This is my personal story living with RLS (Restless Leg Syndrome) which I have had for thirty five years.  I developed RLS after my youngest daughter was born in 1975.  It has been an ongoing journey of pain, frustration and discovery of what works for me.

RLS started after a stressful pregnancy followed by events such as a death in the family and marital problems.  The tingling started in my lower legs and calves.  I did not pay attention to the tingling because my daughter had health issues and was waking several times during the night.
It took me five years to realize that I had a health challenge because my daughter was ill and I was focused on her health not on mine.

The medical community did not seem to know what it was at the time.  I took me another ten years to label this challenge.  My GP sent me to a Neurologist who told me that it was RLS.  When inquiring about the possible solutions for RLS, the Neurologist shrugged his shoulders and said he had no idea.  So I was back at the beginning of a search for answers again.

Leaving a stressful marriage seemed to help for a while, but my life barrel was filling up rapidly.  Insufficient diet, money challenges, work stress and trying to bring up two girls on my own increased and intensified the tingling.  The sensations were moving up my legs, it had now reached my thighs and sleep was ever evasive.  Advil became my drug of choice; at least it would allow me a few hours sleep.

I decided to try alternative therapy because the medical community had no answers.  I met a GP who did acupuncture.  I received massage therapy.  I took large amounts of vitamins.  A magnesium/calcium mineral combination seemed to help a bit.  I found relief for a while, several weeks to a month with these therapies, but nothing seemed to be long lasting.  My sleep was very sporadic and menopausal challenges complicated the RLS.   I had given up hope of ever getting a good night’s sleep again.

I decided to try an energy therapy called Reiki, during which my body twitched, felt tense and was uncomfortable.  After about eight sessions my body seemed to respond to the Reiki by releasing toxins and balancing my energy fields.  Finally calm and sleep were part of my life once again, although sporadically.

An aha moment was learning that food played a large part of what triggered my RLS.  When I drank coffee and wine, ate white flour and too much sugar my RLS was raging.  The different methods of nutrition counseling intrigued me.  Information was varied and confusing depending on what professional you spoke with.  So I decided to attend school to become a holistic nutritionist.  This has helped me to understand the body and the health challenges of myself and  others.

Of the many food options I learned about is Nutritionist Dr. Peter D’Adamo’s system “Eat Right for Your Blood Type” Diet which made the most sense to me.  Following Dr. D’Admao’s system as an “A” blood type I changed my diet to whole grains, legumes, fish and occasionally chicken.  My metabolism is working better, therefore my RLS is better.
Food allergies and sensitivities also play a large part in health and healing, read Caroline Sutherland’s book “The Body Knows”   Inflammation from food sensitivities and incorrect diet choices create havoc with body systems causing all types of autoimmune diseases.  Which in my case were RLS, High Blood Pressure and Thyroid Problems.  Also herbal remedies should not be discounted for they are very powerful medicine.  When life has been stressful and my RLS is not cooperating an herbal remedy can make a difference between sleep and lying awake.

Bedtime routines are important such as taking a relaxing bath before bed.  I find that winding down by staying off the computer, not watching TV or a movie a few hours before bed helps to relax my mind and body.  Thomas J. Balkin, Ph.D., Chairman of the National Sleep Foundation says “The hour before bed is an important time to relax and wind-down before going to sleep.  For those who are having problems sleeping, it’s a good idea to consider whether your bedtime routines may be too alerting.”

There is no exact science to deal with RLS.  Research is ongoing and I am not sure if they even consider holistic nutrition.   As you will see from the following quote taken from the RLS Foundation this is what they think causes RLS.

“What causes RLS?
Research into the cause of RLS is ongoing and answers are limited. Researchers believe that RLS is likely to have different causes that may overlap. We do know that while RLS often runs in families, it also sometimes appears as the result of another condition. A substantial number of women develop RLS during pregnancy.  In addition, anemia, low iron levels, end stage renal disease with dialysis, and peripheral neuropathy are all associated with RLS. Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) may also be associated with RLS.”

The medical community has found some answers through drugs but these have side effects and do not work for all RLS sufferers.  My personal experience is that drugs give you immediate relief but compound the problem of RLS and increase your “toxic life barrel”.

My suggestions for RLS is to explore alternative therapies, seek the advice of a holistic nutritionist because RLS is a multifaceted disease.  Realize that you can achieve relief by finding a doctor who is willing to work with a nutritionist.  Be willing to make changes in your life.  Realize that this is a life journey toward discovery and wellness for what works for you.


By  Linda Ledingham
Reiki Practitioner/Teacher and Holistic Nutrition Student

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