Last Modified on Jun 07, 2014
While benign fasciculation syndrome or BFS is generally harmless, it can be frustrating and even annoying. However, home remedies can help treat the condition and give you at least some peace of mind (and muscle) back. Sea salt and magnesium are two of the most common supplemental treatments, but changing your diet may also help alleviate the issue.
What Is Benign Fasciculation Syndrome?
Benign fasciculation syndrome is a neurological condition in which certain muscles twitch or spasm uncontrollably. The muscles most commonly affected are those in the eyelids and arms; however, you may also experience spasming in your feet and legs. Unlike an acute round of twitching, BFS continues on for extended periods of time and is only temporarily paused by activating the twitching muscle.
What Causes Muscle Twitching?
While muscle fasciculation is often linked to neurological issues such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or ALS, the term “benign” fasciculation syndrome refers to a condition that is unrelated to a more serious injury or disability. In terms of benign fasciculation, the cause of your muscle spasms is more likely related to increased stress, altered sleeping patterns, a new medication, or various other issues. Additional causes of the condition include bug bites or stings, pregnancy, dehydration, fatigue, nutrient deficiency, and others.
Can Natural Remedies Reduce Muscle Spasms?
We suggest consulting your doctor prior to self-treating with natural remedies primarily to rule out more aggressive conditions, but in the event that your condition is benign, natural remedies are particularly effective. Magnesium and sea salt are two of the best treatment options, but you may also want to try changing your diet.
Magnesium plays a part in over 300 chemical reactions in your body. Among its roles are maintaining energy level and controlling stress. As such, taking a magnesium supplement can help calm your neural responses and relieve issues of BFS.
2. Sea Salt
The sodium present in salt helps your body transmit information to your nerves and muscles. Upping your salt intake can help your muscles and nerves communicate more effectively and reduce fasciculation.
3. Dietary Changes
BFS may be the result of a food allergy or sensitivity. As such, changing your diet to limit gluten, wheat, dairy, or other allergy-prone foods can help alleviate the condition.
Try one of these treatment options to reduce involuntary muscle spasms or add one of your own suggestions to our list below!
[BETTER BUT NOT CURED] 04/05/2013: Pitan from Mesa, Arizona: "About a few weeks ago I decided to begin eating really healthy. I had a blood allergy test many years ago, and found out I was allergic/sensitive to many foods, the most common: gluten, wheat, dairy, eggs, and more. I decided to try out for 2 weeks to be a sugar-free, gluten-free, vegan. A very restrictive diet. I only lasted 12 days, but have continued to eat better than before, very little sugar, little meat, possible traces of gluten, very little dairy no glasses of milk or ice cream. So far, for the past week and a half I have had significantly reduced twitching. I'm not sure if my change of my eating habits is the cause, but if not, then it is highly coincidental. If you are experiencing BFS, I suggest trying this for awhile, it's worth a try.
Below is my journey to this healthier way of eating...
I also, have been diagosed with benign fasciculation syndrome. It started a in March 2012. I was in grad school, so I did alot of sitting (studying, writing reports, sitting in class), and a lot of unhelathy eating. The only thing I did stay away from was caffeine (except in chocolate). I relied on sugar as an energy source. The only other thing that I know I did around the beginning of my twitching was, I planted grass and ended up getting the fertilized soil all over (chemicals, possible pesticides). Anyway, I'm not sure what was the catalyst for the continuous twitiching, I just know I had it. Mentally, it took a toll on me. Here I was in a motor speech disorders class and had learned all about neuromuscular degenerative disorders. In addition, I had just learned that my gradmother on my father's side died from ALS. Clearly, I was worried. I went to the doctor and my doctor said, "I don't know what it is", had me do a couple of squats, made me resist against her pushing my arm down, and then said come back if I have true weakness and slurred speech. Well, of course at that point I would, but why should I wait and not find out what was going on. I asked for a referral to a neurologist, which she obliged, but since she hadn't done any CT's, or MRI's, or really anything but a CBC, I had a long wait. Mentally, I couldn't wait I needed to put my mind to ease, or begin soem type of treatment. I ended up at a neurologist who didn't have the best reviews, the office wasn't the most cleanest office I've been in, and his bedside manners weren't any better. He did an EMG which came out clean (not ALS thankfully) and did not feel it necessary to do an MRI (maybe to check for MS). He said I had BFS. Of course, I had already looked this information up before so I knew what that meant. I've had twitching ever since in every muscle imagineable (tongue, bottom of feet, etc...)."Replies
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03/25/2013: Brandi from Griffin, Ga: "Benign Fasciculation Syndrome: I'm not sure exactly how long this irritating twitch has been going on other than I know it has gone on ever since I gave birth to my 7 month old. I have other medical problems that keep me at a doctor once a month. I have a total of 6 bulging and herniated discs from the base of my skull all the way to the very last 2 discs at the very bottom of my back. Two weeks ago I had the first set of steroid injections in the bottom of my back on the left side. A week from now I will be getting a steroid type injection in the same place. These at the bottom of my back make sitting extremely painful, not to mention riding in the car. Or try carrying a 18 lb baby up and down stairs, like that are in my apartment with numbness coming and going from your hands and feet because of nerve damage. Sorry I started rambling...... I can't remember if I was twitching this way while I was pregnant or not because I worked 40 hours a, 7 days a week, sometimes more, if I wasn't at work I was trying to sneak in a nap before I had to go back to work my 2nd shift for the day. I was a waitress, and thought I was superman and just kept pushing myself to work and save money because I'm a single mom. I went back to work 4 weeks after I had him. And then 2 weeks after going back to work I was scheduled for my first of 2 surgeries. First my right wrist was operated on (I hadn't been able to feel my fingers in my hands since May 2012 and I did not have him until August 2012).
