Restless Leg Syndrome & Diabetes

Restless leg syndrome refers to hard-to-describe but uncomfortable sensations felt in the legs which are temporarily relieved by movement. This is a relatively common disorder in persons over 50 years of age and typically occurs at night when resting before sleep. This discomfort may be severe enough to interfere with sleep. This condition occurs even more commonly in those with diabetes mellitus. Western medicine has no effective therapy for this complaint. Chinese medicine, on the other hand, does successfully treat this disorder in a number of patients. Fang Tuo-mei published an article titled, “The Treatment of 26 Cases of Diabetic Restless leg Syndrome with Bu Yang Huan Wu Tang (Supplement Yang & Restore Five [Tenths] Decoction),” in issue #2, 2002, of Hu Bei Zhong Yi Za Zhi (Hubei Journal of Chinese Medicine) on page 42. A precis of that article appears below.

Cohort description:

Of the 26 patients in this study, 17 were female and nine were male aged 35-71 years. Four cases had a moderate to long history of taking insulin, while another three cases had a history of interrupted use of insulin. All the other patients were taking oral hypoglycemic drugs, and all 26 patients met the 1998 WHO criteria for a diagnosis of diabetes mellitus. Clinical symptoms included unilateral or bilateral lower leg soreness, numbness, itching, distention, cramping, burning heat, formication, or a difficult-to-describe discomfort which was temporarily relieved by movement or pressure. These symptoms mainly occurred at night when the patient’s body was at rest and commonly disturbed their sleep and their mood. Neurological examination was negative.

Treatment method:

Bu Yang Huan Wu Tang with additions and subtractions consisted of: Radix Astragali Membranacei (Huang Qi), 60g, Radix Angelicae Sinensis (Dang Gui) and Lumbricus (Di Long), 20g each, Flos Carthami Tinctorii (Hong Hua), Semen Pruni Persicae (Tao Ren), Radix Ligustici Wallichii (Chuan Xiong), uncooked Radix Rehmanniae (Sheng Di), Fructus Corni Officinalis (Shan Zhu Yu), and Sclerotium Poriae Cocos (Fu Ling), 10g each, Radix Rubrus Paeoniae Lactiflorae (Bai Shao), Radix Achyranthis Bidentatae (Niu Xi), Bombyx Batryticatus (Jiang Can), Radix Dioscoreae Oppositae (Shan Yao), and Radix Salviae Miltiorrhizae (Dan Shen), 15g each, and Radix Bupleuri (Chai Hu) and Fructus Lycii Chinensis (Gou Qi Zi), 6g each. One ji of these medicinals was decocted in water and administered per day in two divided doses of 150ml each, with seven days equaling one course of treatment. During this time, all these patients also took vitamin B1, ATP, coenzyme A, and dibazol and were instructed on a eating a balanced diet. Results were tabulated after three months of treatment.

Treatment outcomes:

Cure was defined as disappearance of all clinical symptoms and no recurrence on follow-up after one year. Some effect was defined as decrease or basic disappearance of clinical symptoms, however recurrence after cessation of the above medicinals. No effect meant that there was no apparent improvement in symptoms. Based on these criteria, 10 cases were judged cured, 14 cases got some effect, and two cases got no effect, for a total amelioration rate of 92.3%.

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