Restless Legs Syndrome - 4 Less-Known Causes | Chris Kresser
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4 Little-Known Causes of Restless Legs Syndrome

by Chris Kresser

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Restless legs syndrome is a seemingly simple condition, but the cause is often difficult to pinpoint. Find out four potential contributing factors and how to address them.

Few things are more frustrating than lying in bed at night exhausted, but not being able to fall asleep because of an uncontrollable urge to move your legs. This phenomenon, known as restless legs syndrome (RLS), affects between 4% and 29% of adults in Western populations, and is a major contributor to sleep loss. (1, 2)

Pinpointing the cause of RLS has been an active research topic for years, but the condition is still not fully understood. The symptoms have been convincingly linked to impaired dopamine function in the brain, but the cause of this dysfunction is still being explored.

In this article, I’ll review four factors that could contribute to RLS, as well as steps you can take for improving your symptoms.

1. Systemic Inflammation and Immune Dysregulation

Restless legs syndrome has been associated with numerous conditions involving systemic inflammation and immune dysregulation. (3) One review paper published in 2012 investigated health conditions that were reported to cause or exacerbate RLS symptoms, and found that 95% of the 38 different health conditions that were strongly associated with RLS have an inflammation or immune component. (4) These conditions include Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, ADHD, Alzheimer’s disease, Celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, sleep apnea, diabetes, and depression.

As further evidence, an elevated blood level of C-reactive protein (a marker of systemic inflammation) has been associated with increased RLS severity. (5) A small crossover trial found that a hydrocortisone infusion, which reduces systemic inflammation, reduced RLS symptoms. (6)

Researchers have proposed three potential mechanisms to explain the association between RLS and inflammatory or autoimmune states: direct autoimmune attack on the nervous system; genetic factors that could predispose an individual to RLS and be triggered by inflammation or autoimmunity; and iron deficiency caused by inflammation, which I’ll talk more about below.

What to do: If your RLS is a symptom of underlying systemic inflammation or immune dysregulation, the goal should be to find and treat the root cause. As I’ve mentioned many times in the past, gut infections are often the culprit—even if you don’t have noticeable digestive symptoms—so get your gut tested.

If you already have a diagnosed inflammatory or immune condition such as those I mentioned above, the best first step you can take is to adopt a “low-inflammatory” diet and lifestyle. This means eating a nutrient-rich, low-toxin diet based on whole foods; getting enough sleep every night; prioritizing stress management; and incorporating regular movement into your day.

You can also check out the bonus chapter about autoimmune disease from my book, as well as explore other information on my site about reversing autoimmune disease, the autoimmune protocol, the role of the microbiome, and alternative therapies such as LDN.

Do you have restless legs syndrome? Find out what might be causing it, and what to do.

2. Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) and IBS

Some of the more recent research on restless legs syndrome has focused on a connection with small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) and IBS, which is often caused by SIBO. One study found that 69% of RLS patients also had SIBO, compared with only 28% of controls. (7) They also found that 28% of RLS patients had IBS, compared to only 4% of controls. And according to the 2012 review I mentioned in the previous section, 32% of the 38 conditions associated with RLS are also associated with SIBO. (8)

A strong association between SIBO and RLS doesn’t mean that SIBO is causing RLS in these patients. But a few trials have found that in patients with both SIBO and RLS, their RLS symptoms improve after being treated for SIBO. (9) For example, one double-blind, placebo-controlled study reported that treatment with the antibiotic rifaximin—the standard treatment for SIBO—significantly improved RLS symptoms in patients with both conditions. (10) This, of course, does suggest a causal link between SIBO and RLS.

What to do: If you have both RLS and SIBO, the best option would be to find a functional medicine practitioner who has experience dealing with SIBO and get treated. That said, two steps you can try on your own are a low-FODMAP diet and probiotics. Low-FODMAP diets reduce the amount of fermentable carbohydrates that “feed” bacteria in the small intestine, and a couple studies have shown that probiotics can be as effective as antibiotics for treating SIBO. (11, 12) I’ve found the probiotics Prescript Assist, S. boulardii (a beneficial yeast), and MegaSporeBiotic to be helpful.

One important note about low-FODMAP diets, however, is that it’s generally not a good idea to stay on one indefinitely. Low-FODMAP diets eliminate sources of prebiotics, which can improve symptoms by starving pathogenic bacteria, but can also starve your beneficial bacteria. The best approach is to follow a low-FODMAP diet until symptoms subside (and your SIBO breath test is normal), and then gradually re-introduce prebiotic foods (or supplements) to support your gut microbiome.

3. Vitamin D Deficiency

As I mentioned in the introduction, one of the most-researched theories about the cause of restless legs syndrome is impaired dopamine signaling, which has led to the conventional treatment of RLS by dopamine agonists (i.e. chemicals that can bind to and activate dopamine receptors). Unfortunately, these treatments can become less effective over time, and can even result in a worsening of symptoms.

And while replacing neurotransmitters might be an effective way to manage symptoms in the short term, the goal should be to figure out why dopamine signaling is impaired in the first place.

This is where vitamin D comes into play. The role of vitamin D in dopamine signaling is only beginning to be investigated, but some evidence indicates that vitamin D could play an important role by increasing levels of dopamine and its metabolites in the brain, as well as protecting dopamine-associated neurons from toxins. (13)

RLS has been associated with vitamin D deficiency in several studies, and disease severity has been inversely correlated with vitamin D levels. (14, 15, 16) One study has also found that vitamin D supplementation improved the severity of RLS symptoms. (17)

What to do: If you have RLS, one of the easiest first steps you can take is to get your vitamin D levels tested. A good range to shoot for is typically between 25-50 ng/mL, but if you have an autoimmune disease or another chronic health condition, I prefer to bring vitamin D levels up to 35-60 ng/mL. One way to supplement vitamin D is cod liver oil; I recommend extra-virgin cod liver oil. You can also take a D3 supplement, such as this one that contains both vitamin D and vitamin K2. And of course, you should get regular sun exposure to bring your vitamin D levels up naturally.

4. Iron Deficiency

Iron deficiency isn’t exactly a “little-known” cause of restless legs syndrome; in fact, it’s probably one of the most well-researched areas relating to RLS. Iron is required for proper dopamine signaling, but its role is much better established than that of vitamin D, and it’s pretty clear that iron deficiency in the CNS can cause RLS symptoms by impairing dopamine function. (18)

Several studies have found that low iron levels in the cerebrospinal fluid and in the brain occur more frequently in patients with RLS compared with matched controls. (19, 20) And this difference isn’t always reflected in serum ferritin levels.

Other abnormalities in iron metabolism have also been observed in RLS patients, and many conditions that increase the risk of RLS (including pregnancy and end-stage kidney disease) are known to cause iron insufficiency. (21, 22)

Further, iron supplementation significantly improves or even eliminates the symptoms of RLS in many patients. For example, RLS patients with low-normal serum ferritin experienced significant improvements in their RLS symptoms after 12 weeks of iron supplementation. (23) And oral iron was as effective for treating RLS as pramiprexole, a dopamine agonist, although the response rate for both treatments was relatively low (46.7%). (24)

The tricky thing about iron deficiency is that the solution is often not as simple as taking an iron supplement. Iron deficiency is frequently secondary to SIBO, gut infections, or other inflammatory states, which explains at least in part the association between RLS and these conditions. Iron deficiency caused by infection or inflammation is mediated primarily by the hormone hepcidin, which at high levels can decrease serum iron and reduce iron absorption from the GI tract. (25)

One cause of increased hepcidin levels is the production of IL-6, an inflammatory cytokine present in most inflammatory diseases. Another cause of increased hepcidin levels is the presence of lipopolysaccharides (LPS), which are components of gram-negative bacteria that can enter circulation as a result of SIBO or other gut infections. Thus, increased levels of circulating IL-6 or LPS can result in iron deficiency, and subsequently, RLS.

What to do: If you have RLS and iron deficiency, the first step is to identify why you’re iron deficient. If the cause is blood loss (such as from heavy menstruation in women) or dietary insufficiency (such as in vegetarian or vegan diets), increase your consumption of iron-rich foods such as liver and red meat. You can also consider an iron supplement; I recommend Proferrin ES and bovine ferritin, because they are better absorbed and better tolerated than plant-based iron supplements. 

However, if the cause is SIBO or a gut infection, increasing iron intake can often make matters worse by creating an environment that promotes pathogen growth and inflammation. (26, 27, 28) For this reason, it’s best to address the gut before (or at least concurrently with) adding iron supplements.

As you can see, restless legs syndrome is complex, and several factors could come into play when trying to figure out the cause. As with many other health conditions, RLS is best seen as a symptom which signals that something else is amiss, and it’s necessary to dig deeper to find out the root cause, and how to treat it.

Do you suffer from restless legs syndrome? If so, has this article helped clarify what might be causing it? Share your experience in the comments.

291 Comments

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  1. I really need your guys advice because i don’t know what to do. I have had a sudden onset of RLS and i don’t why. I haven’t been able to sleep for 3 days and I am in college and need the sleep really badly. I am a 20 yo female, fairly active ( i exercise for an hour every day in the gym) and as far as I know very healthy. This has also accompanied an onset of sudden bad GERD symptoms that have really flared up lately. I don’t know if this is related. I went out and bought some Calcium, Vitamin D, and B12 supplements today and i hope they work. I am desperate for a remedy because I need to be functioning, especially since I have a big Test coming up here soon. I was up at 4 this morning pacing and crying because i couldn’t get comfortable and i need sleep so badly. Please help

    • First of all, if you are not already, I’d add magnesium and vitamin K2 (MK-7 form) to the regimen you just started. The magnesium may be the primary solution to your problem – you may not be getting enough in your diet and you’re losing magnesium with your daily workouts.

      Most conventionally-grown food today is very low in magnesium because the soils are becoming depleted. Conventional farming practices do nothing to replenish the magnesium in the soil where our food crops are grown.

      If you eat sugar, I would suggest cutting way back on that as it will deplete your magnesium, especially if you binge on sugar [or sweets]. Your body needs magnesium to process the sugar into energy.

      For magnesium supplementation, I would suggest both a topical form [like magnesium chloride hexahydrate] that is readily absorbed through the skin, and an oral form such magnesium glycinate, magnesium taurate or magnesium malate. Amino acid chelated magnesium is very well-tolerated in the gut and also well-absorbed. And you body uses the aminos too.

      Using both topical and oral will help to compensate for any absorption issues in the gut. And this will help ensure an adequate amount gets into your body.

      People like to say, you are what you eat. But that’s not true. You are what you absorb. If you eat it but don’t absorb it, it never becomes part of you and can’t help in healing.

      Other forms of magnesium such as magnesium citrate can irritate the bowels leading to loose stools and diarrhea. A common form, magnesium oxide is so poorly absorbed that you will only get 10 mg from a 250 mg tablet! Don’t waste your money on this one.

      These may or may not help your RLS. They have worked for a lot of people and certainly won’t harm you, so it is a good place to start.

      You might want to reconsider the calcium you just started taking, unless you don’t think you are getting enough from your diet. Too much calcium can upset the mineral balance in your body and cause magnesium deficiency symptoms.

      The K2 works with vitamin D3 to help your body direct the calcium and magnesium to the proper tissues in the body. Without it, you are at risk for soft tissue calcifications in the brain, aorta and other soft tissues in the body.

      • Michael, thanks for the explanation and insight on the vitamins and minerals to take. My question is are or is there a particular brand for magnesium/iron/ vitamin d to purchase? I just purchased nature’s made brand. Thank you so much

    • I have had great success by alkalising my system. Use PH test paper and test urine throughout the day. Drink bicarb water on an empty stomahe late at night when the body temp drops and rls starts ….. has been working a treat for me

    • Hi there, not sure if you got relief from supplementation, but it’d recommend looking at your caffeine intake. This has been very strongly correlated to RLS symptoms for me. No tea, soda, coffee (even decaf) allows me to have a good night’s sleep.

  2. There is a doctor who specializes in treating the cause (whatever yours happens to be) of RLS in Southern California. I’ve seen him once so far and I am just starting treatment but I am hopeful. His name is Dr Mark Buchfuher in Downey, CA. Just wanted to let everyone know.

    • Kate, was Dr. Buchfuher able to help you? I’m in Los Angeles and would happily go to Downey if I thought it would help. Please let us know!

  3. Hi to everyone,
    I am writing as someone who had RLS as a child and later during my pregnancy. The RLS has remained with me. My symptoms are intense and I cannot sleep unless I take Mirapex. I worked with a naturopathic doctor to find alternative approaches during my pregnancy. Basically, the conclusion I have reached is that medication is the only solution. If you have severe RLS, you will send thank you cards to the pharmaceutical companies. If your symptoms are minor or moderate then iron and other treatments may be appropriate. RLS is a neurological problem and therefore you should see a neurologist (it is also inherited). I honestly don’t want people to suffer needlessly when there are products available to improve your quality of life. Best.

    • Thanks for your post, Anna. Different strokes for different folks. I avoid medication whenever possible — for extreme situations such as emergencies or when natural alternatives are not available.

      My RLS was terrible, and I have been able so far to eliminate it by staying hydrated, taking an iron supplement, and avoiding certain foods that seem to bring it on such as carbonated beverages and foods with high fructose corn syrup or artificial sweeteners. No idea why but it works.

      • My daughter has this very badly. I’m going to cut out the soda and keep giving her flintstone vitamins. She also has gut issues since birth. She can’t drink milk or she will get extremely constipated. I feel so bad for my baby.

    • Hi Anna!

      THANK YOU for your RLS comment, it immediately resonated with me! Your story sounds like my story, I too had not been able to sleep through the night until MIRAPEX! RLS has been a way of life since I was 6 years old. Therefore, I am ever so GRATEFUL to the pharmaceutical companies for MIRAPEX, and for a great night’s sleep. -Debbie

        • You don’t have to do that! If this is helping peoples lives then butt out! Who are you to say what they should or shouldn’t do or take. I’m thankful there’s people writing solutions that has helped them. How do you know they haven’t tried anything else? You don’t.

    • I completely agree. I have changed supplements many time and have changed meds as well. Severe RLS is a DEMON! It is hell!
      My dad suffers from it as well. He is a type 1 diabetic which doesn’t make it easier, but we all have our ways to deal with diseases. I WISH all it took was a magnesium supplement! 🙂

    • I just joined and couldn’t agree more. I am on oxycodone, mirapex and oxyneo and am still not getting full relief. I am 71 and it has been an uphill battle, but have tried everything through the years. People who have simple solutions do not have severe rls.

      • “People who have simple solutions do not have severe rls.”

        I agree. And to add to that, it seems to me that due to the varying degrees and symptoms that I’ve read about, there may be more than a single kind of RLS and well as more than a single cause. For me it equates to an irresistible urge to stretch my lower legs, always in the evening, and worse when I eat low carb (which makes me feel better in every other single way). For others, it’s a crawly sensation or uncontrollable movement, etc.

      • I had severe RLS, every night for hours.

        Dumping gluten and going low carb pretty much solved it. It also reversed my years of IBS, hiatus hernia, acid reflux, palpitations, high blood pressure, and eventually also the Candida and fungal issues I had been trying unsuccessfully to eradicate for well over 30 years.

