Yikes, what is that? You are lying down in bed but there is a creeping, tingling, pulling sensation in your legs, which gives you a strong, uncontrollable urge to move your legs. In fact, it feels likes bugs are crawling on your legs. Goodbye, sleepytime.
Welcome to restless leg syndrome, also known as Willis-Ekbom disease.
It’s estimated that seven to ten percent of Americans experience restless leg syndrome. Fortunately, you are not destined to spend your life like you are performing on the Rockettes’ kickline.
Although restless leg syndrome is a neurological condition, many natural home remedies can help you calm that jumpy, let’s-go-for-a-jog-now feeling.
What Is Restless Leg Syndrome?
On average, 7 to 10 percent of Americans experience restless leg syndrome.
Doctors categorize restless leg syndrome as a sleep disorder since symptoms occur mainly at night and while sleeping. However, the sensations may also happen during the day — especially when you sit still for a long time, such as on a plane or car ride.
A chronic condition, restless leg syndrome (sometimes abbreviated as RLS) affects both women and men, but women more often. It can also occur in children, particularly ones with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). More severe symptoms usually occur in middle-aged or older individuals.
While not life-threatening, it can make life unpleasant and also negatively affect your sleep. Without proper care, the condition can even cause depression and anxiety.
Note that restless leg syndrome is not just when you occasionally get tingly legs, but when it occurs on a regular, frequent basis.
Restless leg syndrome can be a symptom of another disease, such as diabetes, or may appear for no known reason. If you think you might have restless leg syndrome, see your healthcare provider to get an accurate diagnosis. Some other conditions such as anemia and arthritis have similar symptoms.
Top 11 Remedies for Restless Leg Syndrome
Researchers have found that certain natural home remedies really help improve symptoms, and — even better — generally have no side effects.
1. Make Some Lifestyle Changes
Sometimes the simplest actions are the most effective in improving health concerns. With just a few tweaks, you can reduce your nightly can-can dance.
2. Exercise to Reduce That Jumpy Feeling
Exercise of any kind has long been the go-to for reducing restless leg syndrome symptoms. The main medication given to people with this syndrome has dopamine-boosting effects, and experts believe that exercise helps because it similarly boosts dopamine in the body — naturally.
In one study, participants who performed aerobics and lower-body resistance training three times a week had significant improvement in symptoms. If you’re interested in a custom fitness plan, a licensed physical therapist can help you devise an appropriate workout routine.
3. Get Some Rest
Insomnia or other sleep issues not only make restless leg syndrome symptoms worse, but they can also wreak havoc on your mood, concentration, and energy.
You can’t sleep because you are flailing your legs all night, yet a restful night’s sleep will make the symptoms calm down! Here are some ways to calm your anxious legs at night and ensure you get the hours of slumber you need.
4. Get Out From Under the Stress Monster
Restless leg syndrome symptoms can go haywire when you are under stress. Fortunately, many techniques can help reduce tension and anxiety — and they’re good for your mental health. For example, controlled deep breathing, yoga, tai chi, and mindful meditation are all beneficial for daily stress. Several kinds of meditation that help include:
Be honest with yourself and others about your limitations. Learn to say no to requests that will overload and complicate your life. Instead, make room for friends and family who make you feel good. Research has shown that the support of a good buddy lessens the impact of negative events.
5. Try Vitamins & Supplements
Some supplements are known to provide help for people with restless leg syndrome. When you can’t get enough of these minerals and vitamins from food, you can get them from supplements.
The strongest risk factor for restless leg syndrome is insufficient iron in the diet. Interestingly, experts have linked a lack of iron in the brain, rather than in the rest of the body, to restless leg syndrome — so regular blood tests may not reveal the iron insufficiency that may exist. It’s unclear how or why the brain does not get enough iron in people with restless leg syndrome.
Did you know that an iron deficiency is the strongest risk factor for RLS?
Taking an iron supplement may help normalize its levels for those who do not have enough, although healthcare experts may need to administer it intravenously for best results.[11, 12]
Low vitamin D may exacerbate restless leg syndrome. One study reported that giving people vitamin D3 helped their legs feel better and less restless.
Vitamin C and E
Experts believe that oxidative stress plays a role in the development of restless leg syndrome. That means that antioxidants, which counteract oxidative stress, may help. Studies have found that vitamin C, either taken alone or with vitamin E, may normalize symptoms.
