CBD Oil For Restless Legs

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Clinical studies on the use of medical cannabis in restless legs syndrome are very few and far between. Nevertheless, these few studies are promising. One of the sweetest parts of a long day is jumping into your comfy bed, feeling your body get heavy, and drifting off to sleep. For those who suffer from restless leg syndrome (RLS), this is almost impossible without the help of medication. With more research emerging about the potential benefits of cannabidiol (CBD) t

Restless Legs Syndrome: Medical cannabis as a therapy option

People with restless legs syndrome (RLS) complain of a strong urge to move their legs at night. Mostly also about tingling and aching legs. This is known as restless legs syndrome (RLS), a frequently occurring neurological disease.

The study situation regarding the therapy with medical cannabis for movement disorders is not yet clear. However, the results so far are promising.

Restless Legs Syndrome: typical symptoms

As its name suggests, the main symptom of this condition is to have restless legs. Those people affected by restless legs syndrome feel the urge to move their legs constantly. In addition, unpleasant feelings or sensations such as pulling or tingling in the legs can also occur. Frequently, cramp-like complaints and pain also occur.

Basically, patients experience RLS differently. While for some the urge to move is particularly agonizing, others suffer more from the sensations. In addition, both legs are not always affected at the same time. Thus, the complaints can occur in only one leg or they occur alternating in both legs.

However, it is typical for RLS that the symptoms worsen in sitting and lying down. Movements, on the other hand, provide relief. The following symptoms may also accompany the disease:

  • Difficulty falling asleep and sleeping through the night
  • Tiredness during the day
  • Exhaustion
  • Concentration disorders

Restless Legs Syndrome: What are the causes?

So far, the exact causes have not been clarified. Researchers suspect that the dopamine metabolism in the brain might be disturbed – similar to Parkinson’s disease, which also causes movement disorders. As a result of this disorder, the transmission of nerve signals can be defective. But a disturbance in the brain stem and cerebellum could also be the cause.

An inherited component may also be a possible cause. In the meantime, a gene has been identified that could be involved in the development of the neurological disease. However, the exact connections have not yet been clarified. It is also questionable whether this is the sole cause.

What forms of restless legs syndrome are there?

RLS distinguishes between the following two forms:

  • Primary Restless Legs Syndrome (idiopathic form): The causes are not known here.
  • Secondary restless legs syndrome: In the secondary form, the disease occurs as a result of other diseases. For example, the diseases diabetes mellitus, polyneuropathy, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s syndrome or thyroid dysfunction can trigger RLS. However, vitamin B12 deficiency, folic acid deficiency or iron deficiency can also be the cause.

What medications can cause restless legs syndrome?

It is now known that certain drugs can also trigger or even aggravate the syndrome. This is especially true for drugs that interfere with the brain metabolism. These include, for example, drugs with a mood-lifting effect (antidepressants).

Restless Legs Syndrome: diagnosis and therapy

The diagnosis is based on the typical RLS symptoms:

  • The urge to move the legs only manifests itself at rest.
  • The urge to move increases in resting phases.
  • Sensations such as tingling, pulling or pain in the legs occur.
  • The RLS symptoms are more pronounced in the evening or at night.

In addition, a blood test is carried out to rule out possible deficiencies. An extensive neurological examination is also necessary.

To confirm the diagnosis, doctors often carry out a so-called L-Dopa test. If the RLS symptoms improve while taking L-Dopa, this can confirm the diagnosis. If the symptoms do not improve, this does not mean yet that RLS is not present. This is because the connections between RLS and dopamine metabolism have not yet been definitively clarified.

The treatment of restless legs depends on how severe the symptoms are and how much the patient suffers. If it is possible triggering diseases have been excluded, the patient can be prescribed an L-dopa preparation (e.g. levodopa). It is also possible to combine the active substances levodopa and benserazide, as well as drug therapy with dopamine agonists (e.g. ropinirole, pramipexole or rotigotine). Dopamine agonists can imitate the messenger substance dopamine and thus develop a dopamine-like effect.

If it is a very pronounced and painful form of RLS, patients are sometimes prescribed anti-epileptic drugs or strong painkillers (opioids).

What helps against restless legs syndrome?

