Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is defined by the International Restless legs syndrome Study Group, which was established to create a medical diagnosis. The IRLS Study Group narrowed the symptoms to four essential criteria needed for clinical diagnosis.
These criteria are:
1. The urge to move the legs, usually accompanied or caused by uncomfortable and unpleasant sensations in the legs
2. Symptoms of restless legs syndrome are worse during rest or inactivity
3. Symptoms are partially or totally relieved by movement
4. Restless legs syndrome is worse at night.
These criteria are the most frequently reported symptoms that something isn’t ‘right’ within the person’s mind, body and/or spirit. However, since western medicine only treat symptoms the root cause for these symptoms are never addressed.
People, who suffer from restless leg syndrome often have emotional distress symptoms, including depression and anxiety. Other risk factors are heavy smoking, unemployment status, hypertension, gastroesophageal reflux disease, arthritis, and diabetes. Sleep apnea and insomnia appear to be other risk factors for restless leg syndrome, along with difficulty falling asleep (taking more than 30 minutes), driving while drowsy and excessive daytime fatigue.
Subjects with self-reported restless leg syndrome also have a higher incidence of being late for work, missing work, making errors at work and missing social events because of fatigue more often than those without restless leg syndrome.
Requip manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline is the most frequently prescribed antidote. The precise mechanism of action of Requip as a treatment for Restless Legs Syndrome (also known as Ekbom Syndrome) is unknown. Although, the pathophysiology of RLS is largely unknown, neuropharmacological evidence suggests primary dopaminergic system involvement. Positron emission tomographic (PET) studies suggest that a mild striatal presynaptic dopaminergic dysfunction may be involved in the pathogenesis of RLS.
In clinical trials for restless legs syndrome, the most common side effects of Requip were nausea, extreme drowsiness, vomiting, dizziness and fatigue. In December 2004, a European Union panel of experts initiated a probe of the drug after concerns surfaced about the product’s effectiveness and long-term safety. Called Adartrel in Europe, the drug is sold in a few countries but has not yet received full European approval. Whether the drug, Requip has been approved seems irrelevant since the side effects seem worse than the problem. One is trading–the urge to move the legs, usually accompanied or caused by uncomfortable and unpleasant sensations in the legs with nausea, extreme drowsiness, vomiting, dizziness and fatigue.
THERE IS HOPE: After many years of working with those suffering with RLS, I have learned RLS can be readily healed with 100% long-term results and satisfaction with no side effects. While the western medical profession (Allopathic medicine) says there is NO known cause for RLS, there is a plausible explanation for the symptoms to occur and therein lies the clues to the healing process.
I have had success helping clients with RLS simply by adding magnesium and calcium at bedtime because these minerals calm muscles and nerves. A calming botanical such as valerian, passion flower, lemon balm and skullcap can also be added to support sleep and relaxation. RBC nutrients such as magnesium, calcium and potassium through many functional laboratories (provides a better indicator of nutrient status, compared to the serum). In addition to indicating nutrient status, these minerals play a significant role with blood pressure regulation and overall cardiovascular health.
I recommend an organic acid test (Pharmanex Lifepak Nano), which is a nutritional anti-aging program formulated to nourish and protect cells, tissues, and repair/replace cells. It identifies imbalances occurring in the body that precede abnormal findings on a CBC or an MP. Organic acids are products of metabolism that can sensitively identify nutrient deficiencies that lead to metabolic roadblocks. Organic acids go beyond measuring nutrient concentrations by assessing whether the nutrient is functioning adequately. Abnormal concentrations of organic acids in the urine can provide a functional marker for metabolic effects of nutrient deficiencies, genetic polymorphisms, impaired enzyme function, toxic exposure, neuroendocrine activity and intestinal bacterial overgrowth. Organic acid testing can indicate the functional need for specific nutrients, diet modification, antioxidant protection, detoxification and other therapies.
There is some evidence indicating that low iron levels in the brain may be associated with RLS. A CBC w/diff and an iron panel (serum iron, ferritin, % saturation, TIBC, UIBC) can identify an iron deficiency.
