CBD for Leg Cramp Relief [Oils, Creams, & Topicals]
Those who have endured muscle cramps understand how painful they sometimes are, and how quickly they can sneak up. Cramps can occur in every muscle, and occasionally, they can wake a person up in the middle of the night.
Leg cramps are among the most prevalent and become more frequent when we get older. There is a suggestion that CBD could help alleviate the pain caused by leg cramps, and possibly reduce their frequency. In this article, we outline the symptoms of leg cramps and the conventional treatments that are available. We also look into the science of whether CBD can help with leg cramps.
What Are Leg Cramps?
They are a condition that happens when the leg’s muscles suddenly become painful and tight. The issue predominantly occurs in the calf muscles, although it can also affect the thighs. Those who experience leg cramps tend to have pain and tenderness in the affected area for several hours. It seems as if the majority of cases occur at night.
Muscles in the body have relaxed and contracted states. A muscle is relaxed when all of the fibers are elongated. It contracts when calcium moves into muscle cells, and sodium comes out. When a muscle contracts, its fibers shorten and become tighter. In general, muscles relax and contract without any problems.
However, there are occasions where the contraction is too forceful, and the result is pain in the form of cramping. A leg cramp’s duration ranges from seconds to minutes.
Leg Cramps: What Are the Causes?
There are occasions where a leg cramp happens with no apparent explanation. These are called idiopathic leg cramps. However, there are also secondary leg cramps, which are a potential symptom of a more severe condition. Possible causes of such cramps include:
When a leg cramp occurs, the muscle suddenly contracts and causes pain. This is called a spasm, and the affected individual is unable to control the muscle. It is only when the spasm passes that the person can regain control of the muscle.
There are a couple of occasions where the leg cramp may be a sign of a more serious issue. It is advisable to seek medical attention in either of the following scenarios:
- The cramps continue to cause pain and fail to improve after 10 minutes, despite attempts to move the affected muscle.
- The cramps suddenly occur once you come in contact with a potentially infectious or toxic substance. For instance, a cut contaminated with soil could result in a bacterial infection.
Traditional Leg Cramp Treatments (Not CBD)
Dehydration is a potential cause of leg cramps, so it is essential to drink plenty of fluids each day to help reduce the risk. It is also a good idea to stretch before and after using any muscle for an extended time. Individuals that get leg cramps at night should stretch before bedtime. There is also a possible benefit of performing light exercise, such as pedaling a stationary bike for a few minutes before going to sleep.
Once a leg cramp takes hold, the patient should stretch the muscle in question and rub it to relax. An individual with a calf cramp should put their weight on the cramped leg and bend the knee a little. Those unable to stand should sit on a chair, or the floor with their leg extended.
It is also worth trying to apply a hot towel on tight muscles. A warm bath or hot shower could also provide a semblance of relief. Some people find that massaging the muscle with an ice pack helps reduce pain.
How Could CBD Help Leg Cramps?
The bodies of mammals have endocannabinoid systems (ECS) that create cannabinoids naturally. The ECS also includes the cannabinoid receptors, CB1 and CB2, which are found throughout the body and brain. Cannabinoids act upon these receptors and help regulate a wide variety of bodily functions.
The cannabinoids found in marijuana and hemp, such as THC and CBD, mimic the effects of the endocannabinoids produced naturally by the body. While THC has a direct impact on CB receptors, CBD works a little differently. Rather than directly triggering the CB1 and CB2 receptors, it modifies the ability of these receptors to bind to cannabinoids. CBD seemingly increases the capabilities of the ECS.
Consuming CBD may increase the levels of the ‘bliss molecule,’ anandamide, in the body. In turn, our systems use this chemical to:
- Regulate pain sensations. It possibly helps manage the signals sent between the nerves and brain when spasms cause leg cramp pain.
- Reduce the level of inflammation in the body and soothe the damaged area.
- Improve a person’s mood.
Where Is the Scientific Evidence for CBD Helping Leg Cramps?
At present, much of the available research looks into how CBD could help the likely symptoms of conditions such as leg cramps. Pain and muscle spasms are among the two most common reasons why people use medical marijuana and CBD.
A study published in Pharmacology & therapeutics in 2002 looked at the effect of cannabinoids on multiple sclerosis. It found that cannabinoids such as THC and CBD could reduce muscle tremors and spasticity. According to the researchers, this was possibly down to the activation of the CB1 and CB2 receptors in the ECS.
Another study, this time published in the journal, Drugs, in 2014, analyzed the effect of Sativex on patients with moderate to severe spasticity due to MS. Sativex is a pharmaceutical drug that contains THC and CBD at a ratio of close to 1:1.
One group of patients received Sativex for 12 weeks, while another group used a placebo. After 12 weeks, the Sativex using group experienced a significant reduction in spasms and severity of spasticity. These studies suggest that CBD has the potential to reduce the frequency of muscle spasms.
