I thought I should share this article from Dr. Frank Shallenberger’s news letter about restless legs. He makes, as usual, very good points!

As we all are different, there is no way to predict which supplement or group of supplements is going to work for any given person. Accordingly, one approach would be to slowly add a new supplement every 2 weeks or so until you get relief and then slowly eliminate supplements to determine exactly what/which one(s) your body needs. And I always recommend getting your supplements from an independent health food store – not a chain.

Why Restless Legs Are a Serious Warning Sign – And How to Settle Them Down

February 2019

Volume 31    |   Issue 2  Frank Shallenberger, MD

One of the most valuable clues doctors have as to what is causing a particular medical problem lies in what drugs help with the symptoms. Take the case of restless legs for example.

Restless legs syndrome is defined by irritating “crawly” sensations in the legs. During the day, this is not a problem because the symptoms go away with muscle movement. Restless legs does its damage at night while you’re trying to sleep. The symptoms are often severe enough to prevent sleep. And the only way to reduce the symptoms is to keep moving the legs, which of course also prevents sleep. So, to get to the bottom of what’s causing restless legs, let’s take a look at what medications reduce the symptoms.

The most commonly used medications are those that affect the neurotransmitters.Neurotransmitters are the nerve chemicals that control how our nerves function. Specifically, the medications that doctors use to help with the symptoms of restless legs syndrome are those that affect two specific neurotransmitters, dopamine and GABA. Let’s look at dopamine first.

The most commonly used drug for restless legs is ropinirole (Requip). It works because it acts like dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that allows us to have feelings of bliss, pleasure, euphoria, drive, motivation, focus, and concentration.

The symptoms that can happen when the body doesn’t have enough dopamine are many, and include: a lack of interest in life, decreased motivation, procrastination, inability to feel pleasure, altered sleep patterns, fatigue, mood swings, excessive feelings of hopelessness or guilt, poor memory, difficulty focusing, impaired concentration, addiction to cigarettes or stimulants, and you guessed it – restless legs syndrome.

So, if you have restless legs, especially if you have some of these other symptoms, the cause may be a dopamine deficiency. And, if so, this is what you can do naturally to address the cause.

First of all, start with the basics of health. Clean up your diet, especially a diet too high in caffeine, sugar, alcohol, and junk foods. All of these habits can reduce dopamine levels. Next, take some magnesium. Magnesium deficiency is very common, and can cause a dopamine deficiency.

Third, make sure you’re getting some vigorous exercise for 10-15 minutes every day.*** And, finally, 4th, take some of the amino acids that can cause the nervous system to produce more dopamine.

The three amino acids that are most effective at increasing dopamine levels are l-tyrosine, L-dopa, and phenylalanine.

Typical doses of l-tyrosine for an adult would be 500-1,500 mg, taken twice a day.

The best way to get L-dopa is by taking an extract of the herb mucuna pruriens. The one we use in the clinic is called MucunaDopa. Source Naturals makes it. Adult doses of MucunaDopa are in the order of 100-200 mg, twice a day, although higher doses can be used under the supervision of a doctor well versed in L-dopa therapy.

The third amino acid that can increase dopamine levels is phenylalanine. Typical doses of phenylalanine are 500 mg, taken one to three times per day. You can get all of these amino acids online. And sometimes, the most effective treatment for a particular case of restless legs combines all three. But, that’s not all you have to think about when treating a dopamine deficiency.

One of the problems that we all have as we get older is that the nerve cells that produce the neurotransmitters start to die off. Specifically, they die off as a result of free radical damage over time. This is why restless legs syndrome is a problem that only older people have.

It’s also why restless legs syndrome should be taken very seriously. It’s an indicator that the nervous system is starting to degenerate. The very best way to prevent free radical damage to our nerves as we get older is to be in tip top cardiovascular condition. And next to that is taking antioxidant nutrients. The best nutrients for this purpose are the neuroprotective nutrients, melatonin and l-cysteine.

My favorite form of melatonin is Melatonin Max from www.perfectvitaminproducts.com. Take one to three about an hour before bed. { Maybe suppertime.)

The dose for l-cysteine is 500 mg – 600 mg, taken twice a day. If you think you have restless legs from a dopamine deficiency, then I would suggest that you try all of the remedies mentioned so far. Then, once your symptoms are gone, try eliminating some of them to discover what your particular body needs.

The next group of drugs that are often prescribed for the symptoms of restless legs syndrome are the GABA drugs (Lyrica, gabapentin, valium, and Xanax are the most common).

These drugs stimulate the neurotransmitter GABA. Like most drugs, they have a list of side effects. But, fortunately, there are other natural ways to increase GABA activity.

These include theanine in the form of PharmaGaba (300-600 mg per day) and l-taurine (500-1,000 mg per day). Both of these nutrients can be found online.

But, let’s just suppose you try all of these things and still have the symptoms. What then?

The problem may be that your body does not produce enough endocannabinols. Endocannabinols are molecules that act to calm down the nervous system. If your body does not make enough of them, restless legs could be the result.

But, not to worry. You can still get them in the form of cannabis (medical marijuana). A recently published study found that cannabis alleviated the symptoms of six patients with restless legs syndrome. Five of the six reported a total disappearance of their symptoms with that treatment alone! And here are three other thoughts for you.

One, ask your doctor to order an MTHFR test. This is a test that can indicate if you might have restless legs as a result of a genetic inability to efficiently methylate the B-vitamin folic acid. Patients with this genetic abnormality may find that the only way they can cure their symptoms is by taking the methylated form of the vitamin called methylfolate. The dose is 5-20 mg per day. {Up to 20% of humans may have this genetic abnormality, AND if you are over 40, YOUR liver is NOT doing the whiz-bang job of converting folic acid in to methylfolate!!!}

Two, iron deficiency has been linked to restless legs syndrome. So, be sure you are tested for this. One study looked at 343 patients with iron-deficient anemia and found that they were nine times more likely to have restless legs syndrome than the general population. {Check and interpret the lab test FERRITIN correctly!  A GOOD Ferritin level is between 70-100 ng / ml)

Three, sometimes patients think they have restless legs syndrome, when in fact they have muscle fasciculations (twitches) caused by either a deficiency of electrolytes(sodium, magnesium, calcium, and/or potassium) or by not drinking enough water. A good way to test for this is to get some electrolyte powders online (I like LyteShow), and take them with two quarts of water every day. If this is the cause of your symptoms, they will go away within a few days.

There are a lot of ideas here. That should not be too surprising because we are all different, and it makes sense that in different people, there can be different causes for the same symptom.

So, let’s start out simple. Without doing any of what I just mentioned, for the next three weeks just do the following. Clean up your diet, take one to two scoops of Super Immune QuickStart powder with two capsules of Complete Daily Oils (800-791-3395) every day, drink two quarts of water with electrolytes, and get some vigorous exercise* daily. If you haven’t cured the problem after three weeks, then start introducing the other remedies. In the end, I have found restless legs syndrome to be easily cured in most people.

Aukerman MM, Aukerman D, et al. Exercise and restless legs syndrome: a randomized controlled trial. J Am Board Fam Med. 2006, 19:487-493

Megelin T & Ghorayeb I. Cannabis for restless legs syndrome: A report of six patients. Sleep Medicine2017, 36, p.182-183

*The exercise does not have to be daily “vigorous” exercise.  Doing the “High Intensity” exercise two days a week, not back to back, and then as little as walking for 30 continuous minutes the other 3 days  is adequate.

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