Approximately 7 to 10 percent of Americans are losing sleep over restless leg syndrome– could CBD help? Restless leg syndrome (RLS) is a condition that is difficult to treat as no one is quite sure what causes it.
Targeting possible restless leg origins and very real restless leg symptoms has been the best practice so far, but recently a new remedy has been suggested: CBD.
Looking to get a leg up on RLS? Here’s how CBD could help.
What is Restless Leg Syndrome?
Restless Leg Syndrome, also known as RLS or Willis-Ekbom disease, causes people to have an irresistible or uncontrollable urge to move their legs.
Uncomfortable and unpleasant feelings often produce this restlessness or sensations in your legs, which have been reported to feel like aching, throbbing, crawling, and itching.
In more extreme cases, RLS can cause a person intense pain.
When someone is experiencing those feelings, the urge and action of moving their legs provides temporary relief to the sensations.
RLS can be developed at any point in life but is more likely to manifest the older a person gets.
It is unknown what triggers restless leg syndrome and its symptoms, but it is theorized to be attributed to multiple sources.
One popular suggestion found throughout the medical field is that RLS is caused by dopamine or iron deficiencies or imbalances in the brain.
More specifically, it could be that a section of the brain called the basal ganglia, which uses dopamine to control motor functions, is experiencing a disruption, much like how uncontrollable movements occur in Parkinson’s Disease.
Because of the brain’s relation to RLS, the condition is often considered a neurological sensory disorder.
Others posit that RLS is induced by pregnancy, sleep apnea, kidney failure, nerve damage, some medications, and drug and alcohol use (including caffeine).
It has also been considered that RLS is an apparent genetic condition and could be the result of familial inheritance.
RLS is often exacerbated and worsens during rest and inactivity, which leads to symptoms flaring in the evening and nighttime.
Some patients experience PLMS – periodic limb movement of sleep – which can cause legs and arms to jerk or twitch while sleeping.
Patients with RLS also commonly experience exhaustion, lack of concentration, and elevated anxiety and depression due to loss of sleep.
This is also why RLS is considered a sleeping disorder.
How Can CBD Help with Restless Leg Syndrome?
The tendency for RLS to arise when patients are asleep, its relationship with the brain, and the pain and discomfort it causes are the reason that CBD is a potential alleviant for RSL.
CBD is processed by our body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS).
The ECS is an internal communication grid that generates cooperation among your body’s organs, muscles, and central nervous system.
It’s also what harnesses homeostasis – your body’s internal balance and harmony.
In doing so, the ECS regulates bodily functions such as immunity, hunger, rest, pain, anxiety, and depression.
When CBD enters our body, cannabinoid receptors and endocannabinoid receptors combine and emanate translated signals.
Some cannabinoid receptors signal pain and sensory information specifically.
The CB1 receptors are found in your brain and central nervous system, while CB2 receptors are more common in your peripheral nervous system, operating within your immune system or gastrointestinal system.
Depending on the type of receptors, endocannabinoids bind to and where they are located, they will elicit different reactions.
Dopamine and RSL
CB1 receptors and endocannabinoids working in the central nervous system interact with the brain and spine, including the basal ganglia thought to contribute to RLS.
The presence of this interaction can influence physiological processing in parts of our body that are essential to motor control and pain regulation, changing responses to stimuli and sensation – like RLS symptoms.
Dopamine neuron depletion prevention has the potential to solve what may be the root causes of RLS.
CBD can also benefit serotonin, another hormone produced by our body and regulated by our brain.
This could help mitigate the anxiety and depression that are consequences of RLS and RLS-induced sleeplessness.
How Restless Leg Syndrome Affects Sleep
Trouble sleeping and remaining asleep throughout the night is one of restless leg syndrome’s more significant impacts on its patients.
Pain and discomfort can disrupt sleep, and the anxiety surrounding impending RLS symptoms or the loss of sleep as a result of those symptoms could prevent sleep from happening in the first place.
Like dopamine, it’s not completely understood why CBD’s impact on your ECS results in sedation and relaxation, but it does.
Using CBD before bed could soothe your stress and set you up for slumber while preventing potential leg aches.
The Discomforts That Go Along With Restless Leg Syndrome
The sudden need to move your limbs is prompted by the intolerable feelings that occur.
CBD may prevent those feelings from arising in the first place or make them more tolerable when they do.
It could be argued that CBD is most commonly used for pain relief.
CB1 and CB2 receptors travel throughout our pain pathways and can alter and inhibit pain perception and responses by blocking painful stimulation.
This change in synaptic responses makes CBD a great candidate for alleviating pain, subduing sensation, and tempering the need to respond urgently.
The Best Way to Take CBD for Restless Leg Syndrome
Taking CBD sublingually is the most effective way to take and use CBD.
Sublingual absorption of CBD is especially effective when using CBD for sleep and discomfort.
When taking CBD sublingually, you place CBD oil under your tongue for thirty seconds and then swallow.
During that time, the CBD is absorbed by oral capillaries and sends the CBD right into your bloodstream, producing a reasonably immediate onset.
The rest of the CBD that is swallowed is processed by your digestive tract, providing a secondary onset that occurs between 30 minutes and two hours later.
Combining a fast, efficient, and concentrated dosage of CBD with a separate set of ancillary effects encourages instant and continued relief.
CBD vape devices are another option for CBD sleep use.
Vaping allows CBD to enter your system via inhalation.
Sending CBD to your lungs expedites circulation in your bloodstream, and is the quickest way to feel CBD in your body.
While concentrated, the effects of vaped CBD won’t last as long when compared to other methods of consumption.
CBD oils, vapes, and CBD sleep formulas (oils specifically designed for sleep) could be especially helpful to RLS patients by assisting them with falling asleep and staying asleep, providing both sedation and pain relief.
Applying topical CBD to your legs could also help with mitigating pain and discomfort.
Topical or transdermal CBD is absorbed into your body through your skin.
Permeating your dermal layers and being dispersed throughout your bloodstream can cause topical CBD use to take a bit longer, but its benefits make up for the wait.
Topical CBD has increased bioavailability and longer effectiveness durations than other consumption methods, meaning it will be felt more consistently for longer.
Everyday topical CBD products include lotions, balms, and salves. Incorporating CBD topical into your nightly routines could help with pain prevention.
Users could also combine CBD sublingual oils and topicals to ensure they’re getting full coverage.
Like many CBD success stories, anecdotal evidence provides the most support for CBD as a medicinal.
Yet, science continues to supply new information and understanding as research into cannabis pharmaceutical potential grows.
If you or someone you know is suffering from restless leg syndrome, check with your doctor and try out CBD – it could help put your mind, and your legs, to rest.