What About Leg Cramp Pain?
CBD could also help with leg cramps by reducing the level of pain experienced. Spasms are an inflammatory response. An inflamed muscle could spasm to draw attention to a problem. CBD may help regulate inflammation and possibly relieve the pain caused by leg cramps.
A study published in Antioxidants in December 2019 looked at the anti-inflammatory and antioxidative properties of CBD. It concluded by saying that the ECS could help modulate oxidative stress in various diseases. As a result, CBD “is a promising molecule for pharmacotherapy.”
The researchers went on to say that the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects of CBD have been demonstrated in numerous preclinical models. They also pointed out that cannabidiol is preferable to other phytocannabinoids for this purpose.
Using CBD for Leg Cramp
Those wishing to use CBD for leg cramps have a wide range of consumption methods to choose from. Using CBD oil regularly could help reduce the risk of developing muscle cramps. It remains the most popular form of consumption and continues to offer among the best value for money.
There is a general growing trend towards the use of vaporizers. Proponents suggest that vaping CBD is best because of the high bioavailability. Certainly, someone in the throes of leg cramp pain may welcome the chance to vape CBD. It seemingly provides pain relief faster than other forms of consumption.
The other viable option is to use a CBD topical, such as a cream or balm. Apply to the affected area, and monitor the effects. Reapply a generous amount of the topical as and when necessary.
Final Thoughts on CBD for Leg Cramp
At present, clinical evidence that CBD can help leg cramp is lacking. However, there is early research that indicates the cannabinoid has anti-inflammatory properties. It could also prove useful as a means of reducing the severity and frequency of spasms and cramps. Individuals using OTC or prescription drugs for leg cramps, or any other reason, should discuss CBD use with their physician. This is because of the risk of drug interactions.
The method of consumption will vary according to the needs of the user. Those hoping to alleviate pain quickly may prefer to vape CBD. People looking to help prevent leg cramps might want to try CBD oil. Individuals seeking relief for a more extended period may elect to try a CBD topical.
Whatever your preference, you can view our list of the best CBD products to help you find the top-rated brands in the industry.
CBD Oil For Leg Cramps: Does It Work?
The use of CBD for different types of aches and other ailments have become because of their anti-inflammatory effects. Cannabidiol, a form of cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant, has become a crucial part of the treatment of many medical conditions. According to many of Nature’s Beneficial hemp oil reviews, this cannabis compound can act as a muscle relaxant.
Although cannabidiol CBD comes from the cannabis plant, it is safe for consumption and doesn’t have psychoactive properties like THC. A lot of cannabidiol reviews have found that CBD oil offers pain relief against muscle cramps. So, if you’re an athlete or suffers from pain due to different ailments, CBD oil might be the answer to your problems.
What Are Muscle Spasms?
Muscle spasms are primarily cramps you feel in your leg muscles that suddenly cause the muscles in your legs to be tight. This can cause you to be in a lot of pain and discomfort for most parts of the day. Before we discuss CBD oil benefits for muscle spasms, it is important to educate you on precisely a muscle spasm and how it occurs.
Muscle spasms can affect anyone literally; however, research shows that people who suffer from this pain are usually athletes, older adults, and overweight individuals. The pain that occurs when you suffer from muscle spasms can be mild or unbearable, depending on your condition. The chronic variation of muscle spasms is usually a result of neurological disorders, impairs the brain’s communication with leg muscle, leading to severe cramps and pain in the affected areas.
Some of the chronic cases that can cause you to experience muscle spasm are; multiple Sclerosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, etc. You might also experience a muscle spasm as a side effect from drugs taken for medical conditions such as;
- Parkinson’s Diseases
- Blood Pressure
So, if you happen to experience a muscle spasm and are on medication for one of these ailments, the reason might be that drug. Although painkillers are usually one of the first options preferred by doctors, many people rely on CBD oil to help with the pain.
Benefits Of CBD Oil For Muscle Cramps
CBD oil has been used for the treatment/management of many medical conditions associated with leg cramps. However, more people are only now beginning to understand and appreciate their benefits.
Some of the benefits of CBD oil for the pain associated with leg cramps are;
Arthritis (Pain Relief)
Arthritis is a medical condition usually suffered by older adults. Depending on how severe arthritis is, this condition can cause you to experience muscle spasm associated with pain. Research shows that CBD oil can help alleviate muscle spasms because of its anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative properties.
So, if you have been diagnosed with arthritis, applying CBD oil topically might help.
Multiple Sclerosis (Alleviates Spasticity)
Multiple Sclerosis is another one of the many medical conditions characterized by pain and spasms. This autoimmune disease affects the whole body via the brain and muscles. The spasms felt can be so great that it causes the patient to feel pain regularly.
