Restless Legs Syndrome

NHSC recommendations for enhancing the body’s natural ability to respond to Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS)

Primary recommendations:

NHS Magnetic/Infra-red Sleep System - consisting of a magnetic mattress pad, a space age foam Magnetic Pillow, and a special Comforter, which has Far Infra-red properties for acid neutralization.     

  • Research indicates that a magnetic field improves circulation, allowing for improved recovery from discomforts, and better overall body               functioning.  (This can be confirmed though a simple demonstration outlined on pg.15 of our catalog).
  • The far-infrared materials in the sleep system help neutralize acids (i.e.: toxins) within the body to maintain proper pH (slightly alkaline).  Acidity in the body can cause discomfort, and can raise the chances for disease to take hold.  This acidity may also play a role in causing RLS.
  • Studies and our experience have shown that people sleep more soundly with this system, and ultimately require less time in bed (usually about ½ hour less).

Ensure Proper Nutrition:  The symptoms of Restless Legs Syndrome can be ameliorated, at least in part, by proper nutrition.  Having RLS can actually increase your nutritional needs, as your body is fighting to regain health.  Changing the diet to eliminate foods that trigger RLS (different for each person, but may include eliminating sugar, triglycerides, gluten, sugar substitutes, following a low-fat diet, etc.)

  • Adding supplements such as magnesium, B-12, folate, vitamin E and calcium can help ensure that your body has the nutrition it needs to accomplish the healing and maintenance processes.
  • We offer an exceptional line of nutrition supplements that were developed through collaboration with a gifted herbalist, and are made here in the United States to pharmaceutical standards.  They contain the most effective ingredients, from the highest quality sources available, to accomplish their targeted purpose.  


NHS Calcium Supplement - Targeted formula with the most effective herbal ingredients to help calcium be absorbed into the body.

Reference Resources and Theories:
Neurology, The Medical Journal of the American Academy of Neurology. Jan. 1, 2008
“People with restless legs syndrome, or RLS, are twice as likely to suffer a stroke or heart disease than those without RLS, and the risk is greatest in those with the most frequent and severe symptoms, according to the results of a large study.”
“The association of RLS with heart disease and stroke was strongest in those people who had RLS symptoms at least 16 times per month,” said study author John W. Winkelman, MD, PhD, with Harvard Medical School in Boston.  “There was also an increased risk among people who said their RLS symptoms were severe compared to those with less bothersome symptoms.”

Theories regarding RLS:

No one knows the exact cause of RLS at present. Research and brain autopsies have implicated both dopaminergic system and iron insufficiency in the substantia nigra (study published in Neurology, 2003). Iron is involved in the formation of dopamine. An Icelandic study in 2005 confirmed the presence of an RLS susceptibility gene also found previously in a smaller French-Canadian population in 2003.

The continual-activation theory of restless legs syndrome proposed by Jie Zhang hypothesizes that RLS occurs when a brain mechanism which is evolved for safeguarding the brain from "brain death" during sleep, is wrongly turned on during waking time. The theory is developed through a series of hypotheses. Zhang believes that the human brain can be divided into two subsidiary systems: the conscious brain and the non-conscious brain. The conscious subsidiary system of the brain is evolved to process conscious related human information like declarative memory for instance, while the non-conscious subsidiary system is evolved to process non-conscious related information such as procedural memory and motor skills. In order to maintain brain proper functioning, Zhang proposes that both systems have to be continually activated through their life times. To carry out this task, Zhang suggests that the human brain has a continual-activation mechanism in each subsidiary system. When the level of activation in any subsidiary system descends to a given threshold, the corresponding continual-activation mechanism will be triggered to generate a pulse-like activation signal. According to this theory, the continual-activation mechanism in the non-conscious part of brain is supposed to be turned on during NREM sleep; while the continual-activation mechanism in the conscious part of brain is supposed to be switched on during REM sleep. RLS occurs when the continual-activation mechanism in the non-conscious subsidiary system of brain is wrongly triggered during waking, due to the malfunction of continual-activation thresholds. The theory also predicts that a closely related illness - PLMD (periodic limb movement disorder) is sprung from the same mechanism, but with a different cause. PLMD occurs when the lowered muscle tone is lacking while this mechanism is activated during NREM sleep. (Zhang, 2005a & 2005b).

Resources:
Brain Basics: Understanding Sleep (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, NIH, HHS)
ClinicalTrials.gov: Restless Legs Syndrome (National Institutes of Health)

Attachments:
Restless Legs Syndrome, definition, cause, symptoms and treatments
Restless Legs Syndrome Testimonials

The Natural Health Solutions Center’s recommendations are not meant as a substitute for advice from your doctor. If you have a serious or potentially serious health problem, please see a doctor. You may wish to use these suggestions in addition to the treatment prescribed by your doctor; if so, it is best to do so with his or her knowledge.

