of salt, but bear in mind that many have found a level of success with cannabis that they haven’t with their existing medications.

See also  Cbd oil for knee pain reddit

The conditions we are going to talk about are all the result of brain disorders, which tend to cause spasticity. Neurological disorders that occur due to the brain’s chemical imbalances lead to muscle spasms.

These muscle spasms cannot be treated with cannabis topicals, as this type of treatment doesn’t take cannabinoids to where they are needed – the brain. Inhaling or orally-consuming cannabis is required in this case. Science on how cannabis interacts with the brain is far from comprehensive, and only with more research can we fully get to grips on how cannabinoids work. However, we are aware that they have a modulating effect, and send the necessary signals to maintain homeostasis.

Cannabis and muscle spasms

In this section, we will look at epilepsy, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), Parkinson’s disease and Multiple Sclerosis, and discuss the most recent cannabis research into these conditions. Once again, there remain plenty of gaps in the science, but the findings are fascinating nonetheless.

Epilepsy

Chemical imbalances can be traced back to the synapses. When the body wants to communicate, nerve cells secrete specific molecules, which sends a signal to other cells – that signal is taken on-board and acted upon.

Epileptic conditions are types of neurological disorders that are the result of chemical imbalances. Scientists are uncertain as to why some people get epilepsy and others don’t, although it’s a growing belief that the endocannabinoid system may bear at least some responsibility.

Many adults with epilepsy are turning to cannabis after reports that compounds, and non-intoxicating CBD especially, can have a beneficial impact by reducing the frequency of seizures. CBD is, after THC, generally the second-most abundant cannabinoid in cannabis, although strains are now being specifically bred to have high concentrations of CBD, and minimal amounts of psychoactive THC. Therefore, if you smoke a CBD-dominant strain, it won’t make you high.

Dr Sanjay Gupta, CNN’s Chief Medical Advisor, was once a cannabis sceptic. But after producing a documentary for the channel in 2013 that looked at how children were finding relief from serious, medication-resistant epilepsy through cannabis oils, Gupta did a 180 on his marijuana stance. The documentary, title Weed, was memorable for the story of six-year-old Charlotte Figi, a child patient whose Dravet syndrome was treated with high-CBD oil.

What happened next was truly a miracle. From having to go through 300 grand mal seizures every single week, Charlotte’s seizures cleared up completely in the space of a week. The results stunned her parents, doctors and perhaps even the entire cannabis community.

Studies have shown that CBD has prominent anticonvulsant properties. While there are still grey areas in understanding exactly how CBD reduces epileptic convulsions, it’s thought that the compound calms hyperactivity in the brain. CBD improves the communication network between cells, ensuring that the right signals get sent through at the right time. CBD helps to stop the surge in spastic messages that are sent to the brain when an epileptic convulsion is set to occur.

Cannabis can also prevent brain damage that happens during and post-seizure, thanks to the neuroprotective properties of CBD.

Marijuana researchers in Spain carried out a study involving pigs back in 2008 that investigate whether CBD helped to reduce the damage caused by brain injury. The researchers temporarily stopped blood flowing to important arteries in the brains of the piglets, then treated one group with CBD and the other with a control.

After the researchers removed the block, all of the piglets given control experienced a seizure. Remarkably, while this happened to half of the piglets treated with CBD, the other half remained seizure-free. Furthermore, the brain cells of pigs administered CBD were 50 percent healthier than those without it.

The Spanish research team concluded that CBD could indeed be used to limit brain damage, and the compound was also beneficial to the heart.

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)

Better known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, after the famous ballplayer, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) damages the brain cells that control voluntary movement. When ALS strikes, motor neurons situated in the spinal cord and brain start to break down – scientists haven’t yet worked out why. When this happens, patients suffer increasing problems with voluntary movement as they lose control over their limbs.

As ALS worsens, patients generally become weaker and more likely to experience muscle spasms. With time, speech becomes more difficult.

