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RLS Remedies

Restless leg syndrome is a manageable disorder. Many prefer to use natural home RLS remedies to keep their restless leg under control.
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Restless leg syndrome is a non-life threatening, but very disruptive health disorder.

RLS can drastically affect quality of life, reducing sleep and causing many uncomfortable situations, as the legs often feel they need to move during times when getting up and moving may not be easy or possible.

There are several medications for RLS, but often those suffering from the disorder prefer to depend on more natural strategies. Below are several natural and home remedies for restless leg syndrome that you can try.

Preventive Remedies for RLS

Prevention is the key to combatting RLS. Most strategies are designed to stop RLS when it occurs, but ideally you want to control how often you experience RLS symptoms at all. For that, consider the following remedies for restless leg syndrome:

Dietary Changes

First and foremost, you'll need to make some dietary changes. Cutting out caffeine may be a good place to start. Caffeine intake has been linked to bouts of RLS, including caffeine from chocolate and sodas.

Improving your vitamin intake is valuable as well. Restless leg syndrome has been linked to iron deficiency, B12 deficiency, and many others.

Ensuring you're getting enough of these vitamins is important for preventing and managing restless leg syndrome, and should be part of any remedy for RLS.

Early Aerobics

Moderate (but not intense) aerobic exercise is also a tool to combat RLS. Generally, by running or fast walking before the RLS symptoms kick in, the body doesn't appear to need as much stimulation, and so restless leg symptoms appear to decrease.

It's not clear what the connection is between exercise and RLS, but aerobic exercise does appear to be an effective remedy for restless leg.

Wear Socks to Sleep

Because the cause of restless leg syndrome is still unclear, many of the working remedies for restless leg sound unusual, but still appear to work for reasons that researchers still don't know.

It's been shown that cold feet have a tendency to lead to RLS. So wearing warm socks to sleep acts as a natural RLS remedy, and one that can potentially prevent some symptoms – especially if you are someone that appears to have colder feet at night.

Take a Warm Bath Before Bed

Changing the temperature between hot and cold also appears to have an effect on RLS frequency.

Experts appear to recommend taking a warm bath right before you go to bed. The change in temperature may excite the legs, reducing their need to be active. They also could relax the body, and a relaxed body is less prone to waking up as a result of restless leg syndrome.

Bar of Ivory Soap

One interesting home remedy for restless leg is the idea of placing a bar of Ivory soap in the sheets before you go to sleep.

The origin of this believe is unclear, and there is no medical reason to believe that a bar of ivory soap between the sheets can have any effect on your RLS symptoms.

It's likely that this is simply another restless legs myth. Nevertheless, ivory soap between the sheets continues to be a popular home remedy, and certainly there is no harm in trying.

Try a Massage

Some evidence suggest that massaging the muscles before bed makes it less likely you'll wake with jumpy legs or have trouble sleeping. One easy way to do it is alternate hot and cold packs placed on the legs each for five minutes. Repeat for 15 minutes before bed. Relaxing in an Epsom-salt bath filled with warm water can also help reduce your risk of restless sleep.

Relax Before Bed

Stress and tension trigger RLS symptoms and make them worse. Try to have a period of relaxation during each night where you consciously relax, by taking a warm bath, reading a happy story, drinking hot tea, listening to restful music, or doing some yoga before bed.

Create a Stress-Free Sleep Environment

If your sleeping environment is stressful, you won't sleep as well and you will be more likely to suffer from RLS. Try to create a relaxing sleep environment that is dark, cool, and comfortable. Remove electronics and the TV from your room and anything that gives off blue light. Create a sleeping routine where you go to bed and wake up at the same time each day. Do something relaxing before bed each night, like take a warm bath or read a book. Over time, these habits will start to regulate your hormones and make it easier to fall asleep at night and prevent RLS symptoms.

Herbal Remedies for RLS

Herbal solutions are also popular options for restless leg syndrome. Herbal restless leg syndrome remedies are believed to treat RLS much in the same way as some of the medications prescribed by doctors, except without many of the side effects and generally available without a prescription.

It's still valuable to talk to your doctor before trying any herbal RLS remedy, because you may be taking medications that interact with the herbal supplements. Still, herbal remedies for RLS may be very effective. Below are some examples of herbs linked to treating the disorder:

Herbal RLS Treatments
Valerian Root – Many doctors prescribe sleep aids to those suffering from RLS as a way to create an uninterrupted sleep. Valerian root is a natural sleep aid. It's one of the most effective herbal methods of improving quality of sleep, and those that take Valerian before they go to bed tend to have more restful sleeps.
Kava – Kava is an anti-anxiety herb and sleep aid that may also be used to as a restless leg remedy. RLS most commonly affects seniors, and kava interacts with many medications and may be harmful in those with liver damage, so in general kava is not recommended for RLS. But for some, it has proved to be a useful ingredient.
Skullcap – Skullcap is another popular RLS remedy. Skullcap is believed to have two qualities that affect those with RLS. First, it is an anti-spasmodic, which implies it would reduce RLS spasms. Second, it is a sedation herb, providing a bit of extra calming relief that could make sleep easier and reduce the need for leg movements.

