Have you ever caught yourself moving your legs while you’re eating or watching TV? Or maybe you’ve noticed someone else doing it. This phenomenon, known as restless legs syndrome (RLS), affects a percentage of the population and can take a toll on your quality of life without you even knowing. Unfortunately, there is no cure for RLS however managing symptoms can offer relief. Let’s see how CBD oil can interact with the endocannabinoid system (ECS) and how the ECS may influence symptoms of restless legs syndrome.
What is Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS)?
Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is described as uncomfortable or unpleasant sensations in the legs that cause you to irresistibly move them.
RLS tends to occur in the afternoon and evening hours when you are sitting down, watching TV or eating. RLS also occurs commonly when you are trying to fall asleep. Usually, the discomfort goes away when you move your legs and continues if you stop moving your legs. RLS can begin at any age but generally worsens with age.
RLS can cause daytime sleepiness since it involves you moving around a lot at night. For this reason, RLS is sometimes classified as a sleep disorder. Poor sleep-quality can significantly lower your productivity and energy levels. This can greatly affect your ability to accomplish daily tasks and carry out certain activities.
From another perspective, RLS can be classified as a neurological sensory disorder because its symptoms stem from the brain. Researchers believe that the condition may be due to an imbalance of dopamine, which helps govern motor controls.
Before you consider any drugs for treatment, it is best to first pinpoint some of the possible factors that may be triggering your RLS.
Possible Triggers of RLS:
- Stress and anxiety
- Iron deficiency/low dopamine levels
- Many prescription and over-the-counter medications (antihistamines, antidepressants)
Caffeine and nicotine are both stimulants and can result in an increase in RLS symptoms. Caffeine is present in coffee, tea, chocolate, soda, and several other foods and beverages. Nicotine is found in tobacco products. If you are experiencing RLS, you should avoid these products and see if the symptoms subside.
Alcohol has been reported by many people to lead to an increase in RLS symptoms, especially when consumed in the evening. There are no studies to conclude this for sure, but it may be a possibility when considering triggers of RLS.
Stress and anxiety can also trigger RLS symptoms. Your doctor would typically prescribe antidepressants for an anxiety disorder, which may actually exacerbate the RLS symptoms.
What are the Symptoms of Restless Legs Syndrome?
People with RLS have an urge to constantly move their legs in order to relieve a particularly uncomfortable sensation their legs. It’s not pain, but rather a discomfort, that causes this activity.
These sensations usually go away when you move your legs, but resume if you stop. You can see how RLS would make traveling and other activities that involve sitting still difficult. Typically, symptoms are worst in the afternoon and evening, especially when trying to sleep. In addition, people with RLS tend to twitch and kick their legs in their sleep, contributing to poor sleep quality and sluggishness the next day.
The occurrence of RLS symptoms can vary from person to person. Some people experience it once or twice a week, while others may experience it more than twice a week. It is important to know your specific RLS triggers so that you can control your RLS.
What is CBD Oil?
Cannabidiol (CBD) oil is a product of industrial hemp plants and is quickly gaining popularity as a multi-use product, but can it help with restless leg syndrome? CBD is a natural cannabinoid and has virtually no side effects. Cannabinoids, like CBD, are capable of interacting with and influencing the body’s endogenous endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is a regulatory system in our bodies that affects the functions of the brain, various glands, organs, and immune cells. As a result, the ECS may influence processes such as anxiety, pain, inflammation, and sleep to name a few.
The ECS has cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2) which are spread throughout the body: CB1 receptors are mostly located in the brain; CB2 receptors are located primarily in the organs and in much of the immune system. In short, the ECS functions to maintain the body’s internal environment, or to promote homeostasis.
CBD is non-intoxicating, unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). CBD and THC come from the same family of plants, cannabis. However, CBD derived from hemp, one subspecies, has no psychoactive properties because hemp naturally contains less than 0.3% THC. This makes it ideal to use hemp-derived CBD products for therapeutic purposes without intoxication.
Can CBD Oil Help Restless Legs?
While there is no cure for RLS, its symptoms can be addressed. Fortunately, CBD has a relaxing effect on the body, and this effect takes place at the source: the muscles. Cannabinoid receptors are found all over the body, including the muscles. There are neurons that extend from the brain to the spinal cord to the muscles synapse which is covered with cannabinoid receptors. CBD interacts with these cannabinoid receptors which may promote muscle relaxation.
Caffeine and nicotine have the opposite effects. They stimulate the sympathetic nervous system, which leads to an increase in heart rate and blood pressure, both of which are correlated with anxiety and stress. CBD oil promotes the exact opposite effects of caffeine and nicotine for restless leg syndrome.
Iron is a necessary nutrient that promotes dopaminergic activity in the brain. An iron deficiency may trigger RLS symptoms because of the resulting low dopamine levels in the brain. However, dopaminergic neurons can be stimulated via CBD’s interaction with the ECS, thereby increasing dopamine levels.
Lastly, anxiety is a common trigger of RLS symptoms. Typically, antidepressants like SSRIs are used to treat anxiety disorders and are effective in doing so. The problem with using antidepressants for someone who has RLS is that antidepressants can actually exacerbate the symptoms of RLS, perhaps due to a neurotransmitter imbalance. Remember CBD oil promotes a relaxing calming effect. It can also work to restore neurotransmitter balance and achieve homeostasis in the body.
Are There Any Side Effects?
CBD is completely safe for you to use. It is non-psychoactive, meaning it does not get you high. Although CBD has a few minimal side effects, it is very rare to experience them. Possible side effects of CBD oil include dry mouth, lowered blood pressure, drowsiness, and nausea. While it is unlikely, you may experience side effects as the body is getting used to the CBD, once accustomed, side effects will begin to disappear.
How Can I Use CBD Oil For Restless Legs Syndrome?
The recommended dosage for a regular strength dose is 0.25 milligrams of CBD oil per 1 pound of bodyweight. For a stronger dose, the recommended amount is 0.50 milligrams of CBD oil per 1 pound of bodyweight. For example, for a person who weighs 150 pounds, a regular strength dose would be (150 lbs x 0.25 mg =) 37.5 milligrams of CBD oil. This translates to 37.5 drops for a 300 mg tincture.
It is best to start off with using CBD oil once or twice daily. You can then adjust the frequency to every eight hours or as needed. You may note that a smaller dose used more often is effective, or that a larger dose used once or twice daily works best. Ultimately, you will notice results and find out what works best for you. For a more detailed guide, head over to our CBD Dosing Chart.
It is hard to ignore the many incredible effects of CBD oil because of how life-changing they can be. CBD continues to gain awareness as more and more people realize what a great addition it is to their day-to-day lives.