Restless Legs

This is a very distressing condition which causes tickling, burning, or pricking sensations, involuntary twitching or jerking in the muscles of the lower legs. Also known as Ekbom’s syndrome, this condition affects between 5 and 10 people in every 100. It is more common in pregnant and middle aged women, smokers , diabetics, people with low blood sugar – see under Low Blood Sugar in this section and in those who drink too much coffee. It could also be partly hereditary. Common causes are lack of iron, vitamin E and the mineral magnesium.

Foods to Avoid:

Cut down on your alcohol intake. The biggest trigger is caffeine in any form, so avoid coffee, tea, fizzy drinks, chocolate and any foods containing caffeine should be eliminated. Avoid too many foods containing sugar which can cause your blood sugar to fluctuate and make symptoms worse. Reduce refined pastries, cakes, mass produced pies and biscuits.

Friendly Foods:

You need to eat quality protein – from lean (and preferably organic) pork, turkey, chicken, fish, eggs, low fat cheeses, pulses, beans peas, tofu etc at least once a day. This should be by lunchtime as protein helps to control blood sugar levels for longer than other foods. Eat more brown rice, quinoa, couscous – and for snacks eat rye crispbreads or amaranth crackers which are delicious spread with a little low fat homous or salad. Eat more leafy green vegetables, fruits and honey which are rich in the mineral magnesium. Iron rich foods are liver, lean red meat, cereals, black strap molasses and game meats such as hare, venison and pigeon. As essential fats are important include oily fish in your diet at least twice weekly and sprinkle organic unsalted sunflower and pumpkin seeds over cereals and salads. Eat raw wheat germ and avocadoes which are rich in vitamin E and healthy monounsaturated fats. Eat more blueberries and bilberries when in season. Drink herbal teas such as camomile, green tea, lemon balm or vervain.

Useful Supplements:

If you are deficient in iron take a liquid formula such as Spatone that is easily absorbed and does not cause constipation. A/v from health stores worldwide. A high strength B complex to calm the nerve endings Full spectrum Vitamin E 400 IU twice a day- can be extremely effective in alleviating this condition. (if you are on blood thinning drugs vitamin E thins the blood naturally, so tell your doctor and have regular blood tests so that you can reduce your drugs.) The mineral magnesium is very important to relax the muscles, so take a good quality multi vitamin and mineral that contains 500 mg of magnesium.

Helpful Hints:

  • A simple blood test will tell you if you are anaemic and actually need to take extra iron – check with your GP. As anyone over 50 should not take iron unless they have a medical condition requiring it. Iron can accumulate in the body and is linked to some heart disease.
  • Get plenty of exercise.
  • Massage your legs and feet with essential oil of rosemary in a carrier of almond or olive oil – using kneading movements from the ankle upwards towards the knee.
  • The legs can be bathed in alternate hot and cold water to improve circulation.
  • Use cramp bark cream before going to bed .
  • Try reflexology, acupuncture or regular aromatherapy massage to pep up the circulation.
  • Take all the suggested supplements for at least three months.
  • Wearing magnets in your shoes or in bed socks greatly aids circulation which can reduce the symptoms considerably at night.
  • For further information ask at your local health store or pharmacy, or call London pharmacy John Bell & Croydon on 020 7935 5555.