Are you one those people who’s quality of sleep is greatly compromised by what could be likened to a feather tickling at the nerves in your legs and sometimes up into your arms and shoulders? The only thing that seems to provide immediate remedy, at that moment, is continual movement of those extremities. Well, that’s not a good “bedfellow” (pun intended) to make for a good night’s sleep if it persists for several hours every night.
If your experiencing those symptoms you likely have a disorder commonly known as restless leg syndrome.
So on that note, let’s examine what exactly this condition is, it’s causes and look at some natural remedies that can provide relief.
What Is Restless Leg Syndrome
The medical term for restless leg syndrome is Willis-Ekbom disease. About 1 in 10 people experience this condition at some point in their lives. Women tend to be twice as likely as men to get it and it is claimed by some to be more common those that are middle-aged, although it is also claimed that a higher percentage (10% over 65) is afflicted by the disorder as opposed to 5% of the general population. It is a neurological disorder that causes an unpleasant creeping/edgy feeling in the legs and other limbs. Which as a result, leads to an overwhelming urge to continually move.
These symptoms are at their worst in the evening when you are at rest (or) trying to rest. This can (of course) lead to sleep deprivation and cause systemic issues with insomnia, which can then lead to impairment of daily activities, anxiety and depression due to the decline in neurological function.
Causes Of Restless Leg Syndrome
Hereditary factors are said to be one of the causes of those who suffer from restless legs. There is also evidence that suggests that a dysfunction of the basil ganglia (which is essentially a cluster of neurons located deep beneath the cerebral cortex (the outer layer of the brain) could be a large part of the problem. These nuclei control the neurotransmitter dopamine which is a prime catalyst for controlling muscle movement. The brain naturally secretes less dopamine in the later part of the day. Which is indicative of why RLS symptoms are more likely in the evening.
Other causal factors:
- Inflammation and compromised immune function – In this study it was found that, 38 different health conditions were strongly associated with RLS. 95% of those 38 conditions showed a strong causal connection with RLS and inflammation or an immune constituent.
- Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) and Intestinal Bowel Syndrome (IBS) – This study found that 69% of RLS patients also had SIBO, as opposed to 28% of the control group. In addition, it was also shown that 28% percent of the patients had IBS as compared to only 4% of the control group.
- Elevated levels in C-Reactive Protein – Here is a study associating elevated c-reactive protein with severe periodic leg movements (PLMs) and patients with RLS.
- Vitamin D deficiency – Vitamin D plays an important role in helping to proliferate the uptake of dopamine and it’s metabolites in the brain.
- Iron deficiency – Insignificant levels in iron intake (or) secretion/absorption can cause dopamine levels to fall. This can lead to symptoms of anemia which in turn can subsequently bring on RLS.
- Magnesium deficiency – This vital mineral enables normal muscle and nerve function, low magnesium levels have been linked with restless leg syndrome. read more here
- Chronic degenerative conditions – diabetes, obesity, rheumatoid arthritis, Parkinson’s disease, and fibromyalgia have been associated with RLS. An underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism) or chronic kidney disease can also trigger the condition.
- Certain medications – antihistamines, antipsychotics, and hypertension medicines can exasperate symptoms. read more here
- Lifestyle considerations – stress, smoking, alcohol, lack of exercise/physical activity have also been shown to be causal factors.
- Pregnancy – This can also be a trigger for RLS. About 1 in 5 pregnant women suffer symptoms in the last 3 month trimester. However, these symptoms usually subside about a month after childbirth.
Natural Remedies To Confront RLS
- Chelated magnesium – This variant of magnesium attaches to a molecule that aids in delivery to a specific place, which thus, helps in absorption. Note: It’s important to have a proper HCL (stomach acid) levels to aid in the absorption of this form of magnesium, otherwise this form of magnesium may not be effective.
- Ionic magnesium – This is dissolved in water and is’nt as dependent on stomach acid as chelated magnesium.
Dopamine regulates the the fluent movement of muscles and your body needs iron to make dopamine. Having a ferritin level test (to check your iron levels) would probably be a good idea and if your levels are not higher than 50 ng/mL and your saturation is no more than 22% then the prognosis will likely be that you are iron deficient.
In that case it is suggested to supplement with 20 to 30 milligrams of iron every other day on an empty stomach with vitamin C for absorption. source
- Heme Iron – This form of iron supplement derives from liver and red meat and thus is a good option in terms of bioavailability.
B-9 (folate) and B-12 – deficiency in these 2 vitamins have been shown be another indicator for RLS.
