CBD Oil For Restless Legs

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Does CBD Oil Work for RLS? Restless legs syndrome is a neurological disorder that causes an uncontrollable and painful movement of the legs. What are the symptoms of restless legs syndrome? What are the benefits of CBD to combat this neurological disorder? Restless legs syndrome affects up to 15% of the population, yet no consistent treatment method exists. CBD for restless legs may change that!

CBD Oil for Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) – August 2022

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Why People are Using CBD for RLS

The overall movement of the legs characterizes the symptoms of RLS. Symptoms can be accompanied by aching, crawling, or itching sensations in the limbs. There can also be leg twitching, especially during sleep.

Studies show that CBD may be useful for chronic pain relief (4) and sleep improvement (5) . Other studies suggest that CBD may act as a neuroprotective agent that protects nerve cells from damage (6) .

CBD is the non-psychoactive property of cannabis. Unlike its counterpart, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD does not make people high.

Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is medically known as Willis-Ekbom Disease. It is a neurological dysfunction that causes an uncontrollable need to move the legs accompanied by unpleasant sensations. The irresistible urge to move the legs often escalates at night, resulting in a lack of sleep.

Studies show that those with brain iron deficiency are prone to RLS (7,8) . The brain’s iron sufficiency may not be at the same level as that of the body’s iron levels (9) .

Studies show that women who have fibromyalgia , a disorder of the bones and muscles, are most likely to have RLS (10) . Sleep disruptions in RLS may aggravate fibromyalgia symptoms, including painful muscles and joints, fatigue, and morning stiffness (11) .

While there is no treatment for this condition, symptoms of RLS can be relieved with certain medications.

Dopamine-inducing drugs, also known as dopaminergic drugs, are recommended as treatments for moderate to severe RLS. These drugs increase the brain’s dopamine levels (12) . Dopamine is the hormone responsible for controlling body movements

However, the long-term use of these drugs can lead to RLS augmentation, a worse case of RLS that occurs even during the day (13) .

Another medication for RLS is Alpha-2-delta ligands (α2δ) , an antiseizure medication used by RLS patients to prevent augmentation from dopaminergic drugs (14) . However, these medications have side effects, like weight gain and dizziness.

Benzodiazepines are also prescribed for people with RLS to manage anxiety and sleep problems , such as insomnia (15) . Although this drug may not relieve RLS symptoms, it may improve sleep quality (16) .

Meanwhile, opioids, a type of narcotics , are used for severe RLS that do not respond to previously mentioned treatments. These medications are used to relieve pain and are prescribed in low doses because of its psychoactive properties (17) .

Some drugs can worsen RLS over time. These drugs are antidepressants, antihistamines, antipsychotics, and anti-nausea (18) .

Unlike pharmaceuticals that have negative side effects, CBD is a natural and safer alternative because of its good safety profile (19) .

How CBD Oil Works to Alleviate Symptoms of RLS

RLS symptoms usually occur at night, making it difficult for the RLS patient to fall or stay asleep, resulting in sleepiness during the day. RLS is one of the most common sleep disorders. As much as 10% of adults suffer from this condition (20) .

CBD has shown significant results in treating neurological disorders, including sleep disorders. Cannabidiol has improved the quality of life in people with Parkinson’s disease, according to research (21) . Significantly, CBD has also positively developed the quality of sleep for people with Parkinson’s disease (22) .

The result may be the interaction of cannabinoids, active chemicals in medical marijuana, and the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS).

The ECS functions to maintain the body’s homeostasis or equilibrium to adapt to internal changes (23) . The function involves interaction among neurotransmitters, cannabinoid receptors, and enzymes that can impact a person’s mood, appetite, immunity, and even pain reception (24) .

As CBD enters the body, it activates receptors that may influence the treatment of pain, inflammation, and enables a good night’s sleep (25) . These factors may help a person with RLS to feel at ease and rest soundly at night.

The Pros and Cons of CBD Oil for RLS

The Pros
  • CBD is considered as generally safe with an excellent safety profile according to a report by the World Health Organization (WHO) (26) .
  • Pain relief, inflammation reduction, muscle relaxation, and sleep comfortability are potential therapeutic benefits of CBD that can be linked to the treatment of RLS symptoms (27) .
  • CBD products are legally available in some states without any prescription.
The Cons
  • RLS has no proven cure yet. Further scientific studies and clinical research are needed to prove that CBD is indeed a cure for the medical condition.
  • The United States Food and Drug Administration (US-FDA) has approved only one CBD product for epilepsy (28) . Other CBD products in the market are still subject to research and clinical trials.

