by Bradley Gillespie, PharmD
As if kidney failure were not bad enough, another unwanted consequence often observed in patients undergoing dialysis is Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS). Even absent of other medical conditions, RLS often leads to insomnia and a resultant decreased quality of life.
Although the link between dialysis and RLS is not fully understood, it is well accepted that patients with renal impairment who are undergoing dialysis often suffer high levels of oxidative stress. Oxidative stress has also been implicated in an increased incidence of RLS. Therefore, one logical approach to treating the symptoms of RLS could be to try to lower oxidative stress levels.
Mohammed Sagheb, of Shiraz Nephro-Urology Research Center, Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, in Shiraz, Iran, and colleagues conducted a clinical study to characterize the impact of vitamins C and E on the symptoms of RLS in dialysis patients. In this study, they enrolled a total of 60 dialysis patients who met the diagnostic criteria for RLS. Patients were otherwise generally healthy.
The patients were divided into four groups of 15 patients, each receiving one of the following: Vitamin C and Vitamin E, Vitamin C or a sugar pill. All patients were administered these treatments every day for 8 weeks. International Restless Legs Scale (IRLS) scores were determined for each patient at baseline, as well as at the end of the treatment period. The outcome of interest was an absolute change in the IRLS score from baseline to the end of the treatment phase.
At the end of the treatment phase, there was a significant decrease in the IRLS score, compared with baseline, in the patients treated with Vitamin C as well as in patients receiving vitamins C and E. The authors concluded that Vitamin C, as well as the combination of vitamins C and E, are safe and effective treatments for reducing the severity of RLS in dialysis patients.
Vitamin C may also be beneficial in RLS patients because it is known to also enhance the absorption of dietary iron from the diet. Because of this, both vitamins C and E are key ingredients in the patented Calm Legs formulation.
Restless Legs sufferer Bradley Gillespie, PharmD, is trained as a clinical pharmacist and has practiced in an industrial setting for the past 20-plus years. Currently, he supports efforts at the National Institutes of Health to develop therapeutics for rare and neglected diseases. He remains a registered pharmacist and operates a medical writing business.