RLS and Irritable Bowel Syndrome

A fellow sufferer told me that in addition to restless legs, she also suffered from irritable bowel syndrome.

My first thought was that this could have to do with chronic poor sleep due to the RLS. If you don’t sleep well, processes in the intestines can be severely disrupted.

The link could also be the other way around. Disturbances in the production of neurotransmitters such as dopamine due to a disturbed digestion and intestinal function. And through that restless legs.

I don’t know, but I can imagine both scenarios. So an interaction between gut and brain.

The same fellow sufferer led me to a website about the possible role of inflammation in restless legs. I also found that interesting.

Many diseases and disorders in the human body arise from some form of inflammation. Irritable bowel syndrome is one of them.

What is irritable bowel syndrome

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a chronic condition that is very common. This is when the person in question has had complaints for at least six months.

Another word for IBS is spastic bowel. About 10% of the Dutch population suffers from it. 75% of this group is female.

In irritable bowel syndrome, bowel function is disturbed. This mainly concerns the large intestine. The intestine makes too many or too few movements. Nerves in the intestinal wall become extra sensitive. This causes diarrhea or constipation or a combination of the two.

People with irritable bowel syndrome often suffer from abdominal pain, bloating and flatulence. The complaints differ per person.

There is not really an identifiable physical cause. Diet and stress probably play a role. Lifestyle adjustments can help reduce the symptoms. These are, for example, adjustments in the field of nutrition, exercise and relaxation exercises.

Sometimes medication helps. Or certain supplements such as magnesium, turmeric, vitamin B12, vitamin D or CBD oil.

There are also other forms of treatment that help some people. A few examples of these are cognitive behavioral therapy, hypnotherapy and pelvic floor physical therapy. Other possible therapies include mindfulness, osteopathy, and orthomolecular medicine.

It varies from person to person what helps.

Check with your doctor to rule out other conditions with similar symptoms. Other conditions include celiac disease, SIBO (bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine), endometriosis, a disturbance in the absorption of vitamin B12 or even colon cancer.

Restless legs

I had my own experience with irritable bowel syndrome quite a few years ago. I then followed a diet where I restricted carbohydrates. My diet was pretty one-sided during that period.

At one point I could not go to the toilet properly for several months and my intestines felt inflamed. I can assure you that this was not pleasant.

In the end I took an orthomolecular probiotic to rebuild my intestinal flora.

At that time I hardly had any trouble with restless legs. Looking back, I don’t think there was a link between irritable bowel syndrome and restless legs.

The above-mentioned fellow sufferer investigated whether she could reduce the symptoms of her irritable bowel syndrome with an adjustment in her diet. I guess she hoped it would be beneficial for her restless legs too.

She was taking less gluten for this purpose. I don’t know what the effect of this was in the end.

I don’t know if there is a link between irritable bowel syndrome and restless legs. Further scientific research would be useful.

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