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Restless Leg Syndrome

 
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Does anyone know of any foods, herbs, etc. ANYTHING that can help restless leg syndrome?

As it stands I do have a prescription to help RLS, but it is only so-so and is intended to use at night.  On occasion I have used it during the day with mixed results (it does not make me tired).  I can get up and move around, but immediately upon sitting down my legs want to absolutely crawl.  Right now my legs have a borderline awful crawling feeling in them bad enough that it is hard to concentrate.

I have found that compression garments do provide some measure of relief and have found a couple of brands of compression pants that provide considerable compression on my legs without being tight, especially in the waist.  I wear them commonly in under regular pants and typically they do provide a good deal of comfort/relief without medication—a real plus.

But today NOTHING seems to help.  Not compression, not my regular prescription, not muscle relaxers, not even exercise.  Does anyone else have this malady and have any useful way to alleviate the symptoms?

Thanks in advance,

Eric  
 
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Have you tried pickle juice?  I'm not sure if it needs to be dill or some other type of pickle but I've heard it works for many people.  Taken internally I believe...
 
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I take a magnesium supplement that helps a lot with that and early morning calf cramps.  They are non existent when I remember to take my magnesium...some use a topical oil also but I have not tried that.

My husband tells me I 'kick' in the night...not the same thing and I can't remember the name of it but it doesn't bother me or wake me up, just him sometimes

Mike, I've heard about pickle juice and that it works...I wonder if it's one of those carry overs from when the vinegar was 'real' and nothing was pasteurized?
 
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Eric: any idea why the compression stuff helps? What causes it to start in the first place?
If it's just muscles kicking, low magnesium is often the culprit. Some medications cause it, certain types of nerve damage or inflammation do too. The fact that compression helps makes me think nerves.
 
Pearl Sutton
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As far as pickle juice, any acid helps some people. It never worked for me, bummer, because I love pickles :) Lemon juice, lime juice, eating acid fruit.
The REALLY non-technical explanation is it has to do with the electrical charge in the cells. The acid shifts it. It's WAY more complex than that, but I'll stop there. :)

Really depends on WHY your legs are restless.
 
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Although the cause of RLS is not clear, experts suspect it comes from a deficiency of the neurotransmitter called dopamine (why related to Parkinsons in some cases). It was also found in one study that people with RLS have more histamine receptors.

There are some things that RLS has been associated with:

nerve injuries
iron deficiency (having blood ferritin levels less than 50, even though over 9 is considered normal)
B12 or folate deficiency which can both cause megaloblastic anemia
thyroid disease
parkinsons disease
kidney failure
diabetes
peripheral neuropathy
pregnancy
hypoglycemia
increased with age
drugs that include  antidepressants that increase serotonin and anti-psychotics (haloperidol or phenothiazine derivatives), antinausea drugs  (prochlorperazine or metoclopramid), histamine (h2) blockers

I would also add that these symptoms lumped as RLS can be the reaction to toxins in the environment or toxins being made inside of you even. It is not uncommon for me to see this with people reacting to a water-damaged environment. This is rarely realized as a causative factor.

Magnesium and B vitamins are my first go to for most folks to see if they are the culprit or are perhaps low due to other issues. Magnesium is especially important if there is twitching and jerking. This can be taken orally but too much will cause diarrhea. In my experience Ionic magnesium is best absorbed with deceased diarrhea and quick results. However, some folks do fine with a magnesium citrate or magnesium glycinate. Stay away from the magnesium oxide which appears to be less absorbed and more likely to cause diarrhea. If you take magnesium and get diarrhea, you have taken too much and back off. You can also get magnesium as well as other necessary minerals from eating dark leafy greens or herbs. Spring Nettles will be here soon and they are high in minerals including magnesium. Make sure you know how to collect and eat them though as they do sting. Kale is an easy to grow and great source of magnesium. All dark green leafy plants will also contain b vitamins. B12 is harder to get from plants and easier to get from meat, eggs, dairy or taking a sublingual b12/injectable. For vegetarians they want to make sure their own gut flora is in good shape as it appears they probably make b12 to some degree from plants and it may be absorbed although the studies are conflicting. Additionally using fermented foods that are lactate ferments tend to have more b12 produced. For vegetarians, they might want to read this article on "B12 containing Plant Food Sources For Vegetarians" at this link on PubMed: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4042564/  Cobalt is what is needed in plants to make B12. Folate (another B - and high in green leafies) also causes similar symptoms as B12 when low and also causes megaloblastic anemia. If a person has trouble with numbness, tingling, crawling sensations more so than the twitching/jerking look to the B vits and especially b12, folate.  