Restless leg syndrome may only be just a small part of the picture. It may be a simple nutrient deficiency in many cases, however, it is important to look further into the client’s health. This includes thoroughly reviewing the client’s history, looking deeper into the cardiovascular system and other inflammatory markers in order to provide an effective treatment plan.
In addition to the nutritional aspect many RLS sufferers I have worked with were also, verbal, physical and/or sexual trauma survivors. While this fact may not give reason to assume that other RLS sufferers are verbal, physical and/or sexual trauma survivors, it is a strong indication there is a high probability.
First let us look at the dynamic of verbal, physical or sexual trauma. There are several inherent factors that can not be underestimated in these acts of trauma. Behavior between adult and child is traditionally looked at from the perspective of the adult rather than the child. The adult reasons that because an adult does not experience adverse affects neither will a child. This reasoning is faulty to the nth degree. There are several reasons why an experience can be damaging to a child and not damaging to an adult.
First and foremost, the child generally has no frame of reference from which to reconcile the experience. Second, since the experience is usually orchestrated through an adult the child knows and loves, the child has no one to discuss their adverse experience, because the adult is unwilling to acknowledge the negative consequences of their behavior. Thus, the child suffers in silence–holding the blame, shame and humiliation of their reaction, which has been deemed by an adult as uniquely inappropriate, uncharacteristic for the circumstance and therefore unworthy of discussion.
The child’s only source of comfort and avenue to reconcile experiences is the family. Thus, when the family fails to meet the child’s emotional needs, it is an insidious betrayal so profound that a child’s sense of trust is compromised and the child works mightily to regain fully what is a birthright.
The next layer of betrayal is the ‘age old’ tradition of using hitting as a form of discipline. It is rationalized that hitting will ‘teach the child a lesson’ they will never forget. This reasoning is faulty, because spanking creates shock, whereby the mind is unable to focus or retain logic rather than enhance comprehension. Furthermore, hitting engenders rage rather than respect. Thus instead of creating learning and compliance the child has learned to distrust adults. In order to maintain the relationship, the child pushes the rage deep into the psyche; the accompanying response to body boundary violations is to act out in other ways that may include rebellion, violence, self-destructive behavior etc. In addition, hitting is a body boundary violation–the skin is the largest sensory organ and when it is compromised it causes untold damage.
Last, but not least, hitting is hypocrisy–I love you therefore, I hit you. Love and hurting can not coexist simultaneously. Thus, while hitting the child–the adult is not being loving–they are hurting the child. This is abundantly clear to the child, but has become a distorted concept as adults have been indoctrinated in the ‘spare the rod, spoil the child’ rhetoric.
During the act of verbal, physical or sexual traumatizing, the mind, body and spirit have experienced an assault. This assault is experienced vis-à-vis all five senses–touch, hearing, smell, taste and seeing. These sensory organs hold the experience until it can be reconciled. Unfortunately, since the child seldom has the opportunity to reconcile the experience and have a meeting of understanding between adult and him/herself, the experience stays trapped in the system. Thus, for example: the traumatizing spanking on the buttocks stays trapped in the buttocks and legs. Or because a child, who is being verbally assaulted has a flight or fight reaction, but can neither, fight or flee, the energy is trapped in the legs, which is the first line of defense for fighting or fleeing. Since the child can do neither the energy is stored and never released. Thus, years later when one’s faces a similar emotionally charged experience the old experience resurfaces as RLS. This phenomenon is commonly called trapped energy.
These childhood experiences can be healed through a seven-step multi-faceted process. Talk therapy is inadequate to uncover the emotional pain, and heal the trauma trapped in muscles and tissue. To fully appreciate the depth of this pain, I will quote one of my clients, “Even my blood hurts.” A multifaceted healing process specifically focused on trauma recovery and diligent work is the most effective; wherein the survivor can replenish their emotional and spiritual identity and empowerment.