CBD for Restless Leg Syndrome: Everything You Need to Know
Have you ever felt a tingling, crawling pain in your feet that you suddenly get the urge to shake off by rapidly moving your feet? Do you feel your legs have been set on fire, with rapid electric current running up your feet when you’re sitting idly or lying down?
If you’re someone who has experienced this kind of uncomfortable sensations in your legs, you must be aware of this rare disorder of the motor muscles, known as Willis-Ekbom Disease (WED) or Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS).
Unlike a habitual shaking of legs when feeling restless, bored, or anxious, this isn’t something that you can shake off easily – although you may feel like it.
Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) is a chronic neurosensory disorder that “affects about 5-15% of adult people in industrialized countries”. In fact, its prevalence among Fibromyalgia patients is as high as one in every three fibromyalgia patients.
Treating Restless Leg Syndrome – Conventional & Otherwise
A FAIR WARNING: There is NO ABSOLUTE CURE for RLS.
Nevertheless, the usual treatment methods entail mostly medication, lifestyle changes, and some therapies.
While several pharmaceutical options are available to such patients, new studies indicate that CBD could be a safer and more effective option for RLS patients.
Additionally, CBD helps patients grab a well-deserved and much-needed shut-eye that RLS patients often do not get owing to the sudden and erratic leg movements in the middle of the night.
But, why should one choose CBD over other traditional forms of medications?
For one, it is indeed safer than most other conventional medications, with rarely any side effects. Unlike pharmaceutical medications, which carry tons of severe, some even life-threatening side effects, CBD has been found to be a far safer option.
Secondly, it comes with loads of benefits – all at the same time.
We will discuss this in a later section.
Typical Medical Treatments for RLS?
: Individuals with low or below-normal blood ferritin and transferrin,e. iron deficiency can be treated with iron supplementation as the first course of action.
- Magnesium: Magnesium helps the muscles relax and soothes irritability of the nerve endings. It can be effective in treating mild to moderate RLS symptoms.
- Selenium: Selenium seems to play an important role in regulating brain activity. A 6-month selenium-supplementation is a proven method of treating severe symptoms of RLS/WED.
- Anti-seizure drugs: Some anti-seizure drugs are an effective option for RLS patients. For instance, pregabalin (alpha2delta or α2δ ligands) can decrease sensory disturbances and reduce nerve pain. In fact, it is as effective as pramipexole – a dopaminergic drug – for RLS treatment.
- Opioids: Opioids, such as methadone, codeine, hydrocodone, or oxycodone are also recommended for managing severe cases of RLS in some patients, who don’t respond to other options.
- Benzodiazepines: Benzos address spasms, seizures, and anxiety among RLS patients, and help them sleep better.
- Dopaminergic agents: Drugs, such as ropinirole and pramipexole, target the dopamine-releasing parts of the brain. Known for treating patients with Parkinson’s disease, these drugs can reduce RLS symptoms when taken before bedtime.
While all these categories of medications can be effective, they also come with some very adverse side effects. That’s why it’s always best to go natural! Let’s discuss a few options…
Natural methods may include Lifestyle Changes, like…
- Curbing alcohol intake and tobacco use
- Ensuring a consistent and regular sleep pattern
- Avoiding medications that aggravate your symptoms
- Taking a warm bath before bedtime
- Regularly Exercising, like aerobic routines and leg-stretching
- Massaging your legs when the symptoms exhibit
- Using hot pad/ice packs
- Using medical devices, like foot wraps (put pressure underneath the foot), footpads (deliver vibrations on the back of the legs)
- Yoga with mineral supplementation (through proper diet)
While these may be helpful, they DO NOT relieve you of all the symptoms of RLS. So, what does?
Cannabidiol or CBD. A natural extract from cannabis plants, this chemical compound has been proven to be an effective method of treating many ailments.
It has been in use for ages, with newer research pointing further to its potential as means to overcome tons of symptoms associated with managing seizures, relieving pain, controlling muscle spasms and cramps, alleviating neuropathic pain, and regulating sleep patterns.
