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Restless Leg Syndrome and Medicinal Cannabis

Restless leg syndrome (RLS), also known as Willis-Ekbom Disease, is characterised by an uncontrollable urge to move the legs.

Symptoms are the most noticeable and severe when the sufferer is resting, and as a result they are more likely to occur in the late afternoon/evening. Symptoms may also present during long periods of inactivity such as plane trips or watching a movie.

Restless leg syndrome has been linked to causing exhaustion, especially during the day which can impact one's mood, personal relationships and productivity. Many people suffering from RLS find it difficult to complete daily tasks and struggle to concentrate during the day.

What are the symptoms of Restless Leg Syndrome?

Restless Leg Syndrome can physically manifest in a range of ways, including:

  • Strange itching, tingling, or "crawling" sensations occurring deep within the legs; these sensations may also occur in the arms.
  • A compelling urge to move the limbs to relieve these sensations
  • Restlessness: floor pacing, tossing and turning in bed, rubbing the legs
  • Sleep disturbances and daytime sleepiness
  • Involuntary, repetitive, periodic, jerking limb movements

Factors that may increase your risk of developing Restless Leg Syndrome:

  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Chronic diseases
  • Diabetes
  • Alcoholism
  • Iron deficiency
  • Kidney failure
  • Spinal cord conditions

How can medicinal cannabis help with Restless Leg Syndrome?

Cannabis use reduces the body's capacity to create dopamine, which for people with RLS is beneficial is it helps prevent the excessive release of dopamine, and restores the activity in the basal ganglia to normal levels. 

A recent study at the Clinical Neurosciences Centre found that RLS patients using medicinal cannabis described it as the most effective treatment, enabling them to sleep better and thus improving their overall quality of life. 

Some of the cannabis products that have shown to be beneficial treatments to Restless Leg Syndrome sufferers include:

  • Nabiximols
  • Dronbinol
  • THC:CBD extracts
  • CBD extracts
  • Cannabis Sativa
  • Cannabis Indica

They can be consumed as an oil, vape liquid, sprays and wafers.

If you or a loved one are suffering from Restless Leg Syndrome and are considering medicinal cannabis as a potential treatment, please speak to your GP or to one of our SAS accredited doctors here.