Can I Use CBD for Restless Legs Syndrome?

Restless legs syndrome (RLS) symptoms may range from minor annoyances to unbearable pain.

And CBD is known to help with chronic pain and relaxation. 

So it begs the question… Can CBD help with restless legs?

It certainly has the potential!

So, how does CBD help

Let’s find out!

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RLS and CBD: A Brief Overview

Let’s first have a brief rundown of what both CBD and RLS mean:

1. RLS

Restless legs syndrome or Willis Ekbom disease is a neurological disorder that triggers an uncontrollable urge to move your legs — usually due to an uncomfortable sensation.

Who is prone to RLS?

RLS can affect people of all ages — from children to the elderly. But the severity of RLS manifestations worsens with time. 

But what causes RLS? 

Let’s find out.

A. Primary RLS

In most cases, the exact cause is unknown. Doctors call these cases primary or idiopathic restless leg syndrome.

However, there’s evidence that dopamine imbalance in the brain is related to restless legs syndrome. 

The evidence points to the basal ganglia — a subcortical structure in the brain that uses dopamine to control muscle activity and movement.

What’s the basal ganglia’s role in RLS?

If nerve cells of the basal ganglia are damaged, it leads to a shortage of dopamine in your system, which negatively affects coordination and causes movement disorders.

But wait…

There are also rare instances where Willis Ekbom disease (RLS) is genetic. 

If your RLS first appears before age 40 or if you have a specific gene variant, it could be a hereditary condition. 

And there’s a chance you may pass your RLS to the next generation. 

B. Secondary RLS

Restless leg syndrome can sometimes be a complication of another condition. 

In these cases, it’s called somatic or secondary RLS.

These conditions include:

  • Iron deficiency anaemia: It can lead to a fall in dopamine levels, which, in turn, triggers restless leg syndrome and its unpleasant sensations.  
  • Underlying health conditions: Long-term health conditions (such as chronic kidney disease, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, underactive thyroid, etc.) and neurological disorders (like Parkinson’s disease) may lead to secondary RLS.  

The bad news?

RLS is incurable. 

Traditional treatments focus on relieving symptoms and may include dopamine drugs, opioid drugs, etc. 

But don’t lose heart yet. 

There are several remedies and tips that RLS sufferers can use to alleviate symptoms and improve their quality of life. 

There’s also a new kid on the block you may be considering right now: CBD

2. CBD

CBD (cannabidiol) is a cannabinoid extracted from Cannabis sativa or other cannabis plant varieties. 

Unlike THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), CBD doesn’t make you feel high. Instead, it may relieve pain, improve focus, and enhance sleep quality.

How does CBD work?

CBD interacts with the cannabinoid receptors of your endocannabinoid system

This system helps maintain your body’s natural balance. It regulates several vital functions, such as sleep, mood, appetite, and pain relief. 

How do these CBD interactions relate to RLS?

CBD acts like other dopamine agonists – it binds and activates the receptors, giving you an influx of dopamine and some sweet RLS relief. 

The effects of CBD could also help with reducing RLS-related stiffness and tackling other symptoms of RLS, like:

  • Pain
  • Inflammation
  • Muscle spasms, twitches, and cramps
  • Stress
  • Sleep deprivation and insomnia (one of the most common sleep disorders)
  • Anxiety and depression

The benefits of CBD go a long way towards improving the quality of life of RLS sufferers. Plus, it’s tolerable with no major side effects when consumed in moderation — unlike opioids. 

Read more: Want a more in-depth explanation of all things CBD? We answer 17 Burning Questions and shine some light on the cannabinoid.

We know its mechanism, but what do the clinical trials tell us about CBD and RLS?

CBD for Restless Legs Syndrome: What Science Says

Most of the available literature about CBD for restless legs syndrome talks about cannabis-based products or medical cannabis (which can be obtained only with a doctor’s prescription).

According to a 2019 study at the Clinical Neurosciences Centre, smoking cannabis regularly may affect dopamine synthesis, resulting in relief from RLS symptoms. 

However, please note that the study focused on medicinal cannabis or medical marijuana as a whole and not CBD specifically. 

But here’s the real kicker…

The evidence about using CBD for RLS is non-conclusive.

A 2022 neurology study tested two groups — one group used CBD, and the other group took a placebo to study the effect of CBD for RLS in Parkinson’s disease. The results showed no difference in relief from RLS between the two groups of participants.

But wait… CBD still might be a good contender to fight RLS. 


