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Restless leg syndrome

General characteristics

General characteristics

Restless leg syndrome (also called Willis-Ekbom disease) or RLS is considered a neurological disorder by the medical profession.The sufferer experiences unpleasant sensations in the legs (and occasionally other parts of the body such as arms and shoulders) that are partially relieved by frequent movement of the affected limbs.

The characteristics of the syndrome include an inability to keep the legs still due to tingling, twitching, crawling, aching or itching sensations within the legs. The symptoms are often worse in the evening or night or when trying to relax and other side effects include jerking of the limbs and sleep disturbances (the person wakes frequently due to the symptoms).

Exact causes are unclear but a link with iron deficiency has been seen in some cases as well as an imbalance (usually low levels) of the neurotransmitter dopamine. Other conditions associated with the onset of RLS include Parkinson's, pregnancy, menopause, nutritional deficiencies (mainly iron, calcium, magnesium and B vitamins), family tendencies, kidney weakness, diabetes, alcohol abuse, rheumatoid arthritis, certain prescription drugs (e.g. antidepressants, painkillers and calcium channel blockers) and is more common in those over 50 years of age.

 

Healing objectives are to correct any nutritional deficiencies, nourish and strengthen the nervous system, work the legs often by walking or dancing and relieve stress wherever possible.


Diet and lifestyle

Diet and lifestyle

Foods containing iron can be useful as iron levels in the body may be low. Good sources apart from red meat include dried apricots (hunza apricots in particular), spinach, nettle soup, cherries, beans and pulses, black-strap molasses (as well as a multitude of vitamins and minerals), beetroot and greens and other dark leaves.

Muscular spasm is associated with deficiencies in both magnesium and calcium so make sure you include plenty of foods rich in both of these. Too much calcium can force magnesium levels out of balance so try not to take in too much calcium unless balanced by magnesium. Good sources containing both minerals include a daily fresh carrot juice with a small handful of dark green leaves added.

Low levels of B vitamins (folic acid in particular) are also linked to RLS and many other nervous disorders. Excellent food sources include the whole grains, dark green leaves and most vegetables include some form of B vitamin, especially sprouted beans, seeds and grains.

Avoid any nervous stimulants such as coffee, cola, energy drinks, alcohol and fizzy drinks (which leach minerals from the system) for a few weeks as this alone may make a difference if your stimulant intake is normally quite high.


Useful herbs

Useful herbs

The relaxing and antispasmodic herbs can be helpful in calming the restlessness. A formula containing equal parts of the tinctures of valerian, chamomile, crampbark, passion flower, and skullcap. Take a teaspoon (5ml) in water 3 times daily, the last dose being in the evening.

A daily nutrient tea containing herbs like nettle, raspberry leaf and oatstraw will provide many nutrients (including calcium, magnesium and iron) that are needed for smooth and efficient nerve functioning. Put 3 heaped teaspoons of the mix (equal parts of the 3 herbs) into a jug or pot and add a pint or so of boiling water. Strain off a cupful 3 times daily. This nutritious mix can be taken long term and is beneficial to many other systems in the body.

A cup of lemon balm and chamomile tea in the evening (use a teaspoon of each in the same cup) will help to relax the body and mind and lessen symptoms of RLS.

Adaptogenic herbs such as schisandra berries can help to alleviate stress and induce restfullness.


Natural healing

Natural healing

Any activity that naturally increases dopamine levels in the body can help to relieve RLS. These include regular exercise, sex and masturbation (orgasm produces a rush of dopamine release).

Alternating hot and cold water over the legs reduces symptoms in many cases.

Certain yoga postures can help...try sitting on the floor with your legs out in front of you, pushing your feet flat against a wall. Push for 10 seconds then relax. Repeat this a few times throughout the day and evening.


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