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Natural Remedies For Restless Leg Syndrome

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Natural Remedies For Restless Leg Syndrome

Do You Have Creepy Crawly Sensations In Your Legs?

Or maybe you would describe it as being electrocuted by gnomes with tiny live wires? If either of these sound familiar, you may be one of the 12 million Americans who suffer from Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS).

Doctors say there is no known cause or cure, but they can help you manage the symptoms with anticonvulsants, tranquilizers, opioids, and Parkinson’s disease medications. Watch out, though  – you may need a few extra medications to manage the potential side effects: amnesia, the urge to binge on food or shop compulsively, breathing problems, dizziness, nausea and fatigue. (Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4)

The worst part? RLS tends to flare up the most during pregnancy, and none of these medications are safe for baby.

Fortunately, managing RLS naturally might be easier than you think. I’ve struggled with this sleep thief off and on since I was about 8 years old, and was taking tranquilizers to manage it by my early twenties. Fortunately, through a little trial and error I’ve been able to eliminate it without the help of medications. Here’s what I’ve learned about the possible causes of RLS, and how I’ve managed it naturally for the past 7 years.

Natural Remedies For Restless Leg Syndrome

Magnesium Deficiency

According to some experts, Restless Leg Syndrome is most often related to nutritional deficiencies, most notably magnesium and other minerals/trace minerals. (source 1, source 2, source 3)

Magnesium is needed to push excess calcium out of cells so that smooth muscle can relax. A deficiency can cause muscle tightening, twitches, involuntary jerks, and charlie horses.

What to do:  It’s difficult to get adequate levels of magnesium through food for three reasons:

  1. Modern soil is very depleted in magnesium, as are the crops grown in it. (source)
  2. Stress causes us to burn through our stores more quickly
  3. Magnesium is not easily absorbed in the digestive tract (source)

The good news is, magnesium is easily absorbed through the skin. You can supplement with magnesium oil (here’s where to get it), epsom salt baths, or pico-ionic magnesium (a highly bioavailable form taken internally)

I also make sure to get other minerals that are known to be helpful for calming restless legs, such as potassium.  My favorite “supplement” is homemade bone broth with a pinch of unrefined sea salt, which is an excellent source of magnesium, calcium, potassium, and trace minerals. Here’s how to make it.

But what about the 2:1 ratio of calcium to magnesium intake I’m supposed to have? Won’t this mess me up? 

Experts often suggest that people need to consume twice as much calcium as magnesium for bone health. According to Dr. Carolyn Dean, the supposed “ideal” ratio is a myth. Apparently, the recommendation goes back to statements made by French scientist Jean Durlach, who warned that calcium intake should never dip exceed twice the amount of magnesium consumed. New research indicates why he made this suggestion –  without adequate magnesium, calcium can calcify soft tissue and contribute to heart disease. (source)

According to Dean, “A hundred years ago we enjoyed a diet high in magnesium with a daily intake of 500 mg. Today we are lucky to get 200 mg.[8] However, calcium in the diet has never been higher. This high-calcium, low-magnesium diet, when coupled with calcium supplementation, can give a calcium to magnesium imbalance of 10:1 or even higher — which constitutes a walking time bomb of impaired bone health and heart disease.” (source)

Dr. Dean recommends getting a 1:2 or at least a 1:1 (calcium to magnesium) ratio in the diet.

 Other considerations: LOTS of drugs – from Maalox to Ritalin to the birth control pill – deplete magnesium. Here’s a partial list. Also, some drugs interact with magnesium, so caution should be used when supplementing.

Low Thyroid/Estrogen Dominance

This may actually relate back to magnesium. “Too much estrogen can lead to magnesium deficiency and vitamin B deficiency, according to Dr. John Lee. A deficiency in magnesium causes muscle tightening and that causes people to experience the leg spasms common in RLS. The deficiency in vitamin B can cause neurological problems, which is what causes the creepy, crawly sensations.” (source)

Iron Deficiency/Anemia

According to this study, “Patients with RLS have lower levels of dopamine in the substantia nigra and respond to iron administration. Iron, as a cofactor in dopamine production, plays a central role in the etiology of RLS.”

Low dopamine can cause neurological problems such as the creepy crawly sensations described above. That’s why Parkinson’s drugs work – they boost dopamine levels with a synthetic version.

Before you rush of to supplement with iron, though, there are two things to consider. First, iron and magnesium compete for receptor sites in the body, so taking too much can affect your magnesium stores.

