Dear Dr. Greenfield,
I am a 42 year old woman with RLS. I have it since I was 20, with alternating good and bad periods.
It affects me especially in my sleep. I am a 0+, Gatherer.
Are there any natural supplements I can take which could make a difference?
Thanks and kind regards,
Restless legs syndrome (RLS) and periodic limb movement disorder are characterized during waking by an irresistible urge to move the legs while awake, and involuntary leg movements while asleep.
For people with a family history of RLS, it is worth considering whether there is a genetic influence on the condition: researchers have found several genetic loci associated with RLS in an autosomal dominant inheritance pattern .
One of the genetic influences may involve an increased need for folate . Individuals with polymorphisms for folate metabolism often do better taking an active form of folic acid such as folinate, rather than the commonly available folic acid supplements. Although folic acid improves methylation in all GenoTypes, GT4 Explorers are more prone to folic acid deficiency anaemia; GT1 Hunters and GT6 Nomads may also need folate to slow down their rapidly aging genes .
Researchers have also found that iron supplementation may improve the symptoms of RLS , reducing fluctuations in dopamine levels in the brain at night. Patients with RLS have lower levels of dopamine and respond to iron administration . Caffeine, nicotine, alcohol and medication that affects dopamine levels may induce RLS as a side effect. It is recommended to check ferritin (iron storage) levels before supplementing with iron, as ferritin levels are often lower than average in RLS sufferers. There are strong indications that a gene regulating dopamine beta hydroxylase activity is linked to the ABO blood group locus , and altered dopamine levels may be associated with blood type.
Finally, osteopathic manipulative therapy has been found to decrease spinal facilitation in a small pilot study, relieving symptoms in many patients with RLS .
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