When living with Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS), you never know if and when you'll get a full night's restorative sleep. In the U.S., RLS impacts almost 10 percent of the population. The American Sleep Association reports that as many 12 million Americans may have the condition. And, as you may know already, many medications used for treating RLS can come with nasty side effects. Fortunately, there may be a more natural alternative to treating RLS — CBD.
What is Restless Legs Syndrome?
Restless Legs Syndrome, also called Willis-Ekborn Disease, affects your nervous system. It causes you to experience uncomfortable sensations in your legs, making it so you have an intense urge to move them around so the sensations stop. Many doctors classify this condition as a neurological sensory disorder as well as a sleep and movement disorder.
Symptoms of RLS
With RLS, you may experience symptoms such as:
- A bothersome sensation of bugs crawling up and down your legs
- Painful leg muscle cramping, typically in your calves
- Itching, burning, tingling, or throbbing sensations in your legs
- An overwhelming urge to move your legs and feet
- Feeling like your legs' blood vessels are full of sparkling water
Trying to relax or sleep often triggers these uncomfortable sensations, and the urge to move your legs. This makes it difficult to fall and stay asleep. For some individuals, it's not just in the legs either. Many experience RLS sensations in their arms; some even all over their entire body.
Those with RLS are not only forced to make lifestyle changes due to the extremely uncomfortable symptoms they're experiencing, but many have to suffer with chronic symptoms that negatively impact their quality of life.
RLS's interference with your sleep pattern impacts more than the length of time you're able to rest at night. A lack of sufficient sleep can also lead to serious short and long-term consequences, including:
- Reduced social functioning
- Reduced quality of life
- Impaired work performance
- Impaired cognitive functioning
- Impaired memory
- Increased healthcare utilization
It can also have negative effects on your health, including:
- Risk of diabetes
- Weakened immune system
- High blood pressure
- Weight gain
So, you can see that treating RLS is extremely important, not just to your sanity, but to your health, too.
Current Treatments for RLS
In some cases, you can greatly relieve RLS symptoms, simply by having an underlying condition like iron deficiency treated.
If your RLS isn't linked with an underlying condition, treatment may involve lifestyle changes and medications to relieve symptoms.
- Lifestyle Changes
Lifestyle changes may involve things like avoiding tobacco, caffeine, or alcohol. You may need to exercise regularly. You may need to engage your mind with distracting activities like needlework or video games.
- Medication Therapy
There are several prescription medicines that are often used for treating other conditions, but can help reduce RLS in your legs. Some include:
- Medications for increasing the brain's dopamine: These medicines impact the levels of dopamine (a chemical messenger) in your brain. Some examples are Requip (ropinirole), Mirapex (pramipexole), and Neupro (rotigotine).
- Medications to affect calcium channels: Some medicines like Neurontin (gabapentin), Lyrica (pregabalin) and Horizant (enacarbil) help with RLS in some people.
- Opioids: These are narcotic medicines doctors prescribe for mild to severe RLS symptoms. In high doses, however, they're addictive, so usually they're prescribed as a last resort. Some examples are OxyContin (oxycodone), Percocet (combined acetaminophen and oxycodone), and Vicodin (combined acetaminophen and hydrocodone).
- Sleep medications and muscle relaxants: Referred to as benzodiazepines, these medicines help you sleep at night better, but don't work that well at eliminating the leg sensations. Klonopin (clonazepam) is a common medication used for RLS, but is only prescribed when other treatments fail to provide relief.
- Natural Therapy
A couple natural therapy options are:
- Iron for Restless Legs: Iron helps with dopamine production, which as you know, helps with RLS symptoms. A study found participants (76 percent) who received an IV iron infusion showed substantial improvement in their symptoms of RLS, without any severe side effects. You can absorb iron through your skin, so you can take iron transdermally, such as with an iron patch.
- Magnesium for Restless Legs: Another beneficial mineral, magnesium, can help with RLS. Magnesium soothes irritable nerve endings, and promotes muscle relaxation. Like iron, you can absorb magnesium through your skin; therefore, you can apply magnesium lotions or oils directly to your legs.
It might take a few trials for your doctor to find the proper medicine or combination of medicines that work well for your RLS symptoms.
Can CBD Help With Restless Legs Syndrome?
Studies found CBD oil works like a powerful sleep inducer, allowing individuals with chronic pain to obtain a full night's sleep. Those with a severe disruption in glutamate levels often find it hard to sleep. CBD might actually improve glutamate signaling to reduce RLS symptoms.
CBD (cannabidiol) is a compound found in both the hemp and cannabis plants, and doesn't get the user "high" like THC does.
It has strong nerve calming and muscle relaxant effects that can significantly alleviate the discomfort of RLS. And, just like magnesium and iron, you can take it orally, or apply it to your legs topically.
CBD also impacts dopamine, which increases the amount of this neurotransmitter in your brain. Stabilizing the levels of dopamine in the brain seems to reduce involuntary movements in individuals with other movement disorders as well.
Because CBD affects your body's nervous system directly, it does have the potential to ease the symptoms of various neurological conditions like RLS.
Improve Your RLS Symptoms With a CBD-Infused Pillow
Since RLS affects your sleep, it would only make sense to seek CBD's relief through the use of a pillow. CBD-infused pillows can be used just like a normal pillow. Lie comfortably in your bed, snuggling to your new CBD-infused pillow, and experience it's healing properties as it:
- Relieves the discomfort in your legs
- Reduces the involuntary movements RLS causes
- Eases any anxiety you may feel
- Helps you to fall asleep soundly
The best part is, CBD-infused pillows are so soft and comfortable, sleeping with one will feel just like your regular pillow. You'll be dreaming in no time. Talk with your doctor today about trying a CBD-infused pillow for your RLS. Order your own CBD-infused pillow today.