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There is a pulling and tingling sensation in the legs, the urge to move becomes stronger and stronger - and all this happens while sufferers are actually waiting to fall asleep. Symptoms of this kind indicate restless legs syndrome (RLS). RLS is one of the most common neurological disorders and is often associated with a great deal of suffering. Because the therapy is difficult. Therefore, readers will get an overview of the causes as well as the conventional therapy methods and receive important information about which natural remedies and measures can help in everyday life to alleviate the symptoms. The article also answers the question of whether cannabidiol (CBD) could be of help.
Restless legs syndrome: identifying features (main symptoms).
Restless legs syndrome: What can be the causes?
Restless legs syndrome: Treatment options
Restless Legs: Treatment without medication
Restless Legs: Herbal remedies
Restless Legs Homeopathic Treatment
CBD against RLS
CBD oil against RLS symptoms
About ten percent of the population suffers from Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) at some point in their lives. This involves an unpleasant sensation in one or both legs and, less frequently, in the arms, which is described as pulling, tingling, burning, stinging or pain. These so-called paresthesias are accompanied by an irresistible urge to move the affected body parts.
Another characteristic of the disease is that the complaints occur particularly when affected persons are at rest. Especially in the evening and at night before going to bed, but also on long train rides, in the office or at the cinema, the urge to move and the insensations in the legs become unbearable.
Restless legs syndrome: identifying features (main symptoms)
Although the condition is widespread, it usually takes some time for a health care professional to make the correct diagnosis. This is because Restless Legs Syndrome is not measured by specific body values, but is only found out by taking a medical history (history of the patient) as well as by ruling out other diseases. Experts speak of RLS when the following characteristics are present:
- Sensory disturbances in the extremities (arms and legs), especially in the legs
- Unpleasant feelings of tension and restlessness
- Uncontrollable urge to move
- Symptoms begin or worsen at rest-
- Symptoms improve with movement (e.g. when running or stretching)-
- Symptoms are stronger in the evening or at night, which can lead to sleep disturbances
Not only the legs, but also the arms can be affected. In addition, the complaints can occur on one side, both sides or alternately. In addition to these (main) symptoms, other complaints may occur, since sleep is
often disturbed by the disease, such as fatigue, exhaustion, inner restlessness and concentration problems occur.
In principle, the disease can occur in all age groups, but the frequency increases with increasing age - for example, from 50 onwards. In addition, women are more affected than men.
Restless Legs and Periodic Limb Movement Disorder
80 percent of patients with restless legs also have periodic limbo movement disorder (PLMD). This is characterized by repeated twitching or kicking with arms and legs during sleep. As a result, sufferers often struggle to fall asleep and stay asleep, which can have a significant impact on quality of life and performance. If Periodic Limb Movement Disorder occurs alone, the urge to move during wakefulness that is characteristic of RLS is absent.
Restless Legs Syndrome: What can be the causes?
The causes of restless legs syndrome are varied. In most cases, a genetic predisposition seems to be the determining factor. Various diseases can also cause RLS, such as:
- Iron, folic acid and vitamin B12 deficiency.
- Renal insufficiency
- Diseases of the peripheral or central nervous system, such as multiple sclerosis (MS)-
- Parkinson's disease
- Medications (e.g. certain antidepressants or neuroleptics)
However, the disease may also be psychosomatic. That is, in this case, the symptoms can be attributed to a psychological rather than a physical cause. In particular, stress and mental strain can trigger or worsen RLS symptoms.
Science cannot yet clearly explain how the symptoms arise. However, it is assumed that there is an imbalance in various neurotransmitter systems - particularly with regard to dopamine metabolism, as well as an inadequate oxygen supply to the affected parts of the body. Central to this may be an iron deficiency, because the trace element makes a relevant contribution in the production of dopamine. If iron and thus dopamine are lacking in the brain, the transmission of excitation from one nerve cell to other cells can be disturbed and RLS symptoms occur.
Restless Legs Syndrome: Treatment Options
If the cause of restless legs is known, it can be treated specifically. However, if - as is often the case - there is no specific cause, various medications can be used for therapy:
- L-dopa (levodopa): L-dopa is the precursor of dopamine and can compensate for a lack of dopamine in the brain. The symptoms often subside after the first dose. Tolerance is also good at the recommended dose. However, with a higher dosage of L-dopa, there is a risk of augmentation. This term originates from medicine and describes a persistent worsening of the severity of symptoms under drug treatment.
- Dopamine agonists: Dopamine agonists act immediately because, unlike L-dopa, they are not first converted to an effective form in the brain. However, these drugs can also cause unpleasant side effects, such as fatigue, nausea, and circulatory problems.
Opioids, on the other hand, are second-line drugs and are only used when other medications have no corresponding effect. They prevent the transmission of pain signals in the brain and can improve sleep quality. However, opioids fall under the Narcotics Act and carry the risk of dependence. They can also cause side effects such as daytime sleepiness, sleep apnea and constipation.
