What is Restless Leg Syndrome?
Restless leg syndrome (RLS) is a neurological disorder that primarily occurs at night and is characterized by an “itchy” feeling in the legs and an overwhelming urge to move them. It’s been described as a pulling, tingling, throbbing, and uncontrollable sensation. It’s classified as a neurological or movement disorder, but is often misdiagnosed as insomnia, muscle cramps, or even simply just stress.
What Causes RLS?
Generally, the cause of this disorder is unknown; however, it seems to occur more frequently in those with the following conditions:
- · Obesity
- · Tobacco abuse
- · Underlying nerve diseases
- · Anemia, specifically iron-deficiency anemia.
- · Diabetes or other endocrine disorders
- · Vitamin deficiencies
- · Pregnancy
- · Kidney failure
- · Polyneuropathy
The Holistic Approach
Holistic living refers to the idea of living in balance physically, emotionally and mentally. It’s the idea of using herbs, oils, massage, a wholesome diet, and a variety of other techniques to live a more balanced lifestyle. Before I started living holistically, I thought I understand what this meant, but I realize now that I only understood the words. I had to experience the effects to understand the concept.
I likened my RLS symptoms to nerves being twisted and then tightening. The only way to uncoil them was to shake my legs violently. Sometimes, the feeling was so intense I had to bounce my legs ferociously for several minutes before I could stop. I would try tightening all the muscles in my legs and counting to 5 and then relaxing them, which gave me a few moments’ respite, but then the symptoms would come right back. My whole body would tighten up and my back would start to ache. I developed insomnia, daytime fatigue, and muscle cramps. In essence, I was miserable.
I tried everything from getting up to stretch my legs when symptoms started to prescribed medications. I even tried taking a daily magnesium and iron supplement. My doctor had no other ideas of what I could do except for strong medications that would sedate me at night. I tried that for about a week and became overwhelmed, so I stopped the drugs immediately.
Finally, I talked to an ayurvedic practitioner. She suggested I change my diet to gluten and dairy free, as well as take up Yoga. I laughed at her, thinking it was a joke, but she was dead serious. I sighed and moped out of her office in defeat, believing I would have this nighttime agony for the rest of my life. She called out to me and said something very simple, but immeasurably motivating. “What have you got to lose?” Then, she smiled and said “come see me again in a month,” and turned around and walked away.
For the next 30 days, I took this guru’s advice. I cut out all gluten and started eating more organic, wholesome foods that were rich in iron, magnesium, calcium, and other essential nutrients. I also cut out most dairy. I had one or two servings of gluten-free yogurt per week, but that was it. In place of milk, I used almond milk, and in place of cheese, I used vegan or rice cheese. I researched new recipes and ate more fruits, veggies, lean meats, and fish. I started doing 20 minutes of Yoga every evening as well.
Within two weeks, my RLS symptoms were almost completely gone. I kept thinking there had to be something else I could do. I decided to try an experiment. Each night before bed, I warmed a cup of almond milk and spiced it up with some nutmeg and cinnamon. Then, I added about a tablespoon of ambrosia honey. The doubled calcium and decent amount of magnesium in the warmed milk did the trick. I have not had a problem of those coiled nerves since I started this regimen three years ago. My ayurvedic doctor wore a knowing smile when I walked in the door several pounds lighter, much more rested, and grinning from ear to ear. Finally, the fight of RLS was over.
Changing your diet and lifestyle can be difficult, but it’s well worth it in the end. You’ll be happier and healthier, not to mention less annoyed when it comes time for bed and you don’t have flailing limbs to contend with. Take a step in the right direction and start living more naturally.