To understand how far CBD can help an RLS patient, read on…
How CBD Helps RLS – A Scientific Outlook
CBD is a known cannabinoid, extracted from cannabis plants. This chemical compound, which interacts with the nerve receptors of the body’s endocannabinoid system, indirectly controls the central nervous system to control/influence several bodily functions.
In effect, it either inhibits or promotes certain bodily organs, hormones, neurotransmitters, etc. thereby alleviating much of the symptoms caused by RLS.
Studies that Support CBD’s Efficacy in Treating RLS Symptoms
To be frank, there are far more pieces of anecdotal evidence than scientific studies to prove CBD’s effectiveness in treating the symptoms associated with restless leg syndrome.
Nevertheless, we’ve tried to bring to you the few research papers that ARE available in the public domain.
- For instance, an August 2017 study, conducted at the Center for Clinical Neuroscience and published in Sleep Medicine, found that CBD-rich medicinal cannabis provided relief to a group of six RLS patients.
- A 2007 review, which was published in the Chemistry & Biodiversity discussed how cannabis can alleviate pain and promote sleep at the same time.
- Then again, in a March 2015 review of the role of cannabinoids in movement disorders, published in the Movement Disorders, the researchers confirmed that the endocannabinoid system DOES play a part in such disorders. How far cannabis-derived compounds influence that is still up for debate – and further investigation!
- Another 2012 review, published in Neurotherapeutics, talks about multiple treatment strategies for RLS, addresses the need to target the dopamine deficit. Although the study does not include CBD, we have proof that CBD does play a rolein making up for it.
- A more recent review, published in the Sleep and Breathing magazine in March 2020, discusses the effects of CBD on patients who do not respond positively to treatment with dopamine agonists, anticonvulsants, or opiates. The researchers interviewed several RLS patients, who used CBD oil after everything else failed and found considerable relief from their symptoms.
- A 2015 review, published online on Neurotherapeutics, showed how effective CBD is in treating epilepsy seizures, movement disorders, and neurogenerative disorders. Although not absolute proof, this is still a suggestive proof of CBD’s efficiency in treating restless leg syndrome.
While medical investigation and research into the use of CBD Oil for treating RLS symptoms may be limited, there is still a wealth of anecdotal evidence of RLS patients benefiting from its use.
Looking at the responses we found on public forums and social media, regarding CBD’s potential in helping people ease their RLS symptoms, it is clear that pure CBD products may not be as efficient as full-spectrum ones. While some have found moderate relief from doses as low as 15-20 mg of full-spectrum CBD, others have required much higher doses.
Since using CBD and titrating its doses does not have any adverse effects on patients, many users have gone ahead and used it over prolonged periods, with nothing more than positive effects.
People seem to have used CBD products in different ways, including tinctures, vapes, and topicals to get relief from RLS symptoms.
Although it’s not clear whether or not and how far CBD Oil can directly address the underlying issues of RLS, it definitely seems to relax the nerves, act as an analgesic, promote sleep, and relieve stress and pain in these patients.
These effects are, in themselves, quite good when it comes to an incurable condition like Restless Leg Syndrome. While most brands are good enough, not all offer sufficient relief. That’s why we’ve brought together this short list of Best CBD Oils suitable for RLS patients.
CBD Oils Best-Suited for RLS
- FabCBD – Editor’s Choice
- NuLeaf Naturals – Highly Potent
- CBDistillery – All Extract Types
- FabCBD’s CBD Oil – Editor’s Choice
FabCBD offers highly potent, safe, organically sourced, and high-quality CBD oils that help combat a variety of symptoms. These CBD products are quite affordable too.
Brand & Product Advantages:
- Organic, Vegan & Gluten-Free
- CO2-Extracted, Full-Spectrum CBD Blend with other Natural Ingredients
- Sourced from Homegrown Hemp from Colorado’s Regulated Farmlands
- Third-Party Lab-Tested; lab reports available on the brand website
- NO pesticides, heavy metals, residual solvents, or other contaminants
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- Free shipping within the US on orders above $89
- 300mg, 600mg, 1200mg, 2400mg
- Citrus, Mint, Natural, Berry, Vanilla
- Full-Spectrum Hemp Extract
- Natural Flavorings
- Fractionated Coconut Oil (Medium Chain Triglycerides)
- NuLeaf Naturals’ Hemp CBD Oil – Highly Potent
NuLeaf, one of the country’s pioneering CBD brands, sells only clean, pure, high-quality CBD oils; no other products.
