CBD contributes as a natural muscle relaxant through inhibiting the release of neurotransmitters known to induce muscle rigidity and spasms
A survey of 2,409 cannabidiol (CBD) users found that a majority of people use this hemp extract in an effort to treat a medical condition. The top three conditions CBD users are trying to self-treat are chronic pain, arthritis or other joint-related pain, and anxiety. One way this hemp extract can help with each of these issues is in the way it works as a natural muscle relaxant.
The endocannabinoid system and muscle function
The endocannabinoid system is a relatively newly-named system in the human body that appears to have a variety of critical functions. Research reveals that this system is at least partially responsible for regulating hormone secretions related to stress and reproductive function. It also helps control energy balance in the human body by regulating food intake and influencing gastrointestinal activity.
Other studies report that the endocannabinoid system plays an important role in skeletal muscle function. An example of this is one study that shares that activation of CB1 cannabinoid receptors can impact muscle metabolism and muscle oxygen consumption. But how does using CBD affect this process as a natural muscle relaxant?
CBD as a natural muscle relaxant
One of the primary ways that CBD contributes as a natural muscle relaxant is through inhibiting the release of secretions known to induce muscle rigidity and spasms.
Many pieces of research have studied this effect on people who have been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS), a disease in which the immune system attacks the central nervous system’s protective covering. This often leads to movement-related issues, including tremors and an unsteady gait.
A 2017 study noted that the use of a combination CBD-TCH (tetrahydrocannabinol) oromucosal spray offered MS patients improvements in their gait and also helped to “normalize muscle fibers.” A 2019 study further found that a treatment regimen that included CBD might also reduce muscle spasticity for patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or ALS.
Studies such as these suggest that CBD helps muscles relax on a more cellular level. However, if the increased muscle tension is a result of being overly stressed, CBD can potentially help with this too. Research shows that this cannabinoid has anti-anxiety properties, interacting with 5HT1A receptors (a subtype of serotonin receptor) in a way that reduces the long-term effects of this type of stress.
Relaxing the brain helps to also relax the body. Once the brain and body are both relaxed, sleep quality can improve. The mind is slowed enough to allow sleep to naturally set in and a reduction in physical tension makes the transition from being awake to being asleep easier, providing the perfect prescription for a peaceful night of rest.
CBD for post-exercise muscle soreness
Even though it’s good for you, exercise can sometimes lead to muscle tension and soreness. In cases such as this, research suggests that CBD can help ease these effects due to its anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective, and analgesic properties.
Additional studies seem to confirm that CBD aids in muscle recovery after a strenuous exercise session. One such study was published in February 2020 and found that supplementing with CBD post-workout helped reduce creatine kinase levels. Researchers concluded that this not only helped reduce muscle damage but it also promoted muscle regeneration.
Tips for using CBD for reduced muscle tension
If a patient’s goal in using CBD is to decrease muscle tension and soreness, they should start with a small dose to make sure it will be well-tolerated. Once they know that their system can handle this cannabinoid without any adverse side effects, such as feeling fatigued or gastrointestinal issues, they can slowly step up the dose until they reach a more therapeutic level.
It’s also helpful to choose a CBD product that is labeled as full spectrum. This means that, in addition to CBD, it also contains other cannabinoids from the hemp plant. These work together to create a synergy known as “the entourage effect.” Put simply, when combined, these cannabinoids provide a more powerful health effect than each offers on its own.
CBD products designed to reduce muscle tension typically fall into one of two categories: transdermal application or oral ingestion. A transdermal application is best applied directly to the muscle that is sore or tense. If an oral CBD product is chosen, which may be best for overall muscle tension, select one that promotes bioavailability and absorption. This helps increase the amount of CBD the body can use as a natural muscle relaxant.