Restless Legs Syndrome
Restless legs is a disorder that causes unpleasant sensations in the legs while lying down. These sensations, which are often described as a creeping or crawling sensation in the calves, typically occur at bedtime when the person is still awake, and can therefore make it difficult to fall asleep. Many people with Periodic limb movements also have restless legs syndrome, and almost all people with restless legs have Periodic limb movements.
Restless leg syndrome affects as much as 2-5 percent of the population.
Symptoms Of Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS)
According to American Academy of Sleep Medicine, the symptoms of Restless Legs Syndrome are:
Causes of Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS)
The cause of RLS is not known.
RLS can begin at any age. It becomes more severe in middle-to-old age.
Treatment of Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS)
There are three main classes of medication that have been shown to be effective in treating RLS.
The sensations by restless legs result in a strong urge to move the legs, massage them, or walk around, all of which alleviate the discomfort. Complementary therapies for restless legs syndrome include exercise, elimination of caffeine, and some dietary supplements such as iron, calcium, and folic acid.
Research studies showed that iron deficiency in the blood can contribute to restless legs syndrome, especially in the elderly. A blood test that measures levels of a protein called ferritin reveals this iron shortage. The level of ferritin indicates the level of stored iron. Treatment with iron supplements can produce good results.
In a study conducted at the Department of Geriatric Medicine of the Royal Lierpool University in Liverpool, U.K., levels of ferritin in the blood were found to be lower in the eighteen patients who had restless-legs syndrome than in the eighteen control subjects. Ferritin levels were inversely correlated with the severity of restless-legs syndrome symptoms. In other words, the lower the ferritin level, the more severe the restless legs. Blood levels of iron, vitamin B12, folic acid, and hemoglobin did not differ between the two groups. Fifteen of the patients who had restless-legs syndrome were treated with iron (ferrous sulfate) at a dosage of 200 mg three times daily for two months, with excellent results. The researchers concluded that "Iron deficiency, with or without anemia, is an important contributor to the development of restless legs syndrome in elderly patients, and iron supplements can produce a significant reduction in symptoms."
If your iron levels are normal, then 5-HTP supplementation may significantly improve, or even eliminate, restless legs and myoclonus. Take 100 to 200 mg of 5-HTP about twenty minutes before retiring. Don't take 5-HTP for restless legs until you have had your iron levels checked, since 5-HTP will not supply you with iron your blood and your muscles need.
See Also: Melatonin and 5-HTP
If there is a family history of restless-legs syndrome (about one-third of all patients with this syndrome have a family history), high- dosage folic acid (35 to 60 mg daily) therapy can be helpful. Dosages in this range will require a prescription. In cases of familial restless-legs syndrome, there appears to be a higher need for folic acid.
Vitamin E supplements of 400 IU two or three times a day are extremely effective in alleviating RLS.
In one study concerning vitamin E and restless leg syndrome, a seventy- eight-year-old female with a history of restless and "jumpy" legs found that after two months of 300 IU daily, she was completely cured. In another study, a thirty-seven-year old female with a ten-year history of severe nightly "restless legs" was placed on 300 IU daily for six weeks and 200 IU daily for the following four weeks with complete relief.
Warning: Vitamin E can elevate the blood pressure slightly.
Various treatments have been attempted for restless leg syndrome, but nothing seems to work consistently for everyone. Some research strongly suggests that anemia may play a major role in this disorder. Taking the proper vitamin and mineral supplements is important to manage this problem. The supplements that help this condition most are calcium, potassium, magnesium, and zinc.
Restless leg syndrome and PLMS are treated with Rhus tox. (for rheumatism-related conditions) or Causticum (for nervous system-related conditions). Pelvic or prostate problems should also be treated.
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