So after 6 months basically of pain shooting from my neck down my arms and out through my fingers, which kept me from being able to sleep anymore than an hour or two at the time as well, I get the first of my 2 surgeries the first week of October, I went back to work waiting tables 2 days later, doctor didn't want me to but I didn't have a choice, single mom = bills to pay. Two weeks after my right wrist was done I got the 12 stitches out of that wrist, and the next morning I was back on the operating table for my left wrist, and 2 days after the surgery I was back at work. It wasn't until December, seems like right before Christmas I was doing something and just all of a sudden noticed the feeling was finally starting to come back in my fingers. Before the surgery I was told that there was no guarantee the feeling would ever come back and that it usually took 6 months if you were gonna see signs of improvement. It had been 2 months and I could tell the feeling was starting to come back in the tips of my fingers, I just kept hoping that over more time I would regain all the feeling back in my fingers, and now 6 months later I can feel my fingers. Still muscle weakness in my left arm and wrist. Seems to keep getting worse. I'm actually wondering if I don't have some muscle atrophy going on.
However, I know I got wayyyyy off topic about Benign Fasciculation Syndrome. But the first time I recall the twitching was one a friend brought it up and asked me why I started jerking and twitching every night right before I went to sleep. That was around the end of November. And now every night when I lay down that's how I can tell I am about to drift off to sleep, my legs and arms start twitching and jerking. It was probably in January when I first looked up my symptoms because at the very least I knew it wasn't normal. And I came across this syndrome. I finally remembered to bring it up today when I saw the doctor about my next injections. She said I would have to get my PCP to order blood work and luckily I have an appointment already scheduled for in the morning for my regular monthly visit. So I will request full labs as well as nerve conduction studies and muscle biopsies if I can get them to do it. So maybe there will be an update to this post in the future as to the results of the tests."Replies
03/28/2013: Ejules from Woodbridge, Va, Us replies: "Disclaimer: I don't know anything about the syndrome you describe. However, whenever a symptom involving nerves appears I immediately increase my intake of vitamin B complex. Every night for over 15 years I've taken 3 tabs of B-100 (that's 100 of whatever the usual standard unit is) in addition to the other multivitamins, oils, etc. to manage stress. This works best for eye twitches and I get 'em if I miss a day or two or if my stress level goes up during the day. Other indicators that I need more B are flare ups of cold sores on my lip and/or reappearance of a small patch of impetigo on my cheek from when I was 7. The clincher, tho, was my brother who had Bell's Palsey in his 20s. The dr wanted to permanently severe a nerve in his cheek to stop the twitching. That really didn't sound like a good first solution so instead, my mom fed my bro megadoses of vit B complex over several days. The Palsey disappeared and never came back."
06/13/2012: Day from Long Beach, California: "I feel for everyone that has posted on this site concerning this annoying, yet non-life threatening, syndrome, disease, occurance or whatever you want to call it. I am 43 years old and have had BFS since I was 9. I remember they day it happened and where. The muscle behind my right ear twitched violently for 2 days. I told my parents and they told me it was nothing to worry about. It kept me up both nights. I'd put my finger there but it did nothing to make it stop.
Yes, it is totally annoying. You never get used to it. My muscles are twitching as I am typing this. I've been to every doctor imaginable and I've tried every pill to include magnesium, potassium, and any other pill that people claim will MAKE IT STOP! But I still got it.
I definitely think it's a neuro thing because when I wake up or when my brain wakes up I immediately have a muscle jump somewhere.
Just last night I had a dream; it was funny so I smiled. Still dreaming, when I stopped smiling the muscles around my mouth started twitching so much that (while looking at myself in the dream) it looked like I was in a wind tunnel and I could not fix my mouth to speak. I woke up and from what I swore I could here my lips moving from my gums. It was wierd. I went back to sleep but I wish it could have been caught on tape.
My muscles have been twitching everyday, somewhere on my body for 33 years. Sometime for a second, sometimes for days. There is no cure but it won't kill you; it will only irritate the hell out of you.
