by Bradley Gillespie, PharmD
While some physicians may elect to treat Restless Legs (RLS) using pharmacologic interventions, potential shortcomings to this approach include a real risk of developing tolerance to the treatment or creation of a rebound phenomenon.
In order to investigate and validate an alternative treatment modality by characterizing anecdotal observations documenting the benefit of magnesium in the treatment of RLS, Dr. Hornyak, of the Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy at Albert-Ludwigs-University in Freiburg, Germany, and colleagues conducted a clinical study in patients suffering from insomnia due to periodic limb movements during sleep (PLMS).
In this investigation, magnesium was administered orally every day over a period of 4-6 weeks. The outcome of interest in this study was the number of arousals observed, due to PLMS.
After the end of the treatment period, the number of nighttime arousals significantly decreased. In addition, a modest decrease in the number of PLMS events, not leading to arousal, was also observed. Importantly, sleep efficiency improved significantly.
Interestingly, in the group of patients who felt that their sleep improved, the effects of magnesium on PLMS were even more pronounced.
The authors concluded that magnesium treatment may be a useful therapy for patients with RLS or PLMS-related insomnia.
Furthermore, according to a report generated at the U.S. Department of Agricultures Human Nutrition Center, magnesium plays an important role in regulating sleep by maintaining a proper balance of body chemistry. In this report, they make the observation that people with long-term sleep issues, or abnormal brain waves during sleep, often also have low levels of magnesium. Magnesium decreased the time needed to fall asleep and increased deep sleep in a clinical trial.
Magnesium's role in treating insomnia in Restless Legs (RLS) patients supports its critical role in the unique Calm Legs formulation.
Restless Legs sufferer Bradley Gillespie, PharmD, 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.