If the syndrome is mild to moderate, patients can help themselves with various measures. For example, many RLS patients report that foot baths, alternating showers and leg massages can alleviate the symptoms. Stretching exercises and regular sport can also help to alleviate symptoms. Patients should also avoid alcohol, caffeinated drinks and nicotine before going to bed, as these substances can increase the symptoms.

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Furthermore, the intake of vitamin B12, folic acid and iron could also have a beneficial effect. However, this should be discussed in advance with the doctor treating you.

Medical cannabis as a therapy option

Clinical studies on the use of medical cannabis in restless legs syndrome are very few and far between. Nevertheless, these few studies are promising. At the Université de Bordeaux in France there was a case study with six RLS patients who used cannabis to relieve the symptoms (1). Five of the patients reported that the symptoms disappeared almost completely after cannabis use. One patient even spoke of complete remission. The patients further explained that the quality of sleep improved significantly under cannabis use.

Interesting is also a study from the Universidad Complutense de Madrid. It is known that cannabinoids from the cannabis plant such as delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) interact with the cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2 receptors) of the endocannabinoid system. The researchers found indications that this could also regulate dopamine release. This dopamine regulation has already been shown to be effective in the treatment of movement disorders, for example in Parkinson’s disease.

Cannabidiol (CBD) against restless legs

Various studies suggest that the non-psychoactive cannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD) may relieve symptoms such as tremor, anxiety and sleep disturbances. The use of CBD in restless legs syndrome could be considered as a solution to the anxiety and sleep problems (2).

With regard to CBD and movement disorders, the study results are inconclusive. For example, in one study, Parkinson’s patients did not experience symptom relief from CBD therapy (3). The researchers believe that CBD might play less of a therapeutic role, but could be used preventively in Parkinson’s Disease. Further research is needed, however.

Conclusion

The current study data are not yet sufficient to draw conclusions regarding the movement disorders associated with restless legs syndrome. Despite the widespread publicity about the medical benefits of cannabinoids, further pre-clinical and clinical studies are necessary to better characterize the pharmacological and therapeutic effects.

(1) Département de Neurophysiologie Clinique, France, Megelin T1, Ghorayeb I2, 2017, “Cannabis for restless legs syndrome: a report of six patients”

Alexandra Latour verfügt über langjähre Erfahrungen als Autorin im medizinischen Bereich. Ab dem Jahr 2017 hat sie sich als Medical Writer auf das Thema Cannabis als Medizin spezialisiert und war für Leafly Deutschland tätig.

What Research Suggests: CBD For Restless Legs

One of the sweetest parts of a long day is jumping into your comfy bed, feeling your body get heavy, and drifting off to sleep. For those who suffer from restless leg syndrome (RLS), this is almost impossible without the help of medication.

With more research emerging about the potential benefits of cannabidiol (CBD) to support relaxation, discomfort in the muscles, and stress management, many people with RLS are turning towards CBD as a natural way to help them get a more restful sleep.

This article will investigate what the scientific literature says about CBD for RLS and how people are using it to manage their symptoms.

What Is Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS)?

Also known as Willis-Ekbom disease, restless leg syndrome is classified as a One of the sweetest parts of a long day is getting to lay down and your comfy bed, feel your body get heavy, and drift off to sleep. For those who suffer from restless leg syndrome (RLS), this is almost impossible without the help of medication.

With more research emerging about the potential benefits of cannabidiol (CBD) to support relaxation, discomfort in the muscles, and stress management, many people with RLS are turning towards CBD as a natural way to help them get a more restful sleep.

This article will investigate what the scientific literature says about CBD for RLS and how people are using it to manage their symptoms.

What Is Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS)?

Also known as Willis-Ekbom disease, restless leg syndrome is classified as a neurological sleep and movement disorder.

RLS usually affects people in the evenings before bed when they feel an extremely uncomfortable urge and deep aching to move their feet, legs, hands, arms, and even neck as they’re trying to sleep. The only relief they can get from this gnawing feeling is to move, but it can keep them up all night tossing and turning.

One of the strange things about this condition is that it’s almost exclusive to the evenings when one is trying to sleep, and it disappears the next morning. It’s common for people suffering from restless leg to sleep more in the day to catch up on the hours lost at night.

Restless legs syndrome is diagnosed into two categories:

1. Primary Restless Legs

Primary restless legs syndrome is idiopathic, which means it does not have a known cause, and it’s often left undiagnosed in many people. Some researchers suggest that it may be linked to genetics or low iron levels in the brain [1].

