I have restless leg syndrome.
Q. Dear Terry, “I have restless leg syndrome. What do you recommend? It really is affecting my sleep and I would like to stay with something natural.” — Jenny T., Honolulu, HI
A. Dear Jenny, Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a condition where people experience uncomfortable sensations in their legs. The unpleasant feelings are described as creeping, crawling, pulling, itching, tingling, burning, aching, or electric shocks. Individuals with RLS feel an irresistible urge to move their legs in an attempt to relieve the sensations.
Making good decisions regarding exercise, food choices, and proven natural medicines can have a tremendous impact in reducing your RLS symptoms.
If you are not already doing so, I’d encourage you to add some moderate exercise to your daily regimen. However, one of the problems with RLS is that too little OR too much exercise tends to make symptoms worse, so try and find a comfortable middle ground. Taking a few short walks throughout the day (but not close to bed time) would be best. Try and reduce the amount of stimulants (such as caffeine) in your diet. If you like to drink coffee or tea, try not to drink any past noon. Also be on the lookout for hidden stimulants. For example, some over-the-counter (OTC) decongestants can contain ingredients (pseudoephedrine and synepherine) that act as stimulants, which can further aggravate RLS symptoms. You might want to try taking a warm shower or bath in the evening. If you don’t have dairy issues, you can drink some warm milk (I prefer goat’s milk) or eat a small piece of cheese. The protein will help keep your blood sugar levels stable as you sleep, and the calcium will help to relax your muscles.
Vitamin B6 is another nutrient you may want to consider adding to your daily regimen. When looking for a vitamin B6 formula, I strongly recommend choosing one that features vitamin B6 in the form of pyridoxal-5-phospate (P-5-P) in combination with magnesium glycinate. P-5-P is the biologically active form of vitamin B6. Many people (some estimate up to 30% of the population) cannot fully utilize B-vitamins from food and supplements because these forms of B-vitamins must be converted into the active form before they will function. By using the form of vitamin B6 that is identical to the kind your body utilizes, you bypass this problem entirely. In addition to optimizing vitamin B6 metabolism, the magnesium in the glycinate form delivers a good dose of magnesium to help with muscle relaxation and resistance to nerve excitability. I recommend 60 mg of vitamin B6 (as P-5-P) and 200 mg of magnesium (as magnesium glycinate) twice daily.
Integrative health expert Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum has also found that there is often a mild to moderate iron deficiency associated with RLS. Therefore, I recommend iron, along with magnesium, copper, and zinc to your daily regimen. I strongly recommend choosing amino-acid chelated forms of iron, magnesium, copper and zinc. A “chelate” is a bond between a mineral (often called “inorganic”) and a molecule structure, called a “ligand” that helps the body absorb the mineral during digestion. The amino acid glycine, in particular, makes an excellent molecule to help shepherd minerals through the intestinal wall because it is so small that it can be transported directly into the cells of the body, so it can get to work right away. I recommend taking 15-30 mg of iron, 150-300 mg of magnesium, 5-10 mg of copper, and 1-2 mg of zinc daily.
While you may realize results earlier, please give this protocol at least 30 days before evaluating your progress. Good luck – let me know how it works.
Terry . . . Naturally