How to Naturally Treat Restless Leg Syndrome
As I discussed in “The Blessings of Restless Leg Syndrome” introduction, you need to eliminate anything that causes an adrenaline surge in your body, ie; sugar, salt, caffeine and alcohol or drugs. Learn what triggers RLS so you can address the cause.
Sugar and RLS
Eliminating sugar from your diet could be the single most effective way to relieve RLS.
“The Elimination Diet” is the best way to determine if sugar is YOUR problem.
Eliminate one food from your diet for two weeks, and notice whether the symptoms disappear. If the symptoms are gone, you know the culprit. Try introducing the food in small amounts to see if you have any tolerance for that food and don’t take more than what causes the symptoms to reappear. You’ll find that your jumpy legs will greatly be reduced, thus it will be easier to stay committed to the elimination of the worst RLS culprits. The most common foods to eliminate are sugar, salt, coffee and alcohol.
I could write an entire book on sugar and it’s negative effects on the body, but for simplicity sake, let me explain the problem in relation to RLS only.
Low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia, has similar symptoms to RLS; anxiety, brain fog, can’t think straight, restlessness, hyperactivity, insomnia and roller coaster energy levels.
Hypoglycemia occurs when one eats too much sugar (usually refined white sugar, found in copious amounts in junk and fast food) which puts an over-demand on the pancreas to produce high amounts of insulin, which pulls too much sugar out of the blood, causing low blood sugar. That’s why you get LOW blood sugar when you eat too much sugar, the insulin is robbing your brain of sugars needed for thinking and energy. If one eats a normal amount of sugar, say found in an orange, the insulin is produced in small amounts, causing a stable level of sugars in the blood, giving just enough energy for thinking and working.
Our blood sugar has a normal climb throughout the day, naturally higher in the evening than the morning. Most people like to have their desserts in the evening, causing their blood sugar levels to be extremely high, thus causing a hypoglycemic reaction. As the insulin moves the excess sugars out of the blood, the body will be starved of a natural blood sugar level causing physical and emotional and mental symptoms like those described in Restless Leg Syndrome. A severe hypoglycemic reaction can cause one to feel like they’re going to pass out, often displayed as “nodding while watching the evening TV”.
Bless your Restless Leg Syndrome as it is forcing you to be proactive in preventing Diabetes and Hypoglycemia!
Salt and RLS
Salt (sodium) consumption causes adrenaline surges in the body because it interferes with our natural salt/potassium balance. Every cell in our body needs potassium and sodium, but in a balance of about 2:1. We need about twice as much potassium as sodium, however, this is sadly not the balance obtained from our modern diets. Mostly, we consume the reverse ratio of twice as much sodium as potassium. We do need a certain amount of sodium to give our cells energy, the balance electrolytes give athletes energy to run fast, or laborers to do their work etc. But too much salt in ratio to potassium causes an energy overload, including a release of too much adrenaline.
I know this doesn’t sound very scientific, so for a completely scientific explanation of this phenomena, please read “The Salt Solution” by Boynton, McCarty and Moore.
When your legs start jumping around at night, notice if you had a salty meal for dinner, or many salty meals in the day. Be aware that this salt is most likely not from your salt shaker. If you have Jimmy Legs, you must become a label reader to find out how much salt is in what you’re already buying. You’ll be surprised at how much is already in what you eat, in shocking amounts too.
The RDA on sodium is 2500 mgs. You might consider making your own RDA less than 2000 mgs, which is about what you’d find in one fast food hamburger. Or for a real shocker, you’ll find more than the RDA in one fast food salad since the dressing is loaded with over 2000 mgs of sodium per tablespoon!
Here is a list of the worst offending foods for hiding sodium;
- Packaged foods.
- Frozen dinners, especially diet foods, which use salt to cover up the taste of low-fat and low-carb recipes.
- All deli foods and processed meats.
- Dairy, especially cheese. Cheese doesn’t have much taste without salt.
- Tomatoes products like spaghetti sauce, canned tomatoes and ketchup.
- Snack foods, especially bagged potato or corn chips
- Canned meats and vegetables.
- Beef or chicken stock or broth, this is obscenely loaded with sodium which is way restaurant soups make you drink gallons of water.
- Restaurant foods in general are high in salt.
- Bacon and almost all process pork products.