Second, according to Dr. Campbell-McBride iron supplementation can actually make anemia worse under certain conditions:

 Most people with abnormal gut flora have various stages of anaemia. It is not surprising. They not  only can’t absorb essential for blood vitamins and minerals from food, but their own production of these vitamins is damaged. On top of that people with damaged gut flora often have a particular group of pathogenic bacteria growing in their gut, which are iron-loving bacteria (Actinomyces spp., Mycobacterium spp., pathogenic strains of E. coli, Corynebacterium spp., and many others). They consume whatever iron the person gets from the diet, leaving that person deficient in iron. Unfortunately, supplementing iron makes these bacteria grow stronger and does not remedy anaemia.” (Gut & Psychology Syndrome)


As mentioned under the thyroid section, a deficiency in B vitamins can cause neurological issues which result in tingling sensations.

So that’s it! Everything I’ve learned about Restless Leg Syndrome and a bag of chips (fried in coconut oil, of course!)

What’s worked for you?

Photo Credit: Andrew Mason via Compfight cc

Disclaimer: None of these statements have been evaluated by the FDA. The information on this blog is for informational purposes only and is not meant to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease. You can see my full disclaimer here.

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120 Responses to Natural Remedies For Restless Leg Syndrome

  1. Teresa says:

    Have your ever heard of a bout of mastitis triggering RLS? I recently had mastitis and afterwards have developed what you described above as pins and needles in my upper thighs.

  2. Bronwyn says:

    I have horrible RLS and so does my 6 year old daughter. She began having symptoms at age 3 and it has only gotten worse. Poor girl has a horrible time falling asleep and then moves ALL night long – impossible to sleep if she crawls in bed with us! I know there have been no approved meds for kids – so any suggestions as to how I can help her?!

    • Lori says:

      Bronwyn, try essential oils. I use AromaTouch and Frankensense. I put 4 drops of each into melted coconut oil. Let harden in fridge. Then apply to bottom of feet and/or directly onto legs. Works in about 10 minutes!

  3. Betty says:

    For my RLS, this will sound crazy but I get up and take 5-6 marischino cherries. It might all be in my head, but it works every time. My brother swears by it also.

  4. Natural Remedies For Growing Pains - MommypotamusMommypotamus | says:

    […] Though it doesn’t necessarily address the root cause of growing pains, massage can be a wonderful comfort measure. I found it helpful for my restless leg syndrome, which is somewhat similar, after I gave up tranquilizers and began searching for a natural solution. (I did eventually find one that worked for me, which I wrote about here.) […]

  5. Aurora says:

    Magnesium works like a miracle. I spray it on right before bedtime, and i never have RLS anymore. Haven’t had it for years.

  6. Andrew says:

    Magnesium has greatly reduced my RLS symptoms but I also have to keep an eye on what I eat or drink.

    In particular I still love soda but invariably if I start to drink too much of it my legs will begin to act up again. Sometimes it will take a couple days for it to happen but it never fails to trigger my restless legs.

    • Connie says:

      I had discovered this also, and had forgotten about it until I read your post. My mother has RLS extremely bad and she drinks a lot of Coke. I think I’m going to try going without again. Has anyone noticed if it is just Coke or all sodas? Thanks

  7. John says:

    I have had RLS most of my life without realizing it. I ended up on disability 12 years ago after shattering my left heel. constant pain, buzzing tingeing twitches crawling. This condition grew to affect the arms and hands as well. To make a very long and painful story shorter, about 6 months ago I found out that I was infected with a strain of bartonella bacteria as a child in 1969. This stealth bacteria releases an endotoxin when it dies that binds to the nerves and causes way to many issues to list but they are very similar to RLS symptoms! The bacteria infects the bones, brain and spinal cord and really plays havoc with the whole system. unless caught early in the acute stage it becomes almost impossible to detect and is very difficult to eradicate. In my experience most western medicine Drs have very limited knowledge of this very common pathogen (over 40% of domestic cats carry at least one of 30 known strains!). If they have heard of it, their information on it is 20 years out of date! Of the thirty know strains, 12 have been identified that infect humans.
    I have had success in reducing the symptoms with a number of treatments…
    Limit sugar and gluten intake
    Soaking in HOT water till my head sweats
    steam sauna
    Epsom salt soaks
    homeopathic Nerve Fix (pricey but worth it)
    cannabis (great for sleeping)
    Tahitian Noni Juice
    Most important is keeping a clean and healthy gut and liver!
    To control the Bartonella and hopefully eliminate it I am following the Salt C+ protocol and some of Dr Steven Buners recommendations. Both books can be found on Amazon.
    I hope someone reading this may have an ah ha moment or perhaps find some answers.

  8. Christine says:

    It was linked to low ferritin for us. Iron supplements did help (recommended by our holistic practitioner), along with vitamin C. Ferritin under 40 can cause ADHD and RLS symptoms. Mine was only 11.

