Easing Muscle Spasms with Medical Marijuana

A muscle spasm is a sudden, involuntary contraction of a muscle. Anyone
who has suffered through a "Charlie horse", a sudden tight cramping of
the thigh muscle, has experienced a muscle spasm. Most people will
suffer a transitory muscle spasm or "cramp" on occasion throughout their
lives, but others will have ongoing occurrences. Muscle spasms and
spasticity are symptoms of various chronic debilitating diseases, most
notably multiple sclerosis (MS), cerebral palsy, ALS (Amyotrophic
Lateral Sclerosis, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease), and
Tourette’s Syndrome. Muscle spasms also occur due to spinal nerve
injuries and stroke, and they are associated with paraplegia. While
conventional treatment offers small benefit with a risk of serious side
effects, medical marijuana shows
promise
as a safe and
effective treatment for muscle spasms associated with these debilitating
conditions.

Current Treatment Options

Conventional treatment for muscle spasms generally consists of muscle
relaxants
or
barbiturates, both of which have high potential for abuse and a long
list of serious side effects. Common side effects include nausea,
dizziness, fatigue, gastrointestinal disturbance, memory problems, and
muscle weakness. More dangerous side effects can include slowed
heartbeat and shallow breathing, seizures, hallucinations, and sudden
muscle weakness. Serious allergic reactions are a possibility, and coma
and death have been reported.

Cannabis for Muscle Spasms

MS patients, including high-profile personalities such as talk show host
Montel Williams, have long regarded medical marijuana as an effective
treatment for symptoms. Although the mechanism of action isn’t
well-understood due to the historical limitations on cannabis research,
it is well-established that marijuana is effective for relieving muscle
spasms

and accompanying pain without the serious side effects associated with
conventional drugs. Theory states that cannabidiol, one of the active
chemical compounds in marijuana, "turns on" nerve receptors that affect
motor functioning. This makes it a plausible
treatment

for many conditions involving muscular spasms.

Cannabis-Derived Pharmaceutical Awaits Approval

British pharmaceutical company, GW Pharmaceuticals, has developed a
cannabis-derived MS drug which has so far been approved in 15 countries,
including Canada and Great Britain. The drug, called
Sativex, is a sublingual spray
that contains both THC and cannabidiol in a 1:1 ratio. Although it isn’t
currently available in the United States, it has been fast-tracked by
the FDA and is awaiting approval, hopefully by 2016.

Photo Credit.

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