How CBD Oil Compares to Alternative Treatments for RLS

Iron deficiency in RLS patients can be addressed by taking iron supplements orally or intravenously (29) . However, oral iron supplements may cause side effects such as constipation, stomach pain, and nausea. Meanwhile, intravenous iron infusion showed improvements in 76% of the patients without any significant side effects (30) .

Magnesium supplements are considered as alternative treatments for RLS since these are commonly prescribed for leg cramps (31) .

Magnesium serves as a muscle relaxant . It soothes nerve endings and may help alleviate the symptoms of RLS. Magnesium can also be applied through the skin, especially in affected areas (32) .

Conventional alternative treatments for RLS involve walking and running to relieve pain by moving the legs. Other treatments may be relaxation techniques, such as meditating, stretching, and massaging affected areas.

In line with this, CBD may aid these alternative treatments for an enhanced treatment with minimal to no severe side effects, presented in studies (33) .

How to Choose the Right CBD Oil for RLS

Full-spectrum CBD oil contains all the beneficial plant compounds found in the cannabis plant. This spectrum includes terpenes, the natural aromatic oil of the plant that can contribute to the overall effectiveness (34) .

Full-spectrum contains THC, but only up to 0.3% per weight—the legally prescribed limit according to the 2018 Farm Bill (35) .

The broad-spectrum CBD oil is the same as full-spectrum, minus the THC. THC is extracted from the product using a process called chromatography, a method of physical separation of compounds.

The purest of the spectrum is called isolate. It only contains CBD, with no terpenes and no THC. It is also the least effective of all three because of its distilled form.

CBD Dosage for RLS

There are no standard dosages for CBD in general. However, the table shown below may be recommended as an initial dosing guide for initial doses based on effects and body weight (36) .

Weight Group Recommended Dosage for Mild Effects Recommended Dosage for Moderate Effects Recommended Dosage for Strong Effects
Light (less than 130 lbs.) 11 mg or less 12 mg to 14 mg 15 mg to 17 mg
Medium (130 to 230 lbs.) 18 mg or less 19 mg to 23 mg 24 mg to 27 mg
Heavy (more than 230 lbs.) 23 mg or less 24 mg to 30 mg 31 mg to 45 mg

Before taking any dosage, especially for first-time users, it is best to consult a medical professional experienced in cannabis use.

How to Take CBD Oil for RLS

There are several options on how to take CBD for RLS. What might work best for the condition may depend on the symptom and the area or body part concerned.

The most common form is the sublingual CBD. These are oils and tinctures usually taken under the tongue. Some of these products can be mixed with food and can be tasteless, odorless, or flavored.

Another form is the topical CBD. These are creams, balms, and salves that are often applied in a specific area of the skin. The solution is absorbed into the skin through the endocannabinoid receptors.

A fast-acting method of consuming CBD is vaping. Vaping CBD instantly relaxes the user upon inhaling and produces long-lasting effects. CBD oils for vape come in different flavors and are nicotine-free. However, there is a risk of lung damage with vaping.

Other CBD products come in the form of treats, like edible gummies and brownies. These appeal to the general public because of its traditional form.

Conclusion

Restless legs syndrome is a long-term condition that may gravely affect a person’s lifestyle and overall health.

According to studies presented, CBD can help RLS sufferers lighten their symptoms and complications. These symptoms include muscle pain and inflammation, insomnia, and mood swings caused by sleepiness and fatigue.

However, each individual’s metabolism and body composition can affect the effectiveness of CBD. The results may vary from one person to another.

The best way to know how one should treat RLS is by consulting a physician. Always consult a doctor first before trying new treatments or for any questions about the medical condition.

Restless legs syndrome: The benefits of CBD

Restless legs syndrome (RLS) or Willis-Ekbom disease is a neurological disorder characterized by an uncontrollable urge to move the legs, especially at night. In North America and Eastern Europe, it is estimated that 4-29% of the population is affected by this disorder, which severely affects the quality of life of sufferers. Currently, there is no official treatment or cure for RLS. As a general rule, doctors recommend a healthier lifestyle, possibly with medication to reduce stress and ease pain. However, these medications are restrictive, as they cause side effects and do not really solve the underlying problem. For some people, CBD (cannabidiol) is a natural alternative that improves their condition day and night.

