Restless Leg Syndrome

InsomniaI was recently asked by someone about what essential oils one should use for Restless Leg Syndrome.  There never is just one right simple answer to a question like this.  I always like to look at everything that is going on for the client so one needs a lot more information, that may or may not, have anything to do with their experience of Restless Leg Syndrome.  Add to the fact that the causes of Restless Leg Syndrome are often unknown and the symptoms experienced may vary from one person to another.

The place I always like to start is getting a proper understanding of what it is we are dealing with.

According to the Mayo Clinic:

  • Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a condition in which you have an uncontrollable urge to move your legs, usually due to leg discomfort.  It typically happens in the evenings or nights while you’re sitting or lying down. Moving eases the unpleasant feeling temporarily.
  • Restless legs syndrome, now known as restless legs syndrome/Willis-Ekbom disease (RLS/WED), can begin at any age and generally worsens as you age. It can disrupt sleep — leading to daytime drowsiness — and make traveling difficult.  Simple self-care steps and lifestyle changes may help you.
  • Medications also help many people with restless legs syndrome.
  • Common Characteristics include:
    • Sensation starts after being at rest.The sensation typically begins after you’ve been lying down or sitting for an extended time, such as in a car, airplane or movie theater.
    • Relief by movement.The sensation of RLS/WED lessens with movement, such as stretching, jiggling your legs, pacing or walking.
    • Worsening of symptoms in the evening.Symptoms occur mainly at night.
    • Nighttime leg twitching.RLS/WED may be associated with another, more common condition called periodic limb movement of sleep, which causes your legs to twitch and kick, possibly throughout the night, while you sleep.
    • People typically describe restless legs syndrome symptoms as abnormal, unpleasant sensations in their legs or feet, usually on both sides of the body. Less commonly, the sensations affect the arms.
    • The sensations, which generally occur within the limb rather than on the skin, are described as: Crawling and creeping; Pulling, bubbling or tugging; Burning or searing; Aching, throbbing, or pain; Itching or gnawing; Sometimes the sensations seem to defy description. Affected people usually don’t describe the condition as a muscle cramp or numbness. They do, however, consistently describe the desire to move their legs. It’s common for symptoms to fluctuate in severity. In some cases, symptoms disappear for periods of time, then recur.

According to the University of Maryland, Medical Centre: Restless legs syndrome usually isn’t related to a serious underlying medical problem. However, it may occur in people with chronic kidney disease, diabetes, iron deficiency, Parkinson disease, peripheral neuropathy, pregnancy and multiple sclerosis.  It may also occur in people who: use certain medicines such as calcium channel blockers, lithium or neuroleptics; have stopped sedative use; use caffeine.  It occurs most often in middle-aged and older adults; it may be passed down in families.  It can also occur during pregnancy, particularly the last trimester, however it usually disappears after delivery.

According to both sites RLS can’t be cured.  Sometimes medications are prescribed, however there are also lifestyle changes that may help.  Getting enough sleep; Relaxation techniques such as yoga and meditation; avoiding caffeine-containing products including chocolate, caffeinated beverages such as coffee, tea, soft drinks; Moderate, regular exercise are all things that might be helpful and are certainly worth considering.  Other lifestyle suggestions include: Applying alternate hot and cold packs; baths and massages, and this is where we can incorporate our wonderful essential oils.

There are several ways in which to use essential oils for Restless Leg Syndrome. It is generally more effective to make up a blend of essential oils rather than to just use one single oil. You can choose the one that most appeals to you or use a combination:

Aromatic Bath – Before going to bed.  Fill a bath with warm water. Remember that essential oils do not dissolve in water so add an equal number of drops of emulsifier to your essential oil blend (usually around 6 drops), or if you don’t have an emulsifier add an equal number of drops of liquid soap to disperse the essential oil droplets through the water.

Alternating Hot and Cold Compresses– Fill two bowls with water, (one with hot water and one with cold water), add 4 – 6 drops of your essential oil or blend to each bowl. Wipe your cloth over the surface of the water, wring out any excess and then apply it to the required area. Repeat as the cloth changes temperature. Hot and cold compresses are applied alternately. Repeat cycle of hot, then cold two to three time, each compress should be applied for 2 — 3 minutes. Always end with a cold compress.

Massage cream, lotion or oil – Add 15 – 20 drops of essential oil blend to 30ml (1 oz) of your chosen carrier. This can be a body lotion, cream or carrier oil like sweet almond, grapeseed, olive oil etc. Apply to the affected area before going to bed.

Essential Oils to consider for Restless Leg Syndrome include:

Basil (Ocimum basilicum) – Antispasmodic, good for muscle aches and pains, deep muscle pain and muscle spasms.
Bergamot (Citrus bergamia) – Analgesic, antispasmodic, calming, muscle relaxant, good for muscle aches and pains.
Black Pepper (Piper nigrum) – Analgesic, Antispasmodic, good for muscle aches and pains. Warming oil.
Chamomile Roman (Chamaemelum nobile) – Analgesic, Antispasmodic, Anti-neuralgic, good for muscle aches and pains.
Clove (Syzygium aromaticum) – Analgesic, Antispasmodic, Anti-neuralgic, good for muscle aches and pains.
Ginger (Zingiber officinale) – Analgesic, Antispasmodic, good for muscle aches and pains, neuralgia.  Warming oil.
Jasmine (Jasmineum officinale) – Analgesic, Antispasmodic, good for muscle aches and pains and muscle
Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) – Analgesic, Antispasmodic, good for muscle aches and pains and muscle spasms.
Marjoram  (Origanum majorana) – Analgesic, Antispasmodic, Sedative,  good for muscle aches and pains and muscle spasms.
Peppermint (Mentha Piperita)  – Analgesic, Antispasmodic, good for muscle aches and pains.  Cooling oil.
Petitgrain (Citrus aurantium) – antispasmodic, sedative, good for muscle spasm.
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) – Analgesic, Antispasmodic, good for muscle aches and pains and muscle spasms.
Vetiver (Vetiveria zizaniodes) – Antispasmodic, Sedative, muscle aches and pains, circulation stimulant.
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) – Analgesic, Antispasmodic, Good for neuralgia.

Please make sure that you take into consideration any possible contraindications such as pregnancy with the oils used.

Some Blend Suggestions

Cold Compress Hot Compress Bath Blend Massage Blend
1 drop Peppermint 1 drop
1 drop
1 drop
3 drops
3 drops
2 drops
R. Chamomile
2 drops
2 drops
2 drops
1 drop
2 drops

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