Detox Your Life, Epic Health

Young & Restless (Leg Syndrome)


I saw a commercial recently for a medical condition called RLS (Restless Leg Syndrome).

Seriously? This is a medical condition so common that they have developed a prescription drug for it?
We’ve all had restless leg syndrome. I’m laying in bed and can’t get my legs comfortable; and they’re a little bit twitchy. Personally it’s what happens to me when I have too much sugar or caffeine or both. It’s also been linked to anemia. Now I’m certainly not an expert on RLS specifically, but what I do know is that the majority of unpleasant physical conditions we suffer from today are either diet-related, or side effects of pharmaceutical drugs.

On a whim I decided to check out and here’s what it says, along with a little snarky commentary for fun:

[Begin Quote]

IN ADDITION to medications, there are other things you and your doctor can consider when trying to help you deal with RLS. These options may include:

(Note the all caps “IN ADDITION to medications”. I’m sorry, but not taking medication is not an option.)

1.  Checking to see if there is an underlying iron or vitamin deficiency and then possibly supplementing your diet with iron, vitamin B12 or folate. (Hmm ok, I might try those BEFORE taking your drug.)

2. Looking at medications you may be taking which make RLS worse. These may include drugs used to treat high blood pressure, heart conditions, nausea, colds, allergies and depression.  (Told ya! So you may need drugs for the side effects of drugs for the side effects of drugs… they’ve really got you now.)

3.  Looking at any herbal and over-the-counter medicines you may be taking to see if they could be worsening your RLS.  (Oop, I detect a little subtle anti-herb propaganda in this one. “Herbal medicine abuse is becoming a real problem” said no one ever)

4. Identifying habits and activities that worsen RLS symptoms.  (And those “habits and activities” are… Oh wait, if you told me what they were, I may not need your drug… Dang it!)

5. Looking at your diet to assure it is healthy and balanced.  (Ah yes, more ambiguity, the “healthy and balanced diet” solution.  That clears it up.)

6.  Discussing whether or not antihistamines could be contributing to your RLS.  (That sounds like a fascinating discussion topic!  I’m filing that one away for my next cocktail party.)

7. Eliminating your alcohol intake.  (Good advice generally speaking, but after careful observation of the effects of alcohol on my own legs in the past, I wouldn’t describe that condition as RLS, more like DLS: Drunken Leg Syndrome.)

8. Looking at various activities that may help you personally deal with RLS. These could include walking, stretching, taking a hot or cold bath, massaging, acupressure, or relaxation techniques.  (Finally one I like! But it’s still not addressing the cause, only the symptoms)

9. Attempting to keep your mind engaged with activities like discussions, needlework or video games when you have to stay seated. (Talking, knitting and video games may help distract you from your twitching legs)

10.  Implementing a program of good sleep habits.  Possibly eliminating caffeine from your diet to aid in general sleep hygiene.  (Aha!  There it is!  Notice how caffeine is the LAST one on the list and they downplay it as “possibly” eliminating caffeine.  Also who or what is “General Sleep Hygiene”?)

[End Quote]

I can almost see the drug company marketing goons writing that piece now:

Goon #1: “Phil unfortunately our clinical research has shown that dietary changes and reduction in caffeine are the most effective solutions to RLS, so we have to include that in the list right?.”

Goon #2: “That’s right Ted. Just put the one about caffeine at the bottom, and put that B-12 one at the top. And don’t make the list too helpful… Remember we’re trying to sell pills here. Who am I kidding, put whatever you want, nobody read these things anyway!  AHAHAHAH!”

Ok that was fun, but seriously.  Before you send me hate mail, know this: I’m not making fun of RLS, or of you if you have RLS. This is a rant against the pharmaceutical drug industry.

Prescription drug dependance is an epidemic in America today.

Check out this CDC data from 2008:

  • The percentage of Americans who took at least one prescription drug in the past month is 48%.
  • That’s 1 out of every 5 children, and 9 out of 10 older Americans.
  • 31% of Americans used two or more prescription drugs.
  • 11% of Americans used five or more prescription drugs.
  • The most commonly used types of drugs included: asthma medicines for children, central nervous system stimulants for adolescents, antidepressants for middle-aged adults, and cholesterol lowering drugs for older Americans.

