Gluten Sensitivity and Restless Leg Syndrome – Is there a connection?
Bad Bacteria = Restless Legs
Restless leg syndrome is a serious medical condition. It is thought to be an autoimmune disease affecting the nerves in the legs. This condition is characterized by feeling of restlessness in the legs. It can also manifest as numbness and tingling, and shooting nerve pains in the legs making it extremely difficult to sleep at night. The condition is commonly associated with patients who also suffer with depression. A recent study published in the journal Sleep Medicine investigated whether or not patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and bacterial overgrowth developed RLS.
IBS and SIBO are common in RLS. Three hypotheses developed are (a) RLS patients are selectively immunocompromised or genetically predisposed and thus more subject to SIBO; (b) SIBO leads to autoimmune changes, and subsequent auto-antibodies attack brain and/or peripheral nerves and (c) SIBO inflammation leads to increased hepcidin and CNS iron deficiency which, in turn, leads to RLS. These hypotheses bear further investigation.
Source: Sleep Med. 2011 Jun;12(6):610-3.
Gluten Sensitivity, RLS, and SIBO are all Connected…
Research studies have linked gluten ingestion to changes in small intestinal bacteria. These changes can cause a variety of symptoms to occur. Most commonly patients will experience:
- gas and bloating
- abdominal pain
- intermittent diarrhea and constipation
- acid reflux
- bad breath
Bacterial overgrowth can also lead to changes in digestion, vitamin and mineral absorption, and intestinal permeability (AKA – leaky gut syndrome). If you look at the diagram , you can see how gluten ingestion can lead to a variety of physiological changes that create disease.
What You Should Do If You Have Restless Leg Syndrome…
I have treated thousands of patients with gluten issues. Many of them have also had RLS symptoms that resolved on a gluten free diet. If you haven’t done so already, it is recommended that you get tested for gluten sensitivity or go gluten free. You can take our self test here<<< or you can get genetically tested for the most accurate diagnosis.
Once established, the following list of action items is recommended:
- Have you doctor check for bacterial overgrowth, additional food allergies, as well as vitamin and mineral deficiencies.
- If you cannot get your doctor to help you, consider a functional medicine doctor.
- If you cannot find a functional medicine doctor consider supplementing with the following:
- Methylcobalamin (a special form of vitamin B-12 shown to reduce restless leg symptoms)
- Methyl Folic Acid (a special form of Folate)
- Biotic Defense (a strong probiotic designed to restore the healthy bacteria in your intestines.
**When you supplement, make sure that what you are taking does not contain hidden gluten fillers.
If you know someone with RLS, please make sure to pass this article along. In other words, don’t be selfish with the knowledge
All the best,
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