If you have ever experienced the excruciating pain of a “charley horse” in your calf, you know that a muscle spasm can come on quick and last from a few seconds to a few hours. A muscle spasm is an involuntary contraction of a muscle and can be caused by muscle strain, dehydration, and loss of electrolytes. In some cases, spasms can affect multiple areas and organs of the body and are associated with Lou Gehrig’s disease, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, spinal injuries, asthma, and other neurological impairments. Spasticity, or muscle tightness, can be present in many of these conditions and interferes with mobility and many other bodily functions.
Cannabis has been used for a wide spectrum of muscle spasm related conditions throughout the ages. In fact, in the 19th century, Queen Victoria’s physician often prescribed a marijuana tincture for her menstrual cramps. Yes ladies, it does work!
Talk show personality Montel Williams has become an advocate for medical marijuana legislation in New York and many other states. In 2009, he announced to his viewers that he had been struggling with Multiple Sclerosis for the past ten years. Montel later spoke out on his decision to use marijuana to deal with the painful symptoms of MS. Marijuana “is just like any other plant-based medicine on the planet” he says, and compares it to willow bark, or as most people know it, aspirin.
Recent research has found the cannabinoid THC closely resembles Anandamide, a chemical that “turns on” nerve receptors throughout the central nervous system. THC and CBD also act as neuroprotective antioxidants and reduce inflammation throughout the body. A recent study by the University of California found Multiple Sclerosis patients who smoked marijuana experienced improvements in spasticity and pain relief. Treatment-resistant spasticity in MS patients was reduced significantly in this 2010 study using a spray. More clinical trials are underway as awareness of medical marijuana as a viable treatment option grows.
Which strains provide the most relief?
I went to the source on this one and spoke with JuJu, who not only works with medical marijuana patients as Bloom’s Patient Concierge, but also suffers from chronic muscle spasms and pain due to an irregular alignment of his vertebrae. Cannabis eases his spasms, controls the pain, and has changed his life in the process. He says while CBD is important, it is really about the characteristics in each strain as a whole that are important, not just one cannabinoid. For spasticity, JuJu recommends Papaya and Blue Dream but Katsu is his favorite. “Katsu is the most medically beneficial strain for my muscle spasms and pain. It completely relaxes my muscles which allows my stress and tension to release…it’s like sinking into a bubble of relaxation.”