        Whilst I can eat wheatgerm – the part of the grain that contains most of the nutrition and is removed during milling to extend shelf life, and I can now cope with a little ‘slow-rise bread (proofed overnight in the fridge for at least 10 hours and kept scrupulously clean of loose flour – slow rising not only predigests the gluten, but also makes the dough far more nutritious), anything else containing wheat is a big no-no. It robs the body of far more than it gives, and does not even give the body the nutrients it needs to process it with.

        Most modern staples, wheat, pasteurised dairy, sugar, etc., are all devoid of essential nutrients. Empty and incomplete calories do not make healthy bodies…..

  4. I’ve had RLS for about 30 years. What makes it worse: late nights, poor sleep, summertime, sitting or inactivity. Mostly legs and buttocks, but can creep up the back too. At times I have taken medications for it when I can’t stand it anymore. (low dose Parkinsons drug – can’t remember the name). I had tried Calcium-Magnesium and Magnesium on it’s own in the past with no or little success. Dcotors could offer me no other help.

    I thought I ate healthy foods and a lot of vegetarian fare. (But that meant high carbs, beans). I have also suffered from IBS for the same length of time. Last 8 years I take medication for secondary hypothryroidism.

    Two months ago I switched my diet to Primal approaching Keto as a desperate measure to get the IBS under control. Surprise, surprise when I was without pain, gas, and bloating almost immediately, continuing to this day. Now my goal is to work on the RLS. I’m using cronometer.com to enter my foods into and find that I’m consistently low in B vitamins and also Potassium. I’m exploring their relationship with RLS now.

    • I am sure you are on the right track. Whilst wheat/gluten used to give me raging restless legs when I ate it, dumping it pretty much stopped it.

      Weirdly though, I can eat wheatgerm without any issues, plus some ‘slow-rise’ bread (proofed for at least 10 hours in the fridge in a scrupulously clean bowl free of any loose flour), and that is because both the wheatgerm and SR bread are rich in B vitamins and potassium. Slow rising generates as much as 50% more nutrients, especially Bs.

      I now eat a VERY plant-heavy diet which is rich in potassium, and add wheatgerm and nutritional yeast flakes to my food most days. RLS is now consigned to history…..

  5. Am reluctant to post without reading all the comments, which I hope to do. At the risk of being repetitive or having missed something relevant to the hydration and RLS, I will go ahead.

    I have been experiencing RLS for decades with long periods of no symptoms– then it’s back.
    Maybe it is my imagination,
    but I am prone to RLS when dehydrated. The more water I drink, the less I experience the symptoms. And if I drink what I should–8 glasses or more, they virtually disappear.

    There may be other factors of which I am unaware, but it has seemed that making this conscious change to drink more water reduces the symptoms with 24-48 hours.

    I would love to find some evidence (research/other persons’ experiences) for this beyond my own experience.

  6. Hi. I would like to share my experience with RLS or identical condition to it. I will call it RLS.
    I developed RLS in early pregnancy roughly 18 months ago. RLS was day and night when ever I would sit or lay down and try to relax. I had serious need to stretch and move my legs constantly. Then as time passed I started to develop pain in my knees, hips, lover back, ribs and so one- the pain was really dull and chronic. I could not understand if the pain is in muscle or bones. Then recently I started to have a terrible pain in my right upper arm and shoulder- I was not able to sleep or carry my baby anymore. The RLS was through out all the time since I got pregnant.
    Then I remembered that long ago my mom had some issues with gold and she removed all the jewelry from her body and never wore it again. That night I took off all my jewelry and other metals touching my body to see what would happen.
    I was shocked, I could feel as if there was little electric impulses rushing around my body. The pain in my right arm started to improve immediately (I had wedding ring on this arm). On next day my overall wellbeing improved a lot. It’s been a week without metal in my life and RLS like symptoms and all the body pain have disappeared! I feel great now!
    I have made conclusion that Metal Hypersensitivity have caused my body to inflame and acted as a trigger to cause really bad RLS and pain!
    I hope this helps someone to find their trigger

  7. I just started getting Rls in the last several weeks. The odd thing is it coincides with starting a Paleo style diet. I started the diet about 8 weeks ago. The rls and calf cramps began about 3 weeks ago. I never had any problems before. I am actively during the day at work and have no underlying health issues that I know of.

    • Most docs know little about this. Best info on the internet is here… http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/neurology_neurosurgery/centers_clinics/restless-legs-syndrome/what-is-rls/treatment.html

      It is indeed probably a cascade of inflammation – somewhere – vascular, gut, alcohol, obesity, etc. Somewhere, somehow you upped the ante and went over the cliff! That said – you can manage the symptoms – I did it with Iron supplements (get your iron level checked before supplementing) Ferritin below 50 and % saturation below 25 – you’re a good candidate for iron sups. This is the version you want ferrous bis-glycinate chelate. More info, http://www.rlcure.com/

    • This article is really helpful. I will get my serum iron and vitamin d levels checked.

      Also, if this is of any help to anyone: I can directly attribute my RLS to consuming carbonated beverages (water or soda), drinking water from a soda fountain, water from a filter/water softener, and some non-carbonated beverages like “Smart Water” and “Vitamin Water”. Mild episodes can be precipitated by chewing gum, chocolate bars with PGPR, and a few other items I don’t remember because I don’t eat any junk food at all anymore…

      I started treating my RLS with iron supplements just out of desperation. It felt like I needed a mineral. Tried Calcium/Magnesium supplements first… but these actually trigger RLS. I had an iron supplement for my husband, and tried that. It worked! I take just a half pill with a large glass of water… so I have been doing that for years, but now I’m lazy and just take a full pill because I’m usually too exhausted to split it and just want to sleep.

      Last night I had a pretty bad one (water from a soda fountain, yeah I’m always hoping it won’t happen this time) and an iron pill didn’t do the trick. Maybe I needed two. But I hear it irritates the stomach lining… Anyway, once the water I had with the supplement reached my bladder– I could literally feel it moving to my bladder– the RLS symptoms were done and I could finally sleep. It took about 2 hours :(. I made a mental note to go online to see what the heck was going on…

      Lastly… RLS is not confined to my legs. A severe episode will also affect my arms, from elbows or biceps to hands or shoulders, even triceps to hands (if it’s really bad), and at those times I experience dizziness, an elevated heart rate and difficulty relaxing my mind.

      I have never heard anyone link diet to RLS. Maybe my Iron (and Vitamin D?) levels are borderline and easy to tip over from foods that deplete these from my system…

      Oh, regarding the reference to autoimmune disorders… very interesting. I have Celiac Disease and Graves’ Disease (Graves’ was brought under control by going on a gluten free diet). I have been on a strict gluten and grain free diet for about 16 years, but have experienced RLS for most of my life. It did seem to get worse when I became less active. I take no medications beyond an occasional ibuprofen.

  8. I have developed severe sciatica, thus inflammation. The RLS at night has become unbearable. Spine specialist has put me on high doses of ibuprofen and Tylenol. Giving up bread would be hard fir me as I grind my own hard red wheat and make bread. But I’ll do anything to get relief from this torment. Wondering about Almond and Cicomut milk instead of cow’s milk. I could easily make that switch. Thanks for the info. Gives me hope. Rosie Johnston

  9. Chris or staff, I have had IBS for years and I read the part about SIBO in your article. I need to be tested for this SO badly! I have restless leg and back pain. Please please tell me where I can be tested for this. I am from Alabama. Can u connect me with someone who can help me get tested?

    • Hey Tanya, any gastroenterologist can do this. I went ahead and took the SIBO test and it came back negative. Oddly enough getting on the low-fodmap diet has still made a world of difference. I would highly recommend getting on the low-fodmap diet because it really has worked miracles for me. The question is: Are you willing to give up milk and bread?

  10. I discovered I was anaemic mid last year. After a couple of iron infusions and my iron levels were back to normal, my RLS basically disappeared : )

    • I had horrid pins and electrical shocks on my legs. Tried to find a cure for two years. I was anemic, took iron supplement for a year 325mg….helped tiny bit with legs but hugly with depression. Then i figured out i didnt eat enough dairy. I packed calcium+magnesium+vit D3 +vit K and after two solid months all symptoms disappeared.
      When i had the symptoms I thought i was going crazy, wanted to cry my eyes, doctors didnt understand what i was talking about.
      Amazing that deficiency in vitamins, minerals, aminoacids can have such huge effect but i now know its so real and true!!
      Give it a go and I hope it will help you too xx

  11. Great article. I get Restless arms and legs after taking any supplements and certain foods, Mainly sweet potato and herbs and spices. This started after I took a supplement to support my throyid. I could tolerate foods and supplements fine before this. I suffer with chronic fatigue syndrome and could really do with taking supplements to support my system, namely mag, vit c etc. Any ideas why a reaction to one supplement now stops me from reacting to all others with rls?

  12. I’ve been on a low-fodmap diet for about a month and this resolved my rls almost completely. In trying to get to the bottom of this I was able to convince my gastro to prescribe Xifaxan AND Neomycin together even after a negative breath test. Even on these, if I eat any fodmaps my rls is noticeable that evening. I’m going to begin taking the Prescript-assist Probiotic as soon as I’m done with the antibiotics because now I’m concerned about any damage done to the healthy bacteria. I’m also looking into getting tested for leaky gut. Am I on the right track??

  13. I have been troubled by RLS for a while, but the severity of the symptoms increased considerably some months ago. Restless Body Syndrome would seem a more appropriate name, as the symptoms began to resemble those of Parkinson’s. However, a blood test showed a very low vitamin D and calcium count, and my doctor recommended Unikalk ‘Forte’ (to give it its Danish name) before trying anthing else, and the results after nearly three months have been quite remarkable. I’m rising 76, and, though I’m a retired profession classical musician and my concert giving activities are much reduced now, I still practice 3 hours each day. Now I can do this without fear of losing control of my hands. Long may it last! I find this site a great help and inspiration. It is great to know that one is not alone.

    • Absolutely. The effects are remarkable and you have nothing to lose. Honestly for me it’s worked wonders but at the same time opened a new set of questions regarding the relation between diet and this nightmare. It’s working wonders so I’m not stopping the diet but at the same time, I’m looking at what’s going on in my gut. Please let me know how it goes.
      Thanks

  14. Hi Chris, could you please, *please* recommend an iron supplement from a bovine source or something similar like you mentioned in your article?

    Thank you.

  15. I have recovered from pancreatic cancer after the Whipples operation but since then I have had unbearable RLS. I take SIFROL for it, but it is so bad now, that I am unable to sleep. Please can someone help….I have an idea that because I had organs removed that I need supplements to help. Magnesium perhaps? I have to take Creon three times a day to help digest my food.

    • Hi Lynn,

      I recommend magnesium oil by Ancient Minerals. It is FANTASTIC. all you have to do is rub a small amount of it on your legs (behind the knee works best) for roughly 5 minutes. Then let it stay there for about 20 minutes before washing it off. Do this twice a day if you can. You can buy it online easily but I would definitely go to a local health food store because I know what it’s like with RLS, we all want a solution NOW so we can sleep tonight. My email is [email protected]

      Let me know how it goes for you

    • Hello, after having a total knee replacement I have had severe restless legs I have tryed sooo many drugs even an iron infusion yet the only thing I have found to stop it in its tracks for me is 5mg of Oxycodone I’ve been on this for about 8 years now. Good luck I know the hell your going thru.

      • My severe RLS was about 6 weeks in i switched from norco to tramadol. The rls was immediate even though the tramadol was onlt for one night. Ferritan keeps going down to 30′ s or so. I have IBD and am Hypo thyroid. I take rapinerole wcich helps but not enough. I am exhausted. Help….what next?

        • I’ve been vaporizing cannabis every night for the past week. Wow it absolutely works. Went to my doctor to talk about medical cannabis (where I live it was recently legalised), and he said although it’s been legalised, the actual product won’t be available until december 2017. So I’ll have to make ends meet with regular, more expensive street stuff for now. For anyone reading this who is interested in trying it out, making edibles is much better for RLS. Vaporizing brings instant relief but it only lasts 5-6 hours. Edibles give 8-10 hours of relief if you make it the right way.

          Also, I have been taking cod liver oil for about a week now to increase vitamin a and d. I have noticed that I can stay in the sun longer without getting burnt. I don’t know if this will help my RLS but I’ve just started taking 10 minute walks outside every afternoon, just to soak up some free vitamin d. I usually put on a tiny bit of sunscreen about 20 mins beforehand just to be safe.

          Good luck to all

          • If you are using sunscreen for a 10 min walk then you probably aren’t getting any vitamin D form your walk.

            • LOL, just what I was thinking. Fearmongering that ANY amount of sunlight is BAD is still steeped in most people’s consciousness. The guidelines (as I recall) is to get your dose of sunlight on unprotected skin, THEN apply sunscreen if continuing to be in sun.

        • Hi Linda, my underactive thyroid is helped greatly by tyrosine. The naturopath tells me I need iodine. Haven’t tried that for long. I believe my RLS is triggered by low body temp and so trying to fix the thyroid. The worse my RLS the lower my temp. Last night was bad and I had to put the electric blanket on even tho I had 5 blankets! It’s summer and 28 degrees last night.

  16. so far nobody has viewed the cause of this syndrome from this angle: chronic masturbation. that causes it hugely than anything else. chronic masturbation depletes dopamine and it’s already been stated low dopamine levels trigger RLS. why hasn’t anyone thought of that.???!!! Interestingly those suffering from effects of chronic masturbation are directed to Cod liver oil for vitamin D. The same case with victims of RLS.. I’m not a doctor. I’m just applying commonsense. Indeed of late I’ve come to realise doctors hardly think outside the box.

  17. Great article!

    Here is my experience: I’ve had RLS for years, and during my first pregnancy it almost killed me because I couldn’t sleep for days.

    I’m pregnant again and it came back. I’ve been doing everything, but it’s been just 4 nights that I’ve been sleeping with now RL anymore 🙂 I just stopped eating and specially drinking about 4 hours before I go to bed, and IT’S GONE! 🙂

    I can’t believe the solution was so simple and I was suffering for that many years.

  18. RLS is such a miserable condition and causes suffering that people without this condition cannot begin to understand. Appreciate the great insights from many people. It’s clear from comments that deficiencies of many different nutrients can cause RLS symptoms, so there is no “one size fits all” treatment, although it seems there are several fairly common triggers (low iron, low folate, low minerals, etc) to troubleshoot first.

    I have had RLS symptoms as long as I can remember. As a youngster, when I would sleepover with a school friend, the complaint was always “why are you wiggling your legs so much, can you lay still? ”

    I have never been diagnosed as low iron.

    In my case, in spite of having develped SIBO / IBS-C in the last year (long story I won’t go into here), my trigger is most definitely low folate levels.

    I am MTHFR (C677T heterozygous).so in addition to making sure to eat cooked greens regularly (Trader Joes Palak Paneer with chili seasoning is a staple in my freezer), I have experimented with supplements that contain low doses (400 mcg) of Quatrefolic, Metafolin and/or calcium folinate. I don’t even have to take these supplements every day, only about 4 days out of 7. I can always tell if my folate levels have dropped because the RLS symptoms start coming back.

