What Is RLS? Can CBD Help People With RLS?


What is Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) & Why it occurs?

Have you ever felt a tingling, crawling pain in your feet that you suddenly get the urge to shake off by rapidly moving your feet?

Do you feel your legs are on fire, with a rapid electric current running up your feet when you’re idly sitting or lying down?

Does it make your legs shake uncontrollably – as if walking around would help stop those strange sensations – and they, actually, do?

It could be due to a rare disorder of the motor muscles, known as Willis-Ekbom Disease (WED) or Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS).

Unlike a habitual shaking of legs when feeling restless, bored, or anxious, this is a condition over which an individual has no control. Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) is a chronic neurosensory disorder, marked by unpleasant sensations in the legs, mostly in their lower parts, with an uncontrollable urge to shake them.

For those who haven’t experienced these sensations, here’s what most patients who did, describe them as:

  • Creeping/Crawling Feeling
  • Tugging/Pulling
  • Elvis legs/Jimmy Legs
  • Shivers
  • Burning/Searing Pain/Throbbing Ache
  • A surge of Electric Current/Extreme energy in legs that need to be released

According to a November 2009 study, published in the  Internal Medicine, RLS “affects about 5-15% of adult people in industrialized countries”. Furthermore, Dr. Ginevra Liptan (MD) says that its prevalence among Fibromyalgia patients is as high as one in every three fibromyalgia patients.

Occurrence

These crawling, tingling, aches usually come on later in the day when one is idly sitting or lying down. These progress as the night draws near.

Patients may experience this annoying discomfort even when they’re waiting (for something/someone), traveling, watching a movie, or simply sitting with no momentary use for their legs. Often, these sensations continue during the night, causing sleep disruptions and insomnia.

Sometimes, these sensations relent when the leg is moved or the person walks around. But they return as soon as the movement stops. That’s why such persons find it very difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep. In most such cases, patients suffer from chronic insomnia.

Until recently, this condition was considered nothing more than a movement disorder. In 1990, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine categorized it as a variant of sleep disorder, and classified it under the International Classification of Sleep Disorders.

From the causal perspective, however, it should be characterized as a neurological sensory disorder, as they are caused by sensory malfunction from within the brain.

Causal factors

  • While the exact cause for this disease is yet unknown, RLS seems to have a genetic component to it. In families, where this is prevalent, the symptoms show up before 40 years of age.
  • There is also evidence, suggesting RLS is caused among individuals with iron deficiency.
  • Another line of thought points to the dysfunction of a section of the brain that controls motor movements and utilizes the brain chemical dopamine to regulate smooth muscle activity.

Incidentally, scientists have also found a relatively admissible amount of connection between patients Parkinson’s disease and those suffering from RLS.

Among other things, RLS also seems to be related to/accompany conditions like:

  • End-stage Renal Disease & Hemodialysis
  • Iron Deficiency
  • Magnesium Deficiency
  • Use of Medications like:
    • Anti-Nausea Drugs (like prochlorperazine or metoclopramide),
    • Anti-Psychotic Drugs (like haloperidol or phenothiazine derivatives)
    • Antidepressants (like fluoxetine or sertraline)
    • Cold & Allergy Medications (containing older antihistamines like diphenhydramine)
  • Alcohol, nicotine, and caffeine abuse
  • Pregnancy (last trimester; usually subsides within 4 weeks after delivery)
  • Neuropathy (nerve damage)
  • Sleep deprivation and/or sleep apnea

Doctors would first check to see if the symptoms can be alleviated by reducing or eliminating these factors.

How to Treat Restless Leg Syndrome?

Once your doctor diagnoses the problem (which is often difficult), he’ll address each deficiency or functional problem individually.

A FAIR WARNING: There is NO ABSOLUTE CURE for RLS.

Nevertheless, the usual treatment routes include medication (pharmaceutical and/or natural), lifestyle changes, etc.

However, new evidence has emerged, suggesting CBD can effectively provide relief from RLS symptoms and help patients grab a well-deserved and much-needed sleep.

Medical Treatment Methods

  1. Iron supplementation: Individuals with low or below-normal blood ferritin and transferrin,e. iron deficiency, can be treated with iron supplementation as the first course of action.

[Flipside: Using these supplements may give you an upset stomach. Our gut can’t absorb iron properly; it may cause constipation that can be avoided with a stool-softener. Some people don’t respond to iron supplementation, in which case iron may have to be pumped into the bloodstream through an IV line.]

  1. Magnesium: Magnesium deficiency can wreak havoc on our motor movements. Its presence helps muscles relax and soothes irritability of the nerve endings. Researchers of a 1998 study, published in the journal Sleep, found magnesium to effective in treating mild to moderate RLS symptoms.

[Flipside: Skin irritation, when administered topically through body oils.]

