CBD for Restless Leg Syndrome
Restless leg syndrome, also referred to as Willis-Ekbom Disorder (WED), currently affects around 7-10% of the U.S. population. It is a disorder that causes unpleasant or uncomfortable sensations in the legs and an irresistible urge to move them. It is, however, best characterized as a neurological sensory disorder with symptoms that are produced from within the brain itself. Currently, many treatment options recommended for RLS are known for their unpleasant or even harmful side effects leaving many uninterested and looking to more natural treatment options like CBD. Today’s blog will cover restless leg syndrome, CBD for restless leg syndrome and research regarding it. If you are interested in learning more, keep reading!
What is restless leg syndrome?
Restless leg syndrome (RLS) is a condition that causes an uncontrollable urge to move your legs, usually because of an uncomfortable sensation. Onset of RLS is typically common in the evening or night when movement becomes less frequent, causing a disruption in a restful night’s sleep. Movement causes a temporary distraction, easing the urge to move your legs. RLS can affect both men and women, although women are more likely to have it than men and onset can occur at any age but worsens as an individual ages.
The main symptom of restless leg syndrome is an uncontrollable urge to move one’s legs, but there are other symptoms including:
- Pain in the legs
- Difficulty falling asleep, excessive daytime sleepiness, sleep deprivation or sleep disturbances
- Fatigue or restlessness
- Charley horse, uncomfortable tingling or burning or urge to move
Treatment options for restless leg syndrome:
- Medications that increase dopamine in the brain
- Drugs that affect calcium channels
- Massaging the legs
- Adding more iron and magnesium to your diet
- Muscle relaxants and sleep medications
Restless leg syndrome triggers
The cause of RLS is often unknown, however, RLS has a genetic component and can be found in families where the onset of symptoms is before age 40. Specific gene variants have been associated with RLS. And according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, low levels of iron in the brain also may be responsible for RLS. The genetic variants are out of one’s control, but habits within one’s control such as smoking, caffeine use, and alcohol consumption can all intensify symptoms and should be minimized or avoided. Same rule applies to fried foods, processed foods and foods high in sugar.
CBD for restless leg syndrome
CBD has been known to help relax muscles and calm nerves which can mitigate uncomfortable tingling, burning and the constant urge to move. In fact, Dr. Ginevra Liptan who is board-certified in internal medicine, and trained in functional medicine, published an article detailing natural treatments for restless leg syndrome, which included CBD. In the article Liptan states, “CBD has strong muscle relaxant and nerve calming effects which can really ease the discomfort of restless legs. I have seen patients get improvement from CBD applied topically or a CBD tincture under the tongue before bed. And unlike cannabis, CBD does not have any psychoactive or mind-altering effects and if it is derived from hemp it is legal and accessible in all 50 states.”
RLS can also cause individuals to have trouble falling or staying asleep, which can in turn decrease quality of life. Studies have found CBD to help individuals fall and stay asleep. And, when paired with magnesium and CBN, a cannabinoid with powerful sedative properties, a better night’s rest can easily be achieved without the morning grogginess often associated with over-the-counter sleep aids.
What does research say about CBD for restless leg syndrome?
A 2020 study investigated the evidence of cannabis efficacy in restless leg syndrome. Patients with RLS reported a remarkable and total remission of RLS symptoms following cannabis use. And, because CBD is a component of the cannabis plant, its benefits seem promising as an adjunctive treatment in the management of RLS symptoms.
Best ways to use CBD for restless leg syndrome
Over the past couple of years, the CBD market has expanded immensely meaning there are multiple ways to take CBD that suit your preference.
Applying CBD topically allows you to directly target a trouble area and doesn’t involve ingestion, making this a great option for individuals who aren’t a fan of consuming CBD.
Although not everyone’s preference, smoking or vaping CBD is one of the fastest ways to experience the effects of CBD, followed by sublingual administration.
Ingesting CBD oil sublingually, or under the tongue, is also a simple way to quickly tackle RLS symptoms. This method of administration has a quick onset because the product bypasses the digestive tract, directly entering the bloodstream.
It is important to note that CBD is not a cure for restless leg syndrome. Instead, it may be used as an adjunctive treatment to alleviate uncomfortable symptoms associated with the syndrome making the condition easier to manage. As always, we recommend first consulting with your healthcare provider if you are considering utilizing CBD for RLS symptoms, specifically if you are taking any prescription medications.