CBD to Treat Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS): A Potential Natural Solution?

All over the world—from Bordeaux, France to Colorado, United States—people suffer from Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS). Unfortunately, the medical world has yet to uncover effective solutions to cure this disease or relieve its symptoms. RLS can be potentially life altering and distressing, directly affecting people’s quality of life, making it very difficult to live with. Read on to learn more about Restless Legs Syndrome and find out how CBD can help in the treatment of RLS. 

Everything You Need to Know About Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) 

What Is Restless Legs Syndrome and How Does It Manifest? 

Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) is also known as Willis-Ekbom disease. According to many clinical studies, it is understood as a neurological disorder affecting the nervous system that causes an uncontrollable urge to move the legs. Symptoms tend to appear more at night, which is why Restless legs syndrome can sometimes be associated with Periodic Limb Movements in Sleep (PLMS), which is when a leg and or jerk involuntarily during sleep. 


This condition affects people of all ages, although studies have shown a great percentage of women to be affected by RLS, especially during pregnancy. Approximately 1 in 5 women will experience RLS symptoms during the last 3 months of their pregnancy, with symptoms subsiding shortly after they give birth. 


RLS symptoms present as the feeling of irresistible and constant need to move or shake the leg caused by a person experiencing unpleasant sensations in the leg, like pulling, itching, crawling or tingling. It’s when the body is at rest that RLS symptoms occur or present more prominently, hence why symptoms manifest more often at night time, leading to sleep disturbances for those who suffer from RLS. 


In more severe cases, pain and cramps can occur in the leg, which can make this a debilitating condition for many who suffer from RLS. Poor sleep quality and accumulated fatigue can lead to exhaustion and poor concentration during the day, having a domino effect on a person’s overall health and well-being both physically and mentally. 

What Causes Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS)? 

Although it is not yet clear as to what causes RLS, researchers have identified a link between dopamine deficiencies (and related disorders) and RLS. Dopamine, known as the “feel good” hormone, is a type of neurotransmitter that allows some nerve cells to communicate with one another. Dopamine assists with essential central nervous system functions like pleasure, mood, and (most importantly, here) movement. As such, dopamine helps regulate the body’s movements. This includes limbs. If there is a dopamine deficiency, this could lead to involuntary or uncontrollable movements. 


Dopamine levels naturally tend to fall at the end of the day and during the night, which could explain why Restless Legs Syndrome’s symptoms appear at night. 


Another cause for Restless Legs Syndrome may be Anemia. Anemia is a condition in which someone lacks a healthy amount of red blood cells (low blood count) to adequately carry oxygen to the body’s tissues, which is often caused by an iron deficiency. A deficiency of iron can lead to a drop in dopamine production, which in turn can trigger RLS. This type of RLS is known as Secondary Restless Legs Syndrome. 


Lastly, conditions like Diabetes, Fibromyalgia, Rheumatoid arthritis or Parkinson's disease can trigger Restless Legs Syndrome. Antidepressants, antipsychotics and antihistamines can also affect RLS—while these don’t cause Restless Legs Syndrome, they can make symptoms worse for those who already have it.   

CBD: A Natural Remedy With Medical Potential  

What is CBD? 

CBD, also known as cannabidiol, is one of the main compounds found in cannabis (hemp plant). Unlike THC, another cannabis cannabinoid that is a psychotropic and an illegal substance in most countries, CBD is non-psychoactive and completely legal in its pure form. CBD won’t make you feel high (it is not an intoxicating substance) and has little to no side effects. 


Thanks to its analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties, CBD (cannabidiol) is more and more studied in the medical field, and used by consumers to help relieve localised pain, calm nerves, and address skin problems like severe acne or psoriasis. CBD’s positive relationship with the human body’s natural endocannabinoid system is well-known among researchers, and its medicinal potential is something that has caught the interest of all health industries.  

How CBD Can Help With Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) 

While there is currently no known cure for RLS, proposed treatments are to address and relieve symptoms. However, drugs and pharmaceuticals commonly prescribed to treat RLS often have undesired side effects. 


According to studies, CBD (cannabidiol) does not cure the disease, but can help effectively manage RLS symptoms, which can hugely improve people’s lives and day-to-day activities. Thanks to CBD’s calming and relaxing properties, it can help improve the quality of sleep that RLS often affects. CBD can also help reduce the involuntary movements and shakes, reducing the anxiety and stress that RLS usually aggravate. 


Because CBD is a cannabis molecule that naturally interacts on cell receptors found in the brain linked to human body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS), CBD can help with dopamine regulation. The ESC is where dopamine is released from. Therefore, by ensuring the ECS’s proper functioning, CBD also helps ensure a regulated and consistent production of dopamine.  

How to Use CBD to Treat Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) 

CBD comes in many forms, as cannabis derived products, and there are many different ways you can consume CBD to treat Restless Legs Syndrome. Cannabis or hemp products that are high in CBD and low in THC are usually legal in most countries in Europe and the United States.


CBD Oil 

Using CBD oil is one of the most common and popular forms of treating RLS. CBD oil is usually the best form of CBD as the dosage can be easily controlled and increased throughout the day, drop by drop. CBD oil can be consumed daily. 


People can take CBD oil orally (drops of oil are placed directly on the tongue to swallow) or sublingually (where a few drops of oil are placed under the tongue). CBD oil can also be mixed with food or drinks—a few drops at a time. The best way to ensure CBD enters the bloodstream, to have an effect, is sublingually.

CBD Flowers and Resin 

Consuming CBD flowers and resin can be done in different ways, depending on a person’s preference. However, it is advisable to use a vaporizer to inhale CBD vapor. This is usually considered the best way CBD effects can be  felt immediately and all the rest of the cannabis seed extract benefits are preserved. Resins and flowers can also be crushed and mixed into food for longer CBD effect release.  


CBD flowers can usually be obtained via prescription (medical cannabis or medical hemp products) or in specialised shops, depending on the country. 


CBD Capsules 

Cannabidiol capsules or CBD capsules are another way of consuming CBD. They can be swallowed directly with water. Effects take longer than CBD oil to be felt, but their effects are longer lasting. 

CBD Dosage to Relieve Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS)  

There is no recommended or specified dosage of CBD for RLS. Generally, patients increase their CBD doses as you go, always starting with the lowest dosage. That is why cannabis CBD oil is the best recommended form. It can take a few days or even weeks for daily CBD to start having a more regulatory effect on the body.  


It is recommended for patients to assess their ideal dosage based on when they observe or feel their symptoms subsiding—starting with the lowest dosage, and gradually increasing it. For example, if patients start noticing better sleep quality, this is a good indicator that CBD is working. If patients are not noticing improvements on their sleep, they may up their dosage (like a few extra drops of oil) until they do.  


An advantage of cannabis CBD is that it has no significant side effects or addictive properties. That said, it is strongly advised to consult your doctor or medical practitioner before starting any CBD treatment. Doctors can also prescribe medication that can complement CBD and help reduce RLS related pain and symptoms, if necessary. 

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