ALS patients often don’t survive for more than two or three years after being diagnosed, as the lack of muscle use causes them to waste away. However, famous theoretical physicist and cosmologist Stephen Hawking managed to live for more than 50 years after getting ALS.

ALS is a peculiar disease that scientists have always struggled to understand. The root cause remains unknown, although researchers have suspicions that immune system disruption and chemical imbalances may be to blame.

However, many have found that cannabis helps them to manage their ALS, and there are a few pre-clinical studies that have emerged over the past 15 years suggesting they are correct. The research indicates that marijuana can slow the onset of ALS, allowing patients to live longer and enjoy a better quality of life.

In 2006, researchers assessed endocannabinoid levels among ALS-induced mice. Their studies found that the progression of ALS was stifled in mice that had lower levels of the FAAH enzyme. An unhelpful enzyme, FAAH breaks down cannabinoids – hence the mice with fewer FAAH enzymes had more cannabinoids to fight ALS.

More research is now needed to confirm whether this research into the endocannabinoid system, FAAH and cannabis regarding ALS treatment is accurate.

Multiple Sclerosis

One of the main symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is inflammation. An immune disorder, MS inflames both the brain and spinal column. A random trigger causes the body to start making inflammatory immunities for no reason, and these are harmful.

MS causes an array of serious symptoms that have a negative impact on quality of life. Muscles lock up and become stiff and can start twitching at random intervals. Temporary blindness and blurred vision are also regular symptoms.

Sharp, painful muscle spasms can occur from this inflammation, and inflammation in the brain causes significant disruption to other signals the body sends. Over time, vital neurons are killed off due to swelling in the brain.

The exact cause of this unwanted swelling comes from the immune system and chemical imbalance. MS patients can benefit from taking cannabis, an anti-inflammatory herb that helps regulate how the body responds to inflammation. Marijuana promotes a healthy immune system, and therefore it’s possible that the plant could be a direct treatment for MS.

Parkinson’s Disease

The symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease can be difficult to explain, but actor Michael J. Fox, who has dealt with the condition since 1991, perhaps summed it up best. His analogy was that Parkinson’s feels like getting stuck in the middle of the street and being unable to move out the way of the oncoming bus.

Parkinson’s is a neurodegenerative disorder. Motor neurons are activated by dopamine, but when the neurons that are meant to secrete dopamine unexpectedly die off, the effects are debilitating. Stiff and rigid muscles, involuntary movement, chronic pain, sleeping troubles, shaking limbs, tremors are all commonly-reported symptoms.

Sadly, this is another disorder where the root cause is yet to be identified. Although, if there’s any good news, is that scientists believe the endocannabinoid system may hold some answers. According to studies, Parkinson’s is most prevalent in patients with abnormal endocannabinoid levels in the parts of the brain that are affected by the disorders. Endocannabinoids are similar to CBD, THC and other cannabinoids in cannabis, except they are made naturally and endogenously. Endocannabinoids control many functions, including our memory, movement, mood, appetite and immune system.

In 2014, researchers conducted a study where Parkinson’s patients smoked cannabis, and were then examined half an hour later. The United Parkinsons’ Disease Rating Score (UPDRS) is a tool used by doctors to determine the severity and progression of Parkinson’s in each person – the researchers also used this scale to establish whether cannabis brought actual improvements.

The participants experienced an average drop of 9.9 points on the UPD scale, from 33.1 to 23.2 – a major reduction, which translates to much-improved motor functions.

On a general note, Parkinson’s patients who take marijuana as treatment find their quality of life is enhanced as a result. Those suffering from advanced Parkinson’s may still experience some shaking and tremors, but cannabis can still help to reduce pain and tackle the side effects of other PD medicines.

Over the past decade or so, research into cannabis has increased majorly thanks to relaxed legislation that makes it possible to comprehensive study the herb and its compound. Hopefully, this article has given you a summary as to where science currently is in terms of working out what causes neurodegenerative disorders and epilepsy, and how cannabis can help.

Has cannabis (or CBD products specifically) helped you eliminate muscle spasms? If so, share your experiences in the comments!