The problem with prescription drugs is that offer a “quick fix” to your problem with no self-discipline required other than a daily pill swallow. But they are only treating the symptom, not the problem itself. What’s worse is that prescription drugs have long-term side effects, and will eventually require you to start taking additional drugs to deal with the problems caused by prescription #1 ; compounding your health problems. In the past when I’ve strained my back I didn’t take a pain pill to solve the problem, I went to see a chiropractor and he fixed the problem. 

If you have a condition like RLS, my best (friendly) advice is to transform your diet, start exercising. Sugar and caffeine are obvious ones to cut out, but you could also have a mild dietary allergy to wheat, dairy, or one of the many artificial ingredients in our food today.  This also may be caused by a prescription medication you are currently taking. You can take the hardcore approach and make a drastic change, or do it gradually and systematically.

The Hardcore Approach:  Eliminate all processed food from your diet: fast food, junk food, sugar, grains, meat, and dairy; and eat only organic raw fruits and vegetables for one week and see how you feel.  The is the best approach by far. Do what I did and keep it simple: Juice, eat Giant Salads, and make your own Super Healthy Smoothies.

The Gradual Systematic Approach: Ween yourself off of food groups in phases and see how you feel: First eliminate caffeine for a week, then refined sugar, then grains, then dairy.  Those are the major agitators. The systematic approach may allow you to pinpoint the exact cause of your condition if it’s dietary, but it takes a lot of self-discipline.

Be honest with yourself and what you’re capable of.  I’ve found it’s sometimes easier to make drastic changes rather than gradual ones, especially if you tell everyone what you’re doing so they can support you.

But if you don’t want to make any changes to your diet and lifestyle, I guess you can just keeping doing what you’re doing, and take a little pill every day called Requip for your restless legs; which by the way, according to the manufacturer, can cause
Parkinson’s Disease. That’s the one where your whole body twitches uncontrollably.
Think Michael J. Fox.


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15 Comments so far

  1. Kim Robinson says:

    I have suffered with RLS for many years. Sometimes it is worse than other times. I was free from it for a couple of yrs and it is starting to come back..What i found out about it was totally by accident . Even the hemotologist had not heard of this. I deal with severe anemia. I cannot take iron pills. They set me up for an iron IV. Right before goung to the appointment i read an artical about restless leg. The lady had to have an iron IV for anemia and realized that afetrwards her RLS went away. I asked the doctor about it and he had never heard about this. I was leary and didnt want to believe that it might take away my RLS too. That night i slept great. It really worked. Recently the RLS has been rearing its ugly head. I had blood work done and i am low but not as sevier as before. I hope this helps someone because it sure helped me.

    • Hi Kim thanks for the comment! This is a great example of an RLS treatment other than prescription drugs.
      FYI: Some of the best dietary sources of iron are organic Beef and Chicken Livers, if you can stomach them.
      The best vegetarian sources are Chick Peas, Spinach, Lentils, Kidney Beans, Figs, Apricots, Pumpkin Seeds, and Molasses.

  2. Rich says:

    I have struggled off and on with RLS for the past 5 years. Usually happens only when I am really tired, which is actually a great alarm for “GO TO BED!!”. As soon as I am asleep, no more worries.

    I talked to my brother (a surgeon) about going to the Dr. and getting a ‘scrip filled. He said “Baloney! You aren’t eating enough greens. Eat more greens and call me in a month.”

    What do you know, I had not been eating much in the way of salads, etc. I changed my diet and sure enough it went away. If I start slacking on the greens, it comes back but only when I’m really tired and should already be in bed. haha.

    Thanks Chris for posting this!

  3. shanna says:

    LOVE THIS!! It drives me nuts to see these so called diseases promoted on TV with a lovely prescription cure. People actually go into the doctor, self diagnosed, and just ask for the pills, AND THE DOCTORS GIVE IT TO THEM!! Sigh…

    There are definately benefits to Western medicine, however, we’ve gone to far, and as the previous comments have shown, simply finding out the inbalance in your system will usually right whatever symptom pops up.

    FYI: Raw Cacao has the highest concentration of Iron and Magnesium of any food on the planet, followed by Spirulina. Superfoods are delicious and fantastic ads to those cancer curing smoothies :)

  4. Carol says:

    I have had RLS for years now. I blame it on being hit by a car walking to school when I was a teen. I had some nasty low back injuries and now have trouble with my low back since I am over 50 yrs old. My RLS is sevier and it goes on all night durning my sleep waking my husband. He said it was pitiful the amout of jerking my legs do, not twitching. A few years ago I went to a sleep study center and they put me on a pill for my RLS. It hasn’t helped any. This past week I found out I am sevierly allergic to dairy products. If what you say is true, them maybe my RLS will correct itself since I am correcting my diet. I am hoping and praying for the best.