Things to do:
Look at the above list of diseases associated wtih RLS and treat them if involved. Here are a few common things to check and do.

get daily exercise involving the legs
massage your legs
take hot baths with epsom salts before bed
maintain regular sleep pattern
Keep blood sugar level even - keeled since associated with hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). Eat enough protein, low or sugar-free food (complex carbohydrates ok), protein snack at nigh sometimes helps. Make sure you are getting high mineral foods such as dark leafy greens.
Check iron level as 25% of RLS pts have low serum iron.  - supplement as needed
Check folate/b12 levels - supplement as needed
50% or more of people in USA are deficient in magnesium (If you test, it needs to be an intracellular red blood cell test for magnesium), so doing a test trial is reasonable. Most folks need 200mg minimum  - 600 mg per day in divided doses. Your body will remove it quickly like it does vitamin C, so best to take in water and sip through-out the day or at least take with each meal if you can't take all through-out the day as a liquid ionic form.
Improve sleep:  L-tryptophan or 5-HTP in the evening. This both helps you sleep and I would add makes your bowels more regular.
Nervine herbs to enhance sleep and act to support the nervous system and decrease spasms are useful for some people. Look at the individual nervine herbs for one that best fits you. Examples to look up are Valerian, Skullcap, Hops, Kava (not for long term), Lavender, Marijuana, Motherwort and Passionflower. Find the herb with a personality to match yours for bets results. For example Lemon balm is a good nervine herb but should not be used if you are hypothyroid. Each herb has details to know about it.

Things to avoid:

Alcohol
Caffeine
tobacco
MSG

 
Eric Hanson
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Sharol,

Thanks much for that very comprehensive list!  Just looking at it I can rule out several factors, pregnancy being most notable, and I can see a couple of factors that might be the causative element.  For starters, I am an extreme insomniac.  I was once awake for a full two weeks!  Several of my medications are serotenergic acting substances.  My RLS is currently being treated with a dopaminergic drug typically taken (in much higher doses) for Parkinsons.  I have been dealing with my insomnia since 2006 when it suddenly snapped on.  As I age I would not be surprised that serotonin acting medications and age are creeping into the equation here.

I might well see about the magnesium and b12 for my RLS.  Much earlier in my insomnia I was given relatively large doses of magnesium from an apothecary on the grounds that magnesium deficiency can cause insomnia.  The boosted magnesium did nothing for my sleep.  Neither did tryptophan, melatonin etc.  but the magnesium might help with the RLS.  

As I stated in my previous post, compression gear does provide some genuine relief.  This is an easy, non-pharmacological option, especially in cooler weather.  I try to massage my legs, unfortunately the relief is strictly short term and when I finish, my legs actually act up worse.  Exercise has a similar effect.

But again, thanks much for your help and I will consider it going forward.

Eric
 
Sharol Tilgner
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Hi Eric,

The exercise is a double edged sword. Moderate exercise usually helps folks with RLS, but too much exercise makes the symptoms worse. No running, jogging or long distance biking. No high-impact exercise. The type of exercise would be yoga, walking, stretching, water aerobics as some examples. Sorry, I did not list that.  I don't now if you tried moderate exercise. Everyone is different and perhaps it is not for you, but studies show it helps many people and they think it is due to the increased blood flow to the leg muscles, increased dopamine, and other endorphins that reduce stress and help one sleep better. The type of exercise suggested is moderate aerobic exercise as well as gentle lower-body resistance training three days per week with the resistance training being stressed more than the aerobic exercise. In one study this reduced RLS symptoms by 50% in folks. It took 6 weeks to achieve this. It is suggested to start out at 30 minutes per day and then increase slowly to an hour during a 6 month interval. It is also suggested not to exercise 4 hours prior to bed. There are some different studies. Here is one of them: https://www.jabfm.org/content/19/5/487.long
 
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Bumping up my potassium helped me, immensely!
 
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Eric Hanson
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Hans,

Thanks for the video.  I am going to see what I can do about getting potassium and vitamin B1.  This is extremely helpful.


