Restless Legs Syndrome and Niacin Study #2: Quantified Self Meetup in San Francisco

I will be presenting results from my second self-tracking study at the Quantified Self San Francisco meetup at Microsoft later tonight in San Francisco.

Experiment

By participating in this crowdsourced study on Genomera, I tested niacin supplementation as a potential treatment for Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS).

Methods

This experiment had two main differences from the first one. First, I tapered off my current medication, clonazepam, after ramping up with niacin. Second, I increased the daily niacin dose from 500mg to 2000mg, which meant that the ramp-up was also much longer.

RLS-Study2-Pickard.xls

I recorded some sliding scale measurements of RLS sensation, leg jerks, etc. in a spreadsheet (see above). Aggregated measurements are also available to Genomera’s members.

Results

Like the last experiment, niacin did not improve my RLS symptoms, even at the higher dose. However, RLS severity was less after tapering off clonazepam, perhaps due to the niacin. Since the first experiment, I also started taking an iron supplement to increase my ferritin level, which might also account for diminished RLS severity. As before, I saw my doctor after the experiment to discuss the results. We changed my medication to Mirapex, which is also commonly used to treat RLS. Compared to clonazepam, I feel more alert. The RLS symptoms remain under control, and amazingly, feeling returned to my sciatic nerve about one month ago–I can feel it all the way down to the top of my left big toe. I am unsure what this means, but after injuring my back 30 years ago it seems significant.

Finally, I wanted to mention that my psoriasis flared once I started taking niacin at 2.0g/day. Subsequently, I read several articles discouraging psoriatics from taking large doses of niacin.

Overall, this QS journey has been worth it. I learned more about my RLS, but more importantly, how to ask better questions that improved my health.

Link to slides on slideshare.net