Move over aloe vera and ashwagandha; there's a new healing herb in town: cannabidiol. Better known by its buzzy nickname, CBD, the naturally occurring chemical compound is just about everywhere these days. You can find it in balms, tinctures, gummies, and capsules — even coffee drinks sold at small-town cafes. We're also starting to see CBD creep its way onto cocktail menus all over the country.
Needless to say, cannabidiol is having a moment right now. And with possible benefits ranging from anxiety relief to sleep support — it's easy to see why. But can the purported miracle compound help with leg cramps, too? We'll tell you.
Read on to get the scoop on CBD and find out if it's right for you.
What Exactly Is CBD?
CBD is one of more than 100 naturally occurring chemical compounds found in cannabis plants — which include both industrial hemp and marijuana. Unlike its close cousin, tetrahydrocannabinol (or THC), CBD doesn't cause a psychoactive effect (AKA, it won't get you "high").
Is CBD Safe and Legal?
First, is CBD legal? The answer is – it depends on where you live — and whether the CBD derives from industrial hemp or marijuana. According to the Farm Bill of 2018, industrial hemp is legal. So any CBD that comes from hemp (which is grown to have less than 0.3 percent THC) is A-OK. CBD from the marijuana plant, on the other hand, is legal in only some states.
Now, as far as safety is concerned, the World Health Organization (WHO) says that cannabidiol does not appear to have the potential to cause harm. In fact, there is no evidence of health-related problems associated with the use of pure CBD to date.
That said, it can produce minor side effects for some people, including irritability, nausea, restlessness, and fatigue. It may also interact with certain medications and supplements, so be sure to check with your primary healthcare provider before use.
What Are Leg Cramps?
Charley horse, spasms, muscle fits — whatever you call them, there's no denying that leg cramps can be excruciating. They predominantly affect the calf muscles, though they can also occur in the hamstrings, feet, and thighs.
More often than not, leg cramps last just a few moments before the muscle loosens and becomes relaxed, but this can leave pain and tenderness in the affected area for up to 24 hours after.
This pain can vary from person to person. For some, it feels like a clenched, contracted muscle tightened into a knot that feels no worse than a stubbed toe. For others, the pain can be severely uncomfortable and even unbearable.
What Causes Leg Cramps?
While it may seem as though there’s always a cause for a specific condition, this isn't exactly the case for leg cramps. In fact, many people don't know why they get them — they just do. These are called idiopathic leg cramps.
That said, there are also secondary leg cramps, which are usually a potential symptom of a more severe condition or underlying issue, such as:
- Too much muscle strain
- Muscle stiffness
- Inadequate stretching before physical exertion
- Liver disease
Leg cramps are also pretty common during pregnancy, often striking in the wee hours of the night during the second and third trimesters. This could be due to carrying extra weight, metabolism changes, fluctuating hormones, or even a vitamin deficiency, but the truth is that nobody really knows.
What we do know, though, is that our Organic Magnesium Lotion seems to help.
Made with just six organic ingredients, our organic sleepy body lotion is a coveted moms-to-be secret that can help calm your body and mind for a restful night's sleep. Simply apply 2-3 teaspoons of lotion onto areas of pain or cramping before it's time to hit the hay and catch some much-needed Zzzs — pain-free.
When Should I See a Doctor?
Dealing with leg cramps? Don't worry; they're not usually a cause for concern — especially when they follow periods of heavy use or exertion. But if you notice the intensity or frequency of your leg cramps increasing, it's probably a good idea to get checked out by a doctor.
Schedule an appointment with your primary if your cramps are consistent and accompanied by the symptoms listed below:
- Muscle weakness
- Swelling in the ankle or leg
- Skin discoloration
- Lingering pain
Can CBD Help Leg Cramps?
Without getting too technical, the human body contains an internal system (aka the endocannabinoid system) that is made up of cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2. Regardless of whether you use CBD, this incredible system is part of everyone's biology.
Endocannabinoids are cannabinoids that are made inside the body and help to regulate a number of functions and processes, including:
- Mood and emotion
- Immune response
In the same way that endocannabinoids interact with your body, cannabinoids from the cannabis plant (aka phytocannabinoids) do, too — including cannabidiol. They do this by interacting with the CB1 and CB2 receptors.
With this in mind, many studies have shown that CBD (a naturally-occurring cannabinoid found in plants) can interact with these receptors in the body to reduce inflammation and aid in pain relief.
So, can CBD help with leg cramps?
Since spasms are an inflammatory response, CBD may help with leg cramps, but more research is needed to make sure there aren’t any unwanted side effects.
Are There Alternative Solutions?
Don't want to use CBD? There are many other options to achieve relief from leg cramps — here are some of them:
- Take a warm bath. Not only is a warm bath oh-so relaxing, but it can help to loosen up cramped muscles, too. Make your bath extra indulgent with our Therapeutic Bath Salts.
- Apply ice. To reduce inflammation, try massaging your cramped muscle with ice.
- Stretch. Stretching boosts circulation, which can help relax the muscles. Gently rub the cramped area and lightly stretch the muscle.
- Drink water. The moment a painful cramp strikes, grab a tall glass of H2O — preferably with electrolytes. In a recent study, experts found that those who consumed electrolyte-enhanced water were less susceptible to leg cramps than those who didn’t adequately hydrate.
- Magnesium. There are a number of studies that suggest the use of magnesium to combat leg cramps — that's why we use pure magnesium in our Organic Sleepy Body Lotion. Simply lather some lotion onto the areas of pain and watch as your cramps slowly fade away.
So, can CBD help with leg cramps?
At present, clinical evidence that the naturally occurring compound can help with leg cramps is lacking. There is quite a bit of early research that indicates CBD has anti-inflammatory properties — and seeing as spasms are an inflammatory response, it makes perfect sense how the cannabinoid might be able to provide support.
That said, if you're one of the many moms-to-be struggling with leg cramps, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends steering clear of cannabis or any type of CBD product as it may cause harm to your developing baby. Instead, reach for a pregnancy-safe solution like our Organic Sleepy Body Lotion made with pure magnesium to combat restless legs and ease pain.
At the end of the day, the choice to use CBD is yours. Just be sure to talk with your doctor first to make sure it's a good fit for your unique health and wellness needs. While experts say pure CBD is generally safe, there is so much about the cannabinoid that is still unknown so it's wise to use it with care and under the guidance of a primary healthcare provider.