An Olive Oil Massage May Help Reduce The Effects of Restless Leg Syndrome

11/11/19:  The symptoms of restless legs syndrome (RLS) are associated with a reduction in quality of life and mental health.  There are no known cures for RLS and treatments with lifestyle changes and medications including opiates, anticonvulsants, dopamine antagonists and others.  A new study has found a novel use for olive oil in an alternative use in massage therapy.

What is Restless Legs Syndrome?

Restless legs syndrome (RLS), also called Willis-Ekbom Disease, causes unpleasant or uncomfortable sensations in the legs and an irresistible urge to move them.  Symptoms commonly occur in the late afternoon or evening hours, and are often most severe at night when a person is resting, such as sitting or lying in bed.  They also may occur when someone is inactive and sitting for extended periods (for example, when taking a trip by plane or watching a movie).  Since symptoms can increase in severity during the night, it could become difficult to fall asleep or return to sleep after waking up.  Moving the legs or walking typically relieves the discomfort but the sensations often recur once the movement stops.  RLS is classified as a sleep disorder since the symptoms are triggered by resting and attempting to sleep, and as a movement disorder since people are forced to move their legs in order to relieve symptoms.  It is, however, best characterized as a neurological sensory disorder with symptoms that are produced from within the brain itself.

In the past treatment options for RLS massage has been one therapy which has shown some effectiveness and Olive Oil being high in other anti-inflammatory compounds has attracted the attention of scientists.

In the double-blind placebo, trial participants were randomly divided into two groups i.e. olive oil and placebo groups. The olive oil group received massage with olive oil, while the placebo group received massage with liquid paraffin twice a week during hemodialysis sessions for three weeks.  For each leg, 10 mL of the olive oil or placebo was applied and then massaged for five min from the foot to the area below the knee. The severity of RLS was rated on the first day and one week after the final massage therapy session by using the International Restless Legs Syndrome Study Group (IRLSSG) Rating Scale.

Researchers noted  “A significant decline in the severity of symptoms was found in the olive oil group.  The application of short-term massage with olive oil to reduce RLS  severity did not have any adverse effects and recommended future studies to assess the long-term effects on RLS severity and its symptoms (i.e., fatigue, exhaustion, and pain).”

This research could prove that topical use of Extra Virgin Olive Oil in massage could have therapeutic benefits and possibly worth considering a massage oil range with high expression phenol products which have a higher antioxidant capacity.

The Olive Industry could equally work with the Therapeutic Goods Administration to develop health claims for Olive Oil and its array of scientifically proven health benefits for topical and internal use considering the plethora of research that has been conducted.


Short-term Effects of Massage With Olive Oil On the Severity Of Uremic Restless Legs Syndrome:  A Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Trial


Although the efficacy of olive oil massage has been established for different disorders, no studies have yet focused on the effect of olive oil massage on restless legs syndrome (RLS). In this study, we aimed to evaluate the short-term effects of massage with olive oil in reducing the severity of uremic RLS.


Application of short-term massage with olive oil as a complementary method seems to be effective in reducing the severity of uremic RLS.  Further studies are suggested to identify the sustainability of the findings.

Authors: Morteza Nasiria,b , Mohammad Abbasic, Zeynab Yousefi Khosroabadid, Hossien Saghafie, Fahimeh Hamzeeif, Meysam Hosseini Amirig,⁎, Hossein Yusefif

  • a Department of Operating Room Technology, School of Paramedicine, Qom University of Medical Sciences, Qom, Iran
  • b Student Research Committee, Department of Surgical Technology, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Shiraz, Iran
  • c Department of Nursing, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Qom University of Medical Sciences, Qom, Iran
  • d Student Research Committee, Qom University of Medical Sciences, Qom, Iran
  • e Department of Internal Medicine, School of Medicine, Qom University of Medical Sciences, Qom, Iran
  • f Student Research Committee, Qom University of Medical Sciences, Qom, Iran
  • g Department of Anesthesiology, School of Paramedicine, Qom University of Medical Sciences, Qom, Iran

Read the full study at Complementary Therapies in Medicine

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