According to research, many people have reported that CBD oil reduces the symptoms (spasticity & pain). Hence, it helps in managing the condition.
Aside from the medical conditions mentioned above, CBD oil is also beneficial for the treatment of other chronic pain such as;
- Tension headaches
- Spinal cord injuries
Another benefit of using CBD oil is its ability to act as a muscle relaxant. This cannabis compound contains two crucial components that are famous for its anti-inflammatory benefits and the ability to help relax your muscles. One of these components is Delta-limonene and the other, Beta-myrcene. These components promote relaxation by helping you sleep better and reducing anxiety. This compound is also used in the treatment of people with injuries to their spinal cord.
CBD oil promotes the release of ‘feel-good’ hormones such as Serotonin, reducing stress. Thus, reducing the side effects of stress and tension. This explains the question, “does CBD oil help balance hormones?” CBD oil aids the release of mood-enhancing hormones.
Although there are so many reports about using CBD oil online, it is essential to seek your doctor’s advice before starting dosage.
Best CBD Oil For Muscle Cramps
With the use of cannabis becoming more popular worldwide, it is expected that there will be so many options to choose from. Although this gives you variety, choosing the best brand for your muscle spasms can be tricky. To get good cannabis oil for your muscle spasms, here are some factors you should take into consideration;
Pay Attention To Your State’s Cannabis Laws
Although cannabis is legal in many states, can you tell if it is in yours? To avoid getting in trouble with the law, it is essential to know your state’s cannabis laws. In states where the use of cannabis is legal, you can get a CBD oil of CBD-THC blend, which is more effective for muscle spasms.
Choose Only Organic Brands
The best brands of CBD oil are organic. The oil extracted from organic cannabis and void of artificial flavorings will be more effective.
Also, check out the THC content if you would like a minimal concentration in your product.
Certificate Of Analysis (COA)
An excellent way to tell a quality brand of CBD oil apart from others is with a certificate of analysis. This is essentially a lab report from the testing carried out by a third-party lab and the central lab. This certificate tells you how much CBD and THC are in your oil. Plus, if there are any heavy and harmful chemicals such as pesticides, mold, metal, etc. in the product.
You can ascertain the authenticity and effectiveness of a cannabis product by checking the reviews on the website. Since you can purchase your oil online, looking at what other buyers have to say about the product is a wise decision.
Ticking all of the factors mentioned above will help you get the best oil for your cramps quickly. All you need to do is carry out a little bit of research.
Even though the use of cannabis products have become popular, there is still a lot of skepticism. To address that, here are a few popular questions many, including yourself, might have and their answers;
Is CBD Good For Cramps?
CBD is good for cramps and pains. Research shows the use of cannabis is beneficial for its anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidative, and relaxing properties. Hence, it is famous for alleviating the symptoms of medical conditions associated with pains and inflammation. This is achieved via CBD’s interaction with the endocannabinoid system in the body.
How Do You Use CBD Oil For Leg Pain?
You can use CBD oil for leg pain in different ways like gaping, CBD drops, edibles, capsules, topical gels, creams, and salves.
Your choice should depend on how fast you want the product to work or the severity of your symptoms. Vaping takes the CBD directly to your bloodstream through your lungs, which makes it fast-acting. This option is great if you suffer from chronic muscle spasms; however, the effects are not long term. They usually last for about 30 minutes to an hour.
For topical application, you can use CBD gels and creams. These are the best options to help with spasticity and can last for about 4-6 hours. For long term use, you should opt for CBD capsules and edibles.
Will CBD Oil Relax Muscles?
CBD oil can help with relaxing different muscles in the body. Muscle spasms can be caused by muscle tension, which regular pain killers might not be sufficient. Research shows that being a pain reliever is only one of the many properties of CBD.
It is also a muscle relaxant and an effective analgesic, helping with inflammation, pain, and anxiety. This makes it great for PTSD, paranoia, and other nerve-related symptoms.
What Can You Take Naturally For Leg Cramps?
You can take water, organic CBD oil, or certain drinks filled with electrolytes for leg cramps.
If you’re skeptical about using CBD oil for your muscle spasms and checking for quick relief options, you might need to visit the hospital. Your doctor can profer painkillers to help you with your pains. However, one proven way to eliminate leg cramps is by keeping your body always hydrated and ensuring you have enough glucose in your system. This prevents oxidative stress and cramps.
You can also try stretching and massaging the affected area. Applying a topical gel and massaging it into your leg or thigh helps with promoting the healing process. Like CBD, this will release the tension and ease the pain.
Muscle spasms are common symptoms of stress and strain to the leg, calf, or thigh muscles, as seen in athletes. This condition is also seen in older adults suffering from arthritis and individuals with neurological disorders like multiple sclerosis.
