Muscle Spasms—sudden, involuntary movements or convulsive muscular contractions—may affect many areas of the body and may be caused by numerous diseases, such as multiple sclerosis and other forms of sclerosis (hardening of tissue or the nervous system), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s Disease), cerebral palsy, atopic neurodermititis (chronic hardening of the skin), paraplegia, quadriplegia, cranial and spinal nerve injuries, and other neurological impairments such as Tourette’s Syndrome and symptoms caused by stroke. In addition, asthma is in part caused by spasms of muscle coating the smaller bronchi.[i]
In several human and animal studies, natural marijuana and synthetic delta-9 THC have each been found to relieve a broad range of muscle spasms.[ii] [iii] One 1990 double-blind trial comparing THC with codeine showed that both had an analgesic effect in comparison with a placebo, but, “only delta-9 THC showed a significant beneficial effect on spasticity.”[iv] Dozens of studies on human subjects have indicated that cannabis may be useful in treating various types of spastic conditions,[v] [vi] including cases where conventional treatments have failed.[vii]
Some patients find that cannabis is invaluable in alleviating the chronic debilitation of their uncontrollable muscle tremors.[viii] Patients suffering from severe spastic conditions have reported that cannabis actually keeps them alive.[ix] According to pharmacologist Daniele Piomelli, there is strong clinical evidence that the anandamide-boosting properties of THC might help alleviate symptoms of Tourette’s Syndrome.[x] Even the conservative American Medical Association has agreed: “Anecdotal, survey, and clinical data support the view that smoked marijuana and oral THC provide symptomatic relief in some patients with spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis or trauma.”[xi]
Unlike natural cannabis, powerful barbiturates and muscle relaxer currently in use for treatment of severe muscle spasms are known to have serious and life-threatening side effects.
Related sections: Multiple Sclerosis, Neuralgia, Replacement of Medications.
[i] Taber’s Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary. Philadelphia: F.A. Davis Company, 1987
[ii] Petro and Ellenberger, “Treatment of human spasticity with delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol.” Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, Vol. 21, pp. 431S-416S, 1981
[iii] Egli, Elsohly, Henn, and Spiess, “The effect of orally and rectally administered delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol on spasticity: A pilot study with two patients.” International Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, Vol. 34, No. 10, pp. 446-452, 1988
[iv] Dittrich and Hoffman, “Delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol shows antispastic and analgesic effects in a single case double-blind trial.” Maurer, Henn, European Archive of Psychiatry and Neurological Science, Vol. 240, No. 1, pp. 1-4, 1990
[v] Petro and Ellenberer, “References on multiple sclerosis and marijuana.” 1998, Source: Schaffer Library of Drug Policy, http://www.druglibrary.org
[vi] Gieringer, “An overview of human studies on medical use of marijuana.” 1994, Source: CANORML, http://www.norml.org/canorml
[vii] Pero, “Marijuana as a therapeutic agent for muscle spasm or spasticity.” (Case reports). 1980
[viii] Barnell, “Marijuana and spastic parapalegia.” Source: Grinspoon, www.rxmerijuana.com
[ix] Jordan, “The luckiest woman on Earth.” Highwitness News, High Times, No. 266, October 1997
[x] Stein, “Bits and Pieces.” Geriatric Psychiatry News, Issue 3, No. 7 June/July 1999
[xi] “American Medical Association House of Delegates Report.” December 9, 1997