Medical Marijuana Research Overview of Restless Legs Syndrome

 Photo Credit: Medical Marijuana Inc.

Photo Credit: Medical Marijuana Inc.

Restless legs syndrome (RLS) refers to a sensorimotor disorder in which one experiences the uncontrollable and uncomfortable urge to move the legs, and it affects as many as one in ten people in the United States. Because this syndrome is typically worse when sitting or laying down, it coincides with sleep problems, exhaustion, daytime sleepiness, and lower productivity. Treatments for the condition range from moving the affected limbs, taking iron supplements, hot baths, or getting leg massages, to taking anti-seizure medications or dopaminergic agents. However, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke warn long-term use of the medications may worsen the symptoms. More severe cases of RLS may be treated with opioids.

One 2017 study found cannabis completely relieved RLS symptoms in six patients. Five chose to inhale marijuana, while one consumed CBD, to reach remission and complete symptom relief. All six said cannabis treatments greatly improved their quality of sleep. Cannabis also interacts with the endocannabinoid system to modulate the release of dopamine, and these effects have been beneficial at treating the symptoms of other movement disorders like Parkinson’s. Because of this, it could be beneficial in the management of RLS symptoms, since numerous studies support the idea of using dopamine agonist drugs for treating RLS. Lastly, numerous studies show cannabinoids like CBD and THC effectively manage pain and sleep, which are both symptoms that accompany RLS.

This information has been provided by Medical Marijuana Inc. and approved by our Chief Medical Officer.