“A LITTLE-KNOWN CAUSE OF RESTLESS LEGS SYNDROME” by Dr. Della Parker
Restless legs syndrome has been associated with numerous conditions involving systemic inflammation and immune dysregulation. One review paper published in 2012 investigated health conditions that were reported to cause or exacerbate RLS symptoms, and found that 95% of the 38 different health conditions that were strongly associated with RLS have an inflammation or immune component. These conditions include Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, ADHD, Alzheimer’s disease, Celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, sleep apnea, diabetes, and depression.
As further evidence, an elevated blood level of C-reactive protein (a marker of systemic inflammation) has been associated with increased RLS severity. (5) A small crossover trial found that a hydrocortisone infusion, which reduces systemic inflammation, reduced RLS symptoms.
Researchers have proposed three potential mechanisms to explain the association between RLS and inflammatory or autoimmune states: direct autoimmune attack on the nervous system; genetic factors that could predispose an individual to RLS and be triggered by inflammation or autoimmunity; and iron deficiency caused by inflammation, which I’ll talk more about below.
What to do: If your RLS is a symptom of underlying systemic inflammation or immune dysregulation, the goal should be to find and treat the root cause. As I’ve mentioned many times in the past, gut infections are often the culprit—even if you don’t have noticeable digestive symptoms—so get your gut tested.
If you already have a diagnosed inflammatory or immune condition such as those I mentioned above, the best first step you can take is to adopt a “low-inflammatory” diet and lifestyle. This means eating a nutrient-rich, low-toxin diet based on whole foods; getting enough sleep every night; prioritizing stress management; and incorporating regular movement into your day.
You can also check out the bonus chapter about autoimmune disease from my book, as well as explore other information on my site about reversing autoimmune disease, the autoimmune protocol, the role of the microbiome, and alternative therapies such as LDN.
You can read the entire article here:
Dr. Della Parker, a naturopathic doctor, was born and raised in Portland, Oregon. She graduated from Portland State University with a Bachelor of Science. She then went on to graduate from the National College of Naturopathic Medicine, also in Portland, Oregon. Dr. Della has struggled with health problems throughout her life. Severe asthma and eczema as a child led her down a path of chronic steroid use, which led to many other health problems. It wasn’t until she took a job as a receptionist at a holistic health clinic that she realized how health care could be different. Making basic changes to diet and lifestyle as well as being treated with the holistic model of health, she was able to regain and take control of her health. This experience put her on the path of becoming a Naturopathic Physician. Most conventional doctors use a “cookbook” approach to treating patients. They use protocols to treat diseases while disregarding the host. This takes the functioning of the individual’s body out of the equation. Dr. Della rejects this idea and instead uses a holistic approach to treatments. Using the holistic model means that the whole person is addressed. For example, ten different patients could present with high cholesterol. They each may receive a different treatment recommendation based on the functioning of their whole body. http://www.drdellaparker.com