Restless leg syndrome, also known as Willis-Ekbom Disease, is a nervous system condition that produces an uncontrollable and severe urge to move your legs. It tends to be a rather unpleasant sensation and is only relieved by moving one’s legs, however, this relief is usually temporary. It tends to affect people more at night and can result in sleeplessness due to discomfort. Most patients of RLS tend to also have a related condition known as Period Limb Movement of Sleep (PLMS) – this is a condition in which a patient’s legs tend to jerk or twitch while they sleep.
Typically, the condition tends to worsen with age. There are, however, many things that can be done to manage this condition effectively.
– An overwhelming urge to move ones legs- Sleeplessness
– Daytime sleepiness
– Tinging and burning
It is believed that abnormalities in the dopamine pathways which the brain may be linked to the symptoms of this condition. It is seen that patients whom have Parkinson’s disease often also develop Restlessness Leg Syndrome. There is also evidence suggesting low iron levels in the brain may be linked to this condition. There is also a strong genetic association with its development, in fact, more than 40% of Restless Leg Syndrome patients have a family history of the condition. The symptoms can also be worsened by certain medications such as antihistamines, antidepressants and antipsychotics.
Remedies for Restless Leg Syndrome
Valerian is an Ayurvedic herb that is used for treating several conditions of the central nervous system. It is a potent sedative herb that is highly effective in treating insomnia and other sleep-related issues. It has been found to be quite effective in treating Restless Leg Syndrome (see study). In my clinical experience, I have found that Valerian works more efficiently when combined with other herbs that share similar pharmacological actions.
I have talked a lot about the various uses of Magnesium for treating conditions such as insomnia, anxiety, depression, spasticity, high blood pressure, and diabetes. This mineral is a powerful electrolyte that plays a pivotal role in nerve conductivity, muscle relaxation, and the balance of certain aspects of neurochemistry. In clinical research, Magnesium supplementation has been found to Restless Leg Syndrome and Periodic Limb Movement Disorder (see study).
Lavender essential oil is a popular herbal remedy used in aromatherapy for treating anxiety, high-stress levels, insomnia, and pain. The active ingredients of Lavender oil are easily absorbed via the skin, however, it can be used both topically and inhaled. In the case of Restless Leg Syndrome, Lavender oil has been found to be highly effective in treating hemodialysis patients with Restless Leg Syndrome (see study). It should be used topically, mixed with a carrier oil, and deeply massaged into the legs and if possible, the rest of the body as well.
It is important to understand that in order to get more significant relief, all underlying root causes must be addressed. In Ayurvedic medicine, there are a variety of options that work directly on the central nervous system. Clinical research has proven that these treatments can be highly effective in various conditions of the nervous system including Parkinson’s disease, Stroke, Cerebral Palsy, Spinal cord injuries, Cervical Spondylotic Myelopathy, Progressive Degenerative Cerebellar Ataxia, and more. I discuss more about these treatments in my article on Brain Damage.
Nutrition is the foundation of health. As I have said in many articles, the human body is a product of nutrition. We literally are, what we eat. It has been seen that supplementation with certain nutrients are associated with improved symptoms of Restless Leg Syndrome.
Potassium Citrate has been found to significantly improve this condition (see study). Potassium can be found in foods such as bananas, spinach, broccoli, mushrooms, avocado, potatoes and sweet potatoes. Meeting your daily requirements of potassium is pretty hard to accomplish. Therefore, supplementation may be of use.
As mentioned earlier, Magnesium is highly effective in treating this condition (see study). Magnesium can be found in foods such as Avocado, dark chocolate, brazil nuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds, spinach and cashews. Much like Potassium it is very difficult to reach your daily magnesium needs, therefore, supplementation may be of use.
Vitamin D deficiencies are also associated with Restless Leg Syndrome (see study). Unfortunately, much like both Magnesium and Potassium, this nutrient is also hard to get from the diet since it comes from the Sun. Vitamin D synthesis occurs in the body with the use of cholesterol, certain hydroxylase enzymes that are found in the liver and kidneys, etc. Vitamin D is the most commonly deficient nutrient in the human population and supplementation does not always prove to be fruitful. This may be due to the fact that most people do not get enough sunlight and liver function has been on the decline (approximately 1 in 3 people have a fatty liver). Also, in recent times, people have avoided the consumption of cholesterol due to the “theory” that it leads to heart disease. However, recent studies have shed light on the fact that this belief may be false. It is crucial to make sure that in order to correct a vitamin D deficiency, one must improve their liver function and kidney function along with the consumption of healthy cholesterol foods. Vitamin D as well as healthy cholesterol can be found in butter, ghee, salmon, sardine, mackerel, cod liver, cod liver oil, and egg yolks.
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(Always use medicinal herbs under the supervision of a doctor)
by Dr. Nishal R.
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