    Each person has to experiment to find the specific nutritional deficiencies that relieve their symptoms. Here’s hoping you all have success.

    • Forgot to mention: I have always been puzzled that after a miserable night of tossing and turning, with little sleep, many times (but not always) the restlessness would diminish or stop around 5 am and I could finally fall asleep. However, since I get up at 6 am to go to work, I couldn’t sleep long enough to make up for a night of insomnia.

      Perhaps related somehow to circadian rhythm?

      • I have wondered about the Circadian rhythm connection. My RLS comes on even if I am getting heavy eyelids. I have had severe RLS for decades. I had a radiofrequency ablation test for a recent car accident and the RLS seems to have (at least temporarily) vanished. Now I have been asking people if they have had cervical spine injuries or whiplash.

      • Hi I had RLS for quite a few months. It turned out I was low on iron. I also started taking magnesium supplements and iron tablets. Magnesium also helps in the sleep department. Have never slept very well. So the combination of iron and magnesium have improved my situation to great effect! Thank God! Also epsom salts can really help with exema so I believe. Hope this all helps. This service is so valuable. Thankyou.

      • Have had RLS constantly since about 1986 and I find it is worse when the borometer is dropping and can completely disappear when it’s rising. Many bacteria, yeasts etc increase when body temp lowers and some organisms can produce enzymes that lower body temp. RLS is worse for me between 11 pm and 3 am. Yes Iron helps, although supplements bring on my migrains, yes anti inflamitory anything helps, if I check my body temp there is an exact correlation between lowering temp and severity of RLS. I am now researching body PH and Total alkalinity and find Dr Sircus very interesting. One study I read spoke about enzymes found to be stripping protein from the most used muscles…. I can now get RLS anywhere in my body and especially after gardening or hard work. If PH is out, Dr Sircus has found that the body robs minerals etc from muscles when at rest….. I must add that whenever I have been on antibiotics, my RLS disappears.

  19. I hope you find this helpful coming from 20 years dealing with RLS;

    I have had RLS since my late teen years. Also ear infections and eczema very badly when I was little. I was 40 when a doctor said I had low iron. Told me to take iron but didn’t make a big deal. 5 years later another doctor said “….and you are still anemic.” STILL? Now I take 75mg of iron to get to ferritin of 32. Still working on the cause.

    It wasn’t until I was 40 that RSL was taken seriously and studies done. I found a full page ad in my local paper for study subjects for RLS symptoms. My reaction, ‘OMG, it is real but doctors have been dismissed it saying I was just a stressed young person.’ I really gave up until I came upon the doctor that knew about RLS and didn’t look at me like I wanted sympathy or I was making it up.

    I have been taking Miripex (generic form) for almost 10 years. I also had very bad swelling in my ankles ( I was told I had arthritis ) NOT. So you listen to your doctor ( they are not always correct ) I was given two serious drugs for the swelling. They did not help and the doctor would not listen to me when I told her that I have not other symptoms other than swelling. I stopped the meds and stopped seeing this doctor.

    Last year I finally I had a 100 panel reactive test done. Food/drug additives (food coloring, Sodium Benzoate etc…) and certain foods allergies. To my biggest surprise, white potato was the highest level toxin for me.

    If I am strong willed and stay away from all 20 items that were red flags as reactive, my RLS is gone. BUT, I mean staying away from it all. This includes all the hidden additives in meds, foods, drinks. Two months ago I had Smoked Salmon (on my list of ‘stay away from’ ) My husband was perfectly fine. I had the worse gut/intestinal pain ever in my life which lasted over a month. Everyday I hoped to get better. There was no miracle drug or herb to make me feel better. Only time and help from Sena tea. If I had only followed my list.

    My advise from my 30 year experience, get tested for possible irritants, chemical and natural and do your best to stay away from them….and yes it is not easy. Corn for example on the list? Corn is in 90% of our food in one form or another. It is now listed as the 15th allergen in the US. Artificial food coloring ( i have witnessed this in children and turns them in to little monsters, it is not the sugar). In my case RLS. Sodium Benzoate is in almost every liquid cold medicine and soda. I also can not take any night time meds ( Tylenol PM ) not only do I have RLS in my legs but also my arms and torso. Very opposite reaction to what it is suppose to do. I had taken this three times over two years to make sure. They were terrible nights and will never take PM meds again.

    To sum this up, in my experience, I believe RLS is worsened by what I put in my body. My ear infections and eczema have been gone for decades to be replaced by ankle swelling, sore muscles and RLS. These three seem to correlate to the chemical additives and foods that I consume but I should stay away from.

    So parents, try to find a doctor that will listen to you about your child so they do not have to go on a 50 year hunt for good health.

    • I can second this 100%

      I’ll never forget the first time I tried Neo-Citron… worst night of RLS my life. Tried it again a couple months later – same thing.

      More recently, I had giving into my cravings, and had gotten into a bag of Twizzlers before bed. RLS was on full force. I had a feeling it was the Twizzlers, so a couple weeks later I did it again (self experiment / torture lol) and same thing.

      I have now been able to pinpoint that anything with it seems red dyes specifically has a very strong effect on triggering the RLS.

      I hope this can help some people pinpoint what causes their RLS as well!!

      : )

  20. Excellent Article! I was suddenly hit with a severe case of RLS. Yeah – NO Sleep! I do remember being treated for Iron Deficiency Anemia as a child. Anyway – after exhaustive internet searches I have come up with Iron supplementation as the “solution” – Night and Day difference! My Ferritin level was 49 and I am supplementing with once daily of Iron (as Ferrochel® ferrous bisglycinate chelate) 18mg. Of course I have not yet discovered the source of my Iron deficiency. This article is spot on http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/neurology_neurosurgery/centers_clinics/restless-legs-syndrome/what-is-rls/treatment.html

    • Hi Richard,

      Regarding your iron deficiency, it may not be just the iron if you suffer from anemia. My mother went to a Functional Medicine Doctor last year to get a second opinion on her anemia. When people say anemia, they think iron. But here’s the but. It turned out that she was copper deficient. Once she supplemented with copper her anemia went away . Copper is essential for the manufacturing of hemoglobin and can mimmick anemia. Doctors don’t know to check for copper deficiency as they are quick to recommend ferritin. Supplementing with ferritin without knowing if it is actually a copper deficiency can create problems especially for diabetics. Here’s the other plus. Once her copper levels were normalized, her total cholesterol dropped from 312 to 220 in 4 months. My advice is to go to a Functional Medicine Doctor to have your copper levels checked along with other deficiencies.

      • Hi Sam – thanks for your comment. I have not been diagnosed with Anemia. In fact my Ferritin level is within the “normal” range and most doctors would not look further. But from the Hopkins Medicine link above “Since the 1950s, it has been known that iron therapy, even without the presence of anemia has benefits for RLS symptoms. Studies have shown a strong relation between body iron stores as determined by serum ferritin and the severity of the RLS symptoms. A study has shown that in patients whose serum ferritin was < 75 µg/l, oral iron therapy (325 mg ferrous sulphate twice a day on an empty stomach) on average improved RLS symptom after 3 months." My Ferritin is only 49 – not anemic, but low in the RLS scheme of things. I will look into Functional MDs in my area – because everything I have found was on my own. Regular doctors offer little other than Parkinson drugs.

  21. If we look at the medications that make RLS worse then it might help us understand it

    Cold and Flu remedies
    Actifed, Avamys, Benadryl, Chlortrimeton, Comtrex, Contact, Corcidin, Dimetapp, Drixoral, Fluticasone, PediaCare,Piriton, Rhinolast, Sinutab, Sudafed, Tavist, TheraFlu, Triaminic, Tylenol (flu, cold, PM, allergy), Vicks.
    Note that many cough syrups may contain antihistamines, especially if they are recommended for cold or flu symptoms. Always try to choose non-drowsy options.

    Anti-depressants
    Many people living with RLS also live with depression and consequently are prescribed anti-depression medication. However some anti-depressants can actually make RLS symptoms worse. If you are prescribed anti-depressants and live with RLS, we recommend you monitor your RLS symptoms to see if your symptoms worsen after starting to take your medication. If so, speak to your medical practitioner to see if you can be prescribed an alternative medication.

    Selective Serotonin-Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs)
    Celexa (Citalopram), Cymbalta, Duloxetine, Effexor, Lexapro (Escitalopram), Mirtazapine, Paxil (Paroxetine), Prozac (Fluoxetine), Serzone, Venlafaxine and Zoloft (Sertraline).

    Tricyclic medications
    Ascendin (Amoxepine), Elavil (Amitriptyline), Etrafon (Perphenazine and Amitriptyline), Limbitrol (Chlordiazepoxide and Amitriptyline), Norpramin (Desipramine), Pamelor (Nortriptyline), Sinequan (Doxepin), Surmontil (Trimipramine), Triavil (Perphenazine and Amitriptyline), Tofranil (Imipramine) and Vivactil (Protriptyline) , as well as others, have been suggested as making the symptoms of RLS worse.

    Antacids
    Medications to treat nausea can worsen RLS symptoms. This class of drugs includes: Anitvert, Atarax, Benadryl, Bonine, Compazine, Phenergan, Thorazine, Tigan, Trilafon and Vistaril, Zantac.

    • My mom and wife had restless leg syndrome. Dr. Carolyn Dean an expert on Magnesium, suggests that increasing Magnesium consumption can reduce or eliminate restless leg syndrome. After increasing Magnesium supplementation to 600 mg, the symptoms were gone. I must add that the leg cramps also vanished.

    • Do you know whether Avamys administered at the recommended dose of 110 it once or twice daily for 4 weeks can lead to HPA axis disruption and a flare-up of autoimmune skin diseases?

    • I just started Celexa 6 weeks ago and I’m experiencing RLS for the first time ever! It’s no fun. I read that anti-depressants can alter dopamine levels, which is probably what’s happening. Anybody know what to do? My vitamin and mineral counts are all excellent according to my blood test 2 months ago…

  22. I have had serious asthma from a very early age accompanied by several visits to ER. Many of the drugs made me feel terrible. At age 68 I decided to get to the source. By reducing starch, trial and error, eating a very clean organic diet and limiting my exposure to as many toxins as possible, I am now living normally. No drugs of any kind for anything. When I was so sick the various allergists did the skin prick test to see what I was allergic to. The test showed many things that do not bother me now. I think my system was on such overload that I reacted to most anything. One major allergin was cats. As I got better and better I went to an animal rescue into the cat house. No reaction. My doctor can’t believe the change. The drugs that saved my life were also keeping me ill. I am now a healthy 72 and can hike many miles per day with zero issues. You might be on to something with the starches.

    • Starches [simple carbs] and simple sugars need magnesium to be metabolized into energy in the cell. If your magnesium levels are borderline it doesn’t take a lot sugar or starch to put you into a deficient state.

      Most of us in the US are already deficient in magnesium because of dropping levels in the soil used to grow our food.

      Many [including doctors] fail to recognize the symptoms and so the symptoms get treated with drugs instead of giving the body what it really needs to eliminate the source of the problem.

      Magnesium deficiency is either a causative, or contributing factor in many diseases people struggle with today.

      We have a lot to learn about all of the roles magnesium plays in human biochemistry, and the interactions of nutrients with each other. A good example of this is how vitamin D, vitamin K2, and magnesium need to be in balance in order for each of them to work properly in the body.

    • Watch for plants in the nightshade family (potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, etc.) These all contain an inflammatory compound. I used to tolerate these, but no longer. Removing these from my diet had a tremendous benefit. I occasionally have a few bites and end up with painful joints within an hour. A great reminder to stay away from these foods.

  23. Hi my 9 year old daughter has recently started to get RLS at night, and more recently has commented that she is getting it at school during quiet times. She also has some stomach problems/food intolerance issues but not really established exactly what the problem is yet. However given that she had a lot of antibiotics when she was very young due to ear infections, i am wondering if gut issues are contributing to the RLS – either from poor absorption of nutrients/inflammatory response etc. i would love some advice if anyone has any!

    • You are probably correct, Sally!

      It is highly likely that gut dysbiosis from the antibiotics is contributing to malabsorption syndrome leading to poor absorption of magnesium and other nutritional cofactors. (vitamins D3, K2-MK7, etc.) and contributing significantly to the RLS.

      I would suggest a good soil-based probiotic such as Prescript-Assist to re-establish healthy gut flora. Make sure to use a form of magnesium that doesn’t have a laxative effect. The best forms I have found for maximum absorption and low laxative effect are magnesium malate, glycinate or taurate. Stay away from magnesium citrate unless constipated, also magnesium oxide should be avoided as it is so poorly absorbed (only about 4% gets assimilated).

      Keep in mind that glyphosate (RoundUP™ Monsanto) in the diet will compromise any attempts you make to heal the gut and restore the normal, beneficial bacteria. As a result I highly suggest restricting all grains (but especially wheat and oats) to organic, and keeping GMOs out of the diet. Most non-organic grains are heavily sprayed with glyphosate at harvest. It does not wash off.

      However, until normal nutrient absorption has returned, you can supplement magnesium with a topical form such as magnesium chloride hexahydrate (MCH) which is sprayed on the skin and absorbed directly, bypassing the usual digestive pathway.

      Here is a magnesium (MCH) source I like and use daily in addition to oral supplements:
      http://easemagnesium.com/discover-ease/?AFFID=234225

      Help heal the gut with coriander seed oil. The people at Activation Products have developed a technology to remove the oil from the seed without chemical solvents, and without generating heat or creating peroxidation, or rancidity. Here is, by far, the best coriander seed oil currently available:
      http://www.panaseeda.com/coriander/?AFFID=234225

      And here is where you can get the best price that I have found for the probiotic I recommended:
      http://www.peaceful-planet.com/prescript-assist/

      Save 10% on your entire order at Peaceful Planet by going here first, and getting the code:
      http://www.retailmenot.com/view/peaceful-planet.com?c=4742589

      AFFILIATE DISCLOSURE
      The above contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links above. You will not pay more, and your purchase helps support my ongoing research and work. Thanks for your support!

  24. A whoo hoo moment! After 40 years of chronic RLS, and many many trials with medications, finally, success !! I have cut out a lot of sugar from my diet and sulfides. I ate when wandering at night, often a lot of fruit and biscuits.I craved sugar to combat the tiredness during the day to make things worse. Drinking alcohol ( I am a “bubbles” girl) and eating meat with preservatives in made things worse. So, by cutting out excess sugar, especially after midday, I am all but cured. And the weight loss is a bonus!!

      • Yes, caffeine is a diuretic that flushes magnesium from the body, and sugar increases your need for magnesium in order for the mitochondria to process sugar into fat or energy.

        Although there is more to the biodynamics of RLS, these are key and critical factors. Without sufficient magnesium in the muscle tissue, the muscle fibers cannot properly relax and as a result they twitch continuously in asynchrony and incidental synchrony. That’s what causes the “restless” feeling.

    • Sugar indeed.

      Coincidentally I stopped drinking sweet drinks (pop, juice, red bull) and my RLS stopped. If I happen to drink one sugary drink at night it comes back with a vengeance.
      Hope this helps someone.