CBD oil is the safest alternative for treating leg cramps with minimal side effects. There are different blends of organic CBD, so you need to do a lot of research before purchasing a specific one. Also, be sure to check in with your doctor before taking any new medication, as they will ascertain if it is safe for you.
Harvard Health Ad Watch: Aches, pains, and muscle cramps — do well-advertised remedies actually work?
A woman applies a cream to her sore joints and says it’s changed her life. Two sports heroes sing the praises of an over-the-counter cream for their aches and pains. A celebrity physician claims that spray-on foam can end your daily suffering.
You’ve probably seen testimonials like these in over-the-counter pain remedy ads. But is there solid evidence to back up such claims? Let’s focus on three products with catchy names and marketing claims in heavy rotation on TV.
- Blue-Emu: Marketed for muscle, joint, or back pain. “… Get back in the game without smelling like a locker room. You can feel 100% confident in using our products to help soothe tired muscles and joints.”
- Australian Dream: Marketed for joint or back pain. “Arthritis sufferers and long-time athletes alike rely on our joint pain relief cream for guaranteed comfort. Applied directly to the painful area, this natural blend of ingredients works fast and effectively.”
- Theraworx: Marketed for sore muscles, muscle cramps, or joint pain. “Clinically proven to stop muscle cramps before they start.”“Provides fast-acting relief of muscle cramps and spasms, as well as post-cramp soreness — most people get relief within minutes!”
What are these seemingly miraculous treatments?
Each is applied directly to skin (topically). Theraworx is a foam; the others come as creams or sprays. According to their manufacturers, here’s the ingredient list:
- Blue-Emu: An “original” version has more than 20 ingredients, including glucosamine, aloe vera, and emu oil — but no active ingredient is listed! For Blue-Emu Maximum Arthritis Pain Relief and Blue-Emu Ultra with Hemp Seed Oil, the active ingredient is trolamine salicylate, a close relative of aspirin. Blue-Emu Lidocaine Dry Patch lists lidocaine as the active ingredient; it’s similar to the numbing medication novocaine.
- Australian Dream: Emu oil is listed here, too, but the active ingredient is histamine hydrochloride, a topical pain reliever. According to its makers, that ingredient temporarily increases the size of your blood vessels for greater circulation, which “safely and effectively reduces pain in the joint or muscle.” (By the way, this product is made in Kentucky, not Australia.)
- Theraworx Relief for Joint Discomfort and Inflammation lists olibanum, an oil from boswellia trees (also called frankincense oil), as its the active ingredient. Twenty other ingredients, including calcium, aloe, and grapefruit extract, are also listed. You’ll need to wear a compression sleeve over the sore joint after applying the product.
- Theraworx Relief for Muscle Cramps and Spasms has magnesium sulfate as its active ingredient. While magnesium deficiency can cause muscle cramps, most nonpregnant people given oral magnesium supplements do not benefit. And, no evidence suggests most people with common muscle cramps, such as nighttime muscle cramps, have a magnesium deficiency, or that applying the mineral to skin counters a problem in the muscles.
Do they deliver on their promises?
That depends on how you measure success: by customer ratings, web site reviews, or results of studies in people with symptoms like yours?
While studies of rodents or lab experiments are available, none of the manufacturers’ ads or websites provide adequate details about studies demonstrating that their products work on humans.
Theraworks Relief for Muscle Cramps and Spasms: Two studies mentioned in an ad show improvement in muscle cramps and spasms in 60% of 84 participants. But it’s not possible to track down the actual studies or interpret their results. How long did it take for treatment to work? Does it prevent cramps — or just treat them? How long did the study last? Was Theraworx compared with placebo? No idea! (Healthcare professionals can get more information, but only upon request — and only if they provide personal information and a medical license number.)
And what about the emu oil? Both Blue-Emu and Australian Dream contain it. Some studies have investigated it for burn wound healing in mice and to reduce inflammation in lab experiments. But no convincing data suggest it’s an effective pain reliever in humans.
What does the FDA say about these products?
The FDA doesn’t directly evaluate the safety and effectiveness of products like these, but it can encourage or require a recall if a product is deemed unsafe. The Federal Trade Commission oversees advertising of over-the-counter therapies like these. Both agencies may be unable to keep up with the sheer volume of products on the market.
The bottom line
Usually, the makers of well-studied products with proven benefits are quite willing to share results of studies demonstrating effectiveness. The fact that none of these product makers do is reason for skepticism.
If you’re already using Blue-Emu, Australian Dream, or Theraworx, and it’s clearly working well for you, that’s great! But there seems to be little evidence that would predict this result.
And if you’re considering trying one of these products for the first time, you might think twice. The ads may be convincing, but, in my view, the evidence is not.
Follow me on Twitter @RobShmerling
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