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2. Secondary Restless Legs

Secondary restless legs are accompanied by other conditions such as Parkinson’s syndrome, thyroid dysfunction, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, pregnancy, or polyneuropathy.

Symptoms Of Restless Leg Syndrome

A doctor may diagnose a patient with restless leg syndrome or Willis Ekbom disease if they present with the following symptoms:

  • The urge to move limbs when resting
  • Tingling, pulling, or pain in the legs
  • More pronounced symptoms in the evenings
  • Aching legs after sitting or laying down
  • Constant motion, massage, bed-tossing to temporarily relieve symptoms

Your doctor may carry out a blood test to rule out possible vitamin and mineral deficiencies, and sometimes, a neurological examination is conducted. Another common test is the L-Dopa test, a reliable test that examines motor control symptoms related to Parkinson’s disease.

If the patient’s RLS symptoms improve while on L-dopa, it may suggest they have Parkinson’s or confirm RLS. However, if there are no improvements, doctors aren’t always quick to cross off RLS as a possibility as the relation between dopamine metabolism and this condition is still not well understood.

How Is Restless Legs Syndrome Treated?

Restless leg syndrome treatments can vary, depending on the severity of symptoms, but they will always include forms of self-care such as exercise recommendations and lifestyle changes to reduce stress on the body, such as quitting caffeine, alcohol, and smoking, along with relaxation techniques like meditation, breathing exercising, and yoga.

For more severe cases of restless legs syndrome, a patient may be prescribed medication such as L-dopa (Levodopa) to stimulate dopamine activity in the brain and nerve pain medication (opioids) to support comfort [2].

The FDA Has Not Approved CBD For Restless Legs Syndrome

While you’ll find many people on online forums raving about how CBD oil has helped them manage their RLS symptoms, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved any CBD product on the market to treat RLS.

And if you’re suffering from severe restless leg syndrome, you should visit your doctor for medical advice before turning to CBD as an option.

CBD is the primary active compound in hemp cannabis plants, and its main interaction occurs in the endocannabinoid system, which is tasked with maintaining homeostasis (balance) to help our vital functions perform optimally.

Research surrounding CBD’s use in medicine has been growing, but it’s still in its early days. We’ll get into some of CBD’s potential to support the symptoms associated with restless leg syndrome below.

CBD May Support Healthy Dopamine Levels In The Brain

While it’s not definitive, some evidence correlates restless leg syndrome with low dopamine levels in the brain.

Dopamine is a hormone with a lot of jobs. One of them is to regulate purposeful muscle movement and coordination by modulating the motor control center in the brain (basal ganglia). It’s been observed that any disruptions in this pathway could result in involuntary movements like tremors associated with Parkinson’s disease.

Endogenous cannabinoids (produced internally) help keep the dopamine system in balance. CBD supports the endocannabinoid system (ECS) by preventing the release of enzymes that break down cannabinoids.

These higher cannabinoids are like boosting your wi-fi signal to relay messages throughout the body much more efficiently.

CBD is also suggested to directly support the mesolimbic dopamine system, which is responsible for our motivation, reward-related motor function, and learning [3].

CBD May Support Sleep Quality In Those Who Suffer From RLS

Insomnia is extremely prevalent in patients with RLS. The constant urge to move limbs at rest can leave them pacing their bedrooms or tossing and turning all night.

For most people, the symptoms seem to disappear in the day, and they can catch up on those lost hours of sleep—but that’s not always practical as there are commitments like school, work, caring for loved ones, and appointments to tend to in the day.

One of the popular reasons many people seek out CBD oil is to support restful sleep naturally. At large doses before bed, CBD may cause whole-body relaxation that primes the body for rest [4].

Another cannabinoid that has been gaining popularity for sleep support is CBN or cannabinol. It’s a minor cannabinoid that, when combined with CBD, shows greater potential for producing a sense of calm and relaxation that may help with restful sleep.

CBD May Help With Discomfort

People who experience more severe symptoms of restless leg syndrome report pain like pins and needles—kind of like that feeling you get when your foot falls asleep—which is likely caused by irritation of the nerves.

Doctors may prescribe RLS patients opioids to help mitigate the discomfort to help them fall asleep, but powerful opioids may not always be ideal as they’re highly addictive and come with a host of other side effects.