      Cheers

      • Of course, binging on sugar [or simple carbs] or just a high sugar intake when your magnesium levels are borderline will cause your magnesium levels to plummet, resulting in muscle spasticity, hence RLS.

  25. I am envious of you all who had positive results on controlling your rls by taking mg, diet changes, b12, folate..etc. So far they didn’t work for me. They are great for my chronic fatigue and fibro but I haven’t found the key to controlling my rls.

  26. I have experienced the most chronic restless leg for the last eight years having to exercise up to 7 times a night during bad phases. I developed an intolerance to gluten and diary in the last two years and developed chronic acid reflux. It has taken two years (of been given all sorts of medication which hasn’t worked) to find a surgeon who suggested I wean myself off the acid blockers and start taking Apple cidar vinegar 3 times a day. My reflux has gone, by restless leg has improved out of sight and my body aches are improving. I strongly believe RSL is caused by an imflammed gut. I also go to the chiropractor regularly and she helps keep the RSL in check. I take probiotics as well drink very little alcohol, keep away from sweets and keep active (always have). A combination of all these things I promise will help.

    • I agree with your thoughts about gut inflammation and RLS>

      But I would take it further and add that the loss of nutrients available to the body due to the malabsorption that occurs with gut dysbiosis and inflammation, typically creates (among many other things) a magnesium deficiency. Statistics state that over 80% of Americans are magnesium-deficient.

      A common symptom of magnesium deficiency is muscles that cannot properly relax. This can result in tics, tremors, cramps, spasms, difficulty swallowing (especially tablets and capsules), “dancing feet”, and/or RLS.

      There can be sufficient magnesium intake and still be a deficiency in the body. Nutrients first have to be properly absorbed from the digestive tract into the bloodstream, but then still have to move from the blood into the cells in order to be of any use.

    • Whenever I take 1 T ACV (diluted of course) before meals, within a week or so my teeth start aching — not good. When I stop the ACV, the aching in teeth slowly goes away. Anyone have any tips (besides using a straw to quickly down the ACV) to keep teeth safe from the acid? I am convinced that what is healthy for the digestive tract is not healthy for the teeth!

    • Hi Kate,
      I was reviewing this site for my mom who has RLS. When I read your entry about chronic acid reflux, reminded me of my last 2 years. I had the same thing but had never really had a problem with heartburn before this time. I didn’t know it but I had an h pylori infection. It causes heartburn and lowers your stomach acid so you can’t digest properly… and a whole host of other problems. Have you checked for this?

    • Just one added note: Coincidentally I too treated my heartburn with ACV and it eliminated the problem! I started w 2 T three times a day. Unfortunately ACV alone does not kill the h pylori so if you have it, the little buggers will live on inside you and cause other issues. Doctors did not help me. I went 2 years and finally insisted on a stool test to test for GI infectioons. I researched how to treat myself without antibiotics and just received an all clear test after treatment.

  27. Paul 11-4-16 22.00

    For about 10yrs I have had restless legs syndrome ( RLS )

    My feet, calfs, thighs, hips, fingers, hands, forearms, biceps feel the aching and annoying pain, the feeling of something crawling up inside of my whole body, I’ve been on ropinirol 1mg for many years, I take 2 about 2hrs before bed, whilst waiting for them to start taking effect the pain gets stronger, when they start to work I go straight to bed to get the best effectiveness from them, I have to get up early as its not possible to lay in bed as legs start to twitch, I’ve cut down on chocolate which I found was making it worse, doctor says I’m not low in iron, i did invest in 2 halcyon bracelets which are pure copper and do work sometime, looking for any suggestions on foods or drinks that might help to take away the pain in the evenings

    • Try taking a low dose of natural thyroid. It is the only thing that will help mine. It is a horrible thing to go through.I am so sorry. 45-95 mg of Nature thyroid is what I take but you may need more.
      Walmart has a liquid vitamin b complex for around $4. I would take as much of it as you can. A calcium, mag, vitamin d that dissolves in water.
      Get your vitamin D checked. (don’t just take it unless you know where you are at. Vitamin B doesn’t build up like D)
      Get your prolactin levels checked.
      You have to stay away from any narcotics and if you are on anti-psychotics…that is your problem right there.
      barleans fish oil in lemon flavor Take at least 3 tablespoons a day but really you may need 9.
      If you are on parkinsons meds then your amino acids are going to be unbalanced and probably some depleted. (do you have add or bipolar this is your problem) Just fish oil won’t do it completely but it’s to complicated for me to tell you what to take.
      I would also have all your hormones checked and every vitamin mineral you can get checked, get it checked.
      You are unbalanced somewhere they can see in tests.
      Taking a low level of natural thyroid (has to be natural with t3) most doctors will not like you to do. They will scare you saying it will hurt your thyroid but that is not necessarily true, but whatever helps a crisis, helps 🙂 Be strong in asking to try it.

      Just taking a few supplements isn’t going to help you with this problem. You really would have change your whole diet and balance your amino acids. I am guessing you also have a hormone problem somewhere that needs supplementing. If you’ve ever had any kind of concussion or head injury check your prolactin. If you have any kind of gene mutations in the family like a.d.d or bi-polar most likely your amino acids are inhibited and your vitamin b will be off BUT it’s as different as a snow flake for each person.
      Keep searching and stay away from stimulants, narcotics.
      To much yeast in your system can help cause it too.
      Good luck

      • Hi Traci,
        Your post is so insightful. I have IC and terrible restless leg. I often feel that I have ADD. I take Prozac and there is a family history of bipolar. Can you elaborate more on that connection, if Prozac might be making the symptoms worse? Any insight or information is sincerely appreciated.

        Kind regards,
        Michelle

        • Dear Michelle,

          I have both ADD and have taken Prozac and yes, there has been (for me) a dramatic correlation of RLS along with consumption of Prozac.

          Helpful solutions:

          1. If possible stop anti-depressant or lower dose or take every other day. I have severe PTSD / depression due to childhood trauma but have found that I am still better without antidepressants in general. I am over 45 and discovered that taking transdermal bio identical estriol and progesterone eased my depression and ADD more than any pill.

          2. I agree with this website: Rub your legs, bottom of feet, even palms of hands with magnesium cream or oil. This helps a great deal.

          3. Before bed, consider sitting in front of TV with your feet soaking in a lovely warm tub of hot water with dissolved magnesium and Epsom salts.

          I hope this helps you or someone else. ☺️

          Faerie ?

      • Iodine may help, too. The whole body needs iodine, not just the Thyroid. A few drops if Lugol’s in water may help, and getting plenty of fish, seafood and seaweed in your diet is beneficial, too…..

  28. I was diagnosed with RLS in 1992 by a V.A. Dr. I had never heard of it. Mine was mostly in the calves – sometimes going up all the way to my thighs. In 1995 I had a heart attack and was put on multiple medications, including calcium. about 15 years later I read that being on calcium for a long time could be bad for you so I stopped taking calcium. Two weeks later my RLS pretty much disappeared. There have been the occasional twinges since they have been very mild. What would be the correlation between Calcium supplements and RLS

    • Low magnesium can cause RLS and heart problems and is required at least in the same ratio as calcium. Too much calcium is very bad. It is hard to find out whether you have a magnesium deficiency but taking it is safe. Read up carefully on Magnesium.

      • Thanks Dawn. I’ve been working on my magnesium intake for a while now. Not taking in too much. I believe in moderation in all things.

        • Calcium is terrible, tom levy does some really good work on it. I’d look up the death by calcium video. But magnesium is amazing.

    • My wife got rid of her RLS by increasing her Magnesium intake.
      Regarding inflammation in this article, a doctor should request a CRP test. Also there was a mention if ferritin deficiency which could exacerbate anemia. However, before a doctor prescribes ferritin for iron deficiency, he should request a RBC copper deficiency test. Low levels of copper can mimic iron deficiency and anemia. And with low levels of copper, there could be elevated total cholesterol. This was the case with my 95 year old mom. She has a functional medicine doctor. Once prescribed a copper supplement, her anemia vanished and high cholesterol normalized.

  29. Post Stevens Johnson Syndrome (SJS), I had all these symptoms and attacks on nearly every body system…as my mucous membranes, on 100% of my body, were struggling to survive…as I was.

    No professionals in Ohio knew what to do, so I had to take matters in my own hands.

    I went straight to my immune system. I removed all medicines, including vaccinations. Initially Britta filtered (now double filter with PUR…even trace amounts of prescriptions kept me in a SJS state), strict Certified Organic foods during a 2-cycle cell change over (I read somewhere that it takes 264 days for the body to completely change over cells, I did it twice), started removing gluten but found in the end I needed to go to a strict Blood Type diet.

    After I became eligible for Medicare, My healthcare improved incredibly, I assume because of the federal oversight, I had talk therapy.

    The restless legs things gradually stopped after about 2-1/2 years…but not before I started having pinched nerves..which I still deal with.

    4-1/2 years later I still have skin problems on 85% of my body, my gastro intestine systems is very vulnerable, but I no longer have that metabolic sick feeling and I am still alive which is different than the 60% of us (30% die in ERs because doctors don’t know NOT to give more medicine, and another 30% die within the next 3 years…I am assuming because of doctors, like I had, that wanted to keep trying to “do something.”

    Because ERs, hospitals, physicians are not required to report side effects of prescriptions…we suspect there are many more deaths in emergency rooms and by other methods. Ie…what physicians describe as “accidental overdoses” and what happens in patients who are given chemo”therapy.” And…with peer drive State Medical Boards, there is no oversight on physicians or hospitals…the things you find out when you are trying to save your life.

    How did mine start? All my physicians ignored the side effects I was having to the medications they prescribed plus toward the end many abrupt changes were being made and then a nurse practitioner in the ER prescribed prednisone and a shot of Vistaril.

    I thank God for Jean and her daughter who are the founders of the Stevens Johns Syndrome Foundation, our National Certified Organic food program, for filtered water companies, for the researchers who did research on Gluten and Blood Type Diets and access to cell phones (never go to an ER without one…), internet and research in libraries and on the internet….and that I am fortunate to live in a time when that all came to fruition.

    I wish you all health…its so precious. Do what you can with food, removing chemicals and removing all stressors before you take meds…prescribed, over the counter, supplements.

    • This woman is a liar. She is extremely mentally unstable and goes to various sites claiming to have illnesses. Dont take her advice.

      • Hi all,

        This is my daughter Lauren. Everybody say hi.

        I love my daughter. She’s beautiful, funny, smart. Loves children and animals. She, and her brother, came into this world disadvantaged and I have always felt very bad for this.

        We, collectively, have had a very stressful experience (hence my medication for stress…the resulting side effects and SJS…) trying to break from family hierarchical traditions that include generational domestic violence. I took us out, but they wanted the love of their father and family and are very protective of him, of them, and the traditions…so here we still are…in the grasp of violence…

        I haven’t seen my daughter since the Stevens Johnson Syndrome diagnosis of August 2012. Please forgive her for not understanding. She is very angry, as she should be, she’s had a very tough life. I still am trying to help her find her way to health…too.

        I apologize for this inconvenience…

        • The violent past she is referring to is actually her hitting me and my brother while in her care. She is Bi Polar and manic. My dad divorced her because of this. She is on several websites stating she has all kinds of illnesses and giving bad advice. She doesn’t think she needs medication or medical care but she does. BADLY! The only reason why I even know about this is because she has been stalking me and threatening my boyfriend who is a police officer. If anyone can refer her to a psychiatrist, please do so. She won’t get any help and when she is manic, she becomes violent and dangerous. Thank you. Please know she is on welfare and section 8 so she cannot afford a regular doctor and may not know where to go. ANY help is appreciated by her family. Also alcohol addiction would help. Ive not spoken to her in years until she started emailing me so much and calling around about where I live. She needs help.

            • We have an elderly friend with dementia. She is looked after by her son and DIL. Apparently she was a difficult mother, often neglectful, for many years.

              I pointed out that she was probably affected by the food she was eating for years before the dementia set in. Gluten is known to trigger mental/neurological issues.

              My husband spent years in a gluten-induced fug. Irritable, even nasty, and could snap at a moment’s notice. I was a nervous wreck when he was driving as he didn’t have a clue where he was going. He would get very unstable blood sugar, although not diabetic, and that would make him snappy and irritable, too.

              Off the gluten he is a different person – tolerant, happier, more even-tempered, and no more brain-fog. I would not have believed the difference if I hadn’t witnessed it…..

              Our bodies can be very much controlled by the so-called ‘normal’ food we eat, and/or by the parasites that most of us are harbouring. I hated the way my husband was, and could weep for all the difficult years lost to gluten, especially when the kids were young, but now knowing why makes it all so much easier to understand.

              Like you Brenda, I recognise that the drugs were making everything worse for my ownhealth and had not actually healed anything. I have been gradually figuring it out on my own and have had far more success through diet and supplements than any of the awful drugs I was given over the years. My daughter and son don’t always understand what I am doing but they fortunately still love me and at least tolerate my ‘foibles’…..

  30. I take Magnesium Glycinate, Iron, vitamin C, methylated B vitamins, vit D, adrenal herbs, fish oil, cal/mag, MK7, CoQ10, vit E, taurine, selenium, trace minerals and probiotics…for 3 months and I still have RLS. I’m healthy except for hypothyroidism. The only thing that changed, and it’s weird…I had the typical RLS symptoms when resting before bedtime but those symptoms changed dramatically as soon as I started taking magnesium and iron. I could rest without any discomfort but as soon as I started falling asleep my body started jerking anywhere I have a joint (fingers, wrists, ankles, knees, hips, shoulders, neck), large muscle areas jump or tremor, and twitching everywhere. It has been a nightmare. My sleep doctor wants me to take Mirapex, a Parkinson’s drug, but I just can’t do it. Instead I’ve been taking cannabis every night and I get 4-5 hours of sleep. I’m hoping I can solve the problem before I’m forced to go on a pharmaceutical with all the difficult side effects.

    • Amy, I have been down so many of the same roads as far as leads/remedies, and things I’ve taken. I’ve had RLS for more than 3 years. I am tilting more and more toward the inflammation and SIBO hypothesis Dr. Kresser discussed. It’s sad, means there is probably no silver bullet to knock this thing out, at least in my case. Gonna have to do the hard work of completely changing my diet. Have already taken all dairy out, and that has helped by at least 50%.

      Anyway, you mentioned that you are hypothyroid, which is something I have suspected of myself, too. I don’t know if this will help you, but have you tried supplementing with a high quality nascent (electrified) iodine? I am just learning how crucial this nutrient is for endocrine health, thyroid, communication between all the glands, and detoxification, especially for breast tissue. I am taking Survival Shield X-2 Nascent Iodine from the Alex Jones Infowars.com store. My husband and daughter and I have been on it for about a month. My husband has felt a noticeable jump in metabolism and vitality. I would say, I am perhaps a little less tired. It hasn’t cured RLS or anything, but it could certainly help with your thyroid insufficiency, which is another exacerbating factor for you. I hope the best for you!! Sincerely, Rebecca T.

      • Rebecca, thank you for your suggestions and kind words…my SIBO test just came back positive (high methane) so I’m now researching and wrapping my head around this new information. I think I’m finally getting how this and so many other things are rooted in the gut. As soon as I finish the antibiotic, then the Low Fodmap diet begins. I’m anxious not knowing if it’ll help the RLS so just dealing with RLS related anxiety is its own challenge. I want to be the best mom and wife I can be and RLS has made it difficult. I hope the best for you too!

