Restless Leg Syndrome is an irresistible urge to move one’s body to stop uncomfortable or odd sensations. The symptoms from RLS (Restless Leg Syndrome) can range from just annoying to a serious health issue because it disrupts one’s normal sleep cycle.
–Please understand that the terminology used by Chinese Medicine to describe the physiology (functioning) of the human body is slightly different than Western Medicine, but the conclusions are the same.–
Why do people get Restless Legs Syndrome?
In Chinese Medicine, RLS is an example of Feng or “Wind” disease caused by too much Re, “Heat” and/or not enough Xue, “Blood”. So what does that mean in English? It means that there is an imbalance in the neurotransmitters (chemicals that control muscle function). Either there are too many stimulating neurotransmitters such as Acetylcholine (too much “Heat”), and/or not enough inhibitory neurotransmitters such as GABA (“Blood deficiency”)
How Does Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture help Restless Legs Syndrome?
If you have the excess (too much “Heat”) type of RLS or PLMD, Acupuncture can help to balance or reduce the neurotransmitters that are causing the excess muscle movements and pain. This balancing effect also helps if you have the deficient type of RLS, although supplementation may be needed to get the levels of inhibitory neurotransmitters back to normal. Sometimes nutritional supplements such as Natural Calcium, Iron, or Magnesium may be very helpful for RLS patients who are low in these nutrients. Other times a Chinese Herbal formula may be needed to resupply the nutrients needed to make enough inhibitory neurotransmitters to get rid of the restless leg problem.
Are there any studies that show Acupuncture can help?
Yes there are! In one study titled, “Observation on Therapeutic Effect of Acupuncture on Restless Legs Syndrome” 158 RLS patients were randomly divided into two groups. Of the 79 patients who received acupuncture plus a Infrared therapy (which is commonly used during acupuncture treatments at Orlando Acupuncture). Forty two patients were deemed “cured”. Another thirty cases treated with the acupuncture were deemed, “effective”. The other group was treated with L-Dopa. Both groups received treatment for thirty days. At the end of the study, the group on medication had a 30% effectiveness rate, while the acupuncture group had a 91% effectiveness.
Another study, done by YL Shi and YM Wang in 2003, had 120 RLS patients. This study also compared acupuncture therapy to western medications given over a thirty day period. The findings here were that the acupuncture group had a 48% “cure” rate (all symptoms were gone), and a 75% effectiveness rate, meaning some or all symptoms were gone or reduced.