Does Cannabis Relieve Symptoms Of Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS)?
Restless leg syndrome (RLS) is a neurological condition that can severely impact one’s quality of life. Here’s the latest on using cannabis to treat the symptoms of restless leg syndrome.
For many people who suffer from restless leg syndrome (RLS), the worst part about the condition is not just the uncomfortable sensations they have to endure. Often times, RLS can have serious implications on one’s overall quality of life. In this domain, research is now suggesting that cannabis may provide relief from some RLS symptoms.
WHAT IS RESTLESS LEG SYNDROME?
Restless leg syndrome (RLS), sometimes referred to as Willis-Ekbom Disease or Wittmaack-Ekbom Syndrome, is a condition where people experience tingling and itching sensations in their legs, with an irresistible urge to move them. The syndrome was discovered and classified by Swedish neurologist Dr. Karl-Axel Ekbom in 1943.
RLS can affect people of all ages in various ways, although the symptoms often get more pronounced with age. Moreover, symptoms are usually at their worst when people are sitting or lying down; moving around can provide a certain degree of relief. Then again, RLS doesn’t affect everyone the same. There are also those symptoms that are not eased by moving about, such as any combination of:
- Unpleasant sensations of tingling, itching, or sensations like “ants crawling” on the legs
- Restlessness, tossing and turning in bed paired with sleeping problems
- Involuntary twitching and jolting of the legs during sleep or waking hours
- A constant urge to move the legs to relieve uncomfortable sensations
- Fatigue and sleepiness
What causes RLS is not exactly known, although it is believed that it can develop as a side effect from certain medications. Since it is unclear what the root cause of restless leg syndrome is, this also means that there are currently no effective ways to prevent it—but there are ways to alleviate the symptoms.
HOW RLS CAN AFFECT LIFESTYLE
One of the most frustrating aspects of this condition is that symptoms tend to worsen in the evening. Because of that, sufferers often have serious problems falling asleep and/or frequently waking up at night. As a result, RLS can sustain a huge impact on one’s quality of life.
But lack of sleep is not the only way RLS affects peoples’ lives; the pain and discomfort experienced can be enough for sufferers to avoid social gatherings where they would need to sit or stand for an extended time. As people are forced to withdraw from their social life, this can lead to isolation, anxiety, and depression.
It is estimated that up to 10% of people in the United States are affected by RLS. Although there is no cure for this condition, evidence is now mounting that cannabis can possibly help relieve some symptoms.
HOW CANNABIS CAN HELP RELIEVE THE SYMPTOMS OF RLS
Although restless leg syndrome has now been known for quite some time, it is only recently that treating the disorder with alternative methods, including cannabis, has come to the forefront. Previously, the only way to alleviate the symptoms of RLS was to use pharmaceuticals, massages, warm baths, hot and cold compresses, foot wraps, and specific exercises. Recent studies indicate that cannabis may help with RLS as well.
A study  performed at the Clinical Neurosciences Center at Bordeaux University Hospital found medicinal cannabis to alleviate RLS symptoms in a small group of subjects. For the study, six RLS patients were given medical cannabis containing CBD. Five of the six reported that their symptoms entirely disappeared after consuming cannabis. All of the participants in the study reported an improvement in their sleep after their treatment with cannabis ended.
In a study on “Sleep, Pain and Cannabis”  published in 2015 in the Journal of Sleep Disorders and Therapy, researchers mention the proven abilities of cannabis to relieve pain and promote sleep. In their report, the researchers suggest that cannabis could possibly help with such conditions as sleep apnoea or RLS—conditions that involve sleeping troubles and/or pain. However, the researchers do conclude that more research in this area is needed.
Although medical studies on using cannabis to treat RLS symptoms are sparse, there is plenty of anecdotal evidence among RLS patients that it can certainly make coping with the disorder easier. The word is still out on whether cannabis can directly address the underlying causes of the condition, but its relaxing, pain-relieving, and soothing effects may help patients get to sleep, and perhaps reduce some of their anxiety or depression symptoms too.
WHICH CANNABIS STRAINS ARE BEST FOR RLS?
If you want help with RLS, cannabis strains that have a sedating and/or pain-relieving effect can be best. Look for strains that are high in THC (to promote drowsiness) and/or high in CBD (to reduce anxiety) because such strains can help you achieve a good night’s sleep.