Taking mixed 400IUs of Natural Mixed Tocopherals a day can be beneficial in relieving symptoms (tocopherol is a naturally occurring chemical element that vitamin E substances derive from).
If you are suffering from RLS, one of the first steps you could take is to have your vitamin D levels checked. If your range is somewhere between 25 to 50 ng/mL, then you are probably in good shape but it is also suggested that if you have a chronic condition or auto-immune disorder that you could be better off at a range of 35 to 60 ng/mL.
Supplementing with extra virgin cod liver oil is said to be good option. D3 is a good option as well. Of course getting adequate sunlight is important (20 minutes a day average would be optimum).
This video offers perspectives on the importance of potassium for addressing RLS:
Get potassium citrate powder below: (over 1200 reviews and 4.7 stars)
Iron rich foods to add:
- red meat
- spinach and other dark leafy greens
- dried fruit
- iron-fortified cereals
Folate rich foods to add:
- spinach and other dark leafy greens
- fortified cereals
- black-eyed peas
- lentils and beans
- rice and quinoa
- whole wheat pasta
- Brussels sprouts
Magnesium rich foods to add:
- soy milk
- black beans
- peanut butter
- brown rice
Potassium rich foods to add (top 10):
- Potatoes, with Skin (1 potato = 1,081 mg, 23% DV)
- Avocados (1 avocado = 975 mg, 21% DV)
- Lima Beans (1 cup = 955 mg, 20% DV)
- Winter Squash (1 cup = 896 mg, 19% DV)
- Sweet Potato, Cooked with Skin (5” sweet potato = 855 mg, 18% DV)
- Prunes, AKA Dried Plums (1/2 cup = 637 mg, 14% DV)
- Coconut Water (1 cup = 600 mg, 13% DV)
- Brussels Sprouts, Cooked (1 cup = 504 mg, 11% DV)
- Milk (1 cup = 496 mg, 11% DV)
- Cantaloupe (1 cup = 494 mg, 11% DV)
Foods to avoid:
- energy drinks
- fried foods
- processed foods
- foods high in sugar
- Trans fats or refined oils
Homeopathic product option w/testimonials:
Here are a couple more testimonials from one of the sources mentioned earlier, citing a homeopathic product called Hyland’s Restful Legs that the 2 commenters claim has been effective in providing remedy for them: read here
Nutmeg has a pleasant aroma and the sedative properties can relax your nervous system.
- Recommendation: consume 1/8 teaspoon in warm cow’s milk before bed.
Valerian is known for its medicinal properties. It has been used as a sedative, sleep aid, and antispasmodic for several centuries.
- In a study, it was shown that taking 800 mg of valerian for 8 weeks in capsule form was able to reduce the symptoms of RLS, thus decreasing daytime sleepiness as well.
Aromatherapy with essential oils:
- Combining equal parts of Roman chamomile and lavender essential oils with a carrier such as grape seed or almond oil and rubbing the mixture on your legs until symptoms subside. Get Roman chamomile and lavender essential oils here and here
- Soaking in a warm bath instilled with one ounce of milk and neroli or ylang-ylang essential oil (3 drops) for about 15 to 20 minutes before bed can also be an effective treatment for RLS. Get neroli and ylang-ylang essential oil here and here
Implement healthy lifestyle habits:
- Avoiding alcohol, caffeine, and tobacco – These items can provoke RLS symptoms.
- Good sleep habits – Apply a regular sleep schedule and take time to wind down before turning in.
- Exercise regularly – Going for a walk, stretching, or doing relaxation exercise techniques (like tai chi) can help soothe the RLS sensation. Note: If doing one of the aforementioned, right before bedtime (as mentioned above) give yourself time to wind down.
Videos tips on applying other simple remedies:
Using a bar of soap to treat leg cramps and RLS:
There is actually a lot of testimony around the web on this method of treatment. By merely putting a bar of soap under your sheets (underneath where your legs are positioned) this tactic has apparently been very effective relieving the symptoms of RLS. Note of caution: if you have allergic reactions to deoderant soaps (as I do) you may not be able to use many name brand soaps. So, that is a something to factor in. You may want to click onto the actual Youtube page to read the testimonies from commenters as well.
Using Kratom as a treatment for RLS:
One final note:
I hope that at least one of these remedies can can offer a solution for yourself, a friend or loved one. The loss of sleep incurred from this disorder alone can have a substantial bearing on your quality of life. Checking with your doctor or healthcare provider if you are planning on taking one of these measures is never a bad choice (especially if you are on certain types of medications).
Blessings to your good health