Vitamin Remedies for RLS

Many studies link a lack of vitamins to RLS symptoms. In particular, deficiencies in iron, calcium, magnesium, folic acid, and B vitamins can trigger restless legs. Adding more of these vitamins to your diet could reduce your symptoms and relieve the frequency of instances. Read on to learn more about vitamin deficiency and RLS:

Calcium and Magnesium

A lack of magnesium is commonly associated with restless leg syndrome, particularly in women. Magnesium is involved in RLS because it is used to push calcium out of cells. When calcium levels are too high in the muscles, your muscles cannot relax, which can trigger RLS symptoms. Deficiency in magnesium has been linked with charlie horses, jerking, twitching, and tightening muscles.

However, supplementing with just magnesium can deplete calcium levels too quickly. That is why many medical experts recommend taking calcium and magnesium together, in a 1:1 ratio.

Folic Acid

Folic acid depletion is commonly associated with RLS symptoms (particularly in pregnant women). Individuals with RLS are commonly low in iron, dopamine, and folic acid. Supplementing with folic acid can help relieve the worst symptoms of RLS.

Iron

Individuals with RLS tend to also be low in iron. Studies have found that individuals with RLS are typically much lower in iron than the average person. Low iron and dopamine lead to neurological symptoms, like creepy crawly legs and the inability to relax. Iron supplementation should be monitored by a doctor, as it is possible to overdose on iron.

B Vitamins

Low vitamin B12 levels are commonly associated with RLS in addition to low iron and magnesium levels. Reduced levels of B12 contribute to damage in the central nervous system responsible for regulating pain and feeling. RLS is associated with damage to neurons that control movement and twitching in the leg muscles. Adding more vitamin B12 to the diet could have a positive influence on the nervous system regulating the legs and reduce symptoms of RLS.

Chinese Herbs for RLS

Those that practice Chinese medicine may also enjoy Chinese herbs for RLS. These herbs have very little research, but are considered "time tested" in the sense that they have been in existence for centuries and are believed to combat the main issues that Chinese medicine believes contributes to restless leg syndrome.

Chinese medicine is not as set in stone as many believe, and much of it is open for interpretation. Most Chinese herbal remedies for RLS are based on a combination of herbal extracts and acupuncture. Both the herbs and medicine deal with the following areas:

  • Internal Liver Wind – The liver wind affects movement, cramping, and convulsions.
  • Liver Yin Deficiency – Liver Yin affects knees and mental restlessness.
  • Qi/Blood Deficiency – Qi and blood affect the health of the lower limbs.

Each of these is usually combined with some type of acupuncture treatment designed to improve all three of these areas of ill health.

Treatment Remedies for RLS

The above remedies for RLS are all used before an incident strikes. But when RLS hits, you want to get rid of it as fast as possible. It does not feel pleasant to have legs that will not hold still and keep you up at night when you're tired. The above remedies work well for getting rid of RLS and preventing it from happening again, but before herbal and vitamin remedies kick in, you may experience a few instances of RLS. If that happens, try the following treatment methods:

OTC Medication

OTC medication will help reduce pain in the legs. Any NSAID can be used to treat the painful symptoms of RLS. Typically, OTC medication will not stop any restless feelings, but it can reduce pain enough so you can fall back asleep. If you find you have to take OTC medication every night, speak to a doctor to see if a stronger RLS medication may be necessary to temporarily stop your RLS symptoms before the preventive treatments kick in.

Prescription Medication

Doctors prescribe prescription medication for severe RLS. The FDA has approved three medications to treat RLS symptoms:

  • Horizant: Used to treat pain and twitching.
  • Mirapex: Used to relax the leg muscles that cause movement.
  • Requip: Used to reduce twitching and leg movement.

Massage

If you don't want to take medication, you still have treatment options. Massaging your legs when they are feeling pained and twitching can help relax the muscles and prevent twitching. After massaging the legs, try soaking your legs in a hot bath with Epsom salt added until symptoms subside.

Exercise

Although daily exercise during waking hours will help prevent RLS symptoms, if you wake and need to move, a brief walk around your house (or the yard), may sometimes be enough to relieve your RLS symptoms and let you get back to sleep. Don't try anything too vigorous or you may have a hard time getting back to sleep. Gentle, short exercises will help relieve RLS symptoms and still allow you to return to sleep that night. 

Appropriate Remedies for RLS

There are countless available home remedies for RLS.

Vitamin treatments are the most common and most effective, because RLS has been medically linked to vitamin intake issues.

But many of these home remedies for RLS may be effective as well. Some, like the Ivory Soap idea, is probably not going to have much of an effect. But others, like Valerian extract, could be genuinely valuable as a restless leg treatment.

The key is to choose one that is right for your health and that you can easily integrate into your lifestyle. RLS isn't curable, but it is preventable with regular upkeep. 

Sources


http://www.sleepreviewmag.com/issues/articles/2000-09_01.asp

http://www.encognitive.com/

http://acuchu.com/%20/uncategorized/treating-restless-leg-syndrome/

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