    • You real need to get completely detoxified and I mean completely. I have an N.D. who uses an IV with H2O2, glutathione and Vitamin C. Or a Functional Medicine Doctor can do a detox. Regarding detox, there is a huge problem with glyphosates in our food supply. It’s everywhere especially in processed foods. High concentrations are found in soy and wheat. Sadly, glyphosates are showing up in organic food sources. Yes they are. I can’t stress a detox enough. You can take all the best supplements and eat organic foods, but if you are toxic, your liver will get overloaded and this wreaks havoc on all the processes of your body. More over, your doctor should order a complete thyroid panel with antibodies.

    • Calcium needs to taken with magnesium, vitamin D3, and K2 (MK-7) otherwise your body cannot properly utilize it.

      With calcium dysregulation, it can be deposited in soft tissues such as muscles, the pineal gland, thyroid, and even in the joints.

      Too much calcium without the magnesium co-factor can cause muscle problems including cardiac arrhythmias, RLS, facial tics, muscle spasms and cramping, and difficulty swallowing pills and capsules, among others.

    • Do you get enough salt in your diet? If not, try adding more (unrefined pure salt is best)? Also, try bananas or upping your potassium intake. These usually work for me.

  31. I’m happy to say I no longer have restless leg syndrome after 5 years of agony.

    I was prescribed a low dose antibiotic, Minocycline, for adult acne and was on it for over 5 years (I know, I should’ve known better but trusted my Dr.) A short time after I started taking my issues began. I didn’t put the two together because my father also has RLS, so when mine started I thought it was hereditary and, like him, I would just have to live with it. It wasnt until I ran out of my meds on vacation that I realized my legs didn’t hurt or kick on those days. I’ve been off the med for 6 months & haven’t kicked since. I think the antibiotic destroyed my gut health & that was to blame.

    I hope this helps someone

  32. I loved this article. I have said for years that the RLS that plagues me is because of the other problems that I have. I have been on PPI’s for 16 years, I have had bowel problems for 5 years, I have been diagnosed with IBS, I suspect SIBO and Leaky Gut Syndrome. I have been to 4 Medical doctors and none of them will put 2 and 2 together. My own father was a MD, but he was from the old school where he would check test after test, read article after article, do all that needed to do done to find the cause of a problem. Did that mean that he might have to work on this for a while, that he was not going to become a millionaire, that he might not have all the answers and would have to admit it, that he might have to go back to the drawing board again and again until he could get the right answer, that the gut was probably where the problem was, that there was more than one answer, that all people are not textbook so he would have to try other things, to Think Outside The Box; Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes, and Yes. I wish my dad was still living, so I could get some answers!!

    I believe there is a very strong connection between the omeprazole that I take for GERD, the Ibuprofen that I take for pain, the IBS, the SIBO, the RLS, the Mirapex that I take for the RLS, the fracture that I had in 2010, the severe joint problems that I have, the brain fog I get sometimes, the feeling tired all the time, the insomnia, the scale weight loss, but my belly area is getting larger, and several other symptoms. I have no doctor that will put all of this together and come up with an answer. I am very limited on my money, so there is NO functional doctor that I can go to because they all want money up front, or that will take payments , but I can not do that high of a monthly payment. So I have NO ONE who will help me. I am only 57, but I can not even go to the grocery store without problems arising. I have been married for 36 years, but I can’t even be a full wife to my husband in every respect!! I want to be able to enjoy a day with a friend. I wish a doctor would take interest in me and my case. I bet that doctor could learn alot from all my problems. Does anyone know of someone who would take interest in my health and help me? Nadine McCracken Brownsburg, Indiana

    • Nadine It is interesting to read your story. I feel compassion for you. I would like to help you. I am going through some interesting events in my life currently but feeling if I can help someone it will help me a lot. I have training in natural nutrition as a holistic nutritionist. I look forward to your response.

      All the best
      Kevin

      • Kevin,
        I am sorry for not responding until now. I have read your note and I am excited with the idea that you would like to help me and in doing so, it would help you, also. I am looking forward to a response from you. Do you want my address, my phone number, my e-mail address, or all three.
        Thank you for your interest.
        Nadine Mccracken Brownsburg, Indiana

  33. Fluoroquinolones – cipro, levaquin, avelox and a few others – chelate minerals from cells, especially iron and magnesium. In doing so they mess up all the enzymatic reactions that are dependent on these minerals and can cause mitochondrial dysfunction and chronic illness. Restless leg syndrome is one of the more minor symptoms of fluoroquinolone toxicity, but it is one. Here is a summary of an article noting that FQs chelate iron from human cells – http://floxiehope.com/2015/07/31/fluoroquinolones-deplete-iron-and-lead-to-epigenetic-changes/

  34. Great little overview! I’m a spine surgeon. I think I see 4-6 new patients a week with minimal routine abnormalities on MRI, but with horrible sleep disorders including RLS, chronic nonspecific pain, fibromyalgia, and not attributable to their radiographic spine abnormalities, none of which can be remedied with a scalpel. Some of this is obviously rheumatology but I just don’t think there is widespread knowledge of this stuff in the allopathic medical community. Else wise, they wouldn’t be seeing me in the first place…

  35. I have just (finally) been diagnosed with adenomyosis and anemia. Not that I’m happy about it, it’s just been a long road discomfort and frustration to discovery. I also have a small amount of RLS but I notice more when I get a load of gluten.

    I have 2 questions Does working out make anemia worse or is it just a “suck” factor for me to deal with during work outs? Knowing what the root cause of the anemia is from should I be tested for B12 deficiency too?
    Thanks,
    Tammy

  36. I have been diagnosed with neuropathy which is pretty much the same thing as RLS. I am on gabapentin. I know it started out as a severe case of plantar faciitis. I am also a pre-diabetic. For years I have faithfully taken ACV, probiotics, spirulina, vitamin D3, and other supplements. I am a walker and exercise. I have very strong legs. So, its quite the puzzle to me, as to why this has happened. I do stand all day at my job. My doctor says that standing (the pressure) has facilitated this process. I just don’t know what else to do.

    • Neuropathy and RLS (also known as WED, or Willis-Ekbom Disease), aren’t almost the same thing. They feel very different and it seems the cause is very different. Your neuropathy could be related to the pre-diabetes, as it’s extraordinarily common in diabetics.

    • Hey Jeannie…TTake your pre-diabetes seriously or it will turn into full blown. Your neuropathy should be a warning sign. You sound like you have a healthy lifestyle, is your weight and diet good?
      I have T2D for 2 years and it cost me open heart surgery, quadruple bypass.
      My RLS was so bad I was up to 1800mg of Gabapentin and it still gave me minimal comfort. I was RX Pramipexole .25mg. and it works like a charm.

    • I am a trained herbalist, here is a story you might gain from.
      I have two friends that have heart problems. I put them on vitamin K2-Mk7, 200mcg, D3, 10,000iu and vitamin A, 2500iu per day. The primary reason was to clean out calcification from their Coronary arteries, after tests were preformed we were successful.
      But the secondary effect was what convinced me that undercoboxilated ostiocalcin( free calcium) is the trigger for many Health problems. Both people had bad neuropathy, after 60-90 days of these supplements their neuropathy steadily improved to the point that they are both free of the pain and can walk without special shoes. They no longer take any meds other than the vitamins. I found a study out of India that said the same thing I discovered, vitamin K2-Mk7 had a huge impact on neuropathy.
      Good luck

      • I’ve read that high serum (free) calcium levels can actually be a result from not getting enough calcium in the diet. In other words, if one gets insufficient calcium, then it’s pulled from the bones, bone spurs and other problems result, and free calcium ends up in in the bloodstream.

        Whenever I take vitamin D (even in lower doses like 5,000iu), within a few days, my teeth start to get loose. I’m assuming that calcium, etc., is being pulled from my jawbone, thus causing the loose teeth.

        I’d be curious to hear your opinion on this.

    • Jeanine, I was on Gabapentin (Lyrica) for years. I decided to stop taking it for my fibromyalgia when I received information from a couple of specialists tying to figure out Gulf War Syndrome ( I served for 6 mos. in ’90 an ’91). I stopped the Lyrica and lost 20 lbs. I started taking CoQ10 Ubiquinol and it actually works better. Try the same and I’ll bet you lose weight and may even stop your pre-diabetes. Good Luck.

    • I have neuropathy and for years suspected a problem with B12. But every serum test came back at least normal and often high. It was quite a puzzle. Then I had a genetic analysis by Dr. Bob Miller and it turned out that I have SNPs with TCN1 and TCN2, the pathways through which B12 is driven from the blood into the tissue. And so it would back up in the blood, go unused in the tissue, and my deficiency occurred where serum tests could not detect it. Perhaps you may have a similar situation?

    • I have neuropathy and for years suspected a problem with B12. But every serum test came back at least normal and often high. It was quite a puzzle. Then I had a genetic analysis by Dr. Bob Miller and it turned out that I have SNPs in TCN1 and TCN2, the pathways through which B12 is driven from the blood into the tissue. And so the B12 would back up in the blood, go unused in the tissue, and my deficiency could not be seen. Perhaps you may have a similar situation? Also, for RLS I have tried a bajillion things including lots of oral Mg (different forms) and Ancient Minerals Mg oil rubbed into my calves. Nothing. But when I combined the AM Mg. oil with a little DMSO, that finally tipped the scales in my favor. Huge difference. By the way, if you google DMSO and end up at a place like WebMD, it will scare you and call it a “solvent.” It’s a supplement and can be extremely valuable in a multitude of applications.

  37. For me it was both arms (worse) and legs, but it turned out to be a gluten issue. As soon as I went raw vegan (which I did after going on a week-long retreat where everything I’d suffered for years healed, so I couldn’t fathom going back to pain food) the arms and legs stopped bugging me. Turns out though it’s not just wheat, but all grasses. When I went traveling for nearly 4 staying completely raw was more difficult but rice was always available and it caused lots of other problems, but it took a long time for me to connect it to the really disparate symptoms (such as plantar fasciitis).

    • The noxious effects of grasses, their grains and also seen in dairy products and beef are astonishing after the long history of bread, grains, cheeses, butter, milk and cream. I suspect that the problem is to do with pesticides, and glyphosate in particular.
      I have a neighbour who loves Round-up. I could move but can’t really afford to, and really wherever I go I may find the same happens again. People are so unaware of the toxicity. My dear ex-husband also loved glyphosate, path-clear etc. He has multiple cancers and other problems but just poo-poos any connection. His current partner seems aware of the likelihood that these things harm him, but he doesn’t listen to her either, he continues to expose his already sick body the these chemicals, and is on the medical road to treatment. I find it very sad.

  38. i dont know do i have it. i walk during the day not night. I have urge to walk every 45 to 75 minutes to make my legs to feel tired…if i sense they become less tired than usually i walk extra time

  39. I have found that a tablespoon of a Braggs ACV eliminates almost immediately 98% of the time. I feel like mine was caused by side effects to my thyroid meds in combination with oxalate issues.

  40. Hi Chris,

    I wonder if anybody has ever looked into the link between RLS and the sympathetic nervous system – more specifically the fight or flight response. It’s been my personal experience that I will have RLS when I am more stressed out or overwhelmed. Most telling, however, is the fact that every time I fly I will have severe RLS the following night. I believe that is because I really hate flying. When I fly everything in my body is telling me to run away from there – meaning my sympathetic nervous system is highly activated, but I am powerless to take action.
    I guess it is worth mentioning that I am a psychotherapist who is very interested and invested in working with trauma through the body and this alternate cause for RLS seems very plausible to me.
    By the way, I have found that rolling my leg, or vigorously massaging my thighs up and down with a tubular object (I often use my deodorant container) 100 times gets rid of my symptoms most of the time if not always!
    Thank you for your wonderful work and for sharing your wisdom and knowledge with the rest of us!
    Take care,

    Anyella

    • Have yourself checked out for Obstructive Sleep apnea OSA which is associated with increased adrenergic activity . This may be contributing to your RLS .. OSA causes major inflammation

    • I’ve massage my legs on a foam roller and it works like magic. I’ve often stressed over not being able to travel with my foam roller — I love your idea of an empty deodorant container in a pinch. Thanks for the excellent tip!

  41. I would like you to comment on the latest study on brain aging.
    I read that the “Mind or Mediterranean Diet” slows brain aging by adding whole grains and beans to what we eat. This seems to be contrary to the Paleo approach to health.
    What’s your take on this?
    thanks
    Mel

  42. Chris – Very interesting article – you’ve identified several areas that may be causing my RLS. I’ve had a history of bowel obstruction for the last 8 years and been on Pramiprexole for quite some time and it’s less and less effective each day. My PCP has never mentioned it may be linked to my intestinal issues. I’ve been experiencing more frequent episodes of RLS, even at work now which was not an issue before. I am going to see a gastroenterolist (SP?) because I’ve been having more and more pain in my gut – now that I feel more informed I will definitely be able to explain my symptoms and the possibility of the connection between RLS and my gut! Thanks again

    • Do look into something called augmentation. It’s when pramipexole (a dopamine agonist) causes the symptoms to occur earlier or with more severity.

  43. I have something called periodic limb movement disorder, which was diagnosed at a sleep clinic. It doesn’t wake me up but it wakes my partner up. What happens is my leg (usually just one) jerks periodically about every 30 seconds, not all night, but quite a bit. I’ve taken magnesium which didn’t help. Does anyone have any advice for this malady? Thanks!

    • I was told I had a PLMD index of 93 at my sleep lab. According to my sleep specialist I was low in B12.(kind of odd since I had been trying to convince my doctor of this with no luck). I went to a naturopath and began an elimination diet soon after that and found that a change in diet helped tremendously.

        • I started taking B12 and iron tablets and magnesium about 6 months ago. So far, no change. I do think it is related to something I am eating though. About 10-12 minutes after consuming any kind of food, it begins. Not so much in the morning and afternoon but in the evening……..Drives me CRAZY. I am also taking Ropinirole and it is NOT working for me. Before he Ropinerole I took Sinemet and that stopped working also. So very frustrating.

    • Nicole, many forms of magnesium are poorly absorbed and some can have a laxative effect, which also interferes with absorption.

      Of the oral forms, magnesium glycinate and magnesium taurinate are well absorbed and do not have a laxative effect. But I prefer magnesium chloride hexahydrate applied topically to the problem area. Both as a preventative and as a treatment for symptoms.

  44. From the comments posted here, as well as what Chris says, it is clear that there may be multiple causes of RLS. I strongly suspect that ultimately the cause is the presence of a particular toxin in the body, and which flows into the brain case with interstitial fluid flow, causing damage to the meninges and then the brain itself. It may be at the root of all the problems with all those different parts of the body mentioned by Chris, as well.

    The cause may be a group of toxins, so that if one has more than one of them inside then the symptoms are more widespread. I used to have problems with restless legs, but once I got rid of a lot of the toxins in me, it stopped completely. Since I was exposed to these toxins as a baby, they have had a lifetime to get sequestered into the bones of the body, and thus take a very long time to be eliminated.

