Expert Advice

How can I calm restless legs?

Find relief from this twitching and tingling nuisance.

How can I calm restless legs?
Pin it Brian Rea

An integrative physician says: If you have an uncontrollable urge to move your legs or if your lower limbs feel itchy and twitchy while you’re sitting or resting, you could have the neurological condition restless legs syndrome (RLS). Deficiencies of dopamine, the brain chemical that controls movement, and iron are major triggers for RLS.

The treatment: Iron is needed to produce dopamine, so take 25 to 29 milligrams at bedtime with 100 milligrams of vitamin C, which aids absorption, plus 400 IU of vitamin E to enhance dopamine levels. Increasing the production of the neurotransmitter GABA will also relax your legs, so try theanine (50 to 200 milligrams) and magnesium (200 to 400 milligrams) before bed. The anti-spasmodic herb wild lettuce helps as well. — Jacob Teitelbaum, M.D., of Kona, Hawaii, medical director of the Fibromyalgia and Fatigue Centers

A nutritionist says: When your muscles aren’t getting enough vital nutrients, such as iron, folate, magnesium, zinc, tryptophan and vitamin E, they tend to spasm. Another culprit: acid-reflux meds such as Prilosec, Prevacid or Tums, which prevent absorption of those nutrients as well as enzymes and protein.

The treatment: Eat foods rich in the nutrients needed to ease your RLS; these include kelp, pumpkin seeds, beet greens, avocado and turkey. Buy organic foods when possible, because they’re thought to be more nutrientdense than nonorganic foods. To improve the absorption of nutrients, try stirring a tablespoon of apple-cider vinegar into 4 ounces of water and sip it slowly throughout your biggest meal of the day. It’s also smart to avoid caffeine, alcohol and processed foods, which inhibit mineral absorption. — Victoria M. Wood, R.D., C.N.S., M.P.H., a nutritionist in Washington, D.C.

A naturopath says: Homeopathic medicine can ease specific symptoms with diluted doses of plant- and mineral-based remedies.

The treatment: Take Zincum metallicum first because it helps relieve RLS sufferers’ most common complaint—the inability to control their leg and, sometimes, arm movements. If your jerky limbs wake you up at night, try to tame them with Causticum. Use Arsenicum album to ease the creepy-crawly sensations, especially if you also feel restless or cold. But if you’re itchy and hot, try sulphur. Rhus toxicodendron and Kali carbonicum may help, too. With all remedies, start with a 6C potency and take three pellets before bed. You can also buy combination formulas that will treat numerous symptoms. — Jamie Oskin, N.D., a naturopathic physician specializing in homeopathy at the Arizona Natural Health Center located in Tempe