I ran across this article several months ago on Squidoo. It is written by Jonathan Nielsen from California, who found a solution to his Restless Legs Syndrome through natural means.
The article goes into great detail about commons sense ways to heal your RLS – methods that worked for him, and also worked for me.
It was such a thrill to find someone that had made similar discoveries about the relationship between inflammation and RLS.
Jonathan was kind enough to allow me to repost his article.
The article is fairly long, so I’m going to post it in two parts.
KNOWN CAUSES ACCORDING TO WIKIPEDIA’S ARTICLE
Psychiatric drugs cause RLS in many people. The Wikipedia article on RLS lists some causes, but as we’ll see later in this lens, they leave out the #1 cause. The article lists:
(1) Deficiencies in some substances (iron, dopamine, folate, and magnesium)
(2) Certain auto-immune disorders (such as Sjögren’s syndrome, celiac disease, and rheumatoid arthritis)
(3) “Other associated conditions” (varicose vein or venous reflux, fibromyalgia, sleep apnea, uremia, diabetes, thyroid disease, peripheral neuropathy, hypoglycemia, and Parkinson’s disease)
(4) Medication side effects (side effects of anti-depressants, anti-psychotics, some anti-convulsants, some anti-histamines, benzodiazepines, and antidopaminergic antiemetics)
(5) A genetic inheritance
ABOUT INFLAMMATION, THE REAL CAUSE OF RLS
Wikipedia’s article neglects to mention inflammation as the cause of RLS. That it is caused by inflammation is known and scientific papers have been written on it, although this explanation doesn’t sit well with the medical industry, who like to suppress symptoms with drugs, and never address underlying causes. Note that many conditions listed, such as celiac disease and diabetes, involve massive inflammation.
Since inflammation isn’t mentioned in the Wikipedia article, the main cause of inflammation also isn’t mentioned, which is mild to severe dehydration, caused by not drinking enough pure, plain water.
Dehydration is a problem far more widespread and more serious than many people are aware of, and it is the cause of many common health problems that the medical industry will tell you have no known cause or cure. Miraculously, drinking adequate amounts of water clears these conditions up in many cases, addressing the root cause of the problem.
Medical science tends to focus on the portion of our body that is not water, which is only 30% to 40% of what we are composed of. The importance of what the majority of our body is made of, water, is commonly overlooked. We are typically 60% to 70% water, and thus water intake is critical, and without proper water levels we begin to have serious health problems. We get inflamed when water levels are inadequate.
There are books that are excellent for learning how to minimize inflammation, including dietary advice for avoiding inflammation-promoting foods. I’ll link to some below. However, water intake is the most critical factor.
The mainstream medical industry can’t make much money by telling people to drink water, so instead they invent drugs that don’t address the root causes of the problems. What the drugs do is silence the symptoms that indicate what it is you really need, which is water.
Drugs are pushed because they rake in money and people believe they help because they suppress symptoms. However, since they don’t address the root cause of the problem, health problems don’t go away like they would if the treatment was correct.
Many scientists know about inflammation and the importance of water (and not drinking other stuff that actually makes dehydration worse, like soda, tea, coffee, and alcohol). However, the information is suppressed. You’re supposed to think that drugs are the solution, and that when you hurt you need drugs and not anything natural or inexpensive. Doctors who go against the recommendations of the establishment may be censured or have licenses revoked, even if their advice is helpful to and they said nothing false.
The results are that many people with health problems, including RLS sufferers, will continue to be given treatments that don’t eliminate inflammation and therefore root cause of the problem.
Certain food ingredients are well known for worsening inflammation. Some of the most major ones are sugar, simple carbohydrates (like white flour and white rice), corn syrup, MSG (monosodium glutamate and similar chemicals), and trans fats. Eliminating these is guaranteed to reduce inflammation in your entire system, plus eliminate major causes of serious health problems like diabetes, obesity, migraines, and cancer. However, drinking plenty of pure, plain water is even more important.
Inflammation has also been shown to lower dopamine levels, and low dopamine levels are already accepted as consistent with RLS. The inflammatory food ingredients listed above all increase inflammation, lower dopamine, and can worsen restless legs syndrome, although the main cause is insufficient water intake, which causes chronic dehydration, which causes inflammation and numerous health problems currently described as having “no known cause.”
INFLAMMATION’S #1 CAUSE IS DEHYDRATION FROM INADEQUATE INTAKE OF WATER
Water is the best drink of all time. and always will be. I’ve often heard people say that we need eight cups (64 fluid ounces) of water every day. People usually also say that other drinks like juices, milk, sodas, and tea count for these water needs. Even some scientists and nutritionists say that, but it’s not correct.
