Sending Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) Into Remission

Dr. Leonard Weinstock finds link between gastrointestinal problems and RLS

St. Louis, MO - Every night Molly Roberts would go to bed hoping for a good night's sleep, and every morning she would wake up unrested with aching muscles. Her symptoms baffled her primary care doctor, and Roberts thought she might never wake up well-rested. Little did she know that the pain and restlessness from her Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) was likely caused by a problem with her digestive tract.

Following a visit to St. Louis-based Gastroenterologist Dr. Leonard Weinstock, she discovered she also had an overgrowth of bacteria in her small intestine, a condition known as SIBO. Weinstock's groundbreaking research recently discovered a link between RLS and SIBO.

His research trials have found that if one treats the SIBO, the RLS is often goes into remission as well. "While many new drugs help treat the symptoms of RLS. This research shows us the cause of the disease and in turn allows us to treat the RLS rather than just helping the symptoms," explains Weinstock.

This discovery has given his patients a new outlook on life and freedom from RLS. Weinstock found the link after treating a patient for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) who was also suffering from RLS. Following the treatment for IBS, the patient's RLS also appeared to be in remission. This discovery led to a number of trials, all of which had the same overall result.

"When a patient was diagnosed with SIBO, given a course of treatment that included rifaximin, an antibiotic that is not absorbed by the bloodstream, we found that the patient showed quick, dramatic and continuing relief of RLS symptoms," explains Weinstock.

Based on a standard RLS severity scale, Weinstock's patients have shown significant improvement. In the most recent study, which included 14 patients, nine patient's scores dropped an average of 65 percent after one course of antibiotics. Two patients who received a second round of antibiotics after an initial lack of response no longer had any symptoms. An additional patient was cured after discovering that she had celiac disease and started on a gluten-free diet.

Molly Roberts is one of the many success stories. Following two courses of treatment under Weinstock's care, she is finally sleeping well and appears to be cured of her RLS.

Weinstock continues to study the link between SIBO and RLS and other conditions such as celiac disease, IBS and Crohn's disease. "Gastroenterology is full of detective work, and we will continue to study to find the links between the GI tract and conditions throughout the body," he says.

What is RLS?
Every night thousands of people lose sleep because of a gnawing, tingling urge to move their legs. They have extreme difficulty getting a good night of sleep and are often in constant pain. RLS occurs in seven to 15 percent of the population, particularly older adults and pregnant women. The symptoms of RLS can be life altering, and the syndrome often baffles the medical community. In recent years a number of drugs have been introduced to help the symptoms of RLS, but until now the cause has yet to be determined.

What is SIBO?
Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) is a condition where abnormally large numbers of bacteria are present in the small intestine. Symptoms often include diarrhea, bloating, excess gas and abdominal pain. SIBO is often associated with IBS, diabetes, celiac disease and Crohn's disease.