Restless legs syndrome is frustrating and those who suffer from it can find it hard to relax and get a good night’s sleep. Learn five natural treatments for restless legs syndrome that can help.
What Is Restless Legs Syndrome?
Restless legs syndrome is a neurological condition causing sufferers to feel unpleasant creeping, crawling, tingling and burning sensations in the legs, especially when at rest. These sensations, which can vary from mildly irritating to painful, cause the sufferer to feel a constant urge to move the legs for relief. RLS is a common cause of insomnia.
What Causes Restless Legs Syndrome?
While there doesn’t seem to be one particular cause of restless legs syndrome, it has been associated with pregnancy, smoking, obesity, anemia, thyroid disease, diabetes, kidney failure and nutritional deficiencies. Certain pharmaceuticals such as Zantac, Tagamet and the antidepressant, Elavil, have also been known to cause restless legs syndrome.
Natural Restless Legs Syndrome Treatment #1 – Dietary Changes
It is recommended that those with restless legs syndrome avoid caffeine, decrease or eliminate dairy products and cut out processed foods. Hidden food allergies or intolerances can cause malabsorption of nutrients which can lead to restless legs syndrome. If you believe a food intolerance or allergy is contributing to your RLS, do an elimination diet. The most common food intolerances/allergies are wheat, gluten, dairy, corn, soy, egg, citrus, nuts and seafood. Remove all these foods from your diet for one week then reintroduce one new food each day. Once the culprit food is eaten, you’ll know. Those suffering from restless legs syndrome can also benefit from a diet rich in potassium (bananas, avocados and potatoes), calcium (fish, dark leafy greens and almonds) and magnesium (broiled halibut, pumpkin seeds and dark leafy greens). These nutrients, especially magnesium, are essential to good neurological health.
Natural Restless Legs Syndrome Treatment #2 – Exercise
Those with restless legs syndrome seem to get the most benefit from moderate exercise such as walking, yoga and stretching. Even if you are only able to walk ten to fifteen minutes per day, regular exercise is essential to overall health and well-being. It is best to do your most strenuous exercise in the morning hours and choose the afternoon and evening to do yoga postures and stretching. These calming routines can be done before bed to soothe body and mind.
Natural Restless Legs Syndrome Treatment #3 – Chiropractic Care and Massage
Many chronic diseases are caused by physical or mental trauma that suddenly disrupts the brain’s ability to communicate with the rest of the body. Chiropractic medicine focuses on treating these disorders using subtle manipulations of the spine. In a few visits a chiropractor can help heal restless legs syndrome by relieving the ‘block’ between the brain and the rest of the nervous system and helping to strengthen the spine and pelvis. Swedish massage has also been shown to provide positive results in relieving the discomfort of restless legs syndrome. When choosing a massage therapist, be sure to let the therapist know of the discomfort you’re experiencing and ask what other methods may be suggested to help.
Natural Restless Legs Syndrome Treatment #4 – Magnesium and St. John’s Wort
It is estimated that over 68% of the population is magnesium deficient. Magnesium deficiency has been linked to anxiety, insomnia, muscle twitches and restless legs syndrome. If you do not get enough magnesium from your diet, supplement with chelated magnesium as it is bioavailable and more easily absorbed by the body. St. John’s Wort is a natural herb know for its sedative and pain relieving benefits. It is important to note that St. John’s Wort should be taken with meals and avoided by those who are already on antidepressants without first consulting with their doctor. Also, St. John’s Wort increases sensitivity to the sun so fair-skinned people should take extra caution when using this herb.
Natural Restless Legs Syndrome Treatment #5 – Colon Cleanse
Though it may sound like a strange natural treatment, doing a gentle colon cleanse once every three to six months can work wonders in helping the body heal. Due to the high fat and low nutrition content of the American diet, many of us are constipated and therefore, unable to properly absorb nutrients and supplements. A colon cleanse will help flush out toxins so the foods and supplements taken for RLS will have maximum benefit. If you have never done a colon cleanse before, speak to a naturopath or an expert at your local health food store before getting started.
Restless legs syndrome can be annoying and sometimes interfere with everyday life. Choose the natural treatment or treatments that is right for your restless legs syndrome and you should be resting easy in no time!