SIBO, Iron deficiency and treating RLS naturally
by Sue Kira, Naturopath & Clinical Nutritionist
Client name and identifying information changed
Sometimes there can be multiple factors in Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS). June was a client who suffered terribly from RLS. Every night after she went to bed she woke up within 20 minutes of lying down and stayed up pacing the floor. If she didn’t keep moving until she was exhausted, she just couldn’t lay down at all. By the time I saw her, she had RLS for a couple of years and was severely sleep deprived.
Her doctor initially suggested Quinine tablets (normally for malaria) which is a treatment that does work for some, but not for June. He also suggested sleeping tablets and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, but her restless legs would override both. Then she decided to see if I could help.
We organised some tests with her doctor as well as some private pathology to see if she had any gut issues. The results showed low iron and B12, low vitamin D and the stool test showed she had leaky gut and a small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) of the wrong bacteria and insufficient good bacteria.
She did get a lot of bloating and flatulence, and was very tired most days which she thought was due to not sleeping well (which was only part of the story). The low iron and B12 along with SIBO were draining her energy.
Bacteria in the gut, if the wrong kind, feeds off our nutrients like iron, plus with the leaky gut going on too, she wouldn’t have been absorbing nutrients efficiently, leaving her weak, deprived and lethargic.
So we set to work with a three-month healing program to clear and heal the gut, using a SIBO diet along with herbs to kill off the bad bugs and then good bacteria to re-establish the good guys.
Within a couple of days, the diet made a huge difference to her bloating and flatulence and her energy levels also began to pick-up. I also put her onto some vitamin D drops as she didn’t like going out into the sun.
Two months later I asked June to repeat the tests which showed improved levels of Iron and B12, which meant she no longer had the gremlins sucking the good bacteria out of her. Her vitamin D was in the normal reference range, but we continued with the vitamin D treatment for a while longer to bring the levels to ‘optimal’.
June’s energy was much better, and the great news was that she was sleeping well because her restless legs syndrome had almost disappeared.
After the three-month healing program, she then switched to the Diet for Restless Legs, which was a moderate Level 2 SIBO diet, rich in iron and B12 foods, and I kept her on probiotics for a while longer.