Brand & Product Advantages:
- USDA-certified Organic Hemp Extracts
- Hemp Sourced from Colorado Farms
- CO2 Extracted CBD Oil, with Natural Ingredients
- Superior Processing Technologies
- No additives, preservatives, herbicides, pesticides, chemical fertilizers, residual solvents, or other contaminants
- Third-Party Lab-Tested
- Fast & Free Shipping Within the US
- 30-day money-back guarantee on unused products
- 300mg (5ml), 900mg (15ml), 1800mg (30ml), 3000mg (50ml), 6000mg (100ml); same per ml potency (60mg/ml)
- Organic Virgin Hemp Seed Oil
- Full-Spectrum Hemp Extract
- CBDistillery CBD Oil Tinctures – All Extract Types
The Brand in Brief
CBDistillery provides the masses with easy access to high-quality, hemp-derived CBD products, ample information on cannabis and CBD, the latest industry research on the uses, benefits, and side-effects of CBD, besides a complete range of extract types.
Advantages of CBDistillery’s CBD Oil Tinctures
- 100% Organic Hemp Extract with Natural Ingredients
- CO2-Extracted Hemp CBD oil
- Full-Spectrum, Broad-Spectrum, and THC-Free Pure CBD Oil Tinctures (Isolates)
- Natural, hemp-derived terpenes
- Full Spectrum CBD Oil Tincture:
- Fractionated Coconut Oil (MCT)
- Hemp Extract (Aerial Parts)
- Natural Terpenes
Although RLS has been known to the medical and pharmaceutical fraternity for quite some time, it was only recently that the search for safer alternatives to drugs that have serious side effects were even considered.
Until recently, the only treatment methods were pharmaceutical drugs and machines, massages, hot baths, hot and cold compresses, exercising, and some lifestyle changes.
Today, however, CBD Oil has gained much popularity among people suffering from different kinds of ailments, including RLS.
Treating Restless Legs Syndrome with Medical Marijuana
Restless Legs Syndrome is a neurological disorder which leads to patients having a feeling of discomfort in their legs, leading to an often irresistible urge to move the legs. Moving the legs causes the discomfort to briefly disappear, but will surely return. Women are more commonly impacted by RLS than men, but it can happen to anyone. RLS is most common during middle-age and typically, the condition deteriorates as time goes on.
Patients who suffer from RLS experience significant trouble sleeping, leading to a number of other issues, such as trouble concentrating or performing at work or in school. In fact, a recent study from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke found that RLS can actually lead to an, on average, 20% decrease in productivity simply from sleep disruption.
Clonazepam belongs to a group of medicines called benzodiazepines.
It’s used to control seizures or fits due to epilepsy, involuntary muscle spasms, panic disorder and sometimes restless legs syndrome.
Clonazepam is available on prescription only. It comes as tablets and as a liquid that you swallow.
2. Key facts
- Clonazepam works by increasing levels of a calming chemical in your brain. This can relieve anxiety, stop seizures and fits or relax tense muscles.
- The most common side effect is feeling sleepy (drowsy) during the daytime.
- Clonazepam is not likely to be addictive if you take it for a short time (2 to 4 weeks).
- If you take clonazepam for more than 2 to 4 weeks, your dose will need to be reduced gradually before you stop taking it.
- Do not drink alcohol while taking clonazepam. There’s a risk you can sleep very deeply and you may have trouble waking up.
3. Who can and cannot take clonazepam
Clonazepam tablets and liquid can be taken by adults aged 18 years and over.
It can also be taken by children from 1 month old for epilepsy.
It’s not suitable for everyone.
