Back from a summer break. I thought I’d start with something that may seem a bit obscure, but I have a feeling it effects more and more people. For quite a while now I've been interested in the ideas of Anthony Williams - and have been finding his theories increasingly beneficial when incorporated into a larger nutritional therapy protocol. I tend to use myself as a guinea pig, and when I listened to what he says about restless legs, I thought I’d give it a go as it’s something I’ve had on and off for years.
Firstly, for anyone who doesn’t know what restless leg syndrome is, then I should explain. Problem is, it’s actually quite difficult to explain. It usually happens when you are lying down and trying to sleep, but when it’s been bad I would get it just sitting in a chair for too long. I know I found the cinema almost impossible at one point. Basically, just as your body starts to relax, you get these sensations down your legs – it isn’t painful, and although it feels close to an internal itching, it isn’t that either. The only way to describe it is that you have this almost unbearable need to move your legs, and either moving them about in bed or getting up and wandering around is the only thing that works. May not seem like a big deal, but people go for hours with getting increasingly tired, but just as they are dropping off they have to get up and walk about. So you could end up pretty miserable.
The medical world hasn’t had much luck sorting it out or working out the cause, although there are some things that might help some people – some of which we also learnt at college. The main ones to look at are whether you are low in iron (this may be why some women get it during pregnancy), whether you have too many stimulants (such as caffeine), smoking is also thought to make it worse, as is not getting enough exercise. They also suggest a good sleeping routine (not so easy if you are plagued with getting up and down like a yo yo throughout the night). We were also told to make sure someone is getting enough magnesium. I personally tried all these myself, none of which made any difference – this isn’t to say that they wouldn’t make a difference for other people as there are definitely multiple factors at play.
Lately there has been more investigation into pharmaceuticals for restless legs. This tends to be centred around drugs that manipulate dopamine levels. If someone is really struggling and this helps then great, I’m not anti medication if it really helps. But on the other hand, even if it does help, it is unlikely to be addressing the root cause. And what’s the long term plan? Continue to take powerful medications indefinitely? Other medications on offer are opiate-based pain killers and even levodopa – although with the latter, this is apparently only for mild cases because you can only take a small dose. Taking too much can make the symptoms worse (great!).
The interesting thing is, restless legs are known to be associated with higher risk of cardiovascular disease. Association isn’t necessarily cause, but it does tell us that something else is going on, and so far the medical establishment don’t seem to know what this is. I don’t blame them, the body is complex and there is a huge amount we don’t know.
Enter Anthony Williams, a medical intuitive. For anyone who thinks that’s a bit odd, fair enough, but I imagine most people don’t care where the information comes from if it actually works. He believes there are many possible causes, many of which will go hand in hand. One key factor though are heavy metal deposits (particularly mercury) which form in the brain. Our neurons are constantly firing, and when they come up against tiny deposits, the electrical signal becomes interrupted as it tries to fire around the obstacle. When we are busy and active, so much is happening in our brain that this isn’t apparent to us, but when we switch off and really relax, then all the other activity in our brain lessens, and the obstructions become more noticeable, resulting in the need to keep moving our legs. When I read this it completely resonated, as I’ve found that on the odd occasion I’m able to just lie still and resist the impulse to move, eventually the sensation lessens – this is pretty tricky to do, like resisting the need to scratch a mosquito bite, but it can be done. It also explains why when you wake up, the sensation has gone. I’m assuming it’s because the brain does find ways to get the signals round the obstacles.
Another major cause is poor gastrointestinal health. Bloating and gas will press on sensitive nerve endings in the gut (our gut is a mass of nerves, known as the second brain – for more info on this have a look at a blog on the gut brain connection). Nerves can become sensitive for many reasons which I won’t go into here for time’s sake. Another cause can be inflammation of the sciatic nerve, due to microbial infection. Toxic overload in the liver is also another factor – which can be due to many reasons.
