One of my readers wrote in asking for suggestions that might help with her restless legs syndrome.
We are all entirely different, and there is rarely one reason why restless legs syndrome might have struck you. Worry and stress may be behind your symptoms; sometimes it’s as simple as a mineral deficiency, but whatever the causes, there are a range of solutions that may affect its severity - and hopefully make it disappear entirely. Experiment with each, one at a time, and see which works for you.
What is restless legs syndrome?
Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a weird one. Why, at the end of a long hard day, when all you want to do is crawl into bed and sink thankfully into a deep and dreamless sleep, would your legs take it upon themselves to madly start running - all by themselves?
RLS is a central nervous system problem that usually affects older people. You rarely hear of anyone under the age of 50 affected. Sufferers describe it as a deep tiredness in their lower leg muscles. Sometimes it feels as if ants are crawling all over the area; other times it can be a burning, aching feeling. The legs twitch and jerk of their own accord, and it usually happens at night, an hour or so after going to bed, putting paid to any hope of a good night’s sleep.
Why do you get Restless Legs Syndrome?
Restless legs syndrome is thought to be exacerbated by iron deficiency and anaemia (so get eating those lentils) and it’s sometimes an unwanted side effect of pregnancy, indicating a deficiency of some sort. Diabetics also report the symptoms, and heavy drinking and smoking can trigger it.
What are the best natural remedies for Restless Legs Syndrome?
1. Ask your doctor for a blood test: Get him to check your iron levels. Supplement to boost them if you are low. Eat more lentils, kidney beans and dark green vegetables. Wheatgerm is also a good source of iron, so get out your marmite jar and start spreading!
2. Check your folic acid levels: Folic acid deficiency is another issue to be aware of. Folic acid is needed to boost red blood cell numbers and oxygenate your blood and RLS is thought in part to be down to a lack of oxygen in your blood. Supplement, and add more leafy green vegetables into your diet. Breathing exercises will also help reboot your oxygen levels.
3. Cut out certain foods: Remove wheat, coffee, sugar, tea, cocoa and fizzy drinks from your diet for a start. Try to stabilise any blood sugar swings- reduce carbohydrates and up your protein to keep your levels steady throughout the day.
4. Top up your supplements: Magnesium is the mineral that helps with the nervous system, so take 500 mg daily; add potassium (800mg) and calcium (800mg) and monitor your body’s response.
5. Invest in a foot wrap: Restiffic is a specially developed RLS foot wrap that puts pressure on the abductor halluces and flexor halluces brevis muscles and reduces the leg twitching, helping you to get a better night’s sleep. It’s not a cheap option at £199, but they offer a 30 money back guarantee so it may be worth a try. (mediuk.com)
6. Boost your vitamin E and vitamin C levels: Research has shown that supplementing with these two vitamins reduces symptoms in a few weeks.
7. Homeopathy: Suggested remedies include Causticum and Argentum nitricum for the sense of heaviness and rigid calves. Tarentula hispanica and Zincum metallicum are for twitching; Medorrhinum is for legs that never stop moving and ache all night long, and Rhus toxicodendron for the creepy crawly sensation. Numbness in your feet, try Kali phosphoricum. Low-iron related RLS symptoms respond to Ferrum metallium, Ferrum phosphoricum and China.
Book yourself in for a consultation, and ask about the homeopathically diluted coffee remedy that one reader told me stopped the symptoms entirely (but couldn’t remember the name of!).
8. Electro-magnetic stress: In today’s electronic WiFi world, we are all living in a soup of electro-magnetic frequencies, and some of us are more susceptible than others to the damage they can cause. Remove all electric appliances from your bedroom for a period, and observe any changes in either your symptoms or your sleeping. Make sure there are no clock radios beside your bed, no electric blankets to overwhelm your energy field and that the wall plugs for your bedside lights are switched off as well as the lamps themselves. Sometimes that’s all it takes.
9. Rutivite: This is a herbal remedy made by PowerHealth from the dried flower and leaf of buckwheat. It contains rutin (which is also found in apples, asparagus, green tea and most citrus fruits) which strengthens the smallest blood vessels and improves circulation and oxygen. Anecdotally, within half an hour of taking it (and always take on an empty stomach) the twitching and insect crawling effects stop. Buy it on Amazon.
10. Up your Vitamin D levels: A 2014 research study found a clear correlation between low vitamin D levels and RLS. Get your levels tested and then supplement for several months before testing again. A great excuse for multiple holidays in the sun!
Written by health advocate Sara Davenport, founder of one of the UK's leading breast cancer charities, Breast Cancer Haven. With over twenty years' experience in holistic health, Sara's digital dose of wellness teaches you to listen to your body, tweak your lifestyle and improve your health.
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