  5. Lisa says:

    I suffer from RLS also. I noticed being inactive or very tired flairs it up. I have found a glass of Organic Milk before going to sleep helps, regular milk works too but I usually end up drinking 2 to 3. If the milk doesn’t help right away heating pad seems to help too. If I stay active and walk 2 miles a couple days a week the RLS doesn’t flair up.

  6. Aschwin Wesselius says:

    Another thing one can trace down to might be the (ab)use of nightshades like tomato, potato, bellpeppers, chilipeppers and eggplant (and goji berries).

    It’s not for all people who eat those that they get neurological symptoms, but the neurotoxins build up overtime and when the body doesn’t get enough rest in the mean while RLS can be the result.

    So, if you think you eat a lot of nightshades and you have RLS, try to stay away from these things for a month and evaluate your sleep.

    Indeed magnesium helps a lot to relax the muscles. Take an epsom salt bath, even if it’s just the feet, just before sleep.

    Try to take sole from celtic seasalt twice a day too. This keeps your body full of all the minerals it needs, in just the right ratio.

    Make some ‘live oil’ by having olive oil and some celtic, himalayan or dead seasalt disolved into it. Rub your legs, your back or whatever needs relaxation with it, just before sleep.

    Those are just my 3 cents.

  7. The only time I get RLS is when I’m pregnant. And funny too that the only time I’m anemic is also when I’m pregnant, sounds related to me ;) And PS I loved your side comments!!!

  8. Barbara says:

    Well. My own experience in helping my body to get rid of RLS, was to increase iron in my blood by eating at least a spoon of turmeric powder a day. Before taking it, my blood test showed only 34, now after some 6 months of taking turmeric, the recent blood test showed 187. Fantastic! It is not just eating a curry (with coconut oil, and coconut milk), but using in my daily salads, in veg smoothies, making spice/herbal cakes etc.

  9. Trisha says:

    RLS can be caused by magnesium deficency. Americans in general in this extremely important mineral. Some of the symptoms of magnesium deficency include:
    Heart disease/conditions
    Premature graying
    Anxiety/depression/panic attacks
    Plus much more
    magnesium is lacking in our food. Which is why It’s very important to supplement. Unfortunately oral magnesium isn’t the ‘best’ source. I recommend finding, or making magnesium oil, and spray it on your legs, and torso daily.

  10. verone says:

    Obviously written by someone who has never experienced true rls. Severe rls is not ‘a bit of twitching, not getting comfortable’. Its being physically unable to keep legs (and possibly arms) still without feeling actual pain and panic. Also, if you do some actual reading about it you’ll find there are various reasons different people may have it. Some are more temporary and more easily fixed. Looking at primary rls you have to consider genetics and dopamine receptors. Not so easily fixed without medication.. Also, low dopamine levels does not only lead to rls but also to depression. Next time you decide to judge people who use medication, try and actually speak to someone who has suffered from it for a long time and find out what other solutions they have tried before they turned to medications.

  11. Laisyday says:

    I love your humour but as previous writer states it is not an easy condition to deal with. Right now it is ruling my life day and night causing poor sleep, very annoying discomfort when awake.There are many contributing factors, natural low dopamine, Paxil induced low dopamine, post surgery induced from anesthetics,dietary deficiency and fibromyalgia. The fibromyalgia is very suspect as I can feel the very painful fibroids with my fingers. These twisted, fibrous muscles are obviously not functioning well.
    Paxil saved my life and marraige at a very difficult time over twenty years ago. I am now on the arduous task of very slowly going off Paxil. I am increasing foods that improve dopamine levels such as magnesium supp., spirulina, etc. My two children and granddaughter who are not on meds have RLS quite often.

  12. Laisyday says:

    Just to add to my previous post. I had knee replacement surgery. While I was waking up from anesthetic in recovery room I heard the anesthetist yell “Who gave her Gravol?” No one had. My legs were moving rapidly while I was just waking up!


  1. Mental Disorders 101 - August 8, 2010

    Young & Restless (Leg Syndrome)…

    I found your entry interesting do I’ve added a Trackback to it on my weblog :)…

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My name is Chris Wark.
I was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer in 2003, at 26 years old.
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