  1. Selenium: Selenium also seems to play an important role in regulating brain activity. An October 2016 study, published in the Iranian Journal of Neurology, reported the successful treatment of three female patients with severe symptoms of RLS/WED, aged 25-60 years, with selenium supplementation for 6 months.
  2. Anti-seizure drugs: Anti-seizure drugs are also among the first lines of RLS treatment. However, these are prescription drugs, with more possible side effects. One such potent drug is Gabapentin enacarbil that boosts the dopamine levels in the individual. Other anti-seizure drugs, like gabapentin and pregabalin (known as alpha2delta or α2δ ligands), can also decrease such sensory disturbances and reduce nerve pain.

A 2014 controlled human trial revealed that pregabalin is as effective as pramipexole – a dopaminergic drug – for RLS treatment. [Flipside: Dizziness, fatigue, and grogginess.]

  1. Opioids: Opioids, such as methadone, codeine, hydrocodone, or oxycodone are also recommended for managing severe cases of RLS in some patients, who don’t respond to other options. [Flipside: Constipation, dizziness, nausea, worsening of sleep apnea, and, of course, dependence and addiction.]
  2. Benzodiazepines: Benzos address spasms, seizures, and anxiety among RLS patients, and help them sleep better. Benzodiazepines, like clonazepam and lorazepam, are often prescribed to treat anxiety, muscle spasms, and insomnia.

[Flipside: Daytime sleepiness, lethargy, lack of focus, and exacerbation of sleep apnea in some cases.]

  1. Dopaminergic agents: Drugs, such as ropinirole, pramipexole, and rotigotine, are meant to specifically increase the dopamine effect. Known for treating patients with Parkinson’s disease, these drugs can reduce RLS symptoms when taken before bedtime. A combination of levodopa (central nervous system agent) and carbidopa (decarboxylase inhibitors to aid absorption of levodopa) are often used to treat tremors, stiffness, and lethargy in Parkinson’s disease.

[Flipside: Nausea, dizziness, and other short-term side effects. Long-term use may aggravate the symptoms. These drugs can also lead to obsessive or impulsive behavior, such as gambling or shopping (or even shop-lifting).]

Natural ways

Lifestyle changes:

  • Avoid or reduce alcohol and/or tobacco use
  • Change/maintain a consistent and regular sleep pattern
  • Avoid medications that aggravate your symptoms
  • Exercise regularly, include aerobic and leg-stretching exercises
  • Massage your legs
  • Take a warm bath before bedtime; use warm water every time you bathe
  • Use a hot pad/ice pack
  • Medical devices, like foot wraps (put pressure underneath the foot), footpads (deliver vibrations on the back of the legs)
  • Meditation
  • Acupuncture
  • Yoga along with mineral supplementation (through proper diet)
  • CBD or Cannabidiol. Another natural way of managing symptoms is by using CBD supplementation. When one cannot change their lifestyle entirely, using CBD may help, as it’s usually effective in managing seizures, controlling muscle spasms and cramps, alleviating neuropathic pain, relieving itches, regulating sleep patterns, etc.

To understand how far CBD can help an RLS patient, read the following section.

How CBD Helps RLS – A Scientific Outlook

CBD is a chemical compound, known as cannabinoid, found in cannabis extracts. It can indirectly interact with the nerve receptors associated with the body’s endocannabinoid system. Its action either inhibits or promotes the functions of certain bodily organs, hormones, neurotransmitters, etc. thereby alleviating much of the symptoms caused by RLS.

A few studies that support CBD’s efficacy on RLS symptoms:

  • An August 2017 study,conducted at the Center for Clinical Neuroscience and published in Sleep Medicine, found that CBD-rich medicinal cannabis provided relief to a group of six patients with RLS.
  • A 2007 review, published in the Chemistry & Biodiversity discussed how Cannabis can alleviate pain and promote sleep at the same time.
  • In a March 2015 review of the role of cannabinoids in movement disorders, researchers confirmed that the endocannabinoid system does play a part in such disorders. How far cannabis-derived compounds influence that is still up for debate – and further investigation.
  • Another 2012 review, which talks about multiple treatment strategies for RLS, addresses the need to target the dopamine deficit. Although the study does not include CBD, we have other studies to prove that CBD does play a role in making up for it.

While medical investigation and research into the use of CBD Oil for treating RLS symptoms are still limited, there is a wealth of anecdotal evidence for RLS patients benefiting from its use.

Although it’s not clear whether or not, or how far CBD Oil directly addresses the underlying issues of RLS, it definitely relaxes the nerves, acts as an analgesic, promotes sleep, and relieves stress and pain in these patients.

Which CBD Oils Are Best for RLS?

