The Restless Legs Syndrome Foundation describes RLS as a disruptive neurological disorder that affects up to 10% of the U.S. population. It results in an irresistible urge to move the legs (and sometimes the arms), often accompanied by unusual or unpleasant sensations in the legs such as tugging or tingling. Because RLS most often occurs in the evening, it can severely disrupt sleep, contribute to insomnia, and reduce the quality of life. RLS tends to run in families. More and more natural remedies are being discovered that can be helpful for RLS.
Andrew Weil, M.D. says that using drugs for restless leg syndrome – many of which have serious side effects – should be employed only as a last resort. On his website he suggests RLS sufferers take a calcium/magnesium supplement at bedtime, do some form of daily exercise, stretch or massage their legs, take a hot bath to relax the legs, and stop smoking if they do so, as smoking may impair blood flow to the leg muscles. Since caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco can trigger symptoms, avoiding all three substances can bring relief.
A recent study published in the journal of “Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise” gave the results of various forms of exercise on people who suffer with periodic leg movements (PLM). PLM is a night-time condition with similar symptoms to RLS. Sufferers experience a repetitive cramping or jerking of the legs during sleep. The researchers began with the premise that exercise and non-drug approaches may lead to an improvement in sleep quality and a reduction of symptoms.
The study evaluated the effects of intense short-term exercise and regular, longer-term exercise on sleep patterns in PLM patients. The results showed that both forms of physical exercise lowered PLM levels. Exercise increased sleep duration, rapid eye movement (deeper level) sleep, reduced the time needed to fall asleep, and also lessened waking up after sleep onset. (A tip: Avoid doing exercise within a couple hours before bedtime as it may be stimulating or interfere with sleep. Some good options are walking during the day, stretching, doing swimming, leg lifts, etc.).
B vitamins are nourishing and essential for the nervous system. A study from the journal “Alternative Medicine Review” found that administration of folic acid (one of the B vitamins) alleviated the symptoms of RLS and may play a role in the treatment of primary, familial RLS. Note: the B vitamins work together as a group and should be taken together in a supplement. This will prevent creating a deficiency in the others by taking only one of the whole group, such as folic acid.
In the article “Restless Leg Syndrome Responds to Calcium” by Peter Gott, M.D., he says: “Calcium has been found to be helpful in relieving nocturnal (night time) leg cramps, and some RLS sufferers have also found that it is beneficial in preventing symptoms when taken just prior to sleep…… Other deficiencies, most notably iron, magnesium, folic acid and B vitamins, are known to cause RLS symptoms in some.”
Magnesium deficiency is a key factor in RLS. Studies in the Journal “Sleep” and the “Romanian Journal of Neurology and Psychiatry” have found magnesium to be an effective alternative therapy for RLS. Insomnia remedies containing minerals should have a 2 to 1 ratio of calcium to magnesium (twice as much calcium as magnesium). The original research on this ratio appeared in 1935 in the Journal of Physiological Reviews.
One natural sleep remedy showing good results with restless leg syndrome is Sleep Minerals II. It contains highly absorbable forms of calcium, magnesium and vitamin D – all combined in a softgel with carrier oils for fast assimilation.
Some good tips for remedying RLS is to eat healthy natural foods, drink plenty of water, get some enjoyable daily exercise, use hot or cold therapy as needed, and take a quality calcium and magnesium supplement before bed.
Written and supplied by Nutrition Breakthroughs.