What to do for restless legs and UTIs

column-Healthy-AnswrQ: My mother has been diagnosed with restless leg syndrome, and she has a terrible time sleeping through the night. Is there anything you would recommend to help her?

A: Your mother certainly isn’t alone. It is estimated that as much as 10 percent of the U.S. population has restless leg syndrome (RLS). RLS in a neurological condition that causes an itching/pulling sensation in the legs and an overwhelming urge to move them. Symptoms get worse while resting, leading to many a sleepless night.

Although the cause of restless leg syndrome is unknown, some experts feel there is a nutritional link. Folic acid and magnesium are especially important for people with restless leg syndrome. Also supplementing with antioxidants is important to address the free radical damage that is thought to accelerate RLS.

Magnesium, when taken daily, can help with muscle spasms and jerking. If the body doesn’t have enough magnesium, it’s difficult for the muscles to relax. It’s also been found that many people who suffer from RLS are deficient in folate (a B vitamin that regulates homocyctene), so adding some extra folate could be beneficial.

Also, since restless leg syndrome is a neurological condition, adding a high quality DHA supplement would be a good idea. DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid, is found in high concentrations in the synapses of the brain. Taking supplemental DHA can help with the smooth transition of messages between neurons in the brain, which can improve the symptoms of restless leg syndrome.

Because there is no known cure for restless leg syndrome, natural supplements like magnesium, DHA, as well as relaxing herbs like valerian can be very useful to help people with RLS to get a good night’s sleep.


Q: It seems like I’ve been plagued with urinary tract infections for years. I’ve been prescribed antibiotics many times for them, but I’m wondering if there is anything more natural I can do to treat them.

A: One out of every five women will develop a urinary tract infection (UTI) at one point in their lives, and physicians write close to two and a half million prescriptions every year to treat them.

Unfortunately, antibiotics don’t address the underlying causes of bladder and urinary tract infections. Because the bladder remains vulnerable to bacteria that can survive in the urine even after antibiotic therapy, up to 20 percent of UTI patients develop new bladder infections within a year of conventional medical treatment.

Thankfully, there are natural products that are very effective in treating and preventing UTIs. The most well known is cranberry (in either unsweetened juice or capsules). Though cranberries have no inherit antibacterial or disinfectant properties, natural tannins found in cranberries prevent E. coli (the bacteria that causes UTIs) from adhering to the urinary tract (as reported in the New England Medical Journal).

Another choice, suggested by Dr. Mercola, is the supplement D-mannose, the active ingredient in cranberry juice. D-mannose is a naturally occurring simple sugar that clings to and coats E. coli bacteria, preventing them from adhering to the inside walls of the bladder and urinary tract.

Another benefit of D-mannose is that unlike antibiotics, it does not disrupt beneficial bacteria, and works quickly, often eliminating symptoms in a day or two. Other recommendations would be to avoid foods known to irritate the bladder, including coffee, tea, artificial sweeteners, carbonated beverages, and tomato products. Also, because harmful bacteria thrive on sugar and refined carbohydrates, avoid sweets and highly processed foods as well.

To submit a question to be answered in a future column send an email to [email protected] or mail to Healthy Answers for Life c/o Pass Health Foods at 7228 W. College Drive, Palos Heights, IL 60463

Carolyn Johnson is one of the knowledgeable associates at Pass Health Foods at 7228 W. College Drive. Feel free to stop by the store for more information or advice. www.passhealthfoods.com This column makes no claims to diagnose, treat, prevent, mitigate, or cure diseases with any advice or products.

Any health related information in this article is for educational purposes only. The ultimate responsibility for your choices and their effect on your health are yours and before applying any therapy or use of herbs, supplements, etc., you should consult your health care provider. 

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