Caffeine is known to cause more water to be flushed out of your system than how much was in the caffeinated drink itself. Tea, caffeinated sodas, and coffee actually dehydrate you more, rather than helping meet your water needs. Juice is full of sugar, which causes a myriad of problems. Milk provides some protein and calcium, but also has a lot of sugar and growth hormones.
We actually need pure, clean water and not other drinks with calories, sugar, and other things attached. The best guideline for how much pure water to drink? Divide your weight (in pounds) in half, and translate that to ounces. A man who weighs 200 lbs will need 100 oz pure water each day to prevent dehydration. A woman who weighs 150 lbs will need 75 oz pure water each day. These are minimums! It should be higher if you sweat a lot or if you live in a dry climate.
Why is dehydration a big deal? Isn’t dehydration rare? Actually, dehydration is common and it is the biggest cause of inflammation and many common health problems currently recognized as various “diseases,” and usually treated with harmful toxic chemicals (prescription drugs). The drugs usually mask signs of dehydration such as chronic pain, allergies, asthma, migraine headaches, and other symptoms of inadequate water levels in the body. The drugs suppress symptoms but don’t address the root cause of the problem.
PSYCHIATRIC DRUGS WORSEN RESTLESS LEGS SYNDROME
Anti-depressants like Zoloft can make RLS unbearable. Many of the most major psychiatric drugs, prescribed to sufferers of various mental disorders, significantly aggravate RLS. Look at the list from the article on Wikipedia:
– Anti-depressants, which include the very widely-used SSRIs such as Prozac, Luvox, Paxil, and Zoloft.
– Anti-convulsants, which are commonly used to treat bipolar disorder’s vicious mood swings.
– Benzodiazepines, which are commonly used to treat severe anxiety and panic attacks.
– Anti-psychotics, which are commonly used to treat schizophrenia and mania in bipolar disorder, and they are often used for other purposes as well.
This can be distressing news if you have been taking such medications and you suffer from RLS. The fact that RLS is a side effect of prescription psychiatric drugs, however, should not be a surprise. These drugs have a great many dangerous side effects, many of which are worse than the symptoms of RLS. Here are some examples:
– Benzodiazepines are highly addictive and those who seek to get off them often suffer greatly with withdrawal symptoms.
– Anti-psychotics are notorious for damaging the nervous system, causing weight gain, and causing diabetes.
– Anti-depressants frequently cause sexual dysfunction, have warnings about possibly making suicidal thoughts worse, and also cause many people to gain weight – in addition to being difficult to withdraw from, and rarely performing better than placebo in clinical trials.
– Anti-convulsants can cause problems with weight gain, migraine headaches, and more.
The problem in each of these instances does not lie with the patient, it lies with the drugs. Prescription drugs, besides being incredibly expensive, are often ineffective, and the drug companies don’t like to investigate negative aspects but frequently exaggerate benefits. For many of the conditions these drugs treat, it’s untrue that drugs are the best solution, and it’s also untrue that they treat the underlying problem. All they do is attempt to suppress symptoms, while often causing great harm.
Prescription drugs should actually be a last resort. For anyone perplexed by the idea of treating serious mental illness without drugs, I recommend starting with a booklet titled The Harm Reduction Guide to Coming off Psychiatric Drugs. A link to this item is given below.
Unfortunately, the mainstream medical establishment only cares about making as much profit as possible at the expense of giving people the help they really need. Expensive prescription drugs are pushed with benefits exaggerated and risks minimized, and other treatment options are suppressed, ignored, ridiculed, or slandered.
Next we’ll explore how RLS is currently treated by mainstream medicine, and then we’ll discuss some “alternative” herbal treatments, which are natural and far superior to any bizarre chemical concoction manufactured by the drug companies.
HOW DOCTORS CURRENTLY TRY TO TREAT RLS
Benzodiazepines like Xanax can’t both cause and treat RLS. The Wikipedia article highlights the standard treatments given to RLS sufferers. As we’ll see, the treatments seek to address the symptoms but not the underlying cause, which is insufficient water, which causes dehydration, which causes inflammation, which causes RLS and many health problems.
First they suggest moving or shaking one’s legs. This is obvious, and is what RLS sufferers already feel compelled to do. It’s what they want to go away, rather than doing it even more.
Second they suggest iron supplements, although many RLS cases have nothing to do with low iron levels. Sufferers are advised to have iron levels tested and to consult with a physician before taking any iron supplements.
Iron supplementation is of course a good idea if you don’t get enough from your diet. If this helps a RLS sufferer with their symptoms, then great. But for many this will be insufficient.
Third they suggest prescription drugs (also called “pharmaceuticals”). One of these inexplicably is benzodiazepines, which are also on the list of drugs that cause RLS.
In PART TWO we’ll talk about “alternative” (which means not supported by the drug companies) methods for treating RLS.