Selenium reduced peripheral artery disease and valerian improved restless leg syndrome, in two new studies.
In peripheral artery disease (PAD), leg arteries clog or narrow with fatty deposits, slowing blood flow and creating cramps and difficulty walking. PAD can signal atherosclerosis, and may mean fat is building up in arteries of the heart and brain.
In one study, researchers measured selenium blood levels, and blood flow and pressure at the ankle in over 2,000 men and women, at least 40 years old. In general, those with higher selenium levels were less likely to have PAD than were those with lower levels, but doctors suggested more study to identify the ideal selenium level to lower chances of PAD.
Restless leg syndrome (RLS) is a nerve condition that causes an irresistible urge to move the legs. RLS symptoms include feelings of itching, creeping, pulling, tugging or gnawing, which begin or intensify while resting, and subside as the legs start to move. People with RLS often have trouble falling or staying asleep as their legs spasm two or three times per minute. Doctors suspect that the brain chemical dopamine, which controls muscle movement, may be out of balance.
This RLS study was triple-blind, meaning participants, researchers and statisticians analyzing the results did not know who had taken 800 mg of the herb valerian per day or a placebo. After eight weeks, all 37 participants reported fewer symptoms and better sleep.
Among the 17 who took valerian, those who had been sleepy during the day at the start of the study were much less sleepy at the end and reported far fewer RLS symptoms. Doctors concluded that valerian may be an alternative treatment for RLS symptoms, “...with positive health outcomes and improved quality of life.”