Restless Legs

Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a movement disorder that causes uncomfortable sensations in the legs. The symptoms are accompanied by an irresistible urge to move the legs.

Symptoms

Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a movement disorder that causes uncomfortable sensations in the legs. The symptoms are accompanied by an irresistible urge to move the legs.

Causes

Restless legs syndrome is believed to be a genetic neurological condition brought on by a chemical imbalance in the brain, however other factors including circulatory problems, anxiety, depression and nutritional deficiencies (e.g. folic acid, iron, and magnesium) are also believed to be involved.

Smoking, caffeine and other stimulants may increase the symptoms.

Natural Therapies

Low iron levels in the blood have been correlated with the syndrome; an iron supplement may help to reduce the symptoms.
The mineral magnesium taken at the onset of the symptoms, often solves the problem, particularly if RLS is associated with leg cramps. Best taken just before bed.
Ginkgo biloba may help if the condition is accompanied by poor circulation.
Sedative herbs including passionflower, hops, and valerian are especially useful in promoting sleep, usually taken about 45 minutes before bedtime.
In cases of restless legs syndrome, there appears to be a higher need for folic acid – your healthcare professional will recommend an appropriate dose for you (higher doses may require a prescription).

Additionally, relaxant herbs are often prescribed, taken at bedtime to prevent awakening but not the nocturnal movements.

Lifestyle Factors

Smoking affects the circulation to the legs and can be associated with RLS. Quitting smoking will not only help RLS but it will also improve your overall health.

Remedies

Avoid stimulants such as coffee before bedtime, and reduce your use of them generally.

Regular massage is beneficial to the nervous system as well as helping to relax the leg muscles, and may help to reduce or prevent episodes of RLS.

Important Notes

Consult your healthcare professional if you are experiencing symptoms of RLS for the first time.

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