Whether it’s due to a tough workout, an injury, or even just day-to-day life, your muscles can sometimes feel less than their best. But when your muscles get sore, stiff, painful, or twitchy, could marijuana help them feel better? Many cannabis users would say yes. People across the world have used cannabis to ease muscle pain, help with muscle recovery, and calm muscle spasms.
So, why do people use marijuana for their muscle growth? How does marijuana affect muscle growth? Below, we’re answering these questions and more. We go over everything you need to know about marijuana and muscle growth.
Cannabis for Muscle Pain
Cannabis has been used as a holistic treatment for pain for thousands of years. And today, cannabis is still easily one of the most popular alternative treatments for pain. People use cannabis to address numerous types of pain. Including nerve pain, arthritic pain, pain caused by injuries, and muscle pain.
People often use cannabis to treat their muscle pain. It Gives us some anecdotal evidence that cannabis may ease muscle pain. Then, plenty of scientific studies have also found that cannabis and CBD products appear to reduce pain in the muscles and other parts of the body. However, while it seems clear that cannabis may reduce pain in the muscles, we don’t know exactly how or why this may happen. Since there just hasn’t been enough research done on the subject.
With that said, there are plenty of theories about how cannabis may affect muscle pain. That is based on other things we know about marijuana. Cannabis is known to have a relaxing effect on the muscles. Which some speculate could help release pain and tension in the muscles. Then, many studies suggest that cannabis and CBD could have anti-inflammatory properties. Other anti-inflammatory substances (such as over-the-counter NSAIDs) are known to relieve pain. So it’s thought that marijuana may reduce pain by reducing inflammation. Also, some studies show that cannabis and CBD may have a general balancing effect on the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The endocannabinoid system helps regulate pain sensation in the body. So some theorize that cannabinoids like CBD may help balance out feelings of pain by interacting with the ECS.
Cannabis for Muscle Spasms
Some very promising studies show that cannabis may reduce or eliminate muscle spasms. There’s actually been quite a lot of research done on using cannabis for muscle spasms. That has primarily come from scientists researching treatments for multiple sclerosis (MS), an autoimmune disease that affects the nervous system. A study from the University of South Carolina found that the cannabinoids in marijuana bind to cannabinoid receptors in the body and reduce the number of inflammatory proteins in the body. When there are fewer of these proteins in the body, muscle spasms reduce. A 2019 study specifically looked at cannabinoid ratios and muscle spasms and found that using a combination of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) effectively reduced muscle spasms.
In many parts of the world, there’s already a prescription form of cannabis that’s approved to treat muscle spasms and other MS symptoms: Sativex. Sativex, also called Nabiximols, is a combination of synthetic THC and synthetic CBD. It is currently available in 28 countries, including England, Spain, Australia, and Canada. The Sativex has not been approved by the US FDA for any medical use.
So it’s not currently available here in the United States. The only FDA-approved medication that contains any type of cannabinoid is Epiodolex, which has CBD as its active ingredient. Epiodolex is FDA-approved to treat two rare types of epilepsy: Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome. Interestingly, one of the hallmarks of Dravet syndrome is myoclonic seizures, which are involuntary muscle spasms. It’s notable that the one FDA-approved cannabinoid-based medication is meant to treat a condition that causes muscle spasms.
Cannabis for Muscle Recovery
After you work out, your muscles always need some recovery time as they repair and rebuild. There are a number of things you can do to speed up post-workout recovery. For example, drink plenty of water, rest, stretch, and get plenty of sleep.
Numerous professional athletes have said that they use either marijuana or hemp CBD to speed up their recovery time. Some examples are hockey player Riley Cote, triathlete Andrew Talansky, and UFC Middleweight champion Frank Shamrock. Many non-professional athletes and fitness lovers have also shared that they use cannabis to aid recovery. They said that it reduces muscle pain, decreases delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), and shortens the time they need to wait in between workouts.
Research-wise, there’s not much science that can help us understand why cannabis may help with muscle recovery. This is an understudied topic. However, we do know that NSAIDs also tend to help speed up muscle recovery by providing anti-inflammatory effects. The theory that cannabis seems to have anti-inflammatory properties is fairly widely accepted in the scientific community. So, the fact that cannabis may be anti-inflammatory could be why so many people say it helps with muscle recovery.
Different Types of Cannabis and Your Muscles
Cannabinoid Ratios and the Muscles
Different strains and cannabis products can have very different cannabinoid ratios. For example, one strain of flower may be high in THC and low CBD. While another strain of flower may be low in THC and high in CBD. Then, other strains may have balanced THC to CBD ratios. There are also CBD products that will have little to no THC. So, is a certain cannabinoid ratio better for treating your muscles?
