iron deficiency

Understanding Restless Leg Syndrome

In my Reflexology practice I often encounter people with RLS - Restless Leg Syndrome.

RLS is a disorder that causes a strong urge to move one's legs. There is often an unpleasant feeling in the legs that improves somewhat with moving them. The feelings generally happen when at rest and therefore can make it hard to sleep. Due to the disturbance in sleep, people with RLS may have daytime sleepiness, low energy, irritability, and a depressed mood. Additionally, many have limb twitching during sleep. It is also considered a sleep disorder. 

As research has shown over and over, sleep disruption can significantly impair quality of life, so RLS is more than just an uncomfortable inconvenience. According to a study published in European Respiratory Journal, 2012 40: P436, RLS is more prevalent among Obstructive Sleep Apnea patients than controls. CPAP treatment decreases RLS symptoms significantly. You can read more on the significance of good sleep in my recent blog here.

Certain chronic conditions (Parkinson’s disease, kidney failure, diabetes, peripheral neuropathy and iron or vitamin D deficiency) and pharmaceutical drugs containing sedating antihistamines, such as anti-nausea drugs, antipsychotic drugs, some antidepressants and cold/allergy medications, can sometimes cause the side effect of RLS. This is known as secondary RLS. It would be fair to say, that poor circulation and low level of oxygen in the blood also play a role. 


In my Reflexology sessions, I pay particular attention to improving the range of motion with the ankles, stretching and manipulating lower leg reflexes, and focusing on the reflexes to the central nervous system and low back muscles. 

I also suggest using graduated compression socks. Sockwell is my favorite brand. You can order them here.

The American Academy of Neurology (AAN) released new guidelines, since some evidence shows that iron deficiency is associated with RLS. The AAN now recommends Iron 325 mg along with Vitamin C 1000 mg twice daily for RLS patients with low blood ferritin levels (<75 mcg/L). 

Vitamin C enhances the uptake of Iron, among many other important functions. Bleeding can cause iron loss. Gastrointestinal bleeding can be caused by aspirin, ibuprofen, or arthritis medicines used for a long period of time. Before resorting to supplements, I want you to reach for foods rich in Iron and vitamin C, such as eggs, fish, leafy vegetables (my favorite are beet leaves which you can sauté with garlic and onions as a side dish to meat and liver - also rich in Iron). A good online shopping source is Vital Choice.

On a very personal note, I came to inherit “anemic “ genes. My late aunt and my mom historically suffer from anemia; my own ferritin levels are always on the low side. To combat this, I supplement generously with Vitamin C and Iron, in addition to eating abundantly healthy. My favorite brand for Vitamin  C is “Berry C” by Lidtke, and my Iron supplement comes from “Laktoferrin with Colostrum” by Allergy Research Group. Both of these are available to order on my online dispensary - Fullscript.