For fast relief, you can just smoke or vape these strains to enjoy their sedative and pain-relieving properties. You can also make them into edibles, oils, or even topical ointments so you have a variety of methods at hand. You can then keep track of which methods work best for you!
We recommend these cannabis strains if you’re seeking relief from RLS:
Purple Queen is a gorgeous indica-dominant Kush variety that can provide you with a deeply relaxing physical stone. Dreamland will not be far away after a few tokes of this one.
SPECIAL KUSH #1
Special Kush is another good candidate if you need help with RLS symptoms. This modern variant of an old-school Kush has a hash-like flavour and serious indica dominance (80%). Expect a robust body stone that relaxes the limbs and gently eases you off to sleep.
TREATING RLS WITH CANNABIS—THE TAKEAWAY
Even as we wait for more studies to unveil cannabis’ full potential for treating restless leg syndrome, many patients say it’s worth it to experiment with the herb to find relief. Anecdotal accounts may not be entirely verifiable, but the success stories are certainly growing in number. Hopefully, we can look forward to more research on treating RLS with cannabis in the near future.
Restless leg syndrome can be more than an inconvenience—it can completely disrupt your lifestyle. Is cannabis able to provide relief from RLS symptoms?
CBD and Restless Leg Syndrome
Posted on August 5th, 2020
Modern medicine has come a long way, but we still don’t have cures for many common conditions. Instead, suffering individuals can only hope to manage their symptoms. And, more often than not, symptom management involves taking medications that simply alleviate pain and inflammation. While these do help, they may also trigger adverse effects. So, if you can find a more natural alternative, it could be quite beneficial. One extremely challenging, untreatable condition is restless leg syndrome; it affects about 10% of the American population. Thankfully, new evidence suggests that CBD may help offer some relief to those suffering from restless leg syndromes. So, today, we’ll closely explore what we know about restless leg syndrome and CBD, to help you decide your best course of action.
What Is Restless Leg Syndrome?
This condition is also known as the Willis-Ekbom disease; it can affect anyone, male or female, regardless of age. When you have restless leg, you experience an uncontrollable urge to move your legs. The urge comes because of feelings of discomfort. For most people, this urge strikes in the evening or at night, when your legs are rested. Moving helps ease the unpleasant sensation. Sometimes, the urge isn’t limited to your legs: this condition can hit your arms, chest, or head as well. While some report the sensation may happen to only one side of the body, it more commonly affects both sides . Some also find that the sensation will alternate between sides.
While it can affect any age, elderly individuals are most likely to suffer from restless leg syndrome. Medical experts consider it a sleep disorder since attacks often strike when you rest. However, symptoms might also occur during extended periods of inactivity. If you don’t seek medical intervention, your symptoms may get worse. Eventually, you may be unable to get a full night’s sleep or function properly during the day.
Part of what makes this condition so frustrating is that symptoms seem to appear randomly. They also widely vary, ranging from mild discomfort to almost unbearable pain. Some describe the sensation as throbbing, aching, or even itching. Once you’ve been diagnosed with restless leg syndrome, you should seek interventions to prevent symptom progression.
Now, doctors still don’t know this condition’s specific cause. But studies suggest that it could be linked to your genes: over 50% of people who suffer from this condition have a family member with the same symptoms. Other potential causes include:
- Chronic diseases such as iron deficiency, kidney failure, and renal disease
- Antipsychotic, antidepressant, and nausea medications
- Pregnancy, especially in your last trimester
- Other sleep disorders
- Spinal cord conditions
While restless leg syndrome won’t threaten your actual life, it can certainly derail your quality of life. It has been known to cause exhaustion that affects performance at work or at school due to the inability to concentrate and change in mood. Currently, doctors recommend managing your condition with lifestyle changes such as healthy eating and exercise, coupled with targeted symptom relief.
CBD for Restless Leg Syndrome
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a compound found in the cannabis plant with many potentially beneficial properties. It can produce positive changes in your body because of how it interacts with your endocannabinoid system. This system is made of a series of receptors, scattered throughout your body, that work to maintain internal balance. While your body produces its own endocannabinoids, it also interacts with phytocannabinoids, like CBD, that naturally occur in cannabis plants.
