Cbd oil for jumpy legs

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.

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.

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.