Why Does Alcohol Help Me?

Here you can share your experiences with substances that are ingested, inhaled, or otherwise consumed for the purpose of relieving RLS, other than prescription medications. For example, herbal remedies, nutritional supplements, diet, kratom, and marijuana (for now) should be discussed here. Tell others of successes, failures, side effects, and any known research on these substances. [Posts on these subjects created prior to 2009 are in the Physical Treatments forum.]

Important: Posts and information in this section are based on personal experiences and recommendations; they should not be considered a substitute for the advice of a healthcare provider.
Post Reply
thesleepless1
Posts: 9
Joined: Sun Jul 17, 2016 10:50 pm

Why Does Alcohol Help Me?

Post by thesleepless1 »

I've had PLMD for about 5 years now, in the form of my feet twitching all night long. So far, nothing has made any difference, I've tried various meds, tweaking my diet etc. However, for some reason, alcohol actually gives me temporary relief of symptoms. For about 1 hour after having a beer, the foot twitching magically stops.

Which, of course, has me wondering... WHY ? What is alcohol doing to STOP my foot twitching?

From what I've read, alcohol will....

1) Temporarily increase ferritin levels - My last reading a year ago was 93, so my ferritin seems to be fine.

2) Increase Serotonin - not sure how this might interact with other systems in the body.

3) Increase Dopamine - Perhaps this might be the reason? I did try a dopamine agonist for a few days but discontinued after no results/more daytime fatigue.

From just about every post I've read regarding the consumption of alcohol, my results are the exact opposite of everyone else.

Anyone have any other ideas?

QyX
Posts: 707
Joined: Wed Mar 13, 2013 12:53 pm
Location: Berlin / Germany

Re: Why Does Alcohol Help Me?

Post by QyX »

Nobody will know for sure. We can all only speculate to why this is the case. I would also assume that higher doses of alcohol would worsen your symptoms.

Alcohol does stimulate GABAnergic pathways, similar to the way benzodiazepines like Diazepam (Valium) or Clonazepam (Klonopin) do. Alcohol is basically a hypnotic (from a pharmaceutical point of view and the way it works in your brain) and hypnotics can have short term benefits on such symptoms.

For me personally, alcohol always triggered symptoms, mostly when the effects from alcohol were off but I am also very sensitive and don't even tolerate caffeine or chocolate anymore.

You can look up how drugs like Propofol or barbiturates work. They are all in the same meta-group of GABAnergic substances, just like benzodiazepines and alcohol. If you want some in-depth answers, I think this is where you might find them.

Frunobulax
Posts: 308
Joined: Mon Jun 02, 2014 7:41 pm

Re: Why Does Alcohol Help Me?

Post by Frunobulax »

thesleepless1 wrote: 3) Increase Dopamine - Perhaps this might be the reason? I did try a dopamine agonist for a few days but discontinued after no results/more daytime fatigue.
Most things that increase dopamine can help RLS. Smoking, kratom, and that's how opioids supposedly work for RLS, by increasing dopamine.
Alcohol is often the one exception, the neurotoxicity of ethanol appears to exacarbate RLS for most people, offsetting the dopamine effect.

It's a common theme, things that help some people make other people worse, and it makes no difference for the rest. I guess alcohol is no exception in this respect.

For me, alcohol doesn't seem to do anything.

thesleepless1
Posts: 9
Joined: Sun Jul 17, 2016 10:50 pm

Re: Why Does Alcohol Help Me?

Post by thesleepless1 »

thanks for the replies.

yawny
Posts: 255
Joined: Sun Nov 08, 2015 4:20 pm

Re: Why Does Alcohol Help Me?

Post by yawny »

thesleepless1,
this is a very unscientific response compared to the other thoughtful responses you’ve received so far...I’m curious, do you think that anxiety contributes to your awareness of your PLMD? In my case it truly does. I’ve spent years trying to lessen my chronic anxiety through different means. I haven’t had alcohol since forever but I imagine a beer before bed would calm my anxiety substantially. I’ve actually been wanting to test this but haven’t gotten around to it yet.

thesleepless1
Posts: 9
Joined: Sun Jul 17, 2016 10:50 pm

Re: Why Does Alcohol Help Me?

Post by thesleepless1 »

yawny wrote:
Tue Aug 04, 2020 1:06 am
thesleepless1,
this is a very unscientific response compared to the other thoughtful responses you’ve received so far...I’m curious, do you think that anxiety contributes to your awareness of your PLMD? In my case it truly does. I’ve spent years trying to lessen my chronic anxiety through different means. I haven’t had alcohol since forever but I imagine a beer before bed would calm my anxiety substantially. I’ve actually been wanting to test this but haven’t gotten around to it yet.
I think periods of heightened stress/anxiety does exacerbate the severity of my PLMD. Perhaps the alcohol plays a part in this respect.

badnights
Moderator
Posts: 5761
Joined: Tue Mar 10, 2009 4:20 pm
Location: Northwest Territories, Canada

Re: Why Does Alcohol Help Me?

Post by badnights »

Frunobulax wrote:that's how opioids supposedly work for RLS, by increasing dopamine
The manner in which opioids relieve WED/RLS is not known. Opioids tend to reduce neuron excitability; that's also potentially a mechanism by which WED/RLS symptoms are improved (WED/RLS sensory abnormalities are thought to be un-inhibited neuron noise).
Beth - Wishing you a restful sleep tonight
Click for info on WED/RLS AUGMENTATION & IRON
I am a volunteer moderator. My posts are not medical advice. My posts do not reflect RLS Foundation opinion.

yawny
Posts: 255
Joined: Sun Nov 08, 2015 4:20 pm

Re: Why Does Alcohol Help Me?

Post by yawny »

thesleepless1,
I have PLMD, like you. I’ve found that my symptoms scale with my anxiety and have recently been experimenting around Gaba. Like QyX mentioned, you may be working on your gaba receptors. “Alcohol mimics gamma-aminobutyric acic (GABA), the major inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain.” I’ve tried straight Gaba without results. When I take Gaba influencing herbs, along with my low dose medications, I sleep more soundly. Simply put, I don’t notice my PLMD twitching. What I’m finding interesting is that the herbs all affect me differently. Maybe some are stronger than others, or maybe they simply work somewhat differently. I had been using Valerian and it got me about 4 hours of sleep, but I recently tried American Skullcap and it’s been very successful with 8-10 hours. And this while titrating off of Gabapentin (don’t think it works & makes me next day groggy). I take the herbs 2 hours before bedtime. After some research, I just ordered a bunch of other Gaba influencing herbs to try. I’m looking forward to trying Hops. If you google Gaba herbs, you’ll get a good list of ones to try. Always check for medication contraindications.

Post Reply