Here’s what top medical sites say about treating RLS:

  • Healthline: Some of the best advice for treating RLS is treating its symptoms. Reducing RLS manifestations like chronic pain, inflammation, muscle spasms, cramps, anxiety, and depression may help better deal with the condition. 
  • National Jewish Health Org: Managing restless legs through relaxation and improved sleep quality is one of the first steps to dealing with this syndrome. Being less tense helps reduce the severity of RLS at night. 

Since CBD may help mitigate RLS symptoms and is known for its relaxing properties, it may be what you need to keep RLS at bay.

Note: Medical cannabis or medical marijuana is only legal in the UK with a valid prescription from a healthcare professional. 

Moreover, a patient needs a valid licence to import medicinal cannabis products. These products must be approved by the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) or the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

However, recreational cannabis is illegal in the UK, just like CBD flower and buds (a part of the cannabis plant).  

Not sure if CBD will help with your RLS? 

The best way to check if CBD works for you is to try it out yourself. 

Let’s look at some fantastic products, like CBD gummies or a CBD cream, you can try.

3 Excellent CBD Products That May Reduce RLS Symptoms

Ready to try CBD?

Here are some types of CBD products you could use:

Hot Tip:

Choose a CBD product from a reliable brand that displays its Certificate of Analysis (COA) and has high-quality ingredients. All the brands mentioned above fulfil this requirement. 

3 FAQs About CBD for RLS

Let’s answer some questions about CBD and RLS:

1. How Much CBD Should I Take for Restless Leg Syndrome?

The actual amount of CBD you need depends on various factors like: 

  • Type of CBD product (CBD gummy, CBD capsule, CBD tincture, etc.)
  • Strength of your CBD product 
  • Your unique biochemical composition
  • Severity of your RLS symptoms: You may need a low strength product for mild RLS symptoms. On the other hand, if you have severe symptoms, try a high-strength CBD product. 

New to CBD?

Start at a low dose of 20-50mg/day and increase gradually based on your desired effects.

Read More: Want to know your ideal CBD oil dosage? Use our free CBD Dosage Calculator for new and experienced CBD users.

2. Are There Alternatives to CBD that Help with RLS?

If you’re unsure about the benefits of CBD or just want some extra options, here are some alternatives to help with RLS:

  • Exercise: A 2006 study showed that lower-body resistance training and aerobic exercise helped soothe symptoms in RLS patients.
  • Vitamin D: Another study found that a vitamin D deficiency can lead to reduced dopamine levels, which can, in turn, worsen your RLS. Plus, low vitamin D levels were associated with more severe RLS symptoms. So, using vitamin D supplements (if your vitamin levels are below average) could help with your RLS.
  • Yoga and relaxation techniques: Stress may worsen RLS, especially if you become anxious each night in anticipation of your RLS. 

Some light yoga and a nice long hot bath may help ease your tension. This, in turn, can help relax your muscles and ease RLS symptoms.

  • Massages: Another relaxation-related alternative, massages relax your muscles and are a proven method that eases your RLS and helps you get restful sleep.
  • Leaving caffeine: In some cases, avoiding caffeine seems to help with RLS. Since caffeine increases nervous system activity, you’re more likely to experience RLS than if you’re completely relaxed.
  • Supplements and dopamine promoters: If RLS is worsened by a lack of dopamine, up your dopamine levels, right? 

Basically yes. 

But dopamine agonists are seldom recommended for RLS because chronic use can lead to dependency, sleepiness, and compulsive behaviours in some RLS patients.

3. What Can Make My RLS Worse?

Some medications, including anti-nausea drugs and sedating antihistamines (like Benadryl), can block the brain’s dopamine receptors and trigger RLS symptoms. 

Antidepressants that increase serotonin and other antipsychotic medications can also aggravate the condition. 

Nicotine, caffeine, and alcohol can also make RLS worse.

But doesn’t alcohol aid sleep?

Although alcohol may help some people sleep, it may interfere with their sleep quality, making sleep disorders like sleep apnea worse. This makes people feel less rested the next day and can trigger RLS symptoms.

Try CBD to Ease Your RLS Symptoms 

Restless legs syndrome is a horrible condition, and most people will do anything to experience some relief from the uncomfortable sensation it brings. 

Fortunately, CBD has plenty of therapeutic benefits that may help ease RLS symptoms – helping you relax and get restful sleep.

Ready to kickstart your CBD journey?

Head to GreenBox for the best CBD products (including CBD gummy bears, CBD cream, and more) for your needs.