Multiple Sclerosis, Restless Legs and the Amazing World of Epigenetics

Dr-Terry-WahlsDr. Terry Wahls is a clinical professor of medicine at the University of Iowa Carver College. She is an avid clinical researcher with over 60 peer-reviewed scientific abstracts, posters and papers to her name.

Several years ago Dr. Wahls suffered from debilitating MS (and at the same time suffered from Restless Legs Syndrome).

As a doctor/scientist, her empirical view of life pointed to the undeniable fact that there was not going to be a cure discovered for MS before her rapidly approaching demise.

This stark truth propelled Dr. Wahls to look at alternative healing methods. By experimenting with changes in diet and attitude, Dr. Wahls was able to cure herself. In fact there is a famous split photo of her (below) showing a BEFORE PICTURE of her sitting, almost lifeless, in a wheelchair, and an AFTER PICTURE, showing her riding her bicycle, full of life, light and vibrancy.

I have had several correspondences with her, and I can tell you that she is an amazing force. As is the case with a lot of people that have been to the “brink” she wants to give back – to help others in similar situations to become healthy again.

Because she is also a former RLS sufferer, Dr. Wahls was kind enough to publish one of my RLS articles in her newsletter last year.

Her story will not only help those that suffer from MS or Restless Legs, it will inspire anyone with ANY condition to shift towards a healthy and balanced life.

In this article (below) from her monthly newsletter, she talks about the wonderful world of epigenetics, and how we are NOT bound by our genes. In other words, saying that you’re STUCK with RLS because you inherited the condition, just doesn’t wash anymore. It’s not reality. There is a LOT you can do to improve your condition, if you open your mind just a smidge.

THERE ARE NO HOPELESS CASES!

For more information on Dr. Wahl’s amazing journey, please follow the link at the bottom of this article.

“DON’T BLAME YOUR FAMILY TREE” by Dr. Terry Wahls, MD.

When you were diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, you might have been wise enough to ask your doctor about diet and what you could do yourself to reduce the symptoms and pain associated with MS. Unfortunately, most neurologists today would shrug off that question and tell you there is no evidence that diet makes any difference. Your physician probably told you that science doesn’t know why you developed MS. You and your physician probably just blamed your genes, and then moved on to talking about what immune-suppressing drugs you should take, in an effort to keep you as functional as possible for as long as possible.

The problem with relying only on immune suppression to treat MS is that our immune cells are vital to the proper functioning of our bodies and brains. All immune-suppressing drugs therefore also have a long list of side effects, ranging from mild to life-threatening. But more importantly, immune suppression does not address the reasons people develop MS or any other autoimmune condition. To effectively treat disease, we must confront the root cause of why the immune system has malfunctioned and begun attacking the brain.

The good news is that for most chronic diseases, including autoimmune problems like MS, the cause is likely 5% genetic and 95% epigenetic. That means the environmental factors are huge. There are thousands of studies that have linked improving health behaviors with better health outcomes, a decline in symptoms of chronic disease, and reduced need for medication to treat diseases like obesity, diabetes, heart disease, mental health problems, cancers, and autoimmunity. Addressing diet and lifestyle as I explain in my book is how to have the more of the health promoting genes turned on and the disease promoting genes turned off.

For more information on Dr. Wahls, her recovery and her protocol please visit: http://www.terrywahls.com

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“A Little-Known Cause of Restless Legs Syndrome” by Chris Kresser, M.S., L.Ac

Chris-Kresser_P3Restless legs syndrome has been associated with numerous conditions involving systemic inflammation and immune dysregulation. (3)

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. (4) 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. (6)

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 inflamation8dysregulation, 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.

REFERENCES
3. “Increased prevalence of restless legs syndrome in patients with Crohn’s disease.” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25951489
4. “Restless legs syndrome–theoretical roles of inflammatory and immune mechanisms.” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22258033
5. “Elevated C-reactive protein is associated with severe periodic leg movements of sleep in patients with restless legs syndrome.” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22750520
6. “Low-dose hydrocortisone in the evening modulates symptom severity in restless legs syndrome.” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18443313

Chris Kresser, M.S., L.Ac is a globally recognized leader in the fields of ancestral health, Paleo nutrition, and functional and integrative medicine. He is the creator of ChrisKresser.com, one of the top 25 natural health sites in the world, and the author of the New York Times best seller, Your Personal Paleo Code (published in paperback in December 2014 as The Paleo Cure). You can read the full article here: http://chriskresser.com/4-little-known-causes-of-restless-legs-syndrome

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Another Scientific Link Between Restless Legs Syndrome and Inflammation

chronic-illness-46-638Below is an excerpt from an article titled “Inflammation and Pain Management with Magnesium” by Dr. Mark Sircus, Ac., OMD, DM (P), December 8, 2009

“According to the National Sleep Foundation approximately 70 million people in the United States are affected with sleeping disorders. Approximately 12 million Americans have Restless Legs Syndrome, a sleep and movement disorder characterized by unpleasant (tingling, crawling, creeping and/or pulling) feelings in the legs, which cause an urge to move in order to relieve the symptoms.  