Pearl,

I should have seen your post earlier but I didn’t.  Regarding the compression, for years I remembered reading the compression helped both professional and amateur athletes with muscle recovery.  For years I did not know what this meant, neither did I believe the claims.  I just thought it was advertising.  Shortly after my wife and I got married we went bike riding on a local rails-to-trails bike path.  We started out and rode 9 miles to the next stop through the Shawnee National Forest.  What we didn’t realize was that we were biking down a roughly 1% grade.  We effortlessly glided downhill.  We then turned around to return and the 9 miles back up the gradual but relentless uphill climb was torture.  Our muscles ached.  

When we got back home I did not immediately change out of my bike shorts which were new and had fairly good compression.  Sitting on the couch exhausted I realized that my muscles below the hem of my shorts ached terribly, but above were completely fine.  I was a believer in compression ever since.  

Given that my RLS feels a lot like aching muscles, I tried compression, but eventually had to buy some that actually gave measured compression based on mm of mercury.  I found that I needed about 20 mm Hg compression for some effective relief.  I found two companies that have products in this range, Mava (the stronger compression) and Compressionz.

So there you have it, the long winded reason I found compression to be helpful.

Eric
 
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Taking skullcap at night seems to keep mine under control. It's an herbal muscle relaxer, so I'm not sure if it would be any more effective than the muscle relaxers you've already tried.
 
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I would like to mention a few things about potassium due to safety issues.

If you have low potassium and normalize it, it has helped some people with restless leg syndrome. Same with calcium and phosphorus imbalances, low sodium levels are also the culprit sometimes. Magnesium is the one I find is most often helpful to start with.  We need to actually make sure we have all minerals, but these are some that are more commonly associated with restless legs along with iron if there is iron deficient anemia.

Both magnesium and potassium are needed inside your cells. They are the two top nutrients inside of cells. Without them, cells have trouble communicating. To get them inside the cell takes body energy and in fact takes 40% of your ATP being made at rest to get them inside the cell. So, if a person already has a condition affecting this process, there can be an issue with making the energy to get it in the cell even if you are eating enough in your food.

People who exercise and get unusually fatigued, or get more muscle cramps afterward may be due to either magnesium or potassium not being available from the diet or not getting into the cell. It is safer and more often the issue to go towards  magnesium first as the culprit and if that is not it, the worse that happens is loose stools if the person gets too much magnesium.  With potassium a person can cause serious damage if they take too much. More about this in a minute.

Here is a brief look at the potassium in foods and why most good diets will have plenty of it.
Potassium is very represented in the type of foods many people eat, but can get low if there are issues with poor diet, lack of absorption, and a variety of different illness or drugs used. I have noticed that it seems that more people are low in potassium as time goes by and I am not sure why. The average adult needs 4700 mg potassium per day. Sounds like a lot but here is why a good diet supplies it easily:

Potassium in Food
1 large Russet  potaoto = 1644 ,mg
1 cup beet greens = 1309 mg
1 cup pistachios roasted 1239 mg
1 avacado 975 mg
1 cup swiss chard 961 mg
1 general potatoe –medium 926 mg
1 cup cooked squash 650 mg
½ cup prunes 627 mg
1 cup coconut water 600 mg
1 cup cooked tomato 523 mg
3 oz wild salmon 500 mg
1 banana 400 mg

Potassium deficiency testing
You can measure RBC potassium just as you can with magnesium to see what you have in your cells. However, this lab test is just a look at one moment in time and depending on if you ingested enough recently and got it into your cells will depend on what you see at that moment.

If you used magnesium and it did not work and you decide to try potassium next, be careful how you do it.

Potassium supplements in excess can cause severe heart problems.
Of course deficiency can also, so the ideas is to have an adequate amount. Due to the problem with overdosing potassium, you will find tablets are only allowed to have a small amount in them, but powders have become available more recently.  Potassium supplements are always taken with food. Plenty of food. The reason it is taken with food is that eating a meal will help to get the potassium out of your blood were it can be problematic and into your cells where it is needed. Your body is set up to receive it while eating. The food induces the release of hormones that will help get it into your cells such as insulin and cortisol. Just remember too much potassium in the blood can be dangerous.

You can find powdered  potassium for sale such as “Optimal potassium” which I usually suggest to people as it quite clearly tells them to eat it with food. The amount listed to take at a time is 500 mg (and they supply a scoop so you don't make a mistake) with food and is a safe amount for most people to start with as long as taken with food and they have no health condition that would cause it to be unsafe to be taking potassium.
 
