With the restless legs syndrome, the urge to move your legs is very strong. Sometimes, it can be downright impossible to even fall asleep. Over the years, Aromatherapy has proven efficient at relieving pain and improving sleep, among others. But can essential oils for restless legs really work? Find out now.
In this article, you’ll be reading about:
- Why use aromatic oils for restless legs syndrome (RLS), and how they work.
- What essential oils help with restless legs, with pros and cons. These recommendations can help you put up a nice list of natural remedies to use during the day or night.
- How to use these aromatic oils in practice.
- Practical aroma blends to try to soothe those tingling sensations and restlessness in your legs.
- Signs and symptoms of RLS, and a few safety Aromatherapy tips.
Essential Oils for Restless Legs (Pros & Cons), How to Use Them & Recipes
The RLS, known as restless legs syndrome is a disorder of the central nervous system. The central nervous system contains the nerves of the brain and the spine. Newer findings reveal that the peripheral nervous system could also contribute to the syndrome.
This very annoying condition can also become debilitating. The urge to move is just too strong to ignore. People find themselves up and moving around at nighttime to get relief.
Sleep deprivation is a very serious health concern. One that may lead to certain diseases. So yes, treating your restless legs syndrome is a must.
Unfortunately though, there is no known cure for it yet. The drugs that are usually prescribed for this condition cause more harm than good. That is also why prescribed treatment is necessary only if the syndrome affects your sleep. More on this matter, in the last part of the post.
How Can Essential Oils Help with Restless Legs Syndrome?
Scientific data on the effect of Aromatherapy and RLS is scarce. In fact, I only found one study, which I’ll be talking about too.
Specialists used Spanish Lavender oil in a RLS massage on hemodialysis patients. The relief was temporary. It held for about 2 weeks, but I think this is a considerable benefit. Especially when the side effects of the alternative drugs are so many and serious.
Lavender is one of the most intensely studied essential oils. Its effects on the nervous system have already been established. Lavender, with all its chemotypes (varieties) can help with sleep and anxiety. The oil can also help with pain, among others.
But the oil is not the only aromatic essence that can do all that. There are many others available, some of them have also been proven effective.
Essential oils are concentrated plant extracts. They’re steam distilled from various plant parts. The most popular plant materials are the flowers, leaves, twigs, bark and roots. The sap and sometimes the seeds of a plant are also distilled.
Essential oils for restless legs syndrome are:
- Circulatory (improve blood circulation),
- Analgesic (pain reliever),
As you can see, aromatic oils can be used for physical and emotional benefits. The aromatic volatile molecules enter the body via inhalation or topical application.
They will then reach the brain, kidneys, lungs and blood. Once inside, the brain starts sending various messages throughout the body. Thus, they cause the release of many beneficial hormones.
Some of the best essential oils for restless leg syndrome are Lavender, Marjoram and Black Pepper. Let’s see why.
1) Lavender Essential Oil (Calming & Relaxing)
Botanical name: Lavandula angustifolia and/or Lavandula stoechas.
- Lavender essential oil is calming, relaxing and mildly sedating too. This makes it perfect for RLS relief, and this study proves its potential. In the study, they used stoechas (Spanish lavender). The oil can calm down muscle spasms and tingling sensations.
- Another study observed its beneficial effects on mild insomnia. Lavender relaxes the central nervous system. It also relieves the tension in the muscles. This promotes a better sleep, and in turn, it leads to a better life quality.
- It can also relieve pain by modulating pain receptors.
- Some sources believe that low levels of dopamine can contribute to RLS symptoms. Lavender and its main constituent (linalool) can increase the dopamine levels in the body. If low dopamine is the trigger/cause of your RLS, Lavender could be a great remedy.
- There are many types of Lavender oils. angustifolia is the most common. L. stoechas has similar properties, yet it’s not the same oil. The study used Spanish Lavender and found it useful. But true Lavender has been tested and experimented with in hundreds of different situations. For restless legs syndrome relief however, you can use both types.
- If you have asthma, you should ask your doctor if you can use it.
- Large amounts used on long periods of time can have the opposite effect.
Why I like it:
Lavender is just good to have around. It can improve the condition of your skin and speed up wound healing. It can also soothe insect bites, deter insects and of course, help you sleep. I know you want to know how to use Lavender oil for restless legs. I’ll give you the answer right after I finish with the oils.
2) Sweet Marjoram Essential Oil (Mild Sedative)
Botanical name: Origanum majorana.
- What other essential oil to use for restless legs, right? Well, Sweet Marjoram is one of the best mild sedatives out there. An in-depth paper on its composition and physiological effects found it sedative. This means that the oil can also help you fall and stay asleep.
