Could It Be Restless Legs Syndrome?
Wise Woman Ways For You
c. 2002 Susun S Weed
Legs that twitch and tremble. Legs that shake and ache. Creepy, crawly,
tingly, burning, tugging, itching, prickling sensations that make you
want to move your legs. It could be restless leg syndrome (RLS), especially
if it strikes when you try to go to sleep and wakes you in the night.
(Yes, it can include your arms.)
Also called Ekbon syndrome, hereditary acromelalgia, anxietas tibialis,
or leg jitters, RLS is a fairly common problem. It affects
20 percent of all pregnant women and 15 percent of all Americans over
the age of 50. RLS frequently puts in a brief appearance during menopause,
so the figures may be higher among menopausal women, but is most likely
to bother women after menopause. RLS is both a movement and a sleep
disorder, and tends to run in families.
Contact the Restless
Legs Syndrome Foundation (1-877-463-6757) for more information.
Modern medicine has little understanding of RLS, and few ways to ease
it. (It may be related to kidney function; half of all those with kidney
failure have RLS as a consequence.) The Woman Ways gathered here have
been passed from grandmother to granddaughter for generations, offering
relief and aiding sleep. They are listed in order of increasing harm.
The first remedy is the safest, the last one is the most dangerous.
This article is a condensed version of the restless legs syndrome chapter
in New Menopausal Years the Wise Woman Way; Alternative Approaches for
Simply observe the feelings and movements in your legs. Remain
the observer. No need to change anything. Nothing to do. Mind serene.
Emotions at peace.
The movement of chi (life force energy) through the body is
variously described as the flowing of water, the flaring of a fire,
the pushing of the wind, the pulling of the earth. These are also descriptions
of the sensations of RLS. Energy flow notably (and sometimes uncomfortably)
increases in the body after menopause; it is possible that what you
are experiencing is "merely" that. (And chi, according to
Traditional Chinese Medicine, is stored in the kidneys.) Channel the
energy up out of your legs and into creative or healing endeavors.
Ann Landers says putting a bar of soap in bed with you will
calm those crampy, restless legs down fast. She offers no scientific
explanation, but claims it is harmless if it doesn't work, and effective
if it does.
Muscles that lack minerals -- especially calcium and magnesium
-- go into spasms and quiver. If this sounds like your legs, reach for
a big glass of nourishing oatstraw infusion. Make it by placing one
ounce by weight (a cup by volume) of dried oatstraw into a quart jar
which is then filled to the top with boiling water and tightly lidded.
Brew for four or more hours, then strain and refrigerate for no more
than two days. Drink hot or cold, sweetened or not. I regularly drink
mellow oatstraw, 2-4 cups a day, several times a week.
Work those legs, and they're more likely to stay quiet at night. So
exercise it is. If you're are stuck behind a desk, run in place
sitting in your chair for several minutes every hour and take a walk
during your lunch break.
Low blood levels of iron, with or without anemia, are strongly
linked to onset and worsening of RLS. Boost iron by consuming lots of
molasses or by drinking nourishing nettle infusion. (Prepare
the same as oatstraw infusion, using a full ounce of dried nettle to
a quart of boiling water and steeping for at least four hours.) If you
have RLS due to end-stage kidney failure, nettle is an exceptional ally
for you. I was told by a student that she avoided a kidney transplant
by drinking nettle infusion daily. Nettle not only builds iron and it
strengthens the kidneys, too.
RLS is also associated with folic acid anemia and a B vitamin
deficiency. Red clover infusion is rich in both, as are oatstraw
Losing sleep because of RLS? A dropperful/1 ml of St. Joan's wort
(Hypericum) tincture, taken 5-10 minutes before lying down, can
help prevent spasms all night. Sleeo-inducing herbs, such as valerian,
may worsen the problem, but a cup of chamomile tea or a mug of warm
milk will encourage sound sleep with side-effects.
A warm bath before bed can keep your limbs quiet all night.
Massage definitely helps too.
When RLS wakes you in the night: Stretchhhhhhhh those muscles
by pointing your toes away from you and imagining someone is pulling
on your leg.
Eliminate coffee and alcohol for
a month. Sometimes this effects a complete "cure."
Alternate hot and cold packs on your legs for a half-hour before
A cup or two of kava kava with dinner will relax your legs
by bedtime and give you giggles in your dreams. (Warning: Avoid capsules
or pills of kava kava.)
The grandmothers' favorite remedy for cranky legs is a sip of tonic
water before bed. Its quinine content is no doubt responsible, but
the refined sugar you also get is not healthy, so use this remedy is
Some drugs may trigger the onset or worsen already existing RLS. They
include :calcium channel blockers, anti-nausea drugs, tricyclic antidepressants,
serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), lithium, some cold and allergy
medications, and the anticonvulsant drug phenytoin.
Drugs used to control (there is no known cure) RLS include: Dopaminergic
agents (such as levodopa), which can worsen symptoms over
the long run. Dopamine agonists, whose long-term effects remain
unknown. Opiates, which are addictive, but incredibly effective.
And, when all else fails, anticonvulsants and benzodiazepines.
Needless to say, there are severe side-effects
and little guarantee of improvement with these drugs.
Whether you have a diagnosis or simply suspect you have Restless Legs
Syndrome, Wise Woman Ways offer simple, safe, accessible remedies to
ease your legs and build your health/wholeness/holiness.
If you liked this article by Susun S.
Weed, you will want
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