Periodic leg movements during sleep — with or without having restless leg syndrome — can reduce sleep quality and wake you up. Taking magnesium may help you sleep better by calming your nervous system.
Folate and Folic Acid
Folate, one of the B vitamins (B-9 to be precise), is found in leafy green vegetables, mushrooms, and tomato juice. Folate occurs naturally, while you get its cousin molecule, folic acid, in supplements.
Some studies indicate folate may help your legs feel less jumpy. Folic acid is not used efficiently in the body, and studies indicate that you should either get your B-9 from foods so you get the natural folate form; alternatively, take it with other B vitamins, which enhances its absorption.
Vitamin A and Beta-Carotene
Beta-carotene is a precursor of vitamin A, a red-orange substance that’s abundant in carrots. Both improve iron absorption in the body. Because iron plays such a key role in this condition, getting enough vitamin A in your diet can only help!
6. Practice Yoga and Simple Stretches
As an exercise, yoga can stretch out your restless legs, but can also generally improve your mood as well as your sleep quality. Yoga is also known to lessen stress in women. In one study, nine out of ten participants saw a noticeable change in how tingly their legs were within days of starting yoga. Here are some tips:
7. Use Heat or Ice When You Have Symptoms
Some people with restless leg syndrome find their symptoms kick up in response to heat or cold. If you negatively react to one, applying the other may reduce symptoms.
8. Ease Poor Circulation With Massages
One theory is that poor circulation plays a role in restless leg syndrome. Massage can help blood get through congested areas, plus it promotes relaxation. Below are massage options for restless legs:
If you can’t manage to massage yourself or don’t have a partner to help, buy an electronic massager that targets calf muscles, or have a steady date with a masseuse who understands the condition.
9. Eat a Healthy Diet
You can improve your symptoms by changing what you eat. We recommend a whole food, plant-based diet rich in organic fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and other healthy foods. For restless leg syndrome, in particular, try to get more of the following into your meals.
10. Try Aromatherapy to Relax
Research has found that essential oils can promote relaxation and sleep. You can spray an oil-distilled water solution into the air or use a diffuser.
The following are good oils to use:
11. Keep a Symptom Diary
If you want to better understand what triggers your restless leg syndrome, and what helps, try using a journal or diary. Some questions to record:
Share the diary with your doctor who may also pick up on some patterns.
What Causes Restless Leg Syndrome?
The causes of restless leg syndrome aren’t fully understood. Researchers believe they might be related to genetics and family history (especially if it begins before the age of 40), iron deficiency, or over-stimulation of the part of the brain that controls leg movement. Some pregnant women experience it due to hormonal changes, but the symptoms usually go away after delivery.
Restless leg syndrome can occur as a side effect of some drugs, such as certain antihistamines, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), tricyclic antidepressants, and antipsychotics.
Points to Remember
While the exact causes of restless leg syndrome aren’t yet known, you can control the condition, reduce your symptoms, and improve your sleep with natural remedies. Take inventory of your lifestyle — making some easy changes can make a world of difference.
Improve your sleep habits, exercise regularly and look for activities that will help you relax and reduce stress. Say hello to nice massages, essential oils, and baths! Keep a diary of your symptoms for your own information and to share with your healthcare provider.
Chow down on foods rich in folate, iron, magnesium, beta carotene, and vitamins A, C, D, and E. If you can’t get enough that way, take supplements regularly. May all your nights be kickless ones!
Have you tried any natural remedies for restless leg syndrome? What worked best for you? Share below!
Originally published at Global Healing Center and reproduced here with permission.
About the author:
Dr. Edward F. Group III (DC, ND, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM) founded Global Healing Center in 1998 with the goal of providing the highest quality natural health information and products. He is world-renowned for his research on the root cause of disease. Under his leadership, Global Healing Center earned recognition as one of the largest natural and organic health resources in the world. Dr. Group is a veteran of the United States Army and has attended both Harvard and MIT business schools. He is a best-selling author and a frequent guest on radio and television programs, documentary films, and in major publications.
Dr. Group centers his philosophy around the understanding that the root cause of disease stems from the accumulation of toxins in the body and is exacerbated by daily exposure to a toxic living environment. He believes it is his personal mission to teach and promote philosophies that produce good health, a clean environment, and positive thinking. This, he believes, can restore happiness and love to the world.
For more, please visit Global Healing Center.
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