  9. Katie O says:

    I experience RLS every so often, especially during pregnancy. I’ve found that if I get out of bed and stretch my calf muscles by bending over and touching my toes for 30 counts, I experience some reliefe. Sometimes I have to do this twice before my legs will”quiet down”.

  10. Steve G says:

    I’ve been afflicted with RLS for 30 years. The most effective remedy I’ve found is an electric vibrator that I use all over both legs for about. 10 minutes. Sometimes I have to do it twice but it always works. And I get to sleep!

  11. Diane says:

    Pickle juice eliminates RLS quickly. It only take a T spoon or 2. I don’t know how or why but I know it works great. (Probably tne vinegar.)

  12. Nikki Becker says:

    I have RLS. Have had it since I was 12 or 13. Got diagnosed when I was 30. Sprained my ankle kicking my footboard of my bed from periodic limb movement disorder. Not everyone who has RLS has PLMD; and not everyone who has PLMD has RLS. Hereditary peripheral neuropathy runs in my family. So far, my labs are all normal. Dietary changes haven’t helped. Gluten-free pescatarian here. I have to take a Parkinson’s drug if I want to sleep. The other neuropathy signs/symptoms are showing up. But I am fighting those tooth and nail. I take a super-duper (smile here, people lol) supplement with loads of Mg, copper, Ca, -you name it, it’s in there. My neurologist approved it.
    I honestly think (apologies for the TMI) that certain life changes a woman goes through has made the RLS worse. Then again, that could be psychosomatic. Best of luck to all who have and suffer from this. Blessings!!

  13. Inge Hansen says:

    I have tried Seratame for 60 Day’s and it works, i would like to order a full Order now!!!!

  14. joseph says:

    Wearing light support stockings, tights or hose helps me alot especially when it’s cold because of the arthritis. Exercise &/or hard work but not over doing it helps one to sleep better also.

  15. Allie says:

    Is magnesium okay to take while pregnant? I’m miserable at night time.

  16. Joe Blake says:

    Two very simple, silly solutions have provided relief to me. I offer them here. I know they are silly. But consider them harmless in execution and may work immediately:
    1.Bar of Ivory soap. A bar of soap placed in proximity to or in contact with the legs provides IMMEDIATE RELIEF of restless leg symptoms. Other bars of soap are also effective. Some people place soap in socks, and then wear the socks to bed.
    2. Aloe Vera. After trying numerous gels which provide a cooling sensation(menthols) or a warming sensation(icy hot), some restless leg sufferers now apply aloe vera to their legs a couple of hours (or less) before bedtime. Aloe vera also provides IMMEDIATE relief. Do not wash it off. Simply apply and leave. Try to find 100% Aloe(typically clear, must be ordered online, sometimes available at Walgreen’s).

    Perhaps these methods could be called the placebo effect. But, I suffered restless legs for decades, and soap and aloe vera have provided years of relief. Furthermore, they represent no harm to the user, are inexpensive, and at most would cost an afternoon of time.

  17. Mary Sunshine says:

    I have never experienced this before, but I have felt something creeping up on me. For years, when I get very tired my whole body becomes extremely restless. Sleep always did the trick, but lately it hasn’t been helping. My legs and arms are just going crazy. And then last night -Holy Cow- I didnt know what was going on. My legs were going crazy and I could not sleep! I looked up my symptoms thinking it was all about stress and this (RLS) came up. I also went to another couple of sites that stated it’s Estrogen Dominance.
    *ding ding ding*!!!
    I will soon be 47 and have been using progesterone cream for over 2 years now to help ease me into perimenopause. I ran out about 4 months ago and haven’t been taking anything. Since then, I have an ovarian cyst that won’t go away, my breasts are extremely tender, my periods were coming early, I am so bloated despite my gluten free, mostly paleo diet ,and I cannot lose weight despite my great diet and exercise. Not only that, but the mood swings and depression are occurring far too often! I also have autoimmune hypothyroid (for which I take Naturethroid and LDN) and that is another symptom. I was attributing all these symptoms to a very stressful event which occurred around the same time as I ran out of Progesterone.
    So today I went out to a local nutrition/healthy vitamin store and bought a tube of Pro-Gest cream. It’s also available on Amazon.
    Based on the websites I have been reading and the comments, I think this is where my RLS problem stems, and I think it’s also the problem of many others, especially perimenopausal women.

    For relief last night, I rubbed my legs with Vicks Vap-O-rub and I was able to get to sleep. As for the magnesium deficiency, I whole-heartedly agree. I have always been mindful of it and I take epsom salt baths at least once a week, sometimes more. But for me, I think it’s the estrogen dominance.

    Stay away from the Rx meds!!
    Big Pharm is not out to help you!

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