Coping with restless leg syndrome….If you are among the growing number of people experiencing RLS (as I am) you know that it is both painful and disruptive to sleep. In my quest to find a solution to the problem I have uncovered a number of reasons why more of us are getting symptoms. I’ve also experimented with a number of therapeutic nutritional interventions and “home remedies” that I’ll share with you in this post.
What is RLS?
Web MD defines RLS as s a “disorder of the part of the nervous system that causes an urge to move the legs.” It’s considered a sleep disorder because it interferes with sleep. Causes can range from chronic diseases and medical conditions, such as, Parkinson’s disease, kidney failure, diabetes, and peripheral neuropathy or an iron deficiency.
Other possible contributing factors include; medications, such as, anti nausea drugs, antipsychotic drugs, some antidepressants, and cold and allergy medications containing sedating antihistamines, which may worsen symptoms. Sometimes, during pregnancy, expectant mothers experience RLS too. 
According to Dr. Terry Wahls (the Wahl’s Protocol for autoimmune diseases) people with autoimmune diseases and neurological disorders are prone to RLS. Like Autoimmune disease, RLS also seems to strike women in higher numbers than men.
What actually causes RLS?
Most interesting to me is that I discovered the underlying mechanism for RLS has to do with a drop in a neurotransmitter called dopamine in the brain.
The role of dopamine
Dopamine is associated with the pleasure center of the brain. It allows us to feel pleasure and enjoyment. It’s also central to helping us feel motivated. Dopamine helps in learning, focus and concentration and plays a role in a healthy libido. The down side of dopamine can be that for some people this pleasure seeking behavior can lead to addictions. Some prescription medications used to treat depression work by inhibiting the re-uptake of dopamine. Too much dopamine is associated with psychosis, schizophrenia, hyper social activity and addictively high libido. 
Are there nutritional and GUT problems associated with this condition? YES!
According to leading brain authority Dr. Dattis Kharrazian, DHSc, DS co-factors involved in the breakdown and clearance of dopamine in the synaptic cleft requires betaine, magnesium, methyl B-12 and folic acid. These doners can be depleted in people taking SSRI’s, DRI’s (dopamine re-uptake inhibitors) and estrogen replacement therapy.
Dr. Kaharrazian also sheds light on another potential problem with dopamine production and re-uptake; its called THB (tetrahydobioptrin). THB is a byproduct of folic acid that is produced in healthy gut bacteria. It’s absolutely necessary for dopamine production. 
Many people I see have imbalanced and unhealthy guts (ie. infected with pathogens; yeast; h.pylori; SIBO; dysbiosis and leaky GUT)) so it follows this is a contributing factor in the RLS equation. In fact, a tremendous number of people now a days can’t properly breakdown the protein in their diets because they have low stomach acid. When this happens those undigested food particles sit in your intestine and putrefy attracting some nasty pathogens and triggers a leaky gut.
B-6 is also lacking in many people (due to sugar dis-regulation and alcohol intake). B6 is necessary for synthesis and breakdown of dopamine in the brain. Any issue with these methyl doners can also be related to SNPs (genetic variants that mean you have some problem somewhere in a pathway making these conversions). Once again we see the gut- brain connection!
Supporting healthy dopamine levels
Dr. Wahl recommends making sure you get sufficient amounts of the following nutrient in your diet:
- omega 3 fatty acids (wild fish and seafood, avocado, nuts & seeds)
- magnesium (leafy green vegetables)
- calcium (bone broths, grass fed dairy)
- trace minerals (sea vegetables, dried fruits)
Dr. Wahl suggests adding taurine, N-acetylcysteine and alpha lipoic acid to help improve dopamine levels.
Dr. Kharrazian agrees with these suggestions for boosting dopamine and also advises using mucuna pruriens ; a legume used in Ayurvedic medicine. The research I found on this product for Parkinson’s disease looks very strong. Other co-factors needed to improve dopamine production are selenium, vitamin B6 (P-5P form), L-tyrosine and checking/addressing MTHFR SNP’s.
Other things to try
- Make sure you’re hydrated!
- Try adding a colloidal mineral product
- Make sure your digestive tract is functioning optimally. This means no GERD, food intolerance’s, SIBO,Yeast, bloating, gas or constipation. There is a direct connection between poor gut flora and RLS! 
- Exercise really helps reduce the occurrence of RLS. Walking is great. I notice when I walk 3 + miles a day I seem to have less RLS.
- Do yoga stretches. Pigeon pose is the one that helps me stretch my leg and hips the best. I do these in the am and before bed. Runners stretch also helps relieve the tightness.
- Epsom salt baths are a good way to get more magnesium into your muscles and this has a relaxing effect.
- Sleeping with a pillow under your knees (if sleeping on your back) or in between your legs (if laying on your side).
- I also swear by a herbal tincture called Skullcap. I apply this topically each night on the bottoms of my feet and at the base of my leg & hip. I also take this orally.
- Butchers Broom improves circulation and reduces inflammation
- Indian tobacco may be used topically and internally. This herb helps with spasms and works well with Capsicum. 
- Valerian root, hops, passion flower are all mildly sedating and promote relaxation.
- Essential oils of lavender, frankincense, peppermint and lemon grass are found in many blends for pain.
~ CLICK HERE and go to Essential Oils , Restless Legs and Basic Digestive Support to learn more and order products mentioned in this post.
Even though diagnosis of RLS is not always straight forward if you are experiencing twitchy legs and the urge to move your legs uncontrollably you should get yourself checked by a doctor. Keep in mind that your symptoms could be caused by something more serious. You defiantly want to be sure to address an underlying chronic disease like Parkinson’s disease, kidney failure, diabetes, peripheral neuropathy or an iron deficiency.
And of course adopting a BioIndividualized anti-inflammatory diet that’s right for you is a great help in reducing RLS. You DO have drug free options.
And if you need more help – come see me!
Questions? Fill out my Are we a FIT? form and let’s see if I can help you.
~ Note: follow THIS LINK to order the products mentioned in this post from my virtual dispensary; under the Restless Legs, Basic Digestive Support or Essential Oils category.
 Why isn’t my brain working? Dr. Datis Kharrazian, DHSc, DC. MS
 Why isn’t my brian working? Dr. Datis Kharrazian, DHSc, DC. MS
 The Wahl Protocol, by Terry Wahls M.D.
 A Practical Guide to Herbs, Micki Jones N.D.
 A Practical Guide to Herbs, Micki Jones, N.D.