- The oil is also antispasmodic. It helps calm down limb spasms, cramps and electrical charge.
- This aromatic oil for restless legs syndrome is especially useful for the peripheral nervous system.
- It can also relieve nighttime pains in your limbs.
- It has anti-anxiety and antiviral effects.
- Avoid using this oil in large amounts and on long periods of time. It may cause drowsiness or vertigo, kidney toxicity or addiction.
- Also, avoid using Sweet Marjoram essential oil for restless legs if you also have low blood pressure.
- Careful approach is needed for people with asthma.
Why I like it:
Sweet Marjoram oil is just sweet and aromatic, and overall, a pleasure to use. It has many benefits for the skin, scalp, hair and well-being. Plus, it enhances the sedating and calming effects of Lavender oil.
3) Black Pepper Essential Oil (Analgesic)
Botanical name: Piper nigrum.
- Black Pepper essential oil is antinociceptive. This means it can reduce the sensitivity to painful stimuli. The oil is thus, a very good analgesic.
- It also improves the blood circulation and warms up the skin. This effect helps the muscle for physical effort too.
- In a study for neck pain, Black Pepper together with Lavender and Marjoram relieved the patients’ pain effectively.
- People with asthma and seizures should talk to their doctors before using the oil.
- It is also not advised to use Black Pepper essential oil for restless legs on long-term. This means months in a row.
Why I like it:
With its unique spicy, woody and fresh aroma, Black Pepper oil is an aphrodisiac too. It can disinfect the air and prevent viral infections. Also, the oil is great at lowering the fever, among others.
How do you get rid of restless legs syndrome? Unfortunately, you can’t get rid of this condition (for now). What stops restless legs? Well, this is where you get more options.
You can stop your symptoms temporarily, with essential oils. The best ones are Lavender, Black Pepper and Marjoram. However, they’re not the only ones.
Other great essential oils for restless legs syndrome:
- Sweet Orange
- Ylang Ylang
- Roman Chamomile
What about Peppermint oil for restless legs, right? Peppermint is one very popular and common oil to have around. It is a great analgesic, stimulant and antispasmodic among others.
It would make a great natural remedy for RLS. However, Peppermint oil and menthol are both calcium channel blockers.
It is thought that some drugs and substances may worsen the restless legs syndrome. Some of them are antiemetics (anti-nausea & vomiting), alcohol, caffeine and calcium channel blockers.
For this reason, I would not recommend using Peppermint essential oil for RLS. If however, you’ve discussed your treatment with a doctor first, then it should be ok.
One other good essential oil to add to your blends is Frankincense. Still, I recommend using Frankincense for restless leg syndrome relief in combination with other oils. It is anti-inflammatory and circulatory, but it is not as powerful as the others.
As for doTERRA oils for restless legs, they’re all the same. You can choose whichever you like from the ones I mentioned and simply buy them from doTERRA. All that matters is the oils to be 100% pure and that you trust the company.
For restless legs, I would recommend their Deep Blue blend, but it contains Peppermint oil. If your doctor told you to use the oil, then the blend is also useful. It contains lots of other analgesic and antispasmodic essential oils. You can read an in-depth review about it here.
How to Use Aromatherapy Oils for RLS
Now you know what essential oils are good for restless leg syndrome. All that’s left is to learn how to use them and then start blending.
The only effective way of using these aromatic oils for RLS relief is topical application. Mix anywhere between 5 – 20 drops of EO/Oz carrier oil for a blend. I don’t recommend using more than 3 different essences per blend.
Before bedtime, apply a moderate amount of your blend on the legs. Use gentle upward massage movements (from the ankles to the thighs). Keep at it until the symptoms disappear or they are a lot more bearable.
After 3 weeks, take a break and see how you’re feeling. You can then start over again.
Since the oils must be diluted, you’ll have to choose anti-inflammatory carriers. You can use Olive oil or Coconut oil, but the best anti-inflammatory ones are:
- Black seed (Nigella)
- CBD Hemp
These oils also stimulate the blood circulation, especially if you massage the legs for at least 10 minutes.
You can also add some essential oils for restless legs in your bathwater. Mix 10 drops with a cup of salt and dissolve it in the hot water.
It appears that a small 2011 British trial found a certain type of massage useful in RLS relief.
The massage technique is called positional release manipulation (counterstrain). It’s an osteopathic exercise. It involves holding your legs or other restless limbs in certain positions. These positions are meant to reduce the pain, tingling and general discomfort caused by RLS.
