Restless Leg Syndrome and Using CBD Oil to Treat it

by Simy Wandering Turtle

What is Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS)?

Described as an uncomfortable and irresistible urge to move one’s legs, up to 1 in 10 adults experience Restless Leg Syndrome. Restless Leg Syndrome, also known as Willis-Ekbom disease, occurs at its worst when the sufferer is sitting or lying down. It is caused by a disorder of the nervous system resulting in an uncontrollable need to move the legs.

Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) is frequently regarded as a sleeping disorder, as it is most prevalent at night and prevents the sufferer from sleeping. This can profoundly affect the patient’s quality of life. The associated pain experienced by RLS sufferers can also be debilitating. The sensations described by RLS patients include ‘pins and needles’, itching and a ‘creepy-crawly’ feeling. Most sufferers indicate that moving the legs temporarily relieves the sensation but it returns almost immediately.

The severity of the symptoms of RLS will vary from one patient to another. Additionally, the levels of discomfort experienced by a patient will differ from day to day.

Who is prone to Restless Leg Syndrome?

Up to 10% of the world’s population experiences RLS. Its onset usually occurs at about age 40, with the symptoms becoming more prevalent in middle age. However, it can begin as early as childhood.

What causes Restless Leg Syndrome?

The exact cause of RLS has yet to be determined. A genetic component is suspected because most sufferers have a relative who also has the condition. This is particularly true of patients who experience symptoms prior to middle age.

There are other factors that contribute to RLS. They include:

  • Certain chronic diseases such as Parkinson’s Disease, conditions of the kidneys and diabetes can include some of the symptoms of Restless Leg Syndrome. Treatment of these diseases tends to abate RLS symptoms.
  • An iron deficiency has also been linked to RLS. The correct treatment of an iron deficiency by a medical healthcare professional can ease the symptoms of RLS.
  • The side effects of certain medications can include the symptoms of Restless Leg Syndrome. These include but are not limited to antidepressants, antipsychotics, and anti-nausea drugs. It is possible that changes to these medications alleviate the symptoms of RLS.
  • Many pregnant women describe experiencing RLS symptoms during the last trimester of their pregnancy. However, after the delivery, these symptoms tend to clear up.
  • Excessive alcohol use or insufficient sleep can cause the symptoms of RLS to appear or it will exacerbate them.

Treatment of Restless Leg Syndrome

There are no medications which can cure Restless Leg Syndrome. Rather, treatments aim to alleviate the symptoms of the condition. Non-drug treatments include developing and following exercise programs that target the muscles most affected by RLS, creating healthy sleep patterns and decreased intake of caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco. Patients may also find massages and hot baths relieve the symptoms.

Unfortunately, for a large percentage of patients, these non-drug treatments provide only minimal, temporary relief.
The medication most frequently prescribed for Restless Leg Syndrome is dopaminergic drugs. Dopaminergic drugs aim to increase the dopamine activity in the brain. Dopamine is a vital chemical in the brain that acts as a neurotransmitter. Dopaminergic drugs aim to increase the dopamine activity in the brain. This increased dopamine activity is believed to inhibit movement (especially involuntary movement and spasms).

However, there are reports that long-term use of such drugs can decrease their effectiveness and actually aggravate the symptoms experienced by the patient.

CBD oil in the treatment of Restless Leg Syndrome

Much talk of CBD oil and its benefits abound. However, research into the use of CBD oil in the treatment of Restless Leg Syndrome is in its infancy. But several anecdotal reports point to the fact that CBD oil may be one of the most effective treatments for RLS. There are significantly more studies examining the link between dopaminergic drugs and the treatment of Restless Leg Syndrome.

Studies show that the cannabinoids in CBD oil have properties which allow them to modulate the body’s release of dopamine. This ability to regulate the levels of dopamine in the body can explain why CBD oil has a role to play in treating Restless Leg Syndrome. By replacing dopaminergic drugs with CBD oil, the user can experience similar relief from their symptoms.

This would be preferable because the side effects of dopaminergic drugs are significant in comparison with CBD oil. This is particularly relevant when it is taken into account that CBD oil is non-psychoactive so it cannot make you high and is not dependency forming.

Because CBD oil has well-documented effects on pain, inflammation, and insomnia, it has the potential to be a ‘one-stop-shop’ treatment approach to RLS. Studies done in terms of these effects of CBD were not in specifically in relation to RLS. They studied multiple conditions, however, and the findings suggest that CBD has a vital role to play in the minimization of Restless Leg Syndrome symptoms.

How to use CBD oil to treat Restless Leg Syndrome

As with any medical condition, discuss a change in treatment with your healthcare professional. This is especially true if it is to be used in conjunction with other medications. Medical marijuana dispensaries should also be able to direct you to an expert with whom you can discuss your symptoms and determine a treatment plan.

There are many methods of ingesting CBD oil. You will discover these, together with the optimal dose, through a process of trial and error. Using CBD in vape form (inhaling) is the fastest way of getting it into the system and provides the quickest relief. CBD oil can be taken orally in regular doses especially in the evening to alleviate the symptoms of RLS. CBD oil capsules are also an option.

The potential for the relief of agonizing symptoms of RLS with CBD oil is clear to see. And with further studies being conducted, it is hoped that CBD oil will take its rightful place as the most effective treatment available.