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It's hellish. I get it when taking benadryl in combination with Phenergan or tramadol. Sometimes it feels so much like maddening thirst that I try drinking a lot of water. I swear I think it helps.
 
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My husband has this, and we find that it is lessened when he wears a particular pair of diabetic socks to bed (he's not diabetic, they're just the right tightness).  On nights when it's happening it's like he's randomly digging in reverse with his feet, and claws me upward with his big toenail. He's tried valerian with mixed results (in tea) and cannabis edibles (legal here), and the edibles are definitely overkill but he gets an excellent night's sleep from them.
 
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Susan, I don't have it terribly, but water helps me as well. On days I haven't had enough water to drink, I can predict having an issue once I go to bed.

Electrolytes (like some of the supplements mentioned here) help when I need to "catch up". Usually, a tall glass of H2O once symptoms start for me will fix the issue in 30 minutes or so.

I'm not a doctor nor have I seen a doc about RLS, but that's what consistently works for me.
 
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Eric Hanson wrote:Does anyone know of any foods, herbs, etc. ANYTHING that can help restless leg syndrome?

As it stands I do have a prescription to help RLS, but it is only so-so and is intended to use at night.  On occasion I have used it during the day with mixed results (it does not make me tired).  I can get up and move around, but immediately upon sitting down my legs want to absolutely crawl.  Right now my legs have a borderline awful crawling feeling in them bad enough that it is hard to concentrate.

I have found that compression garments do provide some measure of relief and have found a couple of brands of compression pants that provide considerable compression on my legs without being tight, especially in the waist.  I wear them commonly in under regular pants and typically they do provide a good deal of comfort/relief without medication—a real plus.

But today NOTHING seems to help.  Not compression, not my regular prescription, not muscle relaxers, not even exercise.  Does anyone else have this malady and have any useful way to alleviate the symptoms?

Thanks in advance,

Eric  



The cure for restless leg syndrome (assuming it's occurring during sleep at night) is to get up, urinate, drink water, then go back to bed. This actually works.
 
Eric Hanson
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Joe,

Really, I wish that my RLS could be fixed so easily.  In fact I get the worst RLS in the morning hours after I get up as opposed to night time.  I do get plenty of water and urination is not an issue.

Thanks for the thought though,

Eric
 
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Eric Hanson wrote:Joe,

 In fact I get the worst RLS in the morning hours after I get up as opposed to night time.

Eric


Do you mean seated restless leg?  Is it reduced by walking? It could be a build up of stagnant lymph in your legs or pressure on the nerves that come out of the sacrum or lumbar when seated.
What I recommend to my clients is while laying in bed role a large ball around with heels before sleeping and before getting up. this works out stagnant lymph and replaces it from fresh blood.
 
Eric Hanson
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Hans,

So my RLS typically starts off shortly after I wake up.  I am sure that coffee does not help and I have reduced my coffee consumption.  The crawling feeling then lasts for hours.  

Right now I am in the middle of a fairly bad episode.  My legs feel crawling, weak and sore all at the same time.  If I get up and walk, the sensation is reduced, but does not go away while walking.  The moment I sit down the sensation comes back with a vengeance, worse than before.

So far the best remedy I have is compression, as in leggings that have a high degree of compression, especially in the thighs (not in the waist).  Just putting on a pair of compression pants immediately reduced the discomfort.  

I don’t know how much this helps, but thanks much for the thought and effort.

Eric
 
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I have had this off and on for about three years so I know how aggravating it is.  I occasionally take NatroBio's Restless Legs. https://www.vitacost.com/natrabio-restless-legs It is a homeopathic remedy that works most of the time, but not always.  I have also found that since I started taking Gotu Kola  tincture (3 drops once a day), the circulation in my legs has improved and the restless leg problem has eased up considerably.  Your mileage may vary. :^)
 
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I know that this has been mentioned but another Testimony can't hurt ... My wife has RLS and leg cramps. She has researched and started using a lot of herbal remedies. She used Magnesium Chloride in a cream lotion and got tremendous relief ... To the point of saying that it "cured" the situation. She still uses the lotion before bed.
We started selling this at the Farmers Markets we frequent and have wonderful Testimony from many People who are helped.
I would love to be able to get a copy of this new Book to give her that she in turn could help MANY MORE PEOPLE who might benefit.
 
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Switching from electric heat to a rocket mass heater reduces your carbon footprint as much as parking 7 cars
http://woodheat.net
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