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!