Article written by
Ruth LemonVP of Operations
Content reviewed by
Dr. Lewis JasseyMedical Director - Pediatric Medicine
Table of contents
Weed, also known as cannabis or marijuana, can work as a muscle relaxant and offers a range of other benefits, too. For example, it can also provide pain relief and anti-inflammatory effects. So, if you need a remedy that can target more than one symptom, cannabis could be ideal.
It’s also worth knowing the main differences between weed and muscle relaxants prescribed by doctors. While both treatments can ease muscle tension and discomfort to some extent, there are various pros and cons to each one.
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Using Cannabis as a Muscle Relaxant
Muscle relaxants are generally regarded as a class of drugs that can relieve the muscles by easing tension, spasms, cramps, and spasticity. Some muscle relaxants can also alleviate muscle pain and stiffness.
Before it became a well-known concept that cannabis may also work as a muscle relaxant, prescription muscle relaxants, such as orphenadrine, had been widely used. However, since then, some studies have shown that the two significant cannabinoids of cannabis, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), also have muscle relaxant capabilities.
THC works by providing pain relief and reducing muscle spasticity, while CBD offers anti-inflammatory effects and slows down the chemical signals involved with muscle spasms. As a result, users tend to try different ratios of THC and CBD until they find the perfect balance that is right for them.
CBD appears to have greater effects than THC regarding muscle relaxation, but it works better when used in combination with THC as a result of the entourage effect. So, it may be best to try using equal amounts of THC and CBD or slightly more CBD than THC for the best results possible.
For example, you could try these ratios of THC and CBD:
- THC:CBD – 1:1
- THC:CBD – 1:2
- THC:CBD – 1:3
These muscle relaxant effects are easy to obtain regardless of which method you use to consume cannabis. Some examples include:
- Edibles, such as baked goods, tea, or candy
- Topical treatments or creams containing cannabis directly applied to the area of discomfort
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Minor Cannabinoids and Muscle Relaxation
Aside from THC and CBD, other cannabinoids within the cannabis plant are also believed to help muscles. For instance, cannabinol (CBN) could help you sleep better when you experience muscle pain, and cannabigerol (CBG) also eases muscle pain and inflammation.
However, while CBN and CBG have huge potential, they naturally occur at much lower concentrations than THC and CBD. Some strains can contain higher than usual amounts of CBN and CBG and, if available, could be another option to consider.
In addition, other chemical compounds from cannabis, such as terpenes and flavonoids, have some effects too. These compounds add to the flavor, smell, and pigment of cannabis but also have various therapeutic effects. For example, terpenes can ease spasticity since they have relaxing effects, and flavonoids have anti-antioxidant properties. Both types of compounds can also fight against muscle inflammation.
So while THC and CBD extracts from cannabis can provide suitable relief, it could be worth considering the full range of effects from the entire plant. Dried cannabis will contain a range of compounds, whereas extracts like THC or CBD oils could be missing certain compounds.
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Muscle Relaxants vs. Cannabis
Muscle relaxants are prescription-only medications for skeletal muscle-related problems, such as tension, spasms, cramps, spasticity, pain, and sometimes stiffness. They are not intended for chronic use, which means they are generally used when pain occurs.
Cannabis is regarded as a “pharmacy in a plant.” Because of this, it can fall under many classifications depending on what it is used for.
The cannabinoids in cannabis, such as THC and CBD, work by interacting with the body’s internal endocannabinoid system. By interacting with this system, these compounds can induce muscle relaxing effects and a range of other results on the body. THC and CBD are the primary compounds for muscle relaxation, but other cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids also help to some extent.
As with all medications or treatments, there are some adverse side effects associated with cannabis. Possible negative side effects of cannabis include dizziness, dry eyes and mouth, paranoia, headaches, and more.
Aside from acting as a natural muscle relaxant, other benefits that cannabis may provide include:
- Reduced vomiting and nausea
- Increased appetite
- Relief from stress
- Relief from anxiety
- Sedative effects (to help with insomnia)
Can You Mix Muscle Relaxers and Weed?
Using weed or cannabis alongside muscle relaxants is not recommended because the side effects of cannabis and muscle relaxants are very similar.
For example, they cause dizziness, drowsiness, and dry mouth and can sometimes reduce blood pressure. Therefore, when cannabis is mixed with muscle relaxants, these side effects may become more uncomfortable or severe.
If you have any concerns about cannabis interacting with muscle relaxants or another type of medication, it would be best to discuss this with your doctor, as they might be able to offer alternatives or a different solution.
If you are using cannabis for muscle relaxation, it’s unlikely that you will require muscle relaxants for additional support. Either cannabis or muscle relaxants on their own should be adequate to get the job done. If not, the issue may need to be discussed in further detail with a doctor in case of another underlying problem.
Best Strains for Muscle Soreness and Spasms
Some strains (cultivars, chemotypes) are better suited than others for muscle relaxation. Depending on the symptoms you experience, you may find that one strain mentioned here is more suited than another.
However, most of the effects are related to the amount of THC, CBD, and CBG. Therefore, it could be a matter of finding the right strain with the proper ratio of these specific cannabinoids.
Great White Shark
Great White Shark may not contain much CBD, but it typically contains 20% THC. Despite that, users have recommended this strain for muscle stiffness and soreness.
Sour Cheese typically contains 23% THC and small amounts of CBD. However, it makes up for the lack of CBD by offering 3% CBG, which eases muscle pain and inflammation.
Cherry Wine is a strain that has more CBD than THC, at a ratio of 19:1. This non-intoxicating strain is packed with CBD, and some users may find that this ratio works better for them.
Ringo’s Gift is another good strain to consider due to its higher CBD content — some variations have a ratio as high as 24:1 CBD to THC. Additionally, more CBD and less THC may reduce the chances of feeling an intoxicating high if that is something you wish to avoid.
If you struggle to find the perfect strain, you could try mixing two different cannabis strains. For example, you could combine a strain that has a high amount of THC with a strain that has a high amount of CBD.
The Bottom Line
Muscle relaxants are a class of drugs that can relieve the muscles by easing tension, spasms, cramps, and spasticity. While cannabis is not typically classified as a muscle relaxant, it can have similar effects. Additionally, cannabis also offers a range of other therapeutic effects that could also be of benefit.
If you’re interested in using medical cannabis to relieve chronic pain or muscle cramps, sign up for your medical marijuana card today.
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