The Link Between Restless Legs & ADHD

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Many reports and studies link restless legs syndrome (RLS) with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). In reality, though, both of these conditions are just symptoms that very often share a common underlying cause.

It should come as no surprise that conventional medicine chooses to focus on treating the symptoms of both of these conditions, instead of fixing the cause. Of course, when it comes to both RLS and ADHD, conventional medicine says there is no cure for either, and both require continued use of medication to treat the symptoms (which of course translates to “customers for life”).

The actual facts and data from medical research (if not manipulated) can be invaluable. However, when it comes to the conclusions at the end of these research studies, more often than not the recommendations involve a pharmaceutical product. Follow the money.

An estimated 10% of the US population suffers from RLS. Those with ADHD are about 14.5 times more likely to report having RLS (and in children prevalence is closer to 18%).

In practically every case of RLS and ADHD, hypoadrenia (weakened adrenal glands) is the underlying culprit. And fortunately, this problem can be corrected naturally through diet and specific supplements.

The Role of Minerals in RLS and ADHD

Weakened adrenal glands lose their ability to effectively balance the levels of minerals like sodium, potassium, and magnesium. With weak adrenals, you tend to retain potassium while losing sodium and magnesium.

Retaining excess potassium causes fluid retention (non-pitting edema), often seen as swelling of the ankles or wrists. The loss of sodium is responsible for the constant craving of salt and salty foods. And low levels of magnesium result in muscle cramps.

With RLS, there’s an uncomfortable sensation in the legs, which triggers an irresistible urge to move them. The problem improves somewhat with movement, and worsens when resting—particularly at night or during inactivity in the evening.

Also, individuals that experience both RLS and ADHD have lower levels of the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin—the “feel good” chemical messengers used by the nervous system to help regulate mood, behavior, sleep, memory, and motivation.

Blood Sugar Imbalance

With weak adrenals, the body also has a difficult time regulating blood sugar levels. The fluctuations in blood sugar (and often mood and behavior) resemble a roller coaster.

After a meal, insulin is elevated. Insulin facilitates the movement of specific amino acids into the brain, resulting in the increased production of dopamine and serotonin. This leads to the “high” we often feel during a meal.

Your gut contains around 95% of your body’s serotonin. When food reaches the small intestine, its release helps stimulate contractions that move food through the intestines. Another symptom of lower serotonin levels (and often of ADHD, RLS, and hypoadrenia) is constipation.

Low levels of dopamine and serotonin also disrupt the body’s natural reward systems. This can alter the amount of food eaten before you feel satisfied and has been linked to higher risk of obesity.

When insulin levels drop, you experience the opposite of a high. Your brain doesn’t get what it needs to produce the dopamine and serotonin, and weakened adrenals can’t produce the hormones that help raise blood sugar levels. So, you experience symptoms like irritability, anger, hostility, brain fog, and cravings for food, sugar, and/or alcohol.

This imbalance of dopamine and serotonin helps explain symptoms like depression, impulsive behavior, addiction, inability to handle stress, lack of motivation, difficulty concentrating, impaired short-term memory, and inability to sleep…all of which can be associated with ADHD.

Check Your Adrenal Function

Treating symptoms has been a financial windfall for the pharmaceutical industry. But if you really want to fix an issue, you need to figure out and fix the cause.

Hypoadrenia is something that should be addressed in everyone who suffers from RLS, ADHD, or both. (In addition, work with your doctor to make sure you’re not deficient in vitamin D.)

Granted there is no single cure that can apply to each and every individual. However, once the adrenal glands are strengthened and functioning at full capacity, many (if not all) of the symptoms associated with RLS and ADHD often subside or go away.

Dr. David Williams

Meet Dr. David Williams

For more than 25 years, Dr. David Williams has traveled the world researching alternative therapies for our most common health problems—therapies that are inexpensive and easy to use, and therapies that treat the root cause of a problem rather than just its symptoms.

More About Dr. David Williams