I’m often troubled by restlessness in my legs, particularly at night. I’ve seen adverts for various medicines that claim to alleviate the discomfort. What do you think?

I’m sure the claims are well-founded. But I’m less sure as to whether you want this kind of solution.
Such OTC (over the counter = non-prescription) medicines might indeed provide some relief from the symptoms although it may take several weeks before the drugs ‘kick in’ and take effect.

On the other hand, typical active ingredients such as hydrokininehydrobromide-dihydrate are foreign to the body and can therefore have negative side-effects.
If you read the leaflet accompanying the product of your choice, or look it up on the internet, you may well decide that the food for thought provided there will help you to make up your mind.

The way many of these products works is a bit like this. Imagine you’re thirsty and you reach for a glass of water, but I stop you and say: ”No, don’t do that! Just take this pill and in a few days your thirst will be over.”

Just as thirst is a signal to drink, so are the cramps and discomfort in your legs a signal that your body needs something. Some OTC medicines are designed to neutralize the signal in the brain. But that ‘something’ continues to be missing and can ultimately result in more serious consequences in your body.

The muscle cramps are mostly comparable to the muscle pain that you feel after an intensive sports activity or a day of unprecedented hard work in the garden. Simply an excess of lactic acid in muscle tissue.
Most likely, all that you need is some additional magnesium, either orally or as so-called ‘magnesium oil’ directly on the skin. (See, for example, this site for product information.)

The same is true for women who suffer regularly from intense cramps as they menstruate. Taking extra magnesium 2-3 days prior to menstruation provides significant relief.
Muscle problems – not just over-acidity – can certainly have other causes whereby changes in diet, additional B5 and a visit to a chiropractor could be required. Yet it is surprising in just how many cases magnesium supplementation provides a speedy, effective and natural solution.

Dopamine
It is possible that a shortage in the brain of this essential neurotransmitter is the cause of the restless legs syndrome.
Since dopamine is generally described as ‘promoting enjoyment and interest in life’, it clearly has a broader effect than what it is commonly known for – a factor in Parkinson’s disease.
Synthetic sources have notorious side-effects such as hallucination (precursor of psychosis) and a hastening of the onset of dementia.
Natural sources of l-dopa, a chemical precursor of dopamine, include extract of Velvet Bean mucuna pruriens).

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