  1. FabCBD – Editor’s Choice
  2. NuLeaf Naturals – Highly Potent
  3. CBDistillery – All Extract Types

 

1. FabCBD’s CBD Oil – Editor’s Choice

FABCBD

The Brand in Brief

FabCBD, though not the biggest brands in the market today, it certainly has become quite popular owing to its highly potent, safe, organically sourced, and the high-quality CBD oils that help combat a variety of symptoms. The icing on the cake is its CBD oils are quite affordable.

Brand & Product Advantages:

  • Organic, Vegan & Gluten-Free
  • CO2-Extracted, Full-Spectrum CBD Blend with other Natural Ingredients
  • Sourced from Homegrown Hemp from Colorado’s Regulated Farmlands
  • Third-Party Lab-Tested; lab reports available on website
  • NO pesticides, heavy metals, residual solvents, or other contaminants
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Free shipping within the US on orders above $89

Product Highlights

  • Potency:
    • 300mg, 600mg, 1200mg, 2400mg
  • Flavors:
    • Citrus, Mint, Natural, Berry, Vanilla
  • Extract Type: Full-Spectrum
  • Hemp Source: Colorado, US
  • Ingredients:
    • Organically Grown Full-Spectrum Hemp Extract
    • Terpenes
    • Natural Flavorings
    • Fractionated Coconut Oil (Medium Chain Triglycerides)
  • Lab Reports: ProVerde Laboratories
  • Price: $0.05/mg – $0.13/mg

 

2. NuLeaf Naturals’ Hemp CBD Oil – Highly Potent

Nuleaf Naturals

The Brand in Brief

As a well-respected, all-American brand, NuLeaf sells only pure and clean CBD oils. Since its inception, NuLeaf has been one of the country’s pioneering hemp product brands that focused largely on quality than quantity or variety.

Brand & Product Advantages:

  • USDA-certified Organic Hemp Extracts
  • Hemp Sourced from Colorado Farms
  • CO2 Extracted CBD Oil, with Natural Ingredients
  • Superior Processing Technologies
  • No additives, preservatives, herbicides, pesticides, chemical fertilizers, residual solvents, or other contaminants
  • Third-Party Lab-Tested
  • Fast & Free Shipping Within the US
  • 30-day money-back guarantee on unused products

Key Highlights

  • Potencies:
    • 300mg (5ml), 900mg (15ml), 1800mg (30ml), 3000mg (50ml), 6000mg (100ml); same per ml potency (60mg/ml)
  • Flavors: Flavorless
  • Extract Type: Full-Spectrum
  • Hemp Source: Colorado, US
  • Ingredients:
    • Organic Virgin Hemp Seed Oil
    • Full-Spectrum Hemp Extract
  • Lab Reports: Botanacor Laboratories
  • Price: $0.07/mg – $0.13/mg

 

3. CBDistillery CBD Oil Tinctures – All Extract Types

CBDistillery-Black-Friday-2019-Sale-Discount.png

The Brand in Brief

Established by a small group of Colorado natives, CBDistillery provides the masses with easy access to high-quality, hemp-derived CBD products, ample information on cannabis and CBD, the latest industry research on the uses, benefits, and side-effects of CBD. It offers a complete range of extract types in its tinctures.

Advantages of CBDistillery’s CBD Oil Tinctures

  • 100% Organic Hemp Extract with Natural Ingredients
  • CO2-Extracted Hemp CBD oil
  • Full-Spectrum, Broad-Spectrum, and THC-Free Pure CBD Oil Tinctures (Isolates)
  • Natural, hemp-derived terpenes

Key Highlights

  • Potencies:
    • Full Spectrum CBD Oil Tincture:
    • THC-Free Pure CBD Oil Tincture:
      • 250mg
      • 5000mg
      • 2500mg
      • 1000mg
      • 500mg
    • Broad Spectrum CBD Oil Tincture:
    • CBG + CBD Oil Tincture 1:1: 1000mg
  • Flavors: Flavorless
  • Extract Type: Full-Spectrum/Broad-Spectrum/CBD Isolates/ CBD + CBG
  • Hemp Source: Colorado, US
  • Ingredients:
    • Fractionated Coconut Oil (MCT)
    • Hemp Extract (Aerial Parts)
    • Natural Terpenes
  • Lab Reports: ProVerde Laboratories
  • Price: $0.04/mg – $0.08/mg

 

Our Takeaway

Although RLS has been known to the medical and pharmaceutical fraternity for quite some time, it was only recently that the search for safer alternatives to drugs that have serious side effects were even considered.

Until recently, the only treatment methods were pharmaceutical drugs and machines, massages, hot baths, hot and cold compresses, exercising, and some lifestyle changes.

Today, however, CBD Oil has gained much popularity among people suffering from different kinds of ailments, including RLS.



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