Charlie horses are muscle spasms or cramps. Muscle cramping can be mildly irritating or severely debilitating, depending on their severity and frequency. A Charlie horse can occur in any muscle, day or night, but leg cramps are especially common in calf muscles, upper legs, and shins.
Most of the time, a Charlie horse is caused by a muscle or muscle group being tired or damaged. Exercising without enough hydration is a common cause, other causes of cramps include having mineral deficiencies, for example potassium or calcium. Both these minerals are essential to muscle movement, so when the muscle does not have enough, it causes muscle cramps. Poor circulation is another common cause.
By eating the right diet, keeping yourself fit, practicing stretches and massages before and after exercise and resting tired and damaged muscles, you can alleviate spasms and reduce the chance of developing a Charlie horse. Improving blood flow to muscle groups, not exercising in extreme heat or cold, keeping your stress levels down, and keeping hydrated are all essential to reduce the risk of Charlie horses.
However, one cause of Charlie horse is irritation to the nerve that controls the muscle. Herniated disks in the spinal column can trap or wear on nerves, causing spasticity and pain in the muscle. If your Charlie horses are persistent, this could be the cause. In that case, you should consult a doctor for the right treatment. There are anti-inflammatory drugs available, physical therapy, weight loss, and analgesics.
There is some evidence that charley horses could be treated by cannabis, but it does not come directly from people studying normal muscle spasms and cramps or sports medicine. The use of cannabis for relieving the symptoms of multiple sclerosis and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis has been studied. Because there is some overlap between common Charlie horses and the muscle spasticity that accompanies both MS and ALS, the results from these studies are useful for establishing whether cannabis could be effective for Charlie Horses.
Cannabis contains cannabinoids. These are chemicals that interact with the endocannabinoid system. This system is a vast array of nerve receptors that are found throughout the human body, especially in the brain and skin. It is involved in processes like metabolism, respiration, homeostasis, growth, mental health, and digestion. By adding extra cannabinoids into this system through the consumption of cannabis, the patient is altering how the ECS works.
The ECS is a vast and complicated system that is only just being properly discovered. Cannabinoids like THC and CBD appear to have regulatory effects on this system, especially when they are working in tandem. Both of these chemicals are present in relatively large quantities in many cannabis strains. So, consuming them in a safe way is the most efficient way of getting them into your body.
Evidence from recent studies has shown that some MS and ALS patients benefit from ingesting cannabis. Patients report that it works very well. At present, there is very little scientific data to back that up. However, it is a hugely popular choice of drug for people with these conditions. The reasons for it being popular are that it is generally an enjoyable drug to take, there are almost no side effects, mental cognition is not massively impaired, and it can be taken in a variety of ways that suit the patient.
Using cannabis is not without risks. Obviously, smoking anything is bad for you. Cannabis can be consumed orally, topically, or via vaporization. These three options are much healthier than smoking, and can deliver more acute effects.
By applying cannabis oil to the affected area, you are increasing the concentrations of cannabinoids in the tissue. This might help to reduce muscle spasm frequency and pain, though you will need to experiment to find out.
Vaping cannabis is not as risky as smoking it but it does have some risks associated with it. Vaping can still damage the lungs.
Eating cannabis in oil or food is one of the favoured ways of treating muscle contractions, spasticity and pain. It can take up to an hour and a half for the effects to kick in, but when they do, they are longer-lasting and are more effective than vaping or topical application for some people.
Regular cannabis use can affect the mind, impairing memory, cognitive functions, and problem solving skills. It also increases the risk of developing schizophrenia and psychosis, though this is very rare and usually associated with abuse of the drug, not a carefully controlled treatment plan.
If you think that medical cannabis could help your Charlie horse, you should talk to your doctor about using it. They can help you find the most effective treatments. Remember that medical cannabis is still illegal in much of the United States, so check out the laws in your state before you make any decisions.