Restless Legs Syndrome

Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) is a neurologic sensorimotor disorder that is characterized by an overwhelming urge to move the legs when they are at rest. The urge to move the legs is usually, but not always, accompanied by unpleasant sensations. It is less common but possible to have RLS symptoms in the arms, face, torso, and genital region. RLS symptoms occur during inactivity and they are temporarily relieved by movement or pressure. Symptoms of RLS are most severe in the evening and nighttime hours and can profoundly disrupt a patient's sleep and daily life.

RLS affects approximately 10% of adults in the U.S.  Researchers believe that RLS is commonly unrecognized or misdiagnosed as insomnia or other neurological, muscular or orthopedic condition. RLS may also be confused with depression. According to the Restless Legs Syndrome Foundation, approximately 40% of people with RLS complain of symptoms that would indicate depression if assessed without knowledge or consideration of a sleep disorder.

What causes restless legs syndrome?
RLS is either primary or secondary. Primary RLS is considered idiopathic, or with no known cause. However, there is a high incidence of familial cases, suggesting a genetic tendency in primary RLS. Primary RLS starts before age 40 or 45 (can occur as early as the first year of life).  People with familial RLS tend to be younger when symptoms start and have a slower progression of the condition.
In other cases, RLS appears to be related to the following factors or conditions, although researchers do not yet know if these factors actually cause RLS.

  • People with low iron levels or anemia may be prone to developing RLS. Once iron levels or anemia is corrected, patients may see a reduction in symptoms.*
  • Chronic diseases such as kidney failure, diabetes, Parkinson's disease, thyroid problems, certain auto-immune disorders such as Sjogren's, Celiac Disease, and rheumatoid arthritis and peripheral neuropathy are associated with RLS. Treating the underlying condition often provides relief from RLS symptoms.
  • Some pregnant women experience RLS, especially in their last trimester. For most of these women, symptoms usually disappear within 4 weeks after delivery.
  • Certain medications-such as antinausea drugs (prochlorperazine or metoclopramide), antiseizure drugs (phenytoin or droperidol), antipsychotic drugs (haloperidol or phenothiazine derivatives), drugs for depression (both older tricyclics and newer SSRIs) and some cold and allergy medications-may aggravate symptoms.

Researchers also have found that caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco may aggravate or trigger symptoms in patients who are predisposed to develop RLS. Some studies have shown that a reduction or complete elimination of such substances may relieve symptoms, although it remains unclear whether elimination of such substances can prevent RLS symptoms from occurring at all.

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, National Institutes of Health, http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/restless_legs/detail_restless_legs.htm#135173237

Symptoms
Symptoms, during periods of inactivity, including both sleep and wakefulness, include:

  • Urge to move the legs often associated with uncomfortable feeling in the legs
  • Tingling
  • Creepy
  • Itching
  • Pulling
  • Aching
  • Involuntary jerking of the limbs that intensifies in the evening or at night and is relieved by movement
  • Difficulty falling or staying asleep
  • Suffering from chronic sleep loss, leaving them with the cognitive and tired feelings that occur with sleep loss

Treatment

  • Keeping good sleep health
  • Finding the right level of exercise (too much worsens it, too little may trigger it)
  • Eliminating caffeine, smoking and alcohol
  • Changing the diet to eliminate foods that trigger RLS (different for each person, but may include eliminating sugar, triglycerides, gluten, sugar substitutes, following a low-fat diet, etc.)
  • Treating conditions that may cause secondary RLS
  • Avoiding or stopping OTC or prescription drugs that trigger RLS
  • Adding supplements such as magnesium, B-12, folate, vitamin E, and calcium
  • Check ferritin levels (ferritin levels should be at least 50 mcg for those with RLS)
  • If ferritin is low, oral iron supplements can increase ferritin levels
  • (Some of these changes, such as diet and adding supplements are based on anecdotal evidence from RLS sufferers, as few studies have been done on these alternatives.)
  • Until recently, there were no FDA-approved drugs for the treatment of RLS. In May 2005, a drug called Requip® (ropinirole hydrochloride) that is commonly used to treat Parkinson disease was given FDA approval at lower doses for the treatment of moderate-to-severe primary RLS after patients in clinical trials enjoyed more and better quality sleep as early as one week after starting treatment.

*Recently, several research teams have taken a closer look at what might cause primary RLS. In particular, recent studies at Johns Hopkins and Pennsylvania State Colleges have found evidence for brain iron deficiency as a cause for primary RLS. This was first demonstrated in cerebrospinal fluid studies and more recently by the first-ever autopsy analysis of the brains of people with RLS. The autopsy studies reported that cells from the portion of the brain called the substantia nigra showed a deficit in one of the proteins that regulates iron status. However, this evidence suggests that the iron insufficiency in the brain of RLS patients comes directly from a failure of normal iron regulation. In terms of finding a cure, this is good news. The results of this study show that there is no brain damage in people with RLS and that drugs that target the problem of iron uptake may be one way to approach future developments of a treatment.


National Sleep Foundation, Reviewed by Richard P. Allen, Ph.D.and Merrill M. Mitler, Ph.D.
http://www.sleepfoundation.org/article/sleep-related-problems/restless-legs-syndrome-rls-and-sleep

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