CBD Products for Restless Legs Syndrome: Do They Help?

Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a condition that causes an irresistible urge to move the legs due to uncomfortable sensations. In turn, individuals with RLS can experience difficulty sleeping and painful sensations in their legs. To date there are various treatments available, however, they do not work for everyone. Some individuals are turning to CBD products as a potential solution for relief. Read on to learn about the potential of CBD for RLS.

Key takeaways:

How do CBD products help with RLS?

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CBD is short for cannabidiol. This is one of the substances that can be extracted from the cannabis plant. While CBD is obtained from cannabis, it does not have any psychoactive effects, meaning that it doesn't cause a high. CBD interacts with the body's endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system is involved in governing key bodily functions, for example, pain perception and sleep.

For individuals with RLS, CBD may provide relief in several ways:

  • Painful sensations. Individuals with RLS often report painful or uncomfortable feelings in the legs. There are some reports suggesting CBD decreases pain and discomfort.
  • Sleep quality. RLS symptoms are often at their worst during the late hours of the day and night. CBD has been shown to have some effect on insomnia and relaxation. This potentially can help individuals with RLS to improve their sleep duration and quality.

Different types of CBD products for RLS

While CBD products are quite new, there are many types available. This allows individuals to pick what works best for them

  • Oils and tinctures. Can be used as drops under the tongue. Due to the route of administration, they take effect quickly.
  • Capsules. Provide the user with a precise and controlled amount of CBD, as each capsule contains a pre-measured dose.
  • Edibles. These are CBD-infused foods, such as candy or chocolates. While it is the most tasty way of using CBD, they take longer to take effect, because they need to be absorbed by the digestive tract.
  • Topical. Creams and balms that can be used on your skin — for example, directly on the legs. It is suggested that this potentially provides localized relief from RLS symptoms, but there is a lack of research supporting this.
  • Vapes. These have quick effects, as CBD is absorbed into the bloodstream from the lungs. However, individuals with respiratory issues should be cautious of this method of administration. Vaping also provides the user with less control over the amount of CBD.

Benefits of using CBD for RLS

Even though the literature on the potential benefits of using CBD products is mixed, some studies on RLS and CBD use report that this method can offer some benefits:

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  • Pain relief. Since CBD contains some anti-inflammatory properties, it can help reduce the discomfort associated with RLS.
  • Better sleep. Sleep quality and duration can be improved, as it promotes relaxation and reduces anxiety.
  • Fewer side effects. As with most treatment options, CBD has its side effects. However, in comparison with some conventional medications for RLS, CBD is generally well-tolerated and may have fewer side effects.

It is quite difficult to determine the right CBD dosage for RLS since it depends on a number of individual factors. A one-size-fits-all approach cannot be used here, therefore you should consult with your healthcare professional before starting any CBD regimen, especially if you're currently taking other medications or have underlying health conditions. Body weight, speed of metabolism, and the severity of symptoms are factors that should be taken into account when considering CBD use.

You might want to start with a low dose (around 1020 mg of CBD or less) and see how that works in your individual case. Eventually, you can try and gradually increase the dosage until you experience relief from your RLS symptoms. It is important to note that CBD does not work for everyone, and it is not a matter of dosage, just individual makeup.

How soon will I notice results?

Unfortunately, there is no guide to how long it may take to notice the effects of CBD. This seems to be determined by individual makeup rather than dosage or route of administration. For some individuals, feelings of relief appear shortly after using CBD, while others may take a few days to a week to experience noticeable changes.

It is important to take your time when trying CBD for RLS for the first time. Be consistent with your dosage and regimen and wait for the desired effects. Starting with a low dosage and slowly adjusting it can help you find the right balance for your specific needs.

Does CBD work for everybody?

CBD, like many treatments, may not work equally well for everyone. While some individuals with RLS find significant relief from CBD products, others may not experience the same benefits. The effectiveness of CBD can depend on factors such as the severity of RLS symptoms, individual body chemistry, and the quality of the CBD product being used. It's crucial to consult with a healthcare professional to explore various options and determine the best approach for your condition.

Other treatments for RLS

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There are many other treatment options for RLS. Other management techniques include, but are not limited to:

  • Lifestyle changes. Some simple things you might want to try before you choose medication or CBD include exercising regularly, reducing caffeine intake, and keeping appropriate sleep hygiene.
  • Medication. Dopamine agonists or anticonvulsants are often prescribed for individuals with RLS and have been shown to be effective for many. Contact your healthcare professional for consultation and prescription.
  • Iron supplements. Studies have shown that RLS can be more intense in individuals with iron deficiency. Consider using iron supplements to relieve some of the symptoms. Consult your healthcare professional to see if it may help you.
  • Relaxation techniques. Yoga, meditation, and deep breathing exercises have been shown to reduce RLS-related stress.
  • Warm baths. Soaking in warm water, especially before bedtime, can relax the muscles, which can help ease RLS symptoms.

Risks and side effects of CBD

Before considering CBD for RLS, there are some possible side effects that should be considered:

  • Dry mouth. The use of CBD reduces the production of saliva, which leads to a dry sensation in the mouth.
  • Dizziness. Some people experience lightheadedness when using CBD.
  • Changes in appetite. It has been reported that appetite changes when using CBD. Some experience an increase in appetite, while others have reduced appetite.
  • Gastrointestinal issues. CBD use can cause some gastrointestinal discomfort, for example diarrhea.
  • Interaction with medications. Some medications negatively interact with CBD. It is important to consult with a healthcare practitioner if you are currently using any other medication.

It is worth mentioning that the reported side effects are typically mild. However, if you are experiencing one or more of them, you might want to consider adjusting the dosage or discontinuing the use of CBD.

Some people may wonder if CBD can cause RLS or worsen the already existing symptoms. The first question is pretty straightforward no, CBD does not cause RLS. To date, there is no scientific evidence suggesting that the use of CBD can be the cause of RLS.

The latter question is a bit more complex. As with many other treatments, individual responses to CBD can vary. While some people report positive experiences using CBD, some may not experience the same benefits. For some people, CBD does not provide any relief or improvement of symptoms. Individuality is the key monitor your use and symptoms closely and consult a healthcare professional if you have any concerns about the impact of CBD on your RLS.

The scientific evidence so far suggests that CBD may be helpful for managing RLS symptoms for some people. However, it is clear that CBD use, dosage, and effectiveness are highly individual. It offers some benefits, but, as with any other treatment, has some side effects. If you are considering using CBD, consult your healthcare practitioner, especially if you use any other medication or have other comorbid conditions.

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