Recent clinical research indicates that CBD helps relieve many of the symptoms of RLS, while improving the quality of sleep for patients who often suffer from insomnia. With CBD, they can finally have productive days and peaceful nights.

What are the positive effects of CBD on RLS? How to properly consume CBD to relieve the symptoms of this neurological disorder, in what form and at what dosage? To fully understand how CBD works on RLS, let’s start by looking at the elements that characterize this condition.

What is restless legs syndrome?

Restless legs syndrome, also known as Willis-Ekbom disease, is a neurological disorder that can occur at any time in your life. Symptoms tend to occur at night, when your body is at rest, making it especially difficult to sleep. Automatically, lack of sleep can have a serious impact on your quality of life.

For most RLS sufferers, symptoms include itching and tingling in the legs that causes involuntary movements. All this restlessness prevents them from sleeping and leads to a feeling of intense fatigue during the day. A vicious circle that does not give patients a single second of respite.

Pain, discomfort, lack of sleep. All these negative aspects affect the physical and psychological well-being of patients. To relieve their symptoms, many people feel the need to move around nervously, which will naturally increase their level of stress and anxiety on a daily basis. Common situations such as going to class or staying for dinner can become embarrassing and impact their social life. Because of this, it’ s important to change habits and learn how to manage stress to get rid of this disorder, and this is where CBD comes in.

What are the benefits of CBD to combat RLS?

Scientific studies from 2017 have revealed the positive impact of therapeutic cannabis on RLS symptoms. On the one hand, it improves quality of life during the day by calming nervousness. On the other hand, it soothes itching and nighttime discomfort that prevents sleep, while providing patients with quality, restorative, and deep sleep. According to the study, 5 out of 6 participants confirmed a total remission following a treatment exclusively based on cannabis. On the other hand, all participants noted a significant improvement of their sleep at the end of the treatment.

As this study was carried out on only a few people, one can wonder if these results are valid for all patients. For the researchers, if CBD is so effective to fight against RLS, it is in particular thanks to its positive effects on the production of dopamine, also called the hormone of happiness. Indeed, RLS is caused by a neurological disorder, itself caused by a dopamine imbalance. Therefore, taking CBD helps the brain to stimulate this neurotransmitter and regulate it in a completely natural way.

Furthermore, scientists are unanimous in saying that CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system and offers a whole host of therapeutic virtues that can soothe pain and effectively reduce stress. Thanks to its anti-anxiety properties, hemp allows for a lighter, calmer, and more serene mind. That’s why RLS sufferers who take CBD before bed are finally able to find sleep, rest, and have a great day.

How to consume CBD to relieve the symptoms of RLS?

CBD oil

Typically, RLS sufferers take CBD oil orally or sublingually to relieve their symptoms. To enjoy the relaxing effects for a few hours, you can pour a few drops on your food or in your drinks. If you prefer a fast-acting, but shorter-lasting effect, you can pour a few drops of CBD oil directly under your tongue.

CBD flowers and resins

With CBD flowers and resins, the scents and flavors are all there. To consume them in a healthy way, you can use a vaporizer, or crumble them to incorporate them in your dishes or in your herbal teas. The advantage of vaporization is that the effects will be almost instantaneous and all the flavors of hemp will be perfectly preserved. If you choose to incorporate them in your culinary preparations, the relaxing effects will take longer to appear, but they will last effectively for a few hours.

CBD capsules

If you don’t like the taste of hemp and prefer a neutral product to get the benefits of medical cannabis, you may well turn to CBD capsules. These edible capsules have no taste or smell, but have the same soothing effects as oil or resin. Plus, the small capsule boxes are easy and discreet to carry around on a daily basis.

How much CBD should I take to relieve RLS symptoms?

With CBD, there is no risk of overdosing, but there is no perfect dosage either. If you suffer from RLS, you should adjust the dosage according to the intensity of your pain and how you feel. Start with a low dose to see if it does much for you or not. If you feel that you need more, increase the doses gradually. If in doubt, ask your doctor or a pharmacist for advice, who will be able to guide you towards the most suitable dosage for you. Once again, it is important to remember that CBD is not a medicine and that it cannot replace a real medical follow-up. Sometimes, CBD is enough on its own. But in some cases, it can be used in addition to a medical treatment. Whatever the case, listen to your body and choose the CBD format that suits you best.