    I use a completely different method of detoxification than most speak about, not concentrating on the gut as much, but on the acupuncture meridians, hypodermal fluid flow and mind-body techniques, along with careful control of the chemistry in that fluid (not just that in blood and lymph vessels) by limiting activity, controlling diet for each meal, use of spices, as well as teaching my brain what to do about specific problems. When I first learned how to do the latter, the brain started to release all toxins at once from the bones, causing a serious problem. I had to teach the brain to make repairs to all transport pathways after each toxin release before starting another, and how to find where they were stored by searching through memories of when I was exposed to them.

      • Yeah it does, but the biology is very accurate. When you spend the time thinking out how it all works, as I have, intensively, for the past 10 years, it is very logical. It explains why removing toxins can be so slow and difficult (you have to use simple diffusion). Ask anyone who has undergone chelation therapy.

        Dr. Getoff discussed a lot of this stuff in an Aug 2, 2015 interview on Natural Health 365 radio show (http://www.naturalhealth365.com/category/podcast but it is not archived there yet). He didn’t get at the steps between blood flow and the cells, as I have, but he tells us how the usual methods for determining presence of toxins are not helpful. However, he concentrates on detoxifying the gut epithelium in much of what he does, ignoring what goes on INSIDE the gut (not in the lumen, which is technically outside the body because nothing has crossed an epithelial membrane yet).

        When you get your own brain trained to do the steps, it is much like training your brain to making a 3 point basketball shot. It takes practice, practice, practice in as many different places and activities as you can. We have seen how some of these techniques can achieve a lot of healing in psychotherapy, but only if the patient does the homework. Since the body and mind are so interlaced in the brain, it stands to reason that what we can train our minds to do, can affect our bodies, and vice versa.

  45. Yes Vitamin-D and Iron deficiency can also cause RLS, I consulted to a Doctor about my RLS syndrome so he ran some basic test and found out that I Had Iron deficiency , So i took Iron pills for about a month and then it was like gone for some time, But I don’t think that there is a permanent solution to RLS, I am still Suffering from the problem.

  46. I used to have RLS very bad every night. When I started taking gingko biloba it went away. I have no idea what that did, perhaps it lowered some inflammation going on in my body from poor diet. Back then I didn’t eat very healthy – alot of sugary processed foods, fast foods and eating out. Now I eat mostly organic paleo w/ some legumes, rice, quinoa and oats. I don’t take the gingko anymore and don’t have RLS either.

  47. This article, and many others, mention getting your gut tested for infections of various types. How does one go about doing that – what type of doctor (gastroenterologist?), and which tests would one specifically request? Thanks.

  48. According to Alan Gaby and Jonathan Wright (MDs), familial RLS can be due to folate deficiency. I had a client with RLS as did his mother and his organic acid results showed FIGLU (metabolite that rises with folate deficiency). The recommended dose of folate (Gaby/Wright) is 5-30 mg/day! This cause of RLS appears to affect 10% of the population. Interestingly, RLS can present during pregnancy for this reason too. I suggest, though, that folate be provided with vitamin B12.

  49. Great article. I definitely agree with so many who have already mentioned… magnesium!! If I have eaten too many nuts that were not soaked, then the twitching is present again. I realize that I am very low on magnesium all the time, so use an awesome spray that really helps. The other things that so helped me… raw milk kefir!!! and lots of filtered water!!! If I am low on enough fluids, I will feel it in my legs.

  50. My RLS is caused by tight glutes. When I feel my legs begin to twitch I use a foam roller for my glutes. This works every time.

  51. It certainly is a complex issue and may be difficult finding the cause of many ailments. Makes me realize how important our gut health is and to focus there for many different health issues. Health begins in the gut, right?

  52. I have had RLS as long as I can remember. My mom had it, my daughter has it and her 18-year-old son. So…is it familial? I have thyroid issues (hypo) and so did my mom. I would do Anything to not have RLS. Doctors only treat the symptoms and not the cause. What do you suggest I begin in terms of my gut? inflammation, etc.? I have none of the diseases you mention in your opening comments. Is my issue inflammation? IBS? SIBO? And for a lifetime? Help! I regard your articles on health highly. Thanks Billie

  53. I have suffered with restless legs for nearly 40 years. It is definitely genetic but I am by far the worst in my family. I also get restless arms. My doctor is very dismissive of this condition (i’m from the uk and we don’t have functional doctors in most parts) so everything has been trial and error on my part. Magnesium doesn’t work but has been brilliant for my migraines .I have ‘normal’ vitamin b and iron levels but I definitely find the iron supplements help. I use Spatone sachets by Nelsons which is natural iron water collected from the streams of the Lake District and so doesn’t cause stomach upsets. It takes a couple of weeks to work and I daren’t miss a day. I have idiopathic insomnia and rarely sleep more than 2 or 3 hours per night. I can’t get to sleep and I can’t stay asleep and I have tried everything including sleeping pills and nothing works so this is where I think the connection with dopamine comes in, its a problem in the brain. Sometimes I get up in the morning and feel like I have run a marathon with the sleepless nights and the kicking and thrashing and I have aches and pains in my leg and thigh muscles most days. I think it’s all connected.

    • Chris, I had the same problem with sleep. I didn’t have any problems going to sleep I simply couldn’t stay asleep. After much research I learnt that if your Adrenal’s aren’t working properly it effects your sleep. Adrenal’s produce cortisol, cortisol regulates sleep. Once I got my Adrenal’s where they need to be my sleep became much better. I no longer take a sleep aid.
      I was also kicking during the night. Which kept me from having a restful night sleep. I asked for blood test and the results were I was severely anemic with a very low white blood cell count. I was put on a high dose of iron and the kicking stopped. Your iron may not be working for you. Try upping the dosage. It’s possible the brand your taking is not compatible to your body.
      All my best to you….

  54. Hi Chris,

    I’m just curious if you could share why you recommend Extra-virgin cod liver oil instead of fermented cod liver oil? Thanks!

  55. I started having RLS last year and appreciate how it feels to suffer from this condition.

    One night, I had a dream, this dream said that the reason I was having this RLS was because I was getting too hot in bed. The next evening I took action to make sure I did not get too hot, and sure enough my RSL stopped. Never to return again.

    • Thank you for sharing Sarah. I too have always suffered with excessive heat during the night . It has never occurred to me that that could be a contributary factor of my RLS .

      I have suffered periodically with an ache, deep in the bones of my left ankle and wrist for over 20 years which is so severe that I have to thrash my arm and leg about to get any relief. It only occurs at night time when I am lying in bed and I didn’t realise until now that it is a recognised condition called RLS.
      Johnny

    • I wonder if the heat you felt was due to internal inflammation that might still be present? It might now be going noticed due to the room temperature cooling your body enough (and stopping the RLS symptoms) in a superficial way. It’s just a thought, as I noticed in my experience as well that right before an RLS episode would happen at night, I would always feel too hot. It would happen unless the room was cold enough to need several blankets. I eventually found that the primary culprits were a couple of foods I had a strong sensitivity to (ones that I loved and would eat every day and often) that were creating inflammation. Once I cut them out of my diet, the RLS episodes stopped entirely within 24 hrs.

      • Well, Grace, would you be so gracious as to elaborate on what foods you “cut out of” your diet? It might be helpful to some of us here.

        • Hi, This sounds too simple to be true, but foods you are sensitive to are often foods that you hunger for or crave, in much the same way as an alcoholic craves alcohol? although obviously not as severely, there is a negative response by your body to the food. I have a child that craved milkshakes and ice cream, and it took a while to work out that the milkshake that she craved and begged for would result in her becoming whiney and weepy almost immediately, and getting sick three days later. If you have a child that insists on a favorite food and that behaves badly afterwards, ie orange juice at school and then disturbs the class after lunch break, it may be a food that is causing a negative reaction. Look for the foods that cause you to be drowsy, or overactive, or unable to concentrate. Good luck

    • This shows what the purpose of dreaming is to being with. I think it tests out pathways that have been repaired in the brain. It also clearly tells you what is being worked on in the brain, and it was telling you that heat seems to have a lot to do with your symptoms. The dream state is a few steps above and closer to consciousness than deep sleep is. By going there, the brain wants your conscious brain involved in analysis of information the brainstem has figured out is a problem. If you remember your dream upon awakening, it wants you to have fully conscious parts of the brain involved with the solution. It clearly worked for you. If you can’t remember the dream, it has worked out a solution.

  56. You may want to try what works or me: Do a couple of dozen sit-ups while lying on a soft surface like a bed.
    This completely takes away the symptom for me — I think it may have something to do with stretching the muscles of back and legs.
    Good luck!

  57. I used to have RLS almost every night when I got in bed. I had been taking a good multivitamin (for women) and a Vitamin D3, daily. I started adding fish oil, 3 times per day (from Aldi’s) because my eye doctor told me I have dry eye. When I added the fish oil, I was able to quit using eye drops, and I noticed my RLS was gone. For the last week and a half, I have been out of fish oil, so I wasn’t taking them, and the RLS came back. I am convinced the fish oil in conjunction to the other vitamins helped.

  58. I control my restless legs with magnesium and thyroid (T3 as liothyronine): I need both. I take them when I get the RLS, always at night. I do have a lot of inflammation- allergies and sensitivities, and found from dealing with depression that I am probably low in Dopamine ( bupropion,= welbutrin helps) and suspect that I have SIBO. I basically agree with what Chris wrote, I just have another way of dealing with RLS, not necessarilly the best way.

  59. My RLS was diagnosed in 1996 along with PLMD (periodic limb movement disorder) and an apnea (despite being 7% body fat at the time). At that time I was still a very active athlete (had a major hip injury that made be less active), but despite working out 25 to 30 hours a week, I couldn’t sleep. Per the sleep studies done in 1996, I had over 150 disruptions per minute and most of my “sleep” was stage 1 and stage 2 level sleep. I was put on Permax, and then about six or so years later switched to requip after permax had been shown to cause heart valve leaks. I took Requip until about 2012. I couldn’t sleep without meds.

    Towards the end of 2012 I switched my diet to a ketogenic one. Since making this switch, I no longer take requip and can get deep sleep without any meds. Prior to this change of diet, I was an on and off again vegetarian. I was also briefly vegan for about two years. During the times before 2012 that I wasn’t vegetarian or vegan, I followed a low fat diet since low fat high carb diets were what athletes typically followed.

    So some of what I experienced may coincide with vitamin D and iron deficiencies, but I’d suggest that “good” fats play an essential role in a properly functioning neurological system which would be consistent with research that shows ketogenic diets being useful for other neurological maladies including epilepsy, and parkinson’s disease.

      • I’m not absolute, but yes I have drastically reduced my carbs. My stomach is Italian, so I can’t cut out really good pasta completely. I have though cut out most other grains and especially simple carbs (sugars). But again, once in a while, I’ll indulge at a restaurant with dessert.

    • My husband and I have been eating VLC/HF for about 6 years now. One surprising effect of this for both of us has been a really marked improvement in our reflexes. My working theory is that by eating lots of sat fat and cholesterol and choline, we have given our bodies the wherewithal to add myelin to our nerves. No proof, but we both noticed this independently.

  60. 25 years ago I was asking my doctor about my leg symptoms, and he kept thinking I was talking about cramps and I had to say no, and tried to explain this odd condition. Then later as I came in for another visit he seemed excited to tell me he found out what I was talking about, and that it was called Restless Leg Syndrome. I was so happy to have a name for it and to feel like it was something legitimate, even if he didn’t have any answers for me. This makes me wonder if this condition has been around forever or if it is rather new.

    Over the years I’ve tried taking iron or other things that may have helped some, but this past year I got testing and found out I am gluten sensitive and had some gut dysbiosis, along with nutritional deficiencies including iron, Vit D and Vit B12. My restless legs have gone away (along with other things) after treating all of these, so I cannot pinpoint which might have been the biggest influence. I’m just so thankful to finally have it gone!

    • Well, Donna, I know knowledge of RLS has “been around” for at least 75 or so years, as I’ve had RLS since I was a boy and I’m now 84 years old. I believe, at least in my experience, it is caused by a magnesium deficiency. Recently a health counselor advised me to begin a dermal magnesium therapy with a magnesium spray. Twice daily I spray magnesium on my legs and feet and upper body. The resulting experience has been more energy and no more RLS. I also occasionally take a epsom salt bath or foot soaking with mineral salts. This gives great relief as well.

  61. I have had tension and aches in my calves for more than 5-7 years. The pain would be lessened if I stretch them or tie a cloth around them tightly. Does this sort of pain qualifies as RLS? Does anyone know?
    My nutritionist recently recommended that it may be muscle spasm caused by magnesium deficiency. I have been taking Mixed Mg supplements and it has helped, although the problem is not 100% gone. I also have h-pylori and very low levels of B12 and vitamin D. Any suggestions are welcome.

    • I have a neighbour who had cramping in her calves at night. She was told she was low in potassium and should eat bananas. This worked for her.

    • Aadd you sound like me before I was diagnosed with hashimotos thyroiditis. Be careful with h-pylori, I hope you are treating it. I believe it helped trigger autoimmune disease in me. A magnesium deficiency can take a while to respond to oral supplementation. Also, low levels of D will put you at risk for autoimmune disease. Chris’s linked supplement looks good. My achilles tendons get really tight when I am hypothyroid. Perhaps you should do a thyroid panel with your nutrtionist?

  62. I do have RA, and have also had restless legs for several years. I had read that taking magnesium would help, but I did supplement to no avail. I was getting it every night in addition to involuntary twitches in my arms, legs and even in my torso. I then read that I should use magnesium spray instead. I figured i would try it. Within 2 days of using as directed, all RLS stopped, plus the twitches! I was amazed. Sometimes I would forget to use it, ans sure enough, they would start to come back.
    Just my experience, but if you suffer from RLS, I think you would try anything, as I did.

  63. I’m grain, dairy, soy, corn, sugar free among others. I found that if soy creeps into my diet, I would experience RLS. Corn by products can also trigger it for me.

  64. I had persistent RLS for years. When I went gluten free, the symptoms diminished substantially. Now also grain free, it is completely gone!

    • Mine disappeared when I removed gluten too! Didn’t even realize it at first. RLS comes back if I gluten myself. HATE that feeling!!!

    • Yes, whenever I eat gluten. Or even if I binge on too much sugar. I notice a big change. I’m still working on cleaning up my food choices. But awareness is half the battle.

    • Many on here mention they think gluten is causing their RLS. It can be a contributing factor because it can cause inflammation in the gut for some, which can kill beneficial bacteria and interfere with nutrient absorption. And many foods containing gluten also contain phytic acid which binds to the magnesium preventing absorption.

      There’s a lot of good information in the following linked article for everyone, not just people concerned about gluten in their food:
      http://www.wakingtimes.com/2016/04/18/gluten/

      Most of us have a magnesium deficiency (over 80% in the US) and glyphosate (Monsanto’s RoundUp™) residues in food contribute greatly to gut dysbiosis which interferes with nutrient absorption. (and immune function)

      If you don’t think you have a problem with glyphosate because you avoid GMOs, think again. Or better yet, read this article:
      http://www.naturalnews.com/053721_glyphosate_Quaker_Instant_Oats_Silk_soymilk.html

      Conventional farmers are using glyphosate as a desiccant (drying agent) for crops like wheat, oats, soy, barley and rye. Just before harvest, they literally douse the plant with glyphosate resulting in residues in our food that are frighteningly high. And these are not even GMO foods!

