Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) Sufferers Turning to CBD

Also referred to as Willis Ekbom Disease and RLS, restless leg syndrome is a chronic condition that affects about ten percent of American adults.  The condition is known for causing pain and discomfort and can interfere with important daily activities.  Despite the fact that it’s not a remarkably rare condition, there’s still much about it that’s unknown by the medical industry, which makes it uniquely difficult to treat. [Source]

As our society has begun to gravitate toward a more holistic approach to wellness, we’re finding that there may be some natural options that are capable of providing relief.  One such possibility is cannabidiol, more commonly known as CBD.  

For those who might not be aware, CBD is the dominant compound in the hemp plant, and it has a unique way of interacting with the body which separates it from other plant-based products.  Further, it’s legal and widely available, and has been shown in studies to potentially help with everything from chronic stress to various inflammatory conditions.

First, however, let’s look closely at the condition itself to better understand what it is and why it occurs, to understand how cannabidiol may play a role in managing it.

What is Restless Leg Syndrome?

What’s unique about restless leg syndrome is that it’s not technically a pain condition.  Of course, that doesn’t make it any less capable of interfering with one’s quality of life.  A problem with this is that it leads many people to underestimate its severity and impact.

RLS creates a feeling of insatiable restlessness in the legs, and this is due to a dysfunction of the nerves.  As a result, the legs must move consistently to shake off the feeling, so to speak.  It’s a frustrating and uncomfortable sensation that is difficult to find relief from.  Those who suffer from it tend to jerk their legs in a way that feels involuntary, and they shake their legs whenever they can to manage the feeling of restlessness.  Restless leg syndrome symptoms seem to worsen when a person is laying own or sitting for long periods, and this can cause it to interfere with sleep. 

We know that restless leg syndrome affects more women than men, for reasons unknown.  It tends to affect adults but can develop during childhood.  It can lead to some potential complications including sleep deprivation and mood disorders that result from the constant feeling of frustration.

How a Person Develops Restless Leg Syndrome 

At the moment, there is no known cause for restless leg syndrome.  Like many chronic conditions, it seems that there may be genetic factors that are passed down through families which contribute to its development.  If a person has one parent who has the condition, they are more likely to end up with it later on in life.

Restless leg syndrome is ultimately a disorder of the nervous system, due to faulty nerve signaling throughout the legs.  It’s believed that this may be due to a misfiring of dopamine receptors which cause hyperactivity-related sensations through certain nerve channels.  Further, it’s believed that those who have Parkinson’s Disease may be more likely to develop RLS.

We also know that certain conditions can damage the nervous system, as well as various forms of substance abuse and certain medications.  Therefore, those who fall into these categories may be more at risk of developing RLS.

Diagnosing Restless Leg Syndrome

To diagnose this condition, a doctor will make sure that you fall within the right criteria.  There is no physical diagnostic method, so the doctor will ask you a series of questions and examine your legs and neurological system to make sure that no other conditions are present.  They will also need to rule out nerve damage to accurately diagnose RLS.

Treating Restless Leg Syndrome

There are no specific treatments for restless leg syndrome, but doctors will likely prescribe a muscle relaxant which can calm the nerves within the legs.  There also a chance they could opt for a psychiatric medication under the presumption that RLS is caused by neurological conditions or neurotransmitter imbalances.

It’s also worth noting that some have claimed that acupuncture has helped them manage their symptoms.  Acupuncture does not require a referral from a doctor.

Cannabidiol for Restless Leg Syndrome

Cannabidiol is a cannabinoid, which is a class of compounds that directly bind to cannabinoid receptors throughout the body to simply regulate existing bodily processes, rather than force specific actions to occur.  The endocannabinoid system to which these receptors belong is in charge of homeostasis, and achieves it by regulating the function of every bodily system.  This means that CBD strains, such as in cream form, may help regulate the nervous system and neurological system, while balancing chemicals in the brain that play a role. 

What Studies are Displaying

More research is being conducted on the actual effects of CBD.

  • Study #1: CBD influences the dopamine receptors in the brain.  It seems that medical researchers have found that CBD has unique potential to help RLS specifically.
  • Study #2: We know that there are cannabinoid receptors within the nerves of the legs which respond to administration of cannabidiol, meaning that they respond to cannabinoid intake from CBD.
  • Study #3: CBD is commonly used for stress-related conditions and to aid in sleep, which may be able to help those who are dealing with the indirect effects of RLS.

Using CBD for Restless Leg Syndrome

If you wish to take CBD for RLS, then speak to your doctor and let them know of any medications you are taking.  It’s ideal to take CBD daily for the best results, as this gives the endocannabinoid system all of the support that it needs.  For RLS, we recommend applying a topical directly to the legs daily and using an internal method as well such as tincture for additional systemic support.

Final Thoughts

Restless leg syndrome can be a difficult condition to live with, but there are possible options that can tremendously help.  If you want to give CBD a try based on the studies linked above, ask your doctor about the best way to go about incorporating it into your treatment plan.