Can CBD permanently cure RLS?

No, CBD is not a medicine and it does not cure any disease. On the other hand, it can help relieve many symptoms and restore a better quality of life. In other words, it helps you get back to quality sleep, reduce stress and anxiety and thus, it accompanies you in a gentle and totally natural healing process.

Can CBD cause neurological side effects?

No, CBD is not known to cause neurological side effects, unlike some drug treatments. In fact, CBD is a natural substance that has powerful protective properties for the brain and neurons.

CBD for Restless Legs

Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a neurological movement disorder characterized by an inability to sit still, especially with an urge to move the legs. Victims describe the sensation as burning, searing, jolting, excruciating—any number of unpleasant descriptors to signify chronic pain.

It wasn’t until recently this ailment became accepted as a true clinical disorder with distinct features. According to a report in Springer Nature, “Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is one of the most disabling and sometimes painful sensorimotor ailments of the nervous system.” Estimates state that anywhere from 5% to 15% of the US population suffers from RLS, with about 3% moderate-to-severe cases. That number increases with age, if you’re a woman, and if you’re pregnant.

In addition, RLS is often associated with a variety of sleep disorders. According to the Sleep Foundation, “A study found that 88% of individuals with RLS reported at least one sleep-related symptom.” Restless legs syndrome has been linked to anxiety and depression. Inactivity and stress typically worsen symptoms as well.

In addition to a painful urge to move the legs, RLS symptoms include:

  • Mood swings
  • Irritability
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Memory problems
  • Short attention span
  • Sleep deprivation and other sleep disorders

But for the first time in a long time, CBD products and other medicinal cannabis-derived products may offer relief to RLS patients. Cannabidiol (CBD) has shown promise in treating many of the root causes of restless legs: muscle spasticity, anxiety, and much more.

What Causes Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS)?

According to the Center for the Advancement of Health, “RLS has no known cause, but a 2020 study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health suggests that genetics, kidney disease, and an imbalance in the neurotransmitter levels in the brain may be the causative factors.”

Furthermore, RLS has been attributed to several other medical conditions, iron deficiency, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, peripheral nerve damage, and beyond. Researchers have linked RLS symptoms to a wide range of medications, especially antidepressants and anti-nausea medications.

Traditional Treatments for RLS

How has humanity approached the treatment of RLS symptoms? The answer isn’t so black and white.

“Because the probable causes of RLS cover a wide range of conditions—everything from an iron deficiency and a low level of dopamine in the brain to varicose veins—remedies are hard to come by,” according to the Center for Vein Restoration. RLS treatment plans often differ from person to person, making any breakthroughs (like potential CBD for restless legs treatment) that much more significant.

The Center for the Advancement of Health advocates for discovering and treating the root cause of restless legs syndrome first. The first step in this process often involves a visit to your family doctor. Medical professionals are trained to identify potential causative factors and make medication or lifestyle change recommendations accordingly.

Traditional prescription drug recourse for RLS symptoms includes:

  • Dopamine agonists
  • Anticonvulsants
  • Opiates
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Any combination of the above

Unfortunately, “A subset of patients remains refractory to medical therapy and serious side effects such as augmentation and impulse control disorder may occur in patients with RLS treated with dopamine agonists,” according to Springer Nature. The side effects don’t stop with just dopamine agonists, either. Opiates are known to induce psychosis, difficulty breathing, and in severe cases: coma or death. Benzodiazepines, on the other hand, come with side effects like confusion, memory problems, the weakening of the muscles, and sedation.

As you may have guessed, there is no clear-cut answer for RLS patients, who may have any number of individual RLS symptoms. This makes CBD products and other cannabis goods an appealing option. Remember: CBD oil was federally legalized in the US with the 2018 Farm Bill; other medical cannabis products like marijuana have been legalized in a handful of states, with more and more signing up each year.