  65. The only thing I have found to relieve my RLS is to ride my bike a mile or more in the evening. When the weather is not agreeable I use my airdyne. If I fail to do this I will be getting out of bed later to do it.

  66. I have the worst case of restless legs arms hands and feet-been on every med out there and the only thing that helps is tramadol and 3 mag.(the good kind) I have it 24-7 as soon as I start to relax it acts up.I’m 58 and my doctor said I have the bloodwork of a 20 year old-I’m also not lacking anything,not even a pound over weigh-I exercise every day-I do have allergies and I’m in remission for interstitial cystitis

    • My RLS symptoms are mostly in the past, thanks to going gluten free and magnesium supplements. If my legs start to act up, I will rub magnesium oil on them and that does the trick.

    • I guess everyone has this different and different things help-I’m still looking-thought it might be food but I hardly ate for a week and was still horrible,not lacking anything,always hydrated-blood work is wonderful,very healthy,but this is such a big problem in my life-started with the legs and years later hit the arms,hands and feet.Not the typical nighttime problem,it’s 24-7 All I can say to everyone is hang in there!

      • Maybe you should take another look. I’m reading that for neurological health B12 should be around 1000 units. Some sources I’ve read say between 700 – 800 pm/l and anyone with levels under 450 especially if supplementing should be flagged. In Canada we’re told were fine if we’re over 133……….sigh.

    • Not in my case-Since everyone is different I doubt we will ever know what the real problem is.I would say something in the brain

  67. After minor surgery I was over prescribed Percocet, and had withdrawal symptoms when I stopped, which included RLS, along with goosebumps (several times a minute) and some serious psycopathy. I wonder what about drug withdrawal causes RLS.

  68. About two months after my treatment with Chris, my husband commented that I wasn’t kicking at night. I had YEARS of RLS and my mother and sisters did too. When he mentioned it I suddenly realized I was no longer miserable at night before going to be and in bed. It’s been four years and I’ve only had two very mild episodes. Chris and I worked through a LOT so I can’t pinpoint the exact reason I no longer have RLS, but I often contribute it to B12 deficiency. I think the two recurrences were when I was not getting enough B12. BUT, I did also heal my gut through work with Chris, am on a continued diet which reduces inflammation AND built up my vitamin D, so it really could be any of those things. All I know is it’s really a miracle. I only wish I could get my mother and sisters to go to my extreme dietary measures to heal their RLS too!

  69. I have a son whose restless legs are positive acrobatic sometimes.
    He’s also got OCD and possibly Tourette’s, an apparent consequence of glutamate processing issues. Are you aware of any research connecting glutamate dysregulation and restless leg syndrome?
    I feel like this is an area that is poorly understood by science. I can say categorically that cutting out high-glutamate processed foods and adding glutathione-boosting NAC has dramatically helped all of these conditions, including RLS. I think they all stem from the same cause.

    • Hi,
      Please get a strep titre if you have not already. My daughter emerged with RLS and so e OCD symptoms after many, many bouts of serious strep with Scarlet fever. She also has Celiac too.

  70. I was ill with flu last year and did not eat for a few days. As I was getting better that evening I had a large bowl of tortilla soup from a local restaurant. My first meal for 3 days. That night I could not sleep and my legs were twitching and all over the place. I have since discovered that MSG is the trigger for these symptoms. The tortilla soup was laden with msg. I am now very careful to look out for all the different forms of MSG as they definitely affect me badly.

  71. After suffering with rls for 40 years, I finally figured out 300 mg of mag at bedtime does the trick. God bless magnesium.

    • I also found relief from RLS by increasing my magnesium supplementally. Lots of other issues improved or disappeared as well. I concluded that I had absorption problems that resulted in low magnesium levels, the cause of which was SIBO for me.

    • For me, it’s Magnesium also. I take a lot, and for some reason cannot hold onto it so until I figure out what’s underlying the problem with RLS which can lead to muscle cramps leading to migraine from muscle cramps in my neck, shoulders and head, I keep taking Mg.

      • I take Magnesium Malate in the morning and citrate & glutamate in the evening. If you take the right types of magnesium you can become magnesium replete.

      • If you’re taking a readily bioavailable type of magnesium, have no gut issues, but need to take high levels of magnesium to maintain body levels, then look at your sugar (and simple carbs) consumption. Because magnesium is required in several enzymatic functions related to sugar metabolism, high consumption can contribute to a greatly increased need for this mineral, competing with your muscles for it.

  72. Though I am not sure exactly what defines RLS, I have less problem with my legs moving at night than I do cramping in my calves, especially my right one. During the day, I have to sit a lot, and it is then that my legs are very restless. I have had to become focused on my absent-minded habit of bouncing my leg(s) up and down. I am guessing this is a release of unspent energy, but I wonder how it contributes to the tension that I develop in my muscles. I have great difficulty finding a comfortable position to sit, and the restlessness is shown in the leg movements. I have been this way as long as I can remember, and though transdermal mag application as well as high dosage oral supplements, it remains a problem. I developed a lot of varicose and spider veins in my leg from the years when I worked on my feet all the time, and I figure that has something to do with the increase in cramping. These tend to hit me in the morning, an hour or two before I would normally get up, and so break up my good sleep. An application of mag oil spray on the site will calm them pretty quickly, but recently I am finding that there is tension in the calf muscles during the day as well. I do react to FODMAPS and have been following a low fodmap primal diet for some time, now, but lack the money to pursue true healing. I agree that restricting the diet this way long term can cause more problems, and I appreciate this article and the light it sheds on the issue. I have not had vitamin D levels tested, so that will be a good place to start, it seems.

    • Hey, sounds like me! My podiatrist was very helpful — pointing me in the right direction with orthotics, shoes that support my legs properly and a daily routine of stretches (many times a day). ROLFing massages have helped a lot, too! My issues are structural/biomechanical primarily, although internal imbalances of course contribute to the whole picture.

  73. For a couple of years, I’ve been focusing on healing my digestive system, balancing my gut biome, adding magnesium throughout the day in different ways (and forms,) supplementing with B vitamins + amino acids for gut and brain health, incorporating lifestyle changes to diminish stress. All have improved the quality of my life, but it was not until I started taking LDN a few months back that my RLS symptoms were completely resolved, along with the majority of my chronic depression and anxiety. I have Hashi’s and a family history of Parkinson’s. I’m loving life again! Thanks to Chris, for making me aware of LDN and to my DO for prescribing it.

  74. I’m 8+ months pregnant and have had increased restless leg symptoms; I asked my doctor (who I do love), but the best tip she could give was making sure I was drinking plenty of water…. however low iron makes complete sense as well for someone pregnant!

    • Michelle, I had horrible RLS through both of my pregnancies, and taking iron supplements completely eliminated it. The effect was pretty well immediate–if I’d taken the iron that day, I wouldn’t have RLS that night; if I skipped a day on the iron, the RLS would come back that night. After giving birth, the symptoms almost disappeared, so it’s not a permanent thing!

      • Wonderful to hear, thanks for sharing! I had RLS just very minorly before pregnancy. I am eating (a small amount) of liver every few weeks and know that helped light-headedness in second trimester. Maybe I’ll try an iron supplement instead or in addition.

        • Just do be careful with the iron being so close to your due date, as it can be constipating and constipation is typically already a major issue in the few days postpartum as your body figures out how to get back to normal. I would go easy on the iron in the week or so before your due date.

      • I started getting RLS wheni was pregnant with my 1st daughter 34 years ago. It got better after she was born until I got pregnant again two years later. My experience – it has continued to get worse the rest of my life. I have tried everything and found nothing that helps. Surviving on very little sleep.

    • I remember I had horrible cramps in my calves when in late pregnancy. My husband needed to help me stop the cramps. Usually I could do it myself. Not then.

      I know magnesium helps me reduce cramps now.

  75. I think I have finally figured out what causes or contributes to my RLS. Caffeinated drinks (even green tea counts) after 6pm and/or chocolate and other sweets with cocoa all act as stimulants. After I stopped consuming those in the evenings, my symptoms improved dramatically.

    Also a liver cleanse works wonders and results in the most sound and comfortable sleep.

  76. I’m in my fifties and now RLS has started attacking me at night! However, it’s worse when I consume caffeine or alcohol the day before. It’s also worse when I’m physically active the day before (especially with my legs, hips and back). It seems like any soreness in my legs, hips and back triggers the RLS. I can control this with Ibuprofen 400 mg.

    I’ve just started taking Niagen supplements which is the brand name for nicotinamide riboside (NR), a highly effective NAD+ booster and “no flush” form of vitamin B3. Since starting the Niagen I haven’t experienced any restless legs. I’ve been on Niagen for only a few days though.

  77. We give our clients with RLS symptoms 500 mg of Taurine. It immediately relieves symptoms in about 95% of the cases. For the 5% that don’t respond, we add in some D3/K2 and that seems to fit the bill.

  78. My thirteen year old daughter has been complaining that her legs hurt at night. She has already had a couple of major growth spurts already and didn’t complain before now. She’s been having regular periods for about 6 months now. I wonder about her iron and might get that tested. Most of the women in my family complain of RLS and the standard calcium/magnesium/vitD supplement does the trick for us but I stopped taking it after the issues around calcium supplementation a couple of years ago. I have thought of giving her a magnesium supplement. And now I’m wondering if she should take a calcium supplement because we don’t consume much dairy. (I know you can get it elsewhere but I’m concerned it’s not enough.) What would be safe supplementation for a still growing 13 year old girl?

    • I forgot to mention she has celiac but it’s been under control for a few years now (diagnosed 5 years ago). I’m not celiac but gluten free out of solidarity.

  79. I get restless legs sometimes in winter, I guess that could be related to the Vitamin D deficiency. Magnesium sure has helped me sleep better. If I sit a long time my feet swell some, does anyone else have this issue?

  80. Hi I have had restless legs,feet and cramping for as long as I can remember!
    Magnesium supplements and transdermal oil has sadly not worked for me. Nor Epsom salts baths. I have a mitochondrial malfunction where it appears I have mag in my blood but it is not reaching the mito cells properly hence I think maybe causing the issues for my muscles. Does anyone else have similar issues?I already take vitamin D because of deficiency. I also know I have inflammation and sibo but I react to pro and prebiotics and natural supplements that would kill the bacteria infection! I am also deficient of iodine but concerned about supplementing due to nodules! Feel in a catch 22 situation. Could really do with a detective angel who loves a challenge to help as I am running out of energy and money!

    • I take 4000 IU’s of D3 and my RLS and PILM are totally resolved. I am not able to take antihistamines or zolipidem (Ambien) as both trigger RLS and PILM. Subsequent blood tests for Vit D show a normal level. Vit D is a fat soluble vitamin and too much can result in liver toxicity so best to discuss with your MD before embarking on this course of treatment.

      • VITAMIN D LEVEL
        Most MD’s will tell you a Vitamin D blood serum level of 30 is fine. 30-70 is normal by conventional standards but the lower end of normal is NOT high enough to be OPTIMAL for the numerous needs of vitamin D in the body. Excuse me, did Chris say in the above article “a good range to shoot for is 25-50”? 25 is deficient even by conventional standards. Shoot for and maintain a blood serum level of 50-70. For most people this can take months to achieve by taking around 5,000 IU of daily vitamin D3.

        Regarding prescription sleep drugs, they carry the watered down caution “may be habit forming” and should not be used more than occasionally or very temporarily… but many doctors keep giving them out. They often cause miserable addictions and even more sleep loss.

        • It’s not about the number, it’s about how your body uses it. We’re all different. Parathyroid and calcium, for example, with D would show a better picture. IMHO, people get hung up on specific numbers too much instead of looking at the body as a whole organism

      • Hi Donna, thank you, I am already on vitamin D via the doctor due to a deficiency. Will be having it reviewed soon. x

      • Hi Judy thank you,yes I have had genetic testing and that’s what has made it so complicated and really the reason why I am in a catch 22 situation. When I need something something else gets blocked or reacts. Hence the need for a detective angel x

          • Hi Judy, although I live in France I have been having treatment from a clinic in the UK which specialities are CFS/ME Which is where so much has been revealed but I feel I need more specialist knowledge as I realise I was born with some of the issues as opposed to developing them.It’s difficult finding a functional medicine doctor here. And the gene testing is not really accepted here at the moment.

            • Check out this website: It is the work of Dr. Ben Lynch, ND. http://www.mthfr.net click on “Find a Doctor ” scroll down to list of doctors in the UK click on 3rd one in that group Liz McWatt, then click on her website. Under the topics see Nutrigenetics …click on it. I think this doctor could be your angel. It sounds like she has the training to work with you on the results of your genetic testing.

              • Thank you so much Judy, you are very much an angel detective! I am already linked up to Dr Ben Lynch and a member on his seeking health.org site. The work he is doing is fantastic! He is concentrating now on the end of the chain which involves the Mitochondria. And I have also asked questions re the mito and magnesium. I think part of my issues are that they are only just coming to light as part of the understanding in research and maybe I have to wait a while longer! I will certainly look at her website though! I have been working on the all the factors environmentally to ensure I am doing all I can for my epigenetics. Thank you again x

                • You are very welcome. I am so glad you already know of Dr. Lynch and hope you find the help you need very soon. We are fortunate so much info has become available in our lifetime and there are people working on learning more.

    • Andree — it’s imperative to take probiotics with your health issues. If you react to the probiotics you’ve taken, keep trying others. I, to, react to some — for example, those made on a rice substrate. But you saying you’react’ to probiotics is like saying you react to water. Hi hi quality probiotics, the expensive kind, and started in small qualities as you build up a tolerance, is important. Good luck!

      • Hi Tandy thank you for your comment,I have already been on some of the very best available over the years,in small quantities because of my high sensitivity to supplements,but sadly they still knocked my stomach and mito for six! Just too much for my body and mitochondria to cope with. I will keep trying, i am determined not to give up.I have recently been on a rest from everything as I felt so rough. I know there is a small loophole in my system where I can take hold and start from,it’s just finding it hence the detective.x

        • Could you be toxic? In other words, could you have metals such as mercury, cadmium, or even lead in your tissues which interfere with signaling or compete with receptor sites and thereby block absorption? Just a thought.

    • Have you tried a more absorbed Magnesium like Ionic Magnesium ? I have found that Good State Health Solutions is less expensive. Sorry I don’t know if we can mention the brand name but wanted to suggest it anyway. Not everyone can absorb pills and other forms. You can also Google more on that.

    • Hi Andree,
      All those supplements and medicines are for the temporary release of body problems. They won’t help in the end, but hiding the problems! You need to build a strong body to get rid of the problems.
      eastern qigong exercise, like Reiki, and dietary philosophies, like no raw food, salad, and cold food, will help to strong your body to get rid of the problems.
      Search online for more info.
      Good luck.