It seems like a wide variety of cannabinoid ratios, including just CBD alone, can have benefits for the muscles. It’s hard to say if one cannabinoid profile would be better than the other for treating the muscles.
While we’ll have to wait on future research to fully understand if certain cannabinoid ratios may be better for the muscles, we’d guess that it’s likely that this will vary from person to person (at least a little bit). The same cannabinoid ratio doesn’t always have the same effect from person to person. The cannabinoid profile in a product that two people use may be the same, but those two people are different. Cannabinoids affect the body by interacting with the endocannabinoid system and, ultimately, everyone’s endocannabinoid system is different. So, finding the cannabinoid ratio that works best for you can sometimes take trial and error. Since you need to see how your unique body reacts to certain ratios.
Cannabis Delivery Methods and Muscles
If you want to try using cannabis for muscle pain, muscle spasms, or muscle recovery, you can use cannabis. That would affect your entire body, such as flower, an edible, or a cannabis tincture. Or, you can go for a localized effect and use cannabis topical or a CBD topical. Topical cannabis products, such as cannabis-infused balms or CBD creams, only affect the area where you apply them. It allows you to address specific pain points. Cannabis topicals also work much more quickly than other types of cannabis. So they can also be a great option if you want fast relief. Whether cannabis topical or a product is right for you depends on your unique muscles.
Bodybuilding and Marijuana: Does Marijuana Affect Muscle Growth?
Over the last few years, there’s been a lot of buzz around marijuana and bodybuilding. Marijuana has been a part of bodybuilding culture for a long time. Many would point to the famous video of Arnold Schwarzenneger using cannabis after his sixth Mr. Olympia victory as an example of cannabis in the bodybuilding culture. However, recently, the chatter on cannabis and bodybuilding is not about it being a part of the social culture. But about whether or not marijuana could help a lifter achieve bodybuilding goals. Much of the community’s discussion on marijuana and muscle growth has been focused on four things: testosterone levels, appetite, muscle recovery, and performance.
Some bodybuilders are concerned about how marijuana may affect testosterone, which is responsible for increased muscle mass. There have been some studies that looked at cannabis and testosterone production. So that may be why this is a conversation topic among lifters. However, the results of the current studies on cannabis and testosterone production have been inconclusive. Some research suggests that marijuana use may lead to a slight, temporary drop in testosterone levels in infrequent cannabis users, while marijuana use may have little to no effect on the testosterone levels of regular cannabis users. But as of right now, there’s little information that shows how cannabis may or may not interact with testosterone.
How Cannabis May Affect Appetite and Muscle Recovery
Some other hot topics in the bodybuilding community include how cannabis may affect appetite and muscle recovery. Certain strains of cannabis are known to stimulate the appetite. If weight gain is a goal for you, this could be a good thing if you can stick to eating the foods in your nutrition plan. It could also be a bad thing if you tend to reach for junk food when you get the munchies. So, whether having a stimulated appetite is good or bad for a bodybuilder could vary from lifter to lifter. We went over the anecdotal evidence that cannabis and CBD products may help post-workout recovery. Many athletes and fitness enthusiasts have extolled the benefits of cannabis for muscle recovery. As they said that it can provide pain relief, lessen DOMs symptoms, and speed up recovery time.
We have the issue of using cannabis as a pre-workout aid. There hasn’t been much research on whether or not you should use marijuana before working out. However, the little research that exists on the subject suggests that cannabis use doesn’t provide any performance benefits. We could say that THC would probably be harmful to athletic performance. THC, the element of the cannabis plant that causes psychoactive effects. It can impair judgment, reduce concentration, decrease reaction time, and impair coordination. All things you don’t want if you’ll be lifting. It’s probably safe to say that if you’re a bodybuilder who wants to use cannabis, it may be better to consume your cannabis after your workout, rather than before it.
Final Thoughts on the Effects of Marijuana on the Muscles
As of right now, we still need more research to get a full understanding of how marijuana affects muscle growth. Current research and anecdotal evidence suggest that marijuana may just be a healthy, relaxed muscle’s best friend. But we’ll have to wait for future research to know exactly how cannabis affects the muscles.
In the meantime, if you have any questions about cannabis, using cannabis for your muscles, or about any of the cannabis products we carry, please feel free to reach out! You can get in touch with us through our website or by calling your closest Essence Dispensary location.