Before we dive into the specifics of RLS and cannabis, there are other non-prescription drug therapies for RLS symptoms:

  • Hot or cold packs
  • Baths
  • Massages
  • Yoga and stretching
  • Acupuncture
  • Improve sleep hygiene
  • Increase physical activity

Using Cannabis to Combat Restless Legs

According to the report in Springer Nature:

“Convincing treatment alternatives [for RLS] are lacking, but recently, patients’ spontaneous reports of a remarkable and total remission of RLS symptoms following cannabis smoking has been reported in six patients. Since that first report, we have identified 12 additional patients who spontaneously admitted recreational marijuana smoking. Similar to patients in the first report, the additional patients complained of severe to very severe RLS symptoms and were treated with one or more available drugs for RLS with poor or limited efficacy, except for patient 12 who declined long-term drug intake. All but one patient (patient 2) admitted total relief of symptoms following cannabis smoking…Side effects were panic attacks in one patient (patient 6), but otherwise, bedtime cannabis smoking was well-tolerated.”

Note: the Springer Nature report followed the use of marijuana, not CBD oil. However, many crossover benefits between CBD and THC (the primary cannabinoid found in marijuana) have been reported over the years. Plus, the term “cannabis” applies to both hemp (responsible for CBD products) and marijuana, meaning these plants share a closely-related chemical structure and resulting benefits when consumed.

This wouldn’t be the first time cannabis has been used to treat neurological disorders. In fact, the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) endorses the use of cannabis (both CBD and THC) for the treatment of symptoms relating to…

  • Multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Huntington’s disease
  • Tourette’s syndrome
  • Cervical dystonia
  • Epilepsy

The AAN believes there is the “strongest evidence for pure, oral CBD extracts” to lessen a patient’s muscle spasticity and “moderate evidence for THC pills and oral sprays” to lessen a patient’s spasticity and painful spasms.

Unfortunately, beyond the first and second reports of RLS patients and cannabis smoking, we do not have well-commissioned clinical trials validating all of this information. Furthermore, some RLS patients believe that CBD oil is more effective than marijuana-derived products at treating RLS symptoms, while scientists are inclined to promote THC over CBD.

CBD vs. THC for Restless Legs Syndrome

According to the Center for the Advancement of Health, “CBD, as research suggests, has properties that may help control your RLS symptoms and improve your quality of life. It’s also non-psychoactive, non-toxic, and safe.”

The main benefit: the relaxing effects of CBD are able to ease RLS-related anxieties and reduce overall muscle spasticity.

This aligns with the US government’s beliefs about pure, high-quality CBD oil. There is one CBD oil-containing medication currently prescribed in the United States. Epidiolex is used to treat rare and severe epileptic disorders, characterized by extreme bouts of muscle spasticity and chronic, painful spasms or seizures.

However, as we mentioned above, scientists are inclined to promote THC over CBD for the treatment of RLS symptoms. It’s not that CBD is ineffective for RLS patients, as this is not the case! In fact, the Center for Vein Restoration believes CBD is not a cure for RLS but “alleviates some of the painful side effects of the condition.” Furthermore, CBD may help target related sleep disorders affiliated with RLS as well, perhaps improving the quality of life in patients.

But, the Springer Nature report mentioned earlier: “These patients admitted the superiority of cannabis smoking over the use of cannabidiol [CBD] for symptom relief.” Study authors note the “patient’s subjective estimation of the cannabis efficacy may also be skewed by the psychoactive and anxiolytic properties of the drug.”

In layman’s terms…

THC might not be more effective than CBD at treating RLS symptoms, but the intoxicating side effects of THC made study participants believe it was more effective.

To combat this potential research problem, Springer Nature scientists believe more well-controlled clinical trials are needed. We also suggest utilizing mixtures of both CBD and THC. For example, Full Spectrum CBD oils derive from hemp plants but retain hemp’s natural 0.3% concentration of THC. This small amount of THC is non-intoxicating. However, it allows your body to access the therapeutic potential of marijuana without the high!

CBD for RLS in Conclusion

Do you or someone you know suffer from RLS? Have you used cannabis as a potential mitigator of RLS symptoms? Let us know in the comments!

Although limited, current research implicates cannabis products (both CBD and THC) as potential therapeutic options for RLS patients. Remember to always discuss RLS treatment options with a medical professional in order to receive the best quality advice on improving your overall health.

With that said, we are hopeful that continued clinical trials will help us increasingly understand the relationship between CBD and coping mechanisms for restless legs syndrome. To purchase the highest quality CBD oil around, visit CBD Choice’s extensive directory of third-party lab-tested products!

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