Restless Legs Syndrome

Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) is a poorly understood condition that causes leg symptoms shortly before going to sleep—symptoms that are temporarily relieved by movement. Occasionally the condition may also involve the arms. It can cause sudden jerking motions of the legs and can lead to insomnia.

RLS is most common in middle-aged women, pregnant women, and people with severe kidney disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and nerve diseases (neuropathy). Restless legs have also been reported to occur in people with varicose veins and to be relieved when the varicose veins are treated.

RLS is characterised by an almost irresistible urge to move the affected limbs because of unpleasant sensations beneath the skin, which are described as creeping, crawling, itching, aching, tingling, drawing, searing, pulling, or painful. The classic symptoms include ‘fidgety’, ‘crawling’ or ‘jittery’ feelings in the lower limbs usually occurring in bed at night, and typically worse after periods of prolonged sitting, rest or decreased activity, when the person affected is physically and mentally tired.

The sensations are experienced mostly in the calves and although usually present in both legs, one side can be affected more severely than the other. Relief is generally obtained by movements such as walking. In some cases the sufferer has to spend much of the night pacing up and down to achieve any lasting improvement. Some people even notice spasmodic jerking movement of their legs during their sleep, which can occasionally disturb their partners too.

In mild cases there is only a moderate degree of discomfort but in more severe cases considerable discomfort, distress and sleep interruption is experienced.

Nutritional Supplements that could help. (Refer to the individual supplement for cautions in use.)

Supplement/Herb What it does Dosage
Magnesium To help reduce spasms and enable the muscles to relax. 200mg to 600mg daily
Vitamin E A powerful anti-oxidant it can help to improve circulation. 500iu daily
Garlic To improve circulation. 1000 to 4000mg daily
Ginger To improve circulation. 1,000 to 2,000mg daily
Ginkgo Biloba To improve circulation. 120mg to 240mg daily
Horse Chestnut To improve circulation and strengthen the blood vessels. 500mg to 2,000mg daily


Diet and Lifestyle Factors

If anaemia is the cause of the restless legs, then eating iron rich foods is important. Limit intake of tea, coffee, cocoa and cola drinks, particularly before bed. Caffeine acts as a vasoconstrictor, closing up the smallest blood vessels, which reduces blood flow and impairs circulation. Nicotine has the same effect so it is advised that you do not smoke.

Preliminary studies of large groups of people have shown that blood sugar imbalances such as hypoglycaemia are more likely to suffer with restless legs. Their symptoms improved following dietary modifications designed to regulate blood-sugar levels. Follow a sugar-free, high-protein diet along with frequent snacking to keep blood sugar levels stable. (See the article on diabetes) Eliminate sugar, refined flour, caffeine, and alcohol from the diet.

In order to maintain the health of your circulatory system each plenty of avocadas, sunflower or olive oil, nuts, seeds and dark green leafy vegetables. Eat oily fish such as sardines, herring, mackerel, salmon and pilchards. Eat dark coloured berries for their vitamin C and bioflavanoids. Use garlic, chilli, ginger and horseradish in cooking. Drink 2 litres of water daily.

Homoeopathic Remedies which may help. (Refer to the individual remedy for guidance on the one that is most appropriate for you.)

  • Aconitum
  • Arsenicum alb
  • Ignatia
  • Rhus tox
  • Sulphur

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