‘People with poor quality sleep or sleep deprivation exhibit increased levels of interleukin-6 (IL6), the chemical that causes inflammation throughout the body’ (Redwine et al. 2000).”

The above excerpt is a short but effective overview of the way that Restless Legs Syndrome feeds off itself; ever increasing the stranglehold it has over each individual.

The original RLS-causing inflammation in your body could have been created because of a number of issues. It’s  likely that diet is involved, but there are many other possible contributors such as lifestyle, environment & toxins, alcohol consumption, stress, pregnancy, aging etc.

Once the inflammation inside you reaches a level that causes your legs to start tingling … a whole new (ugly) cycle begins!

The lack of sleep you begin to experience because of your wonky legs AS WELL AS the stress of the increasing frustration BOTH raise the existing inflammation level inside of you.

And, of course, as time goes on, it just gets worse. It’s an ugly, ugly debilitating cycle.

Your sleep gets worse, the inflammation increases. Your stress gets higher, the inflammation increases. Your anger deepens, the inflammation increases.

Yes, all the while, the RLS-causing inflammation inside of you increases, raising your inflammation and RLS to new levels.

THE SOLUTION:

Healing RLS requires a multi-pronged attack. You can’t just take a pill and wish it all away.  Taking a prescribed medication expecting it to rid your RLS is like closing the door to a room that is on fire expecting the fire to die out.

The inflammation inside of you is going to continue to increase and manifest in other ways. (I explain how RLS is actually a warning signal from your body, on my website http://www.rlcure.com).

To rid yourself of RLS you need to:

1. Put a cork in where the inflammation is flowing into your life.

This means, first off, change your diet! Get the sugar, trans & saturated fats, gluten, alcinflammatoryfoodsohol, refined carbohydrates and MSG out of your life, as best you can. Give your body a chance to heal. It doesn’t have to be forever, just give it some breathing room to heal itself.

It also means that you need to learn to calm down.

Meditation, relaxation exercises and yoga have all been clinically proven to lower inflammation levels.

I still believe that no one is beyond help when it comes to RLS and inflammation. Regardless of how hopeless you think your situation is, if you’re willing to make necessary sacrifices and put in the work, you can be healed.

For some helpful tips on natural ways to put out the fire that’s raging inside your body, please visit my website http://www.rlcure.com

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“Acupuncture and Herbs Relieve Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS)” by HealthCMi: The Healthcare Medicine Institute

acupuncture1Acupuncture and herbs alleviate restless leg syndrome (RLS). Researchers tested two forms of treatments and the findings indicate that acupuncture combined with herbal medicine is both safe and effective for the treatment of RLS. The total effective rate for acupuncture plus herbs was 95.24%.  

Restless leg syndrome (a.k.a. Willis-Ekbom disease) is characterized by a need to move the legs. The symptoms are typically worse at night and tend to lessen upon movement. An uncomfortable feeling in the legs including aching, pulling, itching, and a crawling sensation are characteristic of RLS.

The etiology of RLS is often considered unknown in biomedicine, however, several causes and exacerbating factors are known. Iron deficiency is common among RLS sufferers and is correlated with restless leg syndrome. Peripheral neuropathy, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, and kidney diseases are correlated with RLS. Pregnancy related RLS typically occurs in the third trimester and usually resolves approximately one month after delivery. Several types of medications are linked to RLS including certain antiemetics, antipsychotics, antihistamines, and antidepressants.

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) principles, RLS is closely related to Zang-Fu organ imbalances, especially in the liver, heart, and kidneys. Treatment principles including balancing yin and yang, promoting qi and blood circulation, nourishing the spleen, dredging the sanjiao meridian, and regulating the du and ren channels.

Two forms of acupuncture were tested for efficacy: body style acupuncture, eye region acupuncture. Both forms of acupuncture proved effective. The body style acupuncture included needling of the following acupoints:

Baihui, DU20
Sishenchong, extra
Fengchi, GB20
Anmian, extra
Shanzhong, REN17
Shenmen, HT7
Neiguan, PC6
Xuehai, SP10
Zusanli, ST36
Sanyinjiao, SP6
Taixi, KD3
Taichong, LV3

acupuncture2Mild reinforcing and reducing techniques were applied to acupuncture needles of 0.5 to 1.0 inches in length. Stimulation was applied to elicit deqi. Needle retention time was forty minutes per acupuncture session. Ten acupuncture treatments were applied to each participant in a period between ten and twenty days. Eye region acupuncture was applied to the following eye micro-acupuncture points: xiaojiao, liver, kidney, heart. The same frequency of treatment and session duration applied to the eye micro-acupuncture protocol of care.