Restless Legs: Treatment without medication
The correct treatment for Restless Legs Syndrome, especially to achieve complete freedom from symptoms, does not currently exist. Experiences of affected people show that the following measures can help with Restless Legs Syndrome:
- fixed bedtime rituals that promote healthy and regular sleep
- Alternating showers, foot baths, massages or brushing of the calves and thighs
- regular exercise, gymnastics and stretching exercises
- Cold treatments (e.g. cold showers or cooling gel)
- Avoidance of certain stimulants such as caffeine, alcohol and tobacco
However, there are still no scientific studies on the effectiveness of these home remedies against RLS. At best, there are reports of experience from which it can be concluded that they can be a support.
Treat Restless Legs naturally with the right diet
In addition, a help with Restless Legs could be to pay attention to a healthy and balanced diet. For example, important vitamins, minerals and trace elements are considered to be:
- Iron: Whole grain products, legumes, meat
- Magnesium: dairy products, oranges, nuts
- Selenium: Legumes, eggs, asparagus, mushrooms
- Folic acid: legumes, lettuce, nuts
- Vitamin C: broccoli, spinach, oranges, cabbage
- Vitamin B12: meat, eggs, cheese, yogurt
Restless Legs: Herbal remedies
Calming herbal medicines (in technical language: phytopharmaceuticals) such as valerian, passionflower, hops, lemon balm or lavender are often taken in the hope of driving the restlessness out of the legs. However, a sufficient effect remains absent in most sufferers.
Treating restless legs homeopathically
Are homeopathic remedies also suitable for relieving restless legs syndrome? Certainly, homeopathic remedies can be an option to try. Remedies such as Rhus tox, Zincum meallicum, Magnesia carbonica or Tarantula hispanica are often recommended for RLS. However, for such treatment, sufferers should seek the help of a homeopath or naturopath.
An alternative method, which is close to homeopathy, is also the Schüßler salts. They see an administration of minerals such as magnesium phosphoricum.
CBD against RLS
In the search for a remedy for Restless Legs, many come across cannabidiol (CBD). Just like the well-known intoxicating tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD is also a cannabinoid from the hemp plant. However, CBD does not cause intoxication.
In the body, cannabinoids bind to cannabinoid receptors, which are part of the so-called endocannabinoid system (ESC). This is involved in various processes in the body, including pain perception, emotions, sleep, appetite, and the immune system. For this reason, the ESC is often referred to as a regulatory system.
Interestingly, animal studies found evidence that there may be a close connection between the ESC and the brain's dopaminergic circuits. In this respect, the researchers hypothesized that modulation of the ESC using cannabinoids could be important for the development of new therapeutic strategies for dopamine-related diseases (e.g., Parkinson's disease).
Studies: CBD and Restless Legs Syndrome
Studies specifically investigating the effect of CBD alone on restless legs syndrome are scarce. Also, the results are sometimes contradictory and inconclusive. For example, in one study, 18 RLS patients received CBD at doses ranging from 75 to 300 milligrams per day for two weeks. CBD showed no reduction in severity of RLS symptoms no difference compared to placebo (dummy drug). Unfortunately, the current status of studies is not sufficient to confirm efficacy.
CBD oil against RLS symptoms
Freely available CBD oil is not comparable to medical CBD used in studies, as it can vary significantly in quality depending on the manufacturer.
Many users make use of the positive properties of CBD oil on the body and report, among other things, that it can support to come to rest. In this respect, CBD oil could well be an alternative to try out to alleviate the urge to move your legs.
What really helps against restless legs?
If restless legs are triggered by a specific condition, such as an iron deficiency, then the cause can be treated with specific therapies. Often, however, the origin of RLS is unclear. Then, in addition to drug therapy, a combination of a healthy diet, good sleep hygiene and targeted exercise in everyday life proves helpful. If the syndrome occurs acutely, home remedies such as cold compresses or ointments or a massage of the affected body parts can also be important measures to achieve an improvement.
What aggravates Restless Legs?
There are numerous factors that can aggravate restless legs syndrome. These include, for example, certain medications such as antidepressants or antihistamines, stress, increasing age or certain stimulants such as alcohol, nicotine or caffeine. Even medications prescribed for restless legs (e.g., L-dopa) can cause symptoms to worsen. Although they initially relieve the symptoms, they can cause restless legs syndrome to become more frequent and more pronounced.
What vitamin is lacking in restless legs?
An iron deficiency can be the cause of restless legs. This is because iron supports the formation of dopamine in the brain. However, too high an iron level can endanger health, which is why the iron level in the blood should be determined before taking iron supplements. In addition to iron, foods rich in magnesium, selenium, folic acid, vitamin C and vitamin B12 can also be incorporated into the daily diet.
Why do I have Restless Legs?
The causes of restless legs syndrome (RLS) can be varied, and often they are unclear despite extensive
diagnosis they are unclear. Triggers can be certain diseases, medications or an iron deficiency. A genetic predisposition can also be considered. However, knowledge about Restless Legs is limited. Experts suspect that a disorder in dopamine metabolism could also trigger RLS.