Many people find that CBD can provide them with gentle comfort for muscle-related soreness thanks to the endocannabinoid’s broad-acting effects of regulating our perception of pain.

There are currently no FDA-approved CBD products that contain CBD alone to manage pain, but research suggests that CBD combined with THC may prove effective in alleviating some muscle and nerve-related pain symptoms when taken in large doses [5].

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CBD May Support Healthy Stress Levels

Stress is a common trigger for restless leg syndrome. Many patients report experiencing more severe symptoms during periods of stress in their lives, which is why many natural-based treatments for RLS involve stress management.

While stress is an important biological process in our central nervous system (CNS) designed for survival and motivation, too much stress is bad for us.

CBD has been down to activate the 5-HT1A serotonin receptors in the CNS, which moderates anxiety and nausea [5]. CBD oil in high doses has also been shown to affect GABA activity in the brain [6].

GABA is a neurotransmitter that counteracts the stress response brought on by cortisol. Higher levels of GABA in the brain helps to calm the central nervous system to enter the rest-and-digest mode.

How Do People Use CBD For Restless Leg?

Before you consider taking CBD oil for restless leg syndrome, you should consult your doctor to ensure it won’t cause any negative interactions with prescribed medications.

CBD is a versatile compound that’s now found in various products online and over-the-counter, from oils, capsules, gummies, lotions, and vape products. It’s important to know that what works for one person may not work for the next as CBD may affect individuals differently.

Based on anecdotal experiences of CBD oil users who suffer from restless leg syndrome, here are some pointers for shopping and using CBD oil effectively.

1. High Doses Of CBD

The studies conducted on the effectiveness of CBD towards sleep, discomfort, and stress used high doses of CBD upwards of 60MG per day.

If it’s your first time with CBD oil, you probably don’t want to dive too far into the deep end too fast, or you could end up with uncomfortable side effects. But you want a CBD product that will give you versatility in your dosing.

Our ultra-high potency 12,000MG CBD oil is perfect for this as it’s the most cost-effective option too. It delivers 200MG of CBD extract in every dropper full—but you can scale your doses as needed drop by drop.

2. Use Full Spectrum CBD Oil

Not all CBD extracts are made the same.

On the market, you’ll find two common types of hemp extract—full spectrum hemp extract, sometimes called whole-hemp extract, and CBD isolate, which only contains CBD.

Many experts agree that full spectrum CBD extracts will deliver the most potent effects as it contains a range of minor cannabinoids and terpenes to amplify and balance CBD’s actions in the body.

Full spectrum CBD extracts may have up to 0.3% THC, according to the US Farm Bill. While THC is federally legal, some states have strict restrictions around the compound, even in these trace quantities. Others may also want to steer clear from THC altogether due to sensitivities or potential medication interactions.

The next best option is broad spectrum CBD extracts. While less common, these extracts still contain other cannabinoids and terpenes but have undergone extra processing to eliminate traces of THC.

3. Take CBD Topically

Many people who need fast relief from restless leg syndrome will use ahigh-strength CBD topicallike a muscle rub or massage oil to deliver the benefits of CBD straight to the area of discomfort.

CBD topicals don’t enter the bloodstream. Instead, it interacts with the endocannabinoid receptors in the skin to support homeostasis. Unlike ingesting or smoking CBD, you can use CBD topicals as frequently as needed without the risk of discomfort associated with high doses of CBD like nausea, headaches, dizziness, and drowsiness.

The Takeaway: Can CBD Oil Help With Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS)?

The research specific to CBD for restless leg isn’t sufficient, but we can expect more pre-clinical and clinical studies to investigate. Despite this, many people are still turning towards hemp-based cannabinoid use to improve one’s quality of life living with RLS and other movement disorders.

If you plan on using CBD for RLS, please check with your doctor first to ensure it’s safe and recommended for you.

The best treatments for RLS combine a mix of lifestyle changes, natural therapies, and doctor-prescribed medications to help alleviate severe symptoms. For example, RLS patients find that foot baths, massages, stress reduction therapies, and avoiding caffeine and alcohol help their condition.

You can check out our blog for more articles like this and how you can use CBD to support your health and wellness. You can also sign up to our Insider Scoop email list to receive industry updates straight to your inbox with exclusive Neurogan product offers.

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