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Restless Leg Syndrome

Sleep Disorders, General | November 29, 2016 | Author: Naturopath

sleep disorders

Restless Leg Syndrome

Restless Leg Syndrome is a neurological disorder that causes the sufferer unpleasant abnormal sensations in the legs. Patients report feeling a variety of sensations; from throbbing or creeping to painful stabbing or shooting jolts of electricity, usually in the calves of the legs. The strange sensations reportedly occur mostly at night when the person tries to sleep and tends to interrupt with sleep, only to disappear by morning; this is why Restless Leg Syndrome is also considered a sleeping disorder.

The Nervous System

The nervous system of the body refers to a network of nerve fibers that control and coordinate the body’s senses, movements and actions. A neurological disorder thus refers to any abnormality of the nervous system that may cause symptoms that are directly related to the malfunctioning of a nerve or multiple nervous pathways.

What is Restless Leg Syndrome?The Nervous System

In the case of Restless Leg Syndrome the infomation pathway is affected.

The nerve pathways which are responsible for transmitting ‘information’ between the nerves that coordinate sensation, the peripheral nervous system (PNS) and the nerves that coordinate movements, the central nervous system (CNS), are affected.

Periodic Limb Movement Syndrome (PLMS)

As many as 80 percent of people diagnosed with RLS also suffer from a disorder known as Periodic Limb Movement Syndrome (PLMS), where the legs autonomously make repetitive and rhythmic jerking movements during sleep.

RLS is considered a sensorimotor disorder, because it affects both the nervous pathways that control the senses and those that coordinate movement.

Who is affected

Although RLS affects both men and women, the condition seems to affect mostly women especially during the late stages of pregnancy. It may begin at any age and may even affect young children too. Symptoms of this condition may go unnoticed and subsequently go undiagnosed until the symptoms become much more pronounced in middle-aged or older people.

As with many other diseases, understanding the cause can help to exact the most effective cure.

Common causes of RLSĀ If RLS presents during the late stages of pregnancy for a woman, for example, it would be more sensible to check mineral levels or encourage low-impact exercise to alleviate symptoms.

For others symptoms can be caused by medications, which may be contraindicated with symptom relieving medication. Topical rubs of essential oils may be more appropriate.

It is important to understand the cause of RLS to find the most appropriate cure, consultation with the doctor before taking any supplements is advised.

Nutritional deficiency

There is a strong correlation between  mineral deficiency and RLS. It has been found that a shortage of potassium, magnesium, and calcium can make legs twitchy. Potassium can easily be obtained from the diet by simply increasing fruit and vegetables intake.

  • Taking 500mg magnesium, 800mg – 1000mg calcium and 800mg – 1000mg potassium on a daily basis can improve symptoms of RLS.

Dopamine deficiency or excess

Dopamine is a feel-good hormone that helps a part of the brain called the basal ganglia to function at its best. The basal ganglia controls and coordinated the movements of the body. If a person has a dopamine deficiency it may result in slower, uncoordinated movements and equally, should there be an excess of dopamine it may result in rapid, unnecessary movements leading to motor dysfunctions such as repetitive tics.  People with low dopamine levels also tend to rely on other stimulants for energy such as sugars, alcohol or caffeine which in turn will only exacerbate RLS symptoms.

Dopamine deficiency or excessVitamin D helps to increase dopamine levels and also protect neurons against toxins.

Green tea contains a component called L-theamine which increases dopamine.

Ginkgo Biloba is used to treat depression because it helps to increase the feel-good hormone Dopamine.

Curcumin is the active ingredient in turmeric spice. 

Systemic Inflammation and Immune Deregulation

A study published in 2012 investigated 38 health conditions that are known to cause or exacerbate symptoms of RLS; it was found that 95 percent of those health conditions have an inflammatory and/or autoimmune component. People with known diagnosis of inflammatory or autoimmune conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, ADHD, depression, multiple sclerosis, arthritis or rheumatoid arthritis or diabetes are at risk for restless leg syndrome. Applying measures to control or manage inflammatory and autoimmune conditions could alleviate symptoms of RLS

  • Eating fiber rich foods
  • Herbs and spices for inflammation such as turmeric and ginger
  • Alliums and crucifers such as onions, scallions, garlic, mustard greens
  • Omega-3 fatty acids

Poor Circulation

The body’s circulatory system is responsible for sending nutrients, blood and oxygen throughout the body. Symptoms of poor circulation begin to manifest when the flow of blood to a part of the body is reduced.

Poor circulation is usually an effect rather than an actual cause; it may stem from other diseases that lead to poor circulation. People often have symptoms such as pins and needles, tingling, cold hands feet, muscle cramps or numbness. Poor circulation may be caused by health conditions such as Peripheral Artery Disease, Blood clots, Varicose Veins, Diabetes, Obesity, Reynaud’s disease.

  • Compression socks for swollen legs
  • Regular exercise to increase circulation
  • Vitamin E oil and Olive oil in equal parts to make a rub for the legs to stimulate circulation
  • Rosemary oil mixed with sweet almond or olive oil as carriers will ease tense and sore muscles
  • Ginkgo Biloba supplements
  • Horse Chestnut seed extract with at least 16% - 20% of aescin
  • Folic acid 

Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) and IBS

In the same review paper mentioned above, a study found that 69 percent of patients wit RLS symptoms also had SIBO in comparison with 28 percent of controls. It was also fund that 28 percent of patients wit RLS also had IBS compared to just 4 percent of controls for IBS. The gastrointestinal disease IBS is usually caused by SIBO.

  • Consult with a doctor or a relevant health professional for an examination to determine eligibility for following a FODMAPs Diet.
  • Eat a diet rich in probiotics to treat and prevent SIBO

Iron deficiency

Iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency, especially among women.

The myoglobin molecule is a protein that helps to store oxygen in the muscle until it is metabolized by the body when it needs to.

Iron is a crucial part of the myoglobin molecule without which the protein cannot hold enough oxygen and may lead to anemia.

  • Check your iron status with your doctor and supplement with iron as advised 
  • Eat foods rich in iron such lean red meat, organ meat, fish and shell fish

Thyroid disorders (Hypothyroidism)

Restless Leg Syndrome can be associated with thyroid disease when related to 'oestrogen Dominance'. This is often the reason pregnant women with exceptionally high estrogen levels develop RLS symptoms, even if only temporarily. The high level of oestrogen in the body signals to the liver to overproduce thyroid-binding globulin (TBG), which in turn will cause a reduction on the free flowing of thyroid hormone in the blood.

Peripheral Neuropathy

A 2001 study on restless leg syndrome in peripheral neuropathy found 20 out of 70 consecutive patients or 28.6% prevalence of restless leg syndrome associated with miscellaneous peripheral neuropathies. Another study even suggests that in fact up to 45 percent of patients with RLS might actually have subclinical sensory neuropathies, although it is difficult to confirm based on current data. Consult your doctor to discus the best way treat peripheral neuropathy.
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In Summary

Restless leg syndrome can be a nuisance and lead to exhaustion and daytime sleepiness, it is rarely, if ever fatal or lead to serious complications. It is treatable and/or manageable even if it is discovered or diagnosed when symptoms have become more pronounced. It is advisable to consult with a doctor or a relevant medical professional before taking any supplements, especially if already on any medication.  Australia’s best online discount chemist


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