So as you can see, he talks about many different possible causes, and people may find they have a couple of things going on at the same time. I discovered this when a few weeks into my restless leg rescue plan I went away for a week and had a big change in diet. Initially when I listened to his ideas on restless legs, I instinctively knew that the heavy metals were the main problem for me. Interestingly he advises anyone with restless legs to address this as a baseline, then work on the other things after this. But when I went on holiday for a week, I realised that the gut health issues could also be a factor. I’ve never been someone who has real issues with bloating. However, during this week, due to eating different foods consistently, I had major bloating and my god, my restless legs were awful. The more bloated I was, the worse it got – and the correlation became very obvious for me.
So what to do about it? Well, your first line approach is aimed at the heavy metal deposits and involves celery and coriander juice. On a daily basis! Sounds grim, but actually it isn’t bad. According to Anthony Williams, celery has many mineral salts in that haven’t even been discovered yet. These mineral salts basically feed the brain with the nutrients it needs, and at the same time help restore hydrochloric acid levels in the stomach, which support healthy digestion. The coriander is needed as a chelating agent – i.e. it pulls heavy metals out of the body. Juicing is necessary, as there is no way anyone is going to be able to consistently eat enough celery and coriander. I juice one bunch of celery (? If this is the right word for celery, but you know what I mean). Ideally organic, but fear not if you can’t get hold of it. I also juice half a large bunch of fresh coriander (I would do a whole bunch but I have to factor in the cost of all this). I also peel and juice a lemon as this just makes the whole thing taste better. Do it first thing in the morning on an empty stomach (if possible), and have it with ice cubes. It really is a good way to start the day. Just to warn you, the first time I did it I felt completely giddy and a bit odd, so maybe start with half the amount and build up. *Before I go further - please note, if you are pregnant, breast feeding or trying to get pregnant, then these methods are not for you. I'd advise you see someone for a one to one consultation.
The second thing I do to address the heaving metals, is his heavy metal detox smoothie (which I’ve adapted slightly due to feasibility). I have to say, this one I find more difficult and I only do 3-4 times a week max. It’s important to get all the ingredients as they all work together, but on the other hand, I imagine even just getting as many as possible would be helpful. The worst ingredient is the sea dulse – but to make it more palatable you can chop it into small pieces and then have the smoothie with a straw. This way you don’t find yourself chomping through sea dulse (something I just can’t bring myself to do, no matter how healthy). Try a health food shop for the ingredients, or go online. The initial payout is expensive, but the ingredients last a long time. Don’t go for really cheap options – given that the whole aim is to detox, you don’t want cheap products with things added. Purity is really important with this.
• Juice of one orange
• Small handful of coriander (ignore this if you’ve had your celery and coriander juice that day)
• 1 banana
• Handful of frozen berries
• 1 tsp organic wild blueberry powder
• Build up to 1 large pinch of Atlantic Dulse*
• Build up to 1 tsp Organic Hawaiian Spirulina*
• Build up to 1 tsp Barley Grass Powder*
*I say build up to, because if you start on day one with this amount you may feel completely rotten (one of the worst headaches I’ve ever had was because I started out taking too much spirulina). So please don’t do this – it’s completely counter productive. Start with ¼ tsp, and maybe just start with one or two of the starred ingredients. Then slowly build up, depending on how you feel. Don’t take more than the dose given above. It’s not a case of the more the better.
Now when I started doing this I did both each day for about a week and felt immediate relief of symptoms – literally on the very first day. I remember after a few days, realising I could lie in bed and read for half an hour before going to sleep – something I’ve not done in years as the minute I lie down I feel a countdown start as I need to try and get to sleep before the symptoms start up. At times it did feel like the restlessness was going to come, but it never actually did. I’m not saying everyone will, as my restless legs isn’t nearly as severe as some people have it.
Now if you do the celery juice and detox smoothie and still have problems, then it might be worth seeing me to look at the other possible causes, which might involve more work. But for those of you with mild symptoms, it might be enough to do these two things alone.
So good luck to anyone who gives this a go!