Another type of massage (used in the Lavender trial) is called the effleurage massage technique. It uses very light touches on the tissue, in a series of light strokes. It’s meant to warm up the muscle in a circular way using only the palms of the hands.
Essential Oil Recipes for Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS)
No theory would be complete without some practice too. I have a few Aromatherapy blends for RLS for you to try whenever you get the chance.
Essential Oil Blend for Restless Legs Syndrome
- Lavender essential oil: 15 drops
- Marjoram essential oil: 15 drops
- Basil or Black Pepper essential oil: 10 drops
- Tamanu oil: 2 Oz (60ml)
Give the blend a good shake before each use. Apply before bedtime until the skin gets warm (approx. 10 minutes). You can repeat each night, for 3 weeks.
RLS Relief Essential Oil Recipe
- Cypress essential oil: 5 drops
- Marjoram essential oil: 5 drops
- Sweet Orange essential oil: 5 drops
- CBD Hemp oil: 1 Oz (30ml)
Follow the same application guidelines from the previous recipe. You can switch between recipes each month. If the symptoms get worse or you get no relief, you should go to the doctor. The amount of oils can be increased.
RLS Signs, Symptoms, Causes, Tips and Safety Measures
Like I said in the beginning, there’s no known cure for the restless legs syndrome. There is also not enough evidence for doctors to make lifestyle changes recommendations. This however, doesn’t mean they can’t be done or help you feel better.
Medical treatment of RLS should be considered only if you get sleep deprived. The conventional treatment uses many types of drugs that affect the nervous system and locomotor functions.
- Sleeping pills,
- Dopamine agonists.
These are just a few of the drugs prescribed by doctors for RLS.
There are two types of restless leg syndrome:
- Primary. A chronic condition caused by problems with the nervous system. It’s not always hereditary, but some links that suggest genetic involvement have been found.
- Secondary. This condition develops without family history of RLS. It’s often caused by other medical conditions (pregnancy, neuropathy, etc.). It also occurs later in life. Iron deficiency may also lead to secondary RLS.
Signs & Symptoms of Restless Legs Syndrome
- Strong desire to move the legs and sometimes the arms too. The feeling becomes worse when you lie down.
- Your legs might feel itchy or tingly.
- Pain, cramps, burning or throbbing sensations in the legs.
- Twitching or jerking.
- Symptoms may go away as soon as you start moving and come back just as fast. Obviously, they get worse at nighttime, when you need to sit still for many hours.
Everybody can be affected by RLS, regardless of age or gender. However, some are more sensitive and prone to develop this condition. Women, especially middle-aged ones, are at risk. Lots of children are affected by the restless leg syndrome too. Those with ADHD are also more prone to RLS.
What are the cause of the restless leg syndrome? They can be:
- Iron deficiency.
- Magnesium and calcium deficiency.
- Other medical conditions. (diabetes, autoimmune, renal failure, etc.).
- Low dopamine levels.
- Excess smoking.
- Obesity and overweight.
- Sedentary life.
As you can see, there can be many triggers and causes for RLS to install itself. If you’re looking to get rid of that annoying restless leg syndrome, some lifestyle changes would certainly help.
Certain supplements could also help restless leg syndrome symptoms. They can be taken only after a thorough medical examination and some bloodwork.
Use aromatherapy massage and inhalation as often as you can, without overdoing it. Check out how to diffuse essential oils safely. Stretch out regularly, eat more balanced, sleep more and take some supplements, if that’s the cause.
Safety Measures for Safe Aromatherapy Use
Essential oils are not simple medicines, they’re very complex and biologically active. Even though they look so cute and come in small bottles, they should be used carefully. One single drop of essential oil may be as strong as 20 cups of herbal tea!
- Always test each new bottle of oil for allergic reactions. Mix some with carrier and apply on the inside of your forearm. Wait for a few hours – a day before using it on larger areas. The chemical composition of an aromatic essence can vary depending on many factors. The soil, region, climate, harvest time, etc., can all influence that profile.
- Pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid them in the first trimester. If you want to use these oils afterwards, talk to your doctor.
- Do not use essential oils for restless legs on children without medical consent! The same goes for elderly people too.
- Avoid using the oils around the eyes, nose, mouth or inside the ears.
- While diffusing essential oils, try to do it in small bursts of (15 – 20 minutes). That is to avoid air saturation and later on, headaches and nausea among others.
Do essential oils for restless legs work? They certainly have a lot of potential. Many studies support their use as complementary or alternative medicine. They can soothe spasms and pain, for sure. For some people, Aromatherapy has worked just great. For others, not so much. It all depends on the cause of the RLS.
How are you managing this condition? Ever tried an essential oil for RLS relief, and if so, did it work?