To make sure it’s safe for you, tell your doctor before starting clonazepam if you:
- have had an allergic reaction to clonazepam or any other medicine in the past
- have myasthenia gravis, a condition that causes muscle weakness
- have sleep apnoea, a condition that causes breathing problems when you’re asleep
- have lung, liver or kidney problems
- have spinal or cerebellar ataxia (where you may become shaky and unsteady and have slurred speech)
- have (or have had) problems with alcohol or drugs
- have recently had a loss or bereavement, depression or thoughts of harming yourself or suicide
- have been diagnosed with a personality disorder
- are trying to get pregnant, are already pregnant or breastfeeding
- are going to have a general anaesthetic for an operation or dental treatment
4. How and when to take it
It’s important to take clonazepam exactly as your doctor tells you to.
You’ll usually start on a low dose and gradually increase it over 2 to 4 weeks until your doctor thinks the dose is the right dose.
Your doctor will tell you if you need to take clonazepam in 1 dose or split your dose so you take it up to 3 times each day. Ask a doctor or pharmacist if you’re not sure how to take it.
The usual dose for:
- epilepsy in adults – the starting dose is 1mg taken at night (increasing to 4mg to 8mg over 2 to 4 weeks)
- epilepsy in children – the dose varies depending on their age. It will be increased gradually over 2 to 4 weeks
- involuntary muscle spasms (adults) – the starting dose is 1mg taken at night (increasing to 4mg to 8mg over 2 to 4 weeks)
- panic disorder – 1mg to 2mg each day
- restless legs syndrome – 500 micrograms to 2mg each day
If you’re older than 65 or have kidney, liver or severe breathing problems, your doctor may recommend a lower dose.
Take clonazepam tablets with a drink of water. You can take the tablets or liquid with or without food.
What if I forget to take it?
If you forget to take your clonazepam, take it as soon as you remember, unless it’s nearly time for your next dose.
In this case, just leave out the missed dose and take your next dose as usual.
Never take 2 doses at the same time. Never take an extra dose to make up for a forgotten one.
If you forget doses often, it may help to set an alarm to remind you.
You could also ask a pharmacist for advice on other ways to remember your medicines.
What if I take too much?
The amount of clonazepam that can lead to an overdose varies from person to person.
If you take too much clonazepam, you may get symptoms including:
- poor coordination or trouble speaking
- feeling sleepy
- a slow or irregular heartbeat
- uncontrolled eye movements
- muscle weakness
- feeling overexcited
Urgent advice: Contact 111 for advice if:
- you take too much clonazepam
If you need to go to A&E, do not drive yourself. Get someone else to drive you or call for an ambulance.
Take the clonazepam packet, or the leaflet inside it, plus any remaining medicine with you.
5. Side effects
Like all medicines, clonazepam can cause side effects in some people, but many people have no side effects or only minor ones.
Common side effects
These common side effects happen in more than 1 in 100 people.
If you get these side effects, keep taking the medicine and speak to a doctor if they bother you or do not go away:
- disturbed sleep (such as vivid dreams)
- feeling sleepy (drowsy) in the daytime
- feeling light-headed, unsteady or dizzy
- muscle weakness
Serious side effects
It happens rarely, but some people can have serious side effects when taking clonazepam.
Tell a doctor straightaway if:
- your breathing becomes very slow or you have short, shallow breaths
- your skin or the whites of your eyes turn yellow – this could be a sign of liver problems
- you find it difficult to remember things (amnesia) or are confused
- you see or hear things that are not there (hallucinations) or think things that aren’t true (delusions)
- problems with your coordination or controlling your movements
- you have swollen ankles, a racing heartbeat, cough and feel tired – this could be a sign of heart problems
- you bruise easily, feel tired, have nosebleeds and have breathlessness – this can be a sign of blood problems
- you notice mood changes such as talking too much, feeling overexcited, restless, irritable or aggressive (mood changes can become serious and are more likely in children and people over 65 years old)
Serious allergic reaction
In rare cases, clonazepam may cause a serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis).
