A 2011 study at the Washington University School of Medicine found that restless legs syndrome (RLS) was linked to autoimmune disorders. They determined that both irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) were commonly found in RLS patients. This restless leg syndrome autoimmune link helps explain why acupuncture have a beneficial effect on RSL patients.
RLS and Acupuncture
At Raleigh Acupuncture we have been successfully treating RLS for over 15 years. It is a difficult condition to treat from a modern medicine approach, with most doctors prescribing a combination of dopaminergic, narcotic and sleeping medications. Unfortunately, even powerful medications do not provide long lasting relief.
Acupuncture approaches the treatment of all health conditions by looking for imbalances in the patient’s health. Many times RLS patients also present with gastrointestinal problems like IBS. We commonly treat these imbalances at the same time, as our goal is to restore balance. This study, identifying a restless leg syndrome autoimmune link makes perfect sense to us. And it opens up new treatment options for modern medicine practitioners.
Methodology of the Study
The subjects in this restless leg syndrome autoimmune link study were recruited with advertisements that specifically did not mention gastrointestinal symptoms. RLS diagnosis was confirmed by a neurologist and also by utilizing International RLS Study Group criteria. The control group for the study were the spouses of the participants. The control group did not have RLS themselves.
There were 32 RLS subjects, 25 general population control participants and 30 completely healthy control participants. Twenty-nine had RLS not associated with other GI diseases, one had celiac disease, and two had gastric resections.
IBS was diagnosed in 28% of RLS subjects compared to 4% in the general population control. SIBO was diagnosed in 69% of RLS subjects compared to 28% of the general population and 10% of completely healthy control.
The data from this restless leg syndrome autoimmune link study confirmed that both IBS and SIBO are commonly found in RLS patients. The researchers developed three hypotheses based on this data.
First, RLS patients may have a higher incidence of IBS and SIBO because they are immune compromised already, and therefore more susceptible to getting these autoimmune conditions. Second, SIBO may lead to an autoimmune response where antibodies attack the peripheral nerves, leading to RLS. Third, SIBO inflammation may cause Central Nervous System iron deficiency which, in turn, can lead to RLS. The researchers stated that these three hypotheses bore further investigation.
RLS IBS Link
Acupuncture and Chinese medicine help explain this restless leg syndrome autoimmune link. Patients with RLS and patients with autoimmune conditions often share the same root imbalance. For example, patients with IBS often have digestive pattern imbalance called “Liver Overacting on the Spleen”. RLS patients also commonly have this same imbalance. Acupuncture that restores digestive and intestinal function improves both IBS and RLS. The same holds true for SIBO and many other autoimmune conditions.
If you suffer from restless leg syndrome, come in for acupuncture. It may be able to reduce your discomfort, aid your sleep and help you reduce symptoms for long term relief. Many of our RLS patients can reduce their medications and most have an increased quality of life from the acupuncture they receive.
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Weinstock LB1, Walters AS., Restless legs syndrome is associated with irritable bowel syndrome and small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, Sleep Med. 2011 Jun;12(6):610-3. doi: 10.1016/j.sleep.2011.03.007. Epub 2011 May 13.
Restless Leg Syndrome Autoimmune Link
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What our Clients are Saying
Mark Molinoff customized a treatment for my Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) that has proven to be effective in substantially reducing the severity and scope of my RLS symptoms. Mark is the 3rd acupuncturist that has treated me, but the first to get positive results. Highly recommend!
Thank you Raleigh Acupuncture! My restless leg syndrome is gone. I can sleep at night and my legs don’t ache. I am so grateful to you. I will send all my friends to you!!
I’ve lived with RLS for the past 20 years. When a buddy of mine got relief from acupuncture I gave it a try. Raleigh Acupuncture Associates eased my symptoms 90%. It’s a shadow of what it used to be. I recommend this acupuncture practice if you’ve got restless leg syndrome.