When we use our muscles for exercise or general daily activity, they can go through microscopic damage in the form of small tears. This leads to delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) which leads to pain and muscle fatigue. When our muscles are damaged in this way, it can lead to inflammation. It is difficult for the muscles to repair until this inflammation has calmed down.
Many studies support the idea that CBD can be an excellent anti-inflammatory. If this is the case, then CBD will be able to aid faster muscle recovery, and reduce fatigue. A 2018 review looked at 132 studies into the use of CBD for muscle health . It was concluded that CBD can indeed reduce inflammation in the body when taken orally, or rubbed onto the skin in the form of a CBD topical product.
Whilst inflammation can cause pain, discomfort, and slower recovery times, it can actually also help to stimulate muscle recovery. It is thought that CBD may actually be able to reduce most of the unhelpful inflammation, without compromising its benefits towards the recovery process . CBD has been shown to inhibit a wide range of inflammatory molecules, but it has little effect on reducing TGF-β and IL-10, and in some studies it was even shown to increase IL-10. IL-10 is an inflammatory molecule that plays an important role in the activation of new muscle cells . This essentially means it enhances the muscle’s ability to recover. This may explain why CBD could be such an effective anti inflammatory - it may allow for the promotion of muscle recovery, whilst relieving the negative effects of inflammation.
Additionally, CBD may help relieve muscle tension which is another symptom of DOMS. Tension in the affected muscles can cause even more pain, which can make it even harder for you to get back to exercising and general movement. Studies have shown that CBD can have an effect on GABA-A receptors, which are a key indicator of muscle relaxation. CBD enhances the receptors’ ability to bind to GABA (gamma-Aminobutyric acid). GABA is the main inhibitory neurotransmitter in the central nervous system. Drugs like valium and benzodiazepines interact with these receptors in a similar way, which produces relaxing and anxiety reducing effects. These relaxants are often used by athletes to help deal with muscle tension, but they can have very negative risks and side effects. CBD changes the shape of the GABA-A receptor in a way that amplifies the natural calming effects of GABA, which can lead to relaxation in the muscles and reduced tension .
MS Induced Muscle Spasticity
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) can cause muscle spasticity in many sufferers. It is thought that CBD can enhance the body's ability to manage this symptom of MS. Studies suggest that people who suffer with MS induced muscle spasticity have different levels of natural cannabinoids in their body compared to those without. It has been suggested that they have lower levels of anandamide; a cannabinoid that helps to manage inflammation and pain. CBD may work by allowing the body to retain more anandamide through slowing down the breakdown of cannabinoids in the body . After multiple studies into the effectiveness of CBD for MS induced muscle spasticity, a CBD/THC drug called Sativex can actually now be prescribed by the NHS to some patients .