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People that are not afflicted with RLS most likely don’t understand what it is. To quote the NIH, RLS is a neurological disorder. It includes unpleasant feelings in the legs and can sometimes be painful. Moving the legs can alleviate symptoms but there is no specific treatment for RLS.
One thing that is for certain, in all the research I did, increasing magnesium can help. This of course can be done by taking supplements. A much tastier way to increase your magnesium is to add Cacao Nibs or Cacao Beans into your diet. Although 70% chocolate can help, the less sugar and dairy the better cacao works.
I generally use cacao nibs. This is the actual cacao bean with the outer shell removed. The nibs can be added to smoothies and cereal, eaten as a snack or added to other foods. I like to add them to salads. They give a punch of chocolate flavour.
One thing to keep in mind is that cacao nibs are beans and will not melt. This sounds like something you should know but I have seen chef’s on cooking shows try to melt them and I have even done it myself!
There are a number of herbs that are recommended for RLS. They are mostly sedative herbs and muscle relaxants. Some of these include:
Lemon Balm – Safe for most people. Lemon Balm is a calming herb. It can help relax you and help you sleep.
Valerian – Works well as a sedative herb. It does however, interact with drugs that are changed by the liver such as antihistamines, statins and anti-fungals.
Passionflower – Although it is a calming herb, it would not be my first choice. Its side effects include dizziness, lack of coordination, altered consciousness and inflamed blood vessels. Do not take it if you are undergoing surgery.
Skullcap – It has been used as a sedative for centuries. There is very little information on interactions and side effects, but it has been known to cause headaches.
Astragalus came up over and over in my research. It is generally used to improve circulation and support the immune system. In my opinion it is probably a combination of effects that make astragalus beneficial. One in particular is that it assists the body in absorbing iron from food. Since low iron has been included in the causes of RLS, this would make astragalus beneficial. The caution here is that for those being treated for iron issues, you must absolutely talk to your doctor prior to trying astragalus.
Panax Ginseng is not an herb that comes up a lot for RLS treatment. I would actually suggest trying it. RLS is an issue with the central nervous system and ginseng is valuable as a CNS support herb. Some cautions with ginseng are high blood pressure, possible allergic reactions and lowering blood sugar. It is also not recommended for those with sleep apnea.
Much more research into RLS needs to be done so that we can treat the cause rather than the symptoms.
THIS BLOG IS NOT INTENDED TO REPLACE THE ADVICE OF YOUR DOCTOR.