Immediate action required: Call 999 or go to A&E now if:
- you get a skin rash that may include itchy, red, swollen, blistered or peeling skin
- you’re wheezing
- you get tightness in the chest or throat
- you have trouble breathing or talking
- your mouth, face, lips, tongue or throat start swelling
You could be having a serious allergic reaction and may need immediate treatment in hospital.
These are not all the side effects of clonazepam. For a full list, see the leaflet inside your medicine packet.
You can report any suspected side effect to the UK safety scheme.
6. How to cope with side effects
What to do about:
- disturbed sleep (such as vivid dreams) – speak to a doctor; they may suggest a different medicine or a lower dose.
- feeling sleepy (drowsy) in the daytime – this should get better after a week or so but speak to a doctor; they may suggest a lower dose. Do not drive, ride a bike or use machinery or tools until you feel better.
- feeling lightheaded, unsteady or dizzy – try to lie down or sit down. Do not drive, ride a bike or use machinery or tools until you feel better. If you still have these side effects after a week or they get worse, speak to a doctor.
- muscle weakness – try to sit down if you feel weak. If you still have these side effects after a week or so, or if they get worse, speak to a doctor.
7. Pregnancy and breastfeeding
Clonazepam is not usually recommended during pregnancy. There’s not enough information to know if it’s safe, and it might mean your baby is born with withdrawal side effects.
If you become pregnant while taking clonazepam, speak to a doctor. Do not stop taking clonazepam suddenly if you have been taking it regularly.
Your doctor can explain the risks and benefits of taking clonazepam and will help you choose the best treatment for you and your baby.
You may need to keep taking clonazepam during pregnancy as it’s important for you to remain well.
Clonazepam and breastfeeding
Clonazepam is not recommended while breastfeeding.
If you’re breastfeeding or want to breastfeed, talk to a doctor or pharmacist, as there might be better medicines for you. It will depend on what you’re taking clonazepam for.
If your doctor says it’s OK to take clonazepam while breastfeeding and you notice that your baby’s not feeding as well as usual, seems unusually sleepy, has unusual breathing, or you have any other concerns about them, talk to your health visitor or doctor as soon as possible.
Non-urgent advice: Tell your doctor if you're:
- trying to get pregnant
8. Cautions with other medicines
Some medicines interfere with the way clonazepam works and increase the chance of you having side effects.
Before you start taking clonazepam, tell a doctor if you’re taking:
- anticonvulsants, used to treat epilepsy
- antipsychotics and antidepressants, used to treat mental health problems and depression
- hypnotics, used to treat anxiety or sleep problems
- medicines used to treat muscle spasms, such as baclofen or tizanidine
- medicines used to lower blood pressure including ACE inhibitors such as enalapril and lisionopril; calcium channel blockers such as amlodipine and felodipine; and diuretics such as indapamide and bendroflumethiazide
- drowsy (sedating) antihistamines, such as chlorphenamine or promethazine
- strong painkillers such as codeine, methadone, morphine, oxycodone, pethidine or tramadol
- cimetidine, a medicine for stomach problems and heartburn
- rifampicin, (to treat bacterial infections) or antifungal medicines such as fluconazole
Mixing clonazepam with herbal remedies or supplements
There’s very little information about taking herbal remedies and supplements with clonazepam.
Do not take herbal medicines for anxiety or insomnia, such as valerian or passionflower, with clonazepam. They can increase the drowsy effects of clonazepam and may also have other side effects.
For safety, tell a doctor or pharmacist if you're taking any other medicines, including herbal medicines, vitamins, or supplements.
9. Common questions
Clonazepam belongs to a group of medicines called benzodiazepines.
It works by increasing levels of a calming chemical, gamma-amino-butyric-acid (GABA), in your brain.
Depending on your health condition, this can relieve anxiety, stop seizures and fits or relax tense muscles. This can also help relieve muscle spasms or symptoms of restless legs syndrome.
Clonazepam will help you feel calmer and it can reduce your feelings of anxiety.
It can also make you feel sleepy and relaxed and might make you feel confused when you first start taking it.
This will usually get better as you get used to taking the medicine.
