Restless leg syndrome (RLS) is a common health problem that millions of people all over the world deal with on a daily basis. There are a number of treatments that people use to treat the disease, everything from muscle relaxer meds to special soap bars to natural calming herbs like essential oils.
While we are not doctors, and therefore can not advocate any specific medical treatments, our favorite method for relieving restless legs is essential oils. There are many reasons people with this health condition turn to home remedies for natural relief. Whether it’s dealing with restless legs during pregnancy, or simply wanting to avoid addictive chemical medicines, more and more people are beginning to use essential oils for restless leg syndrome.
Disclaimer: Essential oils are not intended to treat or cure any illnesses. Have to throw that in there 😉
And there are no shortage of options when it comes to using these natural alternatives for sleepless nights – everything from lavender to frankincense to a plethora of essential oil blends.
The common causes and symptoms of RLS
Before we get into our favorite RLS-relieving oils, first know that if you suffer from this frustrating health issue, you’re not alone. Consider these statistics:
- As much as 10 percent of the U.S. population suffers from restless leg syndrome.
- Some five million adults have moderate to severe symptoms.
- About a million school-aged children suffer from RLS symptoms.
- Eight out of ten RLS cases also suffer from periodic limb movement of sleep.
- Moderate cases involve symptoms one to two times per week, while severe cases occur a minimum of twice per week.
The symptoms of restless leg syndrome involve an irresistible urge to move your legs or other limbs of your body. These urges are generally accompanied by uncomfortable sensations that are often described as “pulling” or “tugging.” Symptoms are more common in the evenings, which can interfere with sleep while diminishing your health and overall quality of life.
Before we get into how essential oils can help calm symptoms of RLS it’s important to understand a few of the causes that can spur on this disease. Lifestyle changes coupled with an effective home remedy can work together to ease these extremely bothersome symptoms.
- Genetics: Almost half of all people with restless leg syndrome have a family member with the condition.
- Certain medical conditions and diseases like Parkinson’s, diabetes, and kidney failure can spur on symptoms of RLS.
- Many medications, including antidepressants, antipsychotics, and allergy medications can cause or worsen symptoms.
- Restlessness during pregnancy: Many women who are pregnant experience RLS, particularly in the third trimester, leading up to delivery.
- Excessive alcohol use can trigger symptoms or enhance the effects of the condition.
What essential oils to help calm restless leg syndrome
We’re not physicians, so we must say “treat” with caution. But many people suffering from restless legs have found a lot of success using essential oils. Along with anxiety and depression, RLS is among the leading causes of insomnia. We might not have to tell you this, but insomnia (along with other disorders like sleep apnea) can have an adverse impact on your health.
As you know, restless legs can impact your entire body, as the sensations in the lower half of your body begin to affect your upper half as well. For instance, if you’re laying down in bed and your legs are restless, it could leave you tossing and turning your entire body. This is why RLS, in more severe cases, can leave you awake until the wee hours of the morning.
These are the physical symptoms you may be dealing with. In addition, as you’re doing everything you can to calm your body down, mental and emotional anxiety can develop – which only intensifies the problem. The later into the night (or morning), the more you worry about falling to sleep. This is where aromatherapy in the form of essential oils can really help out.
Our favorite essential oil for dealing with minor RLS – and other restless symptoms – is lavender, a popular oil that has numerous applications. There in fact have been several studies that have displayed the positive effects that lavender aromatherapy has as a mild sleep aid. For example, researchers at the University of Southampton analyzed sleep patterns of 10 adults. Here were the results:
- For 7 days, 5 of the participants slept in a room where lavender was diffused throughout the night.
- The other 5 participants slept in a room where a placebo was run through a diffuser.
- After a week the participants switched rooms. At the end of the week, the participants acknowledged that the quality of their sleep was 20% better in the room with lavender.
Some scientists report that lavender has been known to slow down blood pressure and heart rate, while putting you in a relaxed state, both physically and mentally.
Other aromatherapy oils for restless leg syndrome
Personally, I use lavender as a treatment for general restlessness (and the occasional anxiety that creeps up). But in addition to these two natural products, there are other oils people find useful as well:
Here are the two most effective methods for application:
- Aromatic: Add 2 to 4 drops of your chosen oil to a diffuser. If it’s a potent enough oil you should be able to diffuse it anywhere in the room.
- Topical: Apply directly to your skin (if you have sensitive skin, always use a carrier oil) by massaging the oil onto your wrists, back of the neck, or bottom of the feet.