Herbal medicine was given to participants receiving either type of acupuncture. The herbal formula was based on Jia Wei Xiao Yao Tang and additional herbs were added based on diagnostics. The base formula included:

Mu Dan Pi
Zhi Zi
Fu Ling
Bai Zhu
Dang Gui
Bai Shao Yao
Bo He
Gou Qi Zi
Ju Hua
Shu Di Huang
Shan Yao
Shan Zhu Yu
Ze Xie
Bai Ji Li
Zhen Zhu Me
Gui Ban
Quan Xie
Zhi Me
He Huan Pi
He Shou Wu

Additional herbs were added based on two criteria. For patients with loose stool and undigested food, Chen Pi and Bai Bian Dou were added. For patients with sticky stool, herbs were added and subtracted from the formula. Gou Qi Zi, Shan Yao, and Shan Zhu Yu (Shan Yu Rou) were supplanted with Che Qian Zi, Huang Lian, and Mu Xiang. The herbal formulas for all patients were brewed each day and served in the morning and at night.

RLS_acupointsThe high total effective rate of 95.24% for acupuncture plus herbal medicine treatments indicates that this approach to care is effective for patients with RLS. Acupuncture continuing education research focusing on additional TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) protocols of care will help to codify acupuncture and herbal medicine standards. The influences of du, taiyang, and shaoyang channel blockages on restless leg syndrome are important factors according to TCM principles. Qi and blood stasis affecting these channels due to disorders such as lumbar disc compression, IVF (intervertebral foramina) encroachment, immobility of the sacroiliac joint, and other local concerns affecting acupuncture channels of the legs warrants additional research.

References:
“Eye acupuncture and combined acupuncture and medicine in the treatment of 23 patients with restless legs syndrome.” Qin HJ. (2014). World Latest Medicine Information. 14(36).

“Restless legs syndrome categorization, diagnosis and treatment.” Wang XD. (2006). Chinese Journal of Geriatrics. 25(7): 488-490.

You can read the full article here:
http://www.healthcmi.com/Acupuncture-Continuing-Education-News/1576-acupuncture-and-herbs-relieve-restless-leg-syndrome-rls

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“A LITTLE-KNOWN CAUSE OF RESTLESS LEGS SYNDROME” by Dr. Della Parker

Dr. Della Parker3Systemic Inflammation and Immune Dysregulation
 
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
 

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A Japanese Study Has Found an Association Between RESTLESS LEGS SYNDROME and INFLAMMATION

sleepcoverDr. Terumi Higuchi of the Department of Nephrology, Keiai Hospital, Tokyo Japan, headed a recent study to determine if there was an association between RLS, oxidative stress and inflammation in patients undergoing hemodialysis.

The results of the study were published in the August 2015 edition of the “Sleep Medicine Journal” (Volume 16, Issue 8, Pages 941–948).

The study was called “Association of restless legs syndrome with oxidative stress and inflammation in patients undergoing hemodialysis”

In the HIGHLIGHT section of the study, Dr. Higuchi states that “Restless legs syndrome was associated with oxidative stress and inflammation.”

You can read more details about the study here:
http://www.sleep-journal.com/article/S1389-9457%2815%2900746-7/abstract?cc=y=

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A Turkish Study Reveals a LINK Between RESTLESS LEGS SYNDROME and INFLAMMATION

Tezcan KayaDr. Tezcan Kaya works in the Department of Internal Medicine at Sakarya University in Adapazar, Turkey. He headed a study that was recently published in the May 29, 2015 edition of the Japanese journal “Therapeutic Apheresis and Dialysis”

The article was called “Relationships Between Malnutrition, Inflammation, Sleep Quality, and Restless Legs Syndrome in Hemodialysis Patients.”

Unfortunately for him, the study didn’t turn up the link he was hoping to find between malnutrition and RLS in Hemodialyis patients.

However he did state in the article that “RLS severity is correlated with inflammatory parameters.”

In non-medical terms, what he’s saying is that “when there is a higher degree of inflammation, there tends to be a higher degree of RLS.”

This completely falls in line with the formula I’ve been hitting people over the head with for the last several years:

   “LESS INFLAMMATION = LESS RLS.”

Hopefully someone will pick up on Dr. Tezcan’s findings and do some further testing.

You can read the abstract from the study here:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26031339

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