Before we dive into how CBD can address restless leg syndrome symptoms, let’s clarify some basic CBD principles. You can extract CBD from any cannabis plant, but legal CBD is derived from industrial hemp plants, which have low THC and high CBD concentrations (marijuana plants contain the opposite mix).
Why is this an important distinction? Cannabis plants also contain another cannabinoid, called THC, which is the cannabinoid that’s associated with the psychoactive effects of marijuana and responsible for getting you “high”. And recreational THC use is still illegal in most of the United States. CBD oil, on the other hand, is legal. So long as it has a chemical makeup that’s less than 0.3% of THC. In fact, CBD was not made legal until the 2018 Farm Act which aimed to remove industrial hemp from the controlled substance list. This also brings about the important topic of verifying CBD suppliers. Not every supplier properly vets their products which could become problematic if their product is not sourced from the correct plants or contains a higher level of THC than allowed.
So just remember: when we’re talking about using CBD to address restless leg symptoms, we’re only talking about hemp-derived extracts. If you use marijuana-derived CBD, you’ll have to worry about issues of legality, as well as psychoactive side effects.
How Does CBD Work in the Body?
As we briefly mentioned earlier, your endocannabinoid system is a highly sophisticated internal system charged with regulating many physiological processes. We still have lots to learn about its workings, but we know it can affect your learning, mood, memory, pain, sleep, neurological health, appetite, digestion, inflammation, and stress, among others.
The endocannabinoid system consists of a wide variety of receptors, classified as CB1 or CB2s. They are spread throughout your body and work closely with enzymes that synthesize and degrade cannabinoids in order to trigger responses meant to preserve balance in your body (homeostasis).
When you are stressed, in a bad mood, or simply hurting, your endocannabinoid system moves to restore homeostasis. This process is not always successful, however, which is where cannabinoids may come in handy, helping stimulate your endocannabinoid system to work as hard as it needs to in order to achieve homeostasis.
Origins of Restless Leg Syndrome
Current evidence suggests that restless leg syndrome is tied to the way your brain functions. This is why there is no exact diagnosis procedure. All doctors can do is try to assess your trigger conditions, in order to rule out any condition other than restless leg syndrome.
CBD may be very effective at targeting restless leg syndrome since it stimulates your own endocannabinoid system to restore balance. But, aside from that, CBD may effectively target specific restless leg symptoms. In some cases, doctors prescribed opioids and anti-seizure medications to treat restless leg syndrome. And, today, we know that CBD has anti-seizure properties: that’s why the FDA approved Epidiolex, a CBD-based medication that treats certain forms of pediatric epilepsy.
Additionally, many CBD users report improved sleep. So, in combination, CBD’s restful properties and seizure-fighting abilities may prove effective at managing the symptoms of restless leg syndrome.
How to Use CBD for Restless Leg Syndrome
The increase in popularity over recent years has provided many options in the CBD market. Delivery methods vary from oral options, like an oil or tincture, which offers fast effects, to CBD capsules, which make it very easy to measure your exact dose and offer maximum convenience. But another CBD delivery method, topical cannabidiol, may be best for restless leg sufferers.
Why is that the case? Topical CBD offers targeted effects. So if you experience discomfort in one spot on your leg, applying a CBD salve or lotion right on that spot could alleviate your urge to move and provide the desired relief.
What Is the Right CBD Dosage for Restless Leg Syndrome?
Just as it is with any supplement, proper dosing is crucial. Since CBD can affect various bodily functions, you should talk to your doctor before adding this cannabinoid to your routine. Once you’ve got the medical go-ahead, we always suggest beginning with a low dose of CBD. This will let you see how your body reacts to the cannabinoids.
Your doctor can help you determine what a low dose means for you, and from there, you can gradually increase your intake until you achieve the desired relief. Keep in mind, people with severe symptoms will typically need to take a higher dosage than someone with mild symptoms.
If you’re suffering from restless leg syndrome, ask your doctor whether Tanasi’s full-spectrum CBD oil products could help you manage your symptoms. We also invite you to contact us with any questions about delivery methods or dosing, so you can get the most out of your CBD experience!
Restless leg syndrome affects about 10% of the American population and new evidence suggests that CBD may help offer some relief.