I know its rather boring to have to cut down on salt, but if you want your legs to calm down you’re going to have to try. Add up the salt in your foods so they stay well under the RDA of 2500. Eliminate the salt shaker from your table and replace it with “No Salt”, a salty like potassium replaced which your body does need! Look for “No Salt” or “Reduced Salt” labels, ie; reduced salt bacon tastes every bit as good as full salt, as do low salt crackers.
Here’s a great trick for getting the HOTTEST fries possible. Most places like McDonalds, presalt their French fries. If you ask for them to be No Salt, they have to make a fresh batch, yippee, you get the freshest fries possible because you can’t eat the ones that have been sitting under the heat lamp for the last hour. Plus, you’re probably going to dunk them in ketchup anyway, which has plenty of salt in it to flavor the fries.
Or if you’re like me and you like those handy rotisserie chickens from the deli, call in the morning and request they don’t put their usual tablespoon(way over the RDA!) of salt in the cavity of the chicken, it actually tastes better without it. By the time you go shopping, it’ll be waiting for you, all nice and unpolluted by an extreme amount of salt. When I go to the deli counter and ask for my no-salt chicken, other customers will ask why I’m doing that, with eyes wide in shock when I tell them how much sodium is in their chicken.
So, as your awareness of these high sodium foods increases, you’ll not only be warding off RLS attacks, but your arteries and heart will love you! The number one cause of High Blood Pressure, or Hypertension is excess sodium consumption. Bless your jumpy legs for preventing the possibility of being crippled by a stroke.
Caffeine seems to have taken over the world as THE drug of choice. As world cultures emulate Western cultures, everyone seems to be riding hard and fast on the coffee train. There’s a corner in Vancouver BC, on Robson St., that has a Starbucks on all four corners! They wouldn’t all be there if there wasn’t the demand for mainstreaming caffeine into our veins as we overwork and overplay ourselves into stress related illnesses.
If you MUST have your daily dose of caffeine, please try to bring it down to no more than 2 cups a day. I know that seems harsh, but caffeine directly pumps adrenaline into your veins, which is why you sweat or shake a little after each cup. Adrenaline gives you powerful energy, but it’s usually a swinging energy, up and down all day, causing you to drink more and more. If you don’t FEEL thins energy, its a sign that you’re drinking way too much coffee and have become immune to its side effects. Even though you’re still irritable and snappy.
Drink antioxidant rich Green tea instead of coffee to bring your addiction down to a manageable level. Consume other energizers like bee pollen, royal jelly, ginseng and gotu kola. Your legs will calm right down and thank you by giving you a good nights sleep for once. Bless your jumpy legs for getting you off the coffee train so a full nights sleep can authentically give you energy the next day.
Alcohol and Jumpy Legs
Alcohol is a known stimulant. Stimulants cause adrenaline release. Alcohol is also usually high in sugars, which compound this issue. Try to keep your alcohol consumption down to a drink or two a day. If you’re addicted to alcohol, you’re going to have to either deal with your addiction (AA?) or find a way to live with this affliction. You’ll find the section on Exercises for RLS helpful.
Drugs and RLS
Many drugs affect your legs at night. Marijuana causes a small amount of adrenaline, but it’s also a phytoestrogen, which is calming. That’s why if you smoke pot, you’ll feel a little anxiety or paranoia at first, then you’ll feel “high” and happy afterwards. First you feel the adrenaline, then you feel the phytoestrogen.
Pharmaceutical drugs that contribute to RLS:
- Antihistamines (many cold or allergy medications)
- Anti-nausea drugs (cancer treating)
- Anti-depressants (tricyclics and SSRIs)
- Anti-psychotic drugs
- Some anti-seizure medications
Bless your twitchy legs for facilitating less alcohol and drug intake in your life.
If you incorporate my suggests here, and they work, please email me your success story. I love to help people recover from this neurological affliction.
Click here for a list of exercises that kick your RLS in butt! These exercises come from a wealth of information on how to GROUND your energy so you can sleep and feel calm. Enjoy and please, put a link to this page on your website if you have one, it’s all I ask for giving out this valuable information.
If the above natural remedies don’t work for you and you’re at the end of your rope with insomnia,
anxiety, frustration and generally feeling “crazy”, you could always try a Dopamine prescription
(or Medical Marijuana, which produces Dopamine),
but start with just 1/2 pill, or the lowest dosage,
it often works wonders in relaxing the legs and nerves, with little side affects.
-Stephanie Waymen (Rolfe) CNC
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