It is important to not drive, ride a bike or use tools or machinery if you have any of these side effects.
How quickly clonazepam works will depend on what condition you’re taking it for.
For seizures, fits and involuntary muscle spasms, it might take a few days to a week for clonazepam to work fully. This is because your dose will be increased gradually until you’re taking the right amount.
For panic disorder and restless legs syndrome, clonazepam should take around 1 hour to start working.
How long you take it for will depend on why you’re taking it.
When used for epilepsy, clonazepam is usually prescribed long term.
For other conditions, your doctor will want to regularly review if you still need clonazepam.
If you’re prescribed clonazepam for more than 4 weeks, your doctor may reduce your dose gradually before stopping it, to prevent withdrawal symptoms.
Clonazepam is not likely to be addictive if you take it for a short time (2 to 4 weeks).
If you’ve been taking it for longer than 2 to 4 weeks, your doctor will reduce your dose gradually if they want you to stop taking it.
You’re more likely to get addicted if you have, or have previously had, problems with alcohol or drugs.
Speak to your doctor if you’ve had problems with alcohol or recreational drugs. They may want to try you on a different medicine.
If your doctor recommends you stop taking clonazepam and you’ve been taking it for more than 2 to 4 weeks, they will reduce your dose gradually.
This allows your body to get used to being without the medicine and reduces the chance of side effects when you stop taking it.
If you stop taking it suddenly, you may get some side effects, such as:
- seizures or fits
- feeling nervous or irritable
The risk of these side effects will be reduced if you lower your dose gradually.
Do not stop taking clonazepam without talking to a doctor.
Do not drink alcohol while taking clonazepam. Alcohol can increase the side effects of clonazepam.
It can make you go into a very deep sleep. There’s a risk you may not be able to breath properly and you may have difficulty waking up. This can be dangerous.
Using cannabis, heroin or methadone with clonazepam will increase the drowsy effects of clonazepam.
It can make you go into a very deep sleep. There’s a risk you will not be able to breathe properly, and you may have difficulty waking up. This can be dangerous.
Using cocaine or other stimulants such as MDMA (ecstasy) and amphetamines with clonazepam can also lead to drowsiness.
Talk to a doctor if you think you might use recreational drugs while taking clonazepam.
It’s best to not have drinks such as coffee, tea and cola, or to eat a lot of chocolate because these contain caffeine. Caffeine is a stimulant and may reduce the calming effects of clonazepam.
Alcohol can increase the effects of clonazepam and make you go into a very deep sleep. It’s important you do not drink alcohol while you’re taking clonazepam. There’s a risk you will not be able to breathe properly and you may have difficulty waking up. This can be dangerous.
Clonazepam will not affect any contraception, including the combined pill and emergency contraception.
There’s no evidence that clonazepam will affect fertility in either men or women.
If you’re trying to get pregnant, or you’re having problems getting pregnant while on clonazepam, speak to a doctor.
Do not drive a car or ride a bike if clonazepam makes you sleepy, gives you blurred vision, or makes you feel dizzy, clumsy or unable to concentrate or make decisions.
This may be more likely when you first start taking clonazepam, but could happen at any time (for example, when starting another medicine).
It’s an offence to drive a car if your ability to drive safely is affected.
It’s your responsibility to decide if it’s safe to drive. If you’re in any doubt, do not drive.
Even if your ability to drive is not affected, the police have the right to request a saliva sample to check how much clonazepam is in your body.
Talk to a doctor or pharmacist if you’re unsure whether it’s safe for you to drive while taking clonazepam.
If you have panic disorder, there are some things you can try to help, including:
- read a self-help book for anxiety based on the principles of CBT (ask your doctor to recommend one)
- try complementary therapies such as massage and aromatherapy, or activities such as yoga or pilates, to help you relax
- learn breathing techniques to help ease symptoms to reduce stress and tension
- it may help to find out more about how to deal with panic attacks
- try mental health apps and tools from the NHS Apps Library.
If you have restless legs syndrome, there are some lifestyle changes that can help, including:
- Full Spectrum CBD Oil Tincture: