Treating Spasticity with CBD – Benefits & Effects

Spasticity is a muscle control disorder that results in stiff and tight muscles as well as the inability to control those muscles. This condition, which happens as a result of continuous contraction of the muscles may interfere with normal movement, speech, and gait. According to researchers, spasticity is usually caused by damage to the portion of the brain or spinal cord that is responsible for controlling voluntary movements of the body. This damage often results in a change in the balance of signal between the nervous system and the muscles, thereby leading to increased activities in the muscles.

Spasticity generally affects muscles and joints of extremities and that explains why it is particularly very harmful to growing children. This condition is common as it affects approximately 12 million people worldwide. Moreover, about 80 percent of both people with cerebral palsy and multiple sclerosis experience varying degrees of spasticity. That being said, other conditions that may cause spasticity include traumatic brain injury (TBI), spinal cord injury (SCI), stroke, meningitis, brain damage caused by lack of oxygen, Encephalitis, Adrenoleukodystrophy, Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease) and Phenylketonuria.

The most common symptoms of spasticity include overactive reflexes, increased muscle tone, pain, abnormal posture, bone and joint deformities, involuntary movements such as spasms, difficulties with care and hygiene, decreased functional abilities, delayed motor skills development, as well as contractures. Spasticity could also result in complications, such as chronic constipation, urinary tract infection, pressure sores as well as fever.

There are several treatment options available for spasticity, but they must be evaluated on a case by case basis. The common treatment options include oral medications such as Baclofen, Benzodiazepines, and Dantrolene sodium, as well as physical and occupational therapies. In some cases, surgery may be recommended for people suffering from spasticity.

Over the years, there has been mounting scientific evidence that CBD, one of the major components in medical marijuana could effectively treat spasticity. According to a 2012 report in Expert Review of Neurotherapeutics, a cannabis based drug known as Sativex could effectively treat spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis. It should be noted that this drug, which is in the form of an oromucosal spray contains an approximately 1:1 ratio of CBD to THC. This drug has been approved for the treatment of spasticity caused by multiple sclerosis in up to 21 countries of the world. Even though this drug contains the same quantities of CBD and THC, it still points towards the direction that CBD could be effective in treating spasticity.

The results from another research that was presented at the 2019 American Academy of Neurology Annual Meeting, held May 4-10, in Philadelphia, also buttressed the claims that Sativex, could improve the symptoms of spasticity in people suffering from multiple sclerosis. The authors of this study aimed at evaluating real-life, long-term efficacy outcomes of the THC:CBD oromucosal spray to treat a large population of Italian patients with treatment-resistant Multiple Sclerosis spasticity. During this study, spasticity was assessed using a numerical rating scale (0-10) at baseline, 1 month, 6 months, 12 months, and 18 months after the initiation of treatment. The authors, however observed that after 1 month, 80 percent of the patients experienced improvement in numerical rating scale for spasticity. The findings nonetheless prompted the researchers to conclude that CBD, just like THC contains elements that could effectively treat spasticity.

Nevertheless, it is evident that there is yet to be a study that focuses solely on the effectiveness of CBD in treating spasticity. Most of the available studies focus on either a CBD and THC combination or on the entire medical marijuana’s effectiveness in curbing this condition. Thus, there is a need for more investigations that solely targets the effectiveness of CBD in treating spasticity.


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