    • My family member takes the prescription as nothing else worked. Apple cider vinegar helps people balance flora, along with ginger and peppermint. Garde of Life fungal defense has oils and herbs that works for both bacteria and funghus- and you could add some to male it more appropriate for SIBO, like extra ginger. Bio-botanical research has a natural herbal tincture that may help with SIBO. I read that quinine treats RLS. Look that one up. Not enough in tonic water, but maybe you could get a prescription.

    • Just as damage to the gut (from antibiotics, glyphosate, etc.) can reduce or prevent magnesium absorption from the digestive tract into the bloodstream, damage to the cell membrane can reduce or prevent magnesium from getting into the cell where it is used by the mitochondria to produce ATP (the cell’s energy).

      I have found two supplements that help repair the cell membranes and provide nutrients to the mitochondria for additional cellular repair and ATP production.

      The first is a micronized purple rice product and the second is a new, improved version of the old GH-3 product that was initially developed as a local anesthetic and found to repair the cell membrane. The formula has been reworked and improved so it can now be taken orally (it was injected before).

      Both of these products appear to help in repairing the cell membrane thus allowing the cell to bring in nutrients needed to repair the cell and for the production of ATP. (from what I’ve read and my personal experience) The presence of magnesium in the cell is critical to enzymatic reactions crucial to the metabolism of polysaccharides in cellular energy production.

      The other macro minerals all have their roles to play too. It’s not just magnesium, although it is a major player here.

      • You may want to consider a fulvic /humic acid product from Mother Earth Labs called PH Balancer. Its a multivitamin eith miberals, but the jey component is the fulvic / humic avid. This product makes cell more permeable and is totally organic and gmo free.
        L Carnosine is known to help grow new mitochondria, yes grow new mitochondria. But, you must take 1000-1500 mg/ day followed by about 500mg or taurine.

  81. Increasing my levels of Potassium from near zero on a high carb diet of grains, bread and pastry, and changing to a whole, natural, low carb diet worked for me. Not only did the RLS completely disappear, but also the severe night cramps in the early morning hours. Potassium RDI of 3800mg by diet alone is not easy to maintain and I only average on any day about 75% of that, but have not suffered RLS for several years even at that level.

  82. I have been getting RLS for many years. I’ve also had two frozen shoulders and have Dupytrens contracture. I have now recently started getting myoclonic jerks. I’ve tried all sorts of supplements and detoxing. So far nothing has helped. I found the article very useful and it has given me more food for thought.

  83. I and my two daughter have suffered intermittently from restless legs since being a young teenager. It always started when sitting down especially in a cinema or theatre when relatively immobile. Mg made it worse. However in the past two months when I have been using a grounding (earthing) mat under my feet or legs when sitting down I have not experienced it though I have often had a feeling that it was going to start but it never developed. Because my RL was intermittent it is is not a proof that the earthing mat is helping at all but it is worth a try and good for you in other ways.

    • That sounds anxiety based RSL, which is what I think I have. I’ve never been diagnosed with anxiety because it’s never seem to really affect me too negatively (except the RLS but I don’t think that was considered a symptom) I’ve tried magnesium supp. and paleo but nothing has consistently worked. The past 8 month I’ve been using an essential oil blend on the bottom of my feet before bed or going to the movies or on a long car drive or plane and I haven’t had any issues. Its great this issue is getting a closer look as through the years I’ve spent trying to find a cause, there didn’t seem to be much research out there!

        • I use a mixture of lavender, vetiver, eucalyptus, orange and frankincense and a couple more calming oils. I put a few drops of each in a rollerball bottle and roll it on the bottom of my feet and on my wrists at night and it’s really improved not just getting to sleep but staying asleep.

      • Sometimes people try magnesium and find it doesn’t work for them. Usually they have only tried one form of magnesium and only used it for a month. Not all forms of magnesium are the same. For example, magnesium oxide (one of the more common forms found in drug stores) is so poorly absorbed that even taking 500 mg you would only be able to absorb about 20 mg! That’s not enough to have a beneficial effect especially in someone deficient enough that they have RLS.

        So your magnesium needs to easily absorbable by your body, and you have to take it long enough to allow you to have experienced enough healing to see some results.

        Nutrients, unlike pharmaceutical drugs, work slowly and gently and require time for healing changes to occur.

        Drugs, on the other hand, force your body to do their bidding with quick results which you then pay for with side effects, and eventually the return of the symptoms. Or a need for increasing doses to get the same relief. This is because most of the drugs don’t provide any healing only the suppression of the symptoms.

      • Sinclair, anxiety and depression are symptoms of magnesium deficiency. Check out my responses to others on here to get the full scoop.

        Also, anything that ramps up your metabolism (including stress, anxiety, high caffeine or high sugar intake, stimulant drugs) increases your need for magnesium. It is involved in over 300 different enzymatic functions in the body.

        If your intake is already suboptimal, an increased metabolism will only deplete your stores that much sooner.

        Additionally, with ‘factory-farming’ practices what they are the soil in which most of our food is grown, is becoming magnesium-deficient. f the magnesium is not present in adequate quantities n the soil then it won’t be in adequate levels in the plants we eat.If we d not supplement, we cannot help but become deficient.

        And then there’s the co-factors: vitamins D3 and K2 and magnesium’s sister, calcium; they all wok together and need to be present at the same time and in balance with each other for certain biochemical processes to take place in the body.

        Human biochemistry is more complicated than most people realize, even many doctors and scientists.

  84. Caffeine in any form–coffee, decaf, tea, chocolate — triggers RLS as soon as the very same night I have eaten even the smallest amount of caffeine– eg. in decaf coffee,

    • The same thing happens to me. I believe mine is due to a leaky gut from many years of GERD meds & antibiotics. Magnesium is the only thing that helps me sleep at night.

  85. I’ve had RLS for 17 years after I developed it during the second trimester of my second pregnacy. I’ve tried iron infusions (Pushing my iron levels from 12 to 768!!), Vitamin D,Vitamin C, Vitamin B, Magnesium, Calcium, Liver detox, hot baths, cold baths, more exercise, less exercise, hot drink before bed, no drink before bed, massage, heat packs, cold packs, magnets, muscle binding, homeopathic drops, varicose vein removal, hypnotism, and so many more treatments that I’ve forgotten. I’ve seen, neurosurgeons, neurologists, physiotherapists, Chiropractors, reflexologists, homeopaths, hypnotists and none of them helped (not even close). Approx 12 years ago though, I was prescribed Ropinarole from a sleep therapist and it worked a treat. Wonderful I thought, until after a while I started to need a higher dose to keep the RLS at bay. It wasn’t until I’d crept up from 0.25mg at night to 2mg at 11am, 2mg at 5pm and a final dose of 2mg at bedtime (total of 6mg a da) that I was told that Ropinarole caused Augmentation (Makes the condition worse while treating it). So now I was getting restless leg by lunch time and it would last all day and until approx 5am the next morning if I didn’t take the Ropinarole on time. So I then changed to Pramapexole but unfortunately it wasn’t subsidised at the time and was costing me nearly $400 a month which quickly became an unacceptable option. I then researched and found Methadone (although excessive) was meant to be good at treating RLS. So after many consultations I found a specialist who prescribed this to me and wow!!!! it stopped the RLS in it’s tracks. Not a twitch, not wiggle…..nothing, just normal feeling legs, I was over the moon. Unfortunately one of the side effects of methadone ( although I was on a very small dose) was sleepiness and found myself nodding off anytime I sat time for more than 5 mins. So off the Methadone I went and back onto the Ropinarole which quickly jumped up to the old 6mg per day bringing with it the side effects once again. This wasn’t a long term option as the dose would forever keep accelerating and the augmentation meant more Ropinarole so I am now on a combination of half Methadone and half Ropinarole which is perfect ( so far). If there was some other treatment out there however that was natural and meant I no longer needed any Pharmaceutical Drugs I would most definitely be interested in trying it.

    • High quality magnesium (i take magnesium mallet the a.m. & magnesium citrate & glutamate in the p.m.). That is what I used to wean off mirapex & requip. It took me over a year to do so, but it was well worth it.

  86. I get restless feet, not restless legs. Not sure if this is the same thing. My iron, B12 and Vit D levels aren’t flash either. I need to get them measured again.

    To calm down the restless feet, I poke the feet out of the bed clothes or put them against the window screen if this happens while I”m a passenger in a car. In the evening if I notice my feet getting warm, I take my footwear off. Walking around on a cold floor (we don’t heat our house in winter) helps too.

    Does anyone else just get restless feet, not legs?

    • RLS and PILM are often found together. With PILM, I found my feet were flexing at the ankles, kind of like a little dance. As time went on, this progressed to leg kicking. And still later, the sweeping restless leg motions started. All has been resolved with the Vit D3. My mom suffered with this for years. She was prescribed Gabapentin which did control it.

  87. What about B12 and/or folate deficiency? I have an MTHFR gene mutation, and I take methylated B vitamins (high doses). If I go several days without my B vitamins, my right leg and right arm get very annoyingly uncomfortable when I try to sleep. Keeping up with my B vitamins really helps!

    • Holly, I second making sure folate intake is adequate. I have read (in a number of reputable sources) that a percentage of people have RLS that is related to folate deficiency. I don’t know whether this is an MTHFR issue, and/or that we need a higher amount of folate than most people.

      I am a leading edge Boomer who has had RLS as long as I can remember. Several years ago I tested MTHFR heterozygous (C677T), which is the mildest form. If I eat cooked greens almost daily, I have far less of a problem. I do take a multi with 200 mcg of methylfolate (Seeking Health Chewable, 1 tab), and if the symptoms seem to be increasing in spite of greens intake, I also occasionally take half of a methylfolate-only cap in the evening to make sure I can sleep (Pure Encapsulations 400 mcg caps). Daily magnesium (Natural Calm) seems to help, as does methyB12 sublingual drops.

      And soaking in a hot tub just before turning in is also very helpful.

  88. My two cents worth regarding RLS.

    Iron deficiency (Coeliac Disease & Peri Menopause) linked to RLS for me. My ferritin was 20. Range is 20-300 here in Australia. Supplementation has included 100mg Iron Bisglycinate twice per day with food and a dose of ascorbic acid 1gm as a chaser.

    Magnesium has also been a game changer. Using an oil for dermal absorption. I leave on for 20 mins either at night or after brekky before a shower. It’s messy but far more effective I’ve noticed than the oral supplements. I tried the widely applauded ReMag and the sorbic acid preservative in it made my gut more ‘leaky and sore’.

    My Paternal GF, my Father, my self and all 4 of my children have RLS so I’m thinking there is a strong genetic component too. Four generations all affected and age of onset very varied.

  89. RLS is an expression of unexpressed stress energy. Whether it’s stress from the current crap day of work, or school project deadlines, or inflammation(you mentioned), or surgery and scar tissue, or repressed emotions and expression, or trauma of any sorts(all the way back to birth). Our tissues carry everything on record from prior to day one till day X.

    You let steam out of us pressure cookers and we lessen all these fidgeting symptoms that we keep trying to attack with myopic solutions.

    We aren’t meant to be vessels to store life but conduits to express and experience it. We need to stop teaching ourselves to be storage containers.?

  90. I remember recently that Dr Dan Kalish mentioned on Underground Wellness (the topic was focused on the brain) that RLS is a dopamine related problem. In what ways would this link up with your comments Chris?

    • It is. Largely Chris just stated observational stuff and nothing concrete. Consider Parkinson’s the grand daddy of dopamine signaling degredation and RLS it’s little brother that could potentially lead to Parkinson’s as you age.

      I’m not so sure of the connection between vitamin D that he states, but the treatment of mag and/or taurine makes a lot of sense because they are calming and lower another catecholamine in the same metabolic pathway called adrenalin.

      The gut is an obvious treatment because when the gut is off, anything goes (gut dysregulation is FP’s “catch all”). It will also directly lead to liver abnormalities causing cholesterol/hormone dysregulation. I would guess serotonin would play a part since it’s created in the gut, with increased endotoxin, and thereby stimulating dopamine antagonist prolactin.

      Another way of looking at it is from a dopamine “receptor” degredation view, if you believe in receptors, which begs the question “what’s degrading them?”. Medical science honestly doesn’t know much, but the body is about balance and it wouldn’t be strange to find out that balancing neurotransmitters in various ways may be the answer.

      Btw, I’m surprised Chris didn’t mention that smokers and coffee drinkers have been shown to have less chance of dopamine related diseases…

      • Thanks Nathan, you provided more of the “meat in the sandwich” I was looking for. I am amazed at the diversity in understanding and the variety of solutions provided by all the conversationalists here.

  91. I have suffered from severe RLS for about 25 years. In the early days my doctor was perplexed when I described my symptoms, he had never heard of it. Great when I started hearing it was being acknowledged as a condition! But the answers have not been simple. For me removing all carbs from my evening meal and reducing carb intake throughout the day brought relief. To me it makes sense that carbs produce energy and too much will produce energy when we don’t want it, ie when we need to be sleeping. My sister-in-law found this works for her as well. Obviously something else is going on I need to look at because a recent sleep study for apnoea showed I am very restless in my sleep. However RLS no longer keeps me awake. I am not aware having the symptoms now unless I eat carbs late in the day. I would be interested to see if others find reducing carbs helps their condition.

    • Hi Janice,
      Yes! I am pretty sure reducing sugar and carbs overall and esp at night has helped my RLS. Plus magnesium supplements, treatment for my thyroid, and Vit D…I still get it every so often–usually later at night and usually when I’ve let myself go a little with the carbs. It’s an ongoing mental power battle–but undoing years of a habit will never be easy. But I am working very well atm…thanks to my naturopath esp but also my doctor and specialist who diagnosed a thyroid problem in the first place. But I also did a lot of reading and pondering about how the human body works and how esp MY body works. I am grateful to have had some science education but also an interest in learning. I do believe without this I would never be chasing good health during my life.

  92. Chris, I could kiss you!
    Your website is my all time favourite. I’m a naturopath and experienced very bad RSL a couple of years ago. I found that all the points you mentioned above helped me to resolve it.
    I also take vitamin A and that has improved my gut health enormously. Michael Ash has written a lot about the importance of vitamin A.

  93. Hey Deane,

    Good to “see you” here. I second the magnesium approach and have actually had good results with several clients using a transdermal application of magnesium as opposed to oral.

    I’m also a huge fan and proponent of using float tanks which contain an average of 1000 pounds of epsom salt that you are immersed in.

    It’s an incredible way to meditate, reduce stress and cortisol imbalance and more. The science books refer to it as “REST therapy”. Pretty accurate name. I have several podcasts on it..

  94. I thought RLS was a condition the drug companies made up so they could sell more drugs. That is until it started happening to me! I didn’t know about these underlying causes and one or more may still apply to me but here’s what nails RLS for me.
    I take a magnesium supplement. That made a HUGE difference.
    Also I need to get the right amount of exercise. I found around 30 – 45 min. to be the sweet spot (I walk, bike, hike or swim.) Either too much or too little can trigger RLS. And oddly I do yoga but find that doing it too late in the evening can trigger RLS.
    And lastly I roll my legs just before bed on a foam roller. Aaahhh.
    My RLS still acts up usually because I don’t heed my own advice. Then I take a homeopathic remedy for RLS by Hyland’s. It may only be placebo but it really does help.

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