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Cannabis for Restless Legs Syndrome

Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB,volume 1297)

Abstract

Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a chronic sensorimotor disorder characterized by an urge to move the legs. This urge is often accompanied by pain or other uncomfortable and unpleasant sensations, it either occurs or worsens during rest, particularly in the evening and/or at night, and temporarily improves with activity. Affecting nearly 3% of the North American and European populations in its moderate-to-severe form, RLS has a considerable negative impact on the quality of life, and sleep and is associated with significant morbidity. Although new developments have deepened our understanding of the disorder, yet, the corresponding pathophysiologic features that underlie the sensorimotor presentation are still not fully understood. Usually, symptoms respond well to dopamine agonists (DA), anticonvulsants, or opiates, used either alone or in any combination, but still, a subset of patients remains refractory to medical therapy and serious side effects such as augmentation and impulse control disorder may occur in patients with RLS under DA. Convincing treatment alternative are lacking but recently patients’ spontaneous reports of a remarkable and total remission of RLS symptoms following cannabis use has been reported. The antinociceptive effect of marijuana has been documented in many painful neurological conditions and the potential benefit of cannabis use in patients with refractory RLS should, therefore, be questioned by robust clinical trials. Here, we review basic knowledge of RLS and the putative mechanisms by which cannabis may exert its analgesic effects.

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Ghorayeb, I. (2021). Cannabis for Restless Legs Syndrome. In: Monti, J.M., Pandi-Perumal, S.R., Murillo-Rodríguez, E. (eds) Cannabinoids and Sleep. Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology, vol 1297. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-61663-2_13

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