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news....."Replies
04/06/2014: Bfsbitch from Salt Lake City, UT replies: "Hello fellow BFS sufferers. This disease is annoying. I will testify to that. I mean you're talking to a friend and your leg is going whabam and sometimes it's in my eyelid or even my stomach this worm skin feeling nerve twitch. Well concentrating on it won't help. I've found Carbamazepine, actually the newer, safer Oxcarbamazepine which don't require blood tests and is a anti-seizure drug had some effectiveness in eliminating my eyelid twitch. It did nothing for my stomach and leg twitch. Occasionally even my whole face will seize. What helps: being a scientist yourself figuring what works: sleep, magnesium, epsom salts, no wheat."
04/08/2014: Mary from Arcadia, Ca replies: "Can you help me? My older brother's hand shakes so much. He doesn't know what to do, does the vitamin/medication you take that works for seizures help him? Can I find it organic too?"
[BETTER BUT NOT CURED] 12/09/2012: Paul from Toronto, Canada: "Hello all, for two years I have faced annoying muscle twitches brought about by BFS [Benign Fasciculation Syndrome], it provides me some level of comfort that many others face the same struggles and my twitching is not something more serious. I have been diagnosed with having BFS for a little over a year and I can say that 500mg of magnesium at night does help along with no caffeine.
I wish everyone the best in finding ways to reduce the severity and frequency of the twitching."
10/12/2010: Richard from Menlo, Iowa: "Benign fasciculation syndrome: Hello, I'm looking for help with this. If anyone has any remedies for muscle spasms and twitches that fire off from my eyes to my feet and just about any place in between. Thanks. Richard"Replies
10/17/2010: Janette from Santa Monica, California, Usa replies: "Hi Richard. I have this issue from time to time and it indicates to me that I am deficient in magnesium. I usually take dissolvable magnesium in water and it stops the twitching within a few hours. I am just starting to try magnesium oil too and will let you know how that works out."
10/17/2010: Maria from Gippsland, Australia replies: "Hi there, I have suffered muscle twitching for decades. Never diagnosed with anything. About 10 or so years ago tried magnesium and it worked. Back then the only cheap way to take it was by epsom salts. 1/4 - 1/2 tsp in a glass of water first thing in the morning. When not taking regularly I just put some crystals under my tongue when the twitching occurs. Some people take 1 tsp every morning. If using epsom salts start on the lower dose and build up to your level. I have an uncle who swears by the 1 tsp a day for arthritis and keeps him regular. I have also seen elsewhere 500mg magnesium oxide twice a day for this condition but sorry I cannot remember where. Since starting the alkalizing with the added potassium I have had hardly any muscle twitching, then I added the magnesium to it and have not had any since. For me I know the magnesium works and I now believe the potassium is also helpful."
10/18/2010: Richard from Menlo, Iowa replies: "Thanks for the input. I'm waiting for some Magnesium Chloride I ordered. So I can try a foot soak. I sure hope it works. These muscle twitches and spasms consume my thoughts day and night. I've been on a couple of sites where people say they've had they for years and they have gotten worse over time."
10/18/2010: Janette from Santa Monica, California, Usa replies: "Hi Richard and Maria. Just wanted to say thank you to Maria for mentioning the potassium. I usually eat 1-2 bananas a day (high in potassium) and stopped eating them a week ago to cut back on fructose and starch. Wouldn't you know it but yesterday I got twitches in one of my buttocks! Very odd, first time I can recall this happening! Magnesium oil did help but I am going back to my bananas, starch and all. Good luck!"
10/19/2010: Richard from Menlo, Iowa replies: "Thanks Janette and Maria, This has really been giving me fits. It started with a irritated nerve in my face that had my eye muscle twitching and causing my vision to bounce all over the place. I fought that the whole month of Sept. Last week my eyelid started twitching then my left thumb then moved into my calve and now it's pretty much all over my body. I did a search on the net and found lots of people have this and most say it never leaves. Others swear Magnesium will clear it up I have some Magnesium Chloride on the way to make oil with. I just pray it works. Thanks again. Richard"
10/22/2010: Richard from Menlo, Iowa replies: "I just started the Magnesium oil this morning I sure hope it works. These twitches and spasms really are upsetting. I went to see a Neurologist last month he checked me over and did an MRI of my head. He said everything looked good. That was for a eye that had muscle spasms that caused my vision to bounce. He told me to give it time and it would probably settle down on it's own. It did but it took just over a month. Then after about a week I got a twitch in the same eye but only in the lid this time. A couple days later I started getting muscle twitches and spasms all over my body. I looked on the net and found a couple of sites where people were saying they have had these for years. They called it Benign Fasciculation Syndrome. When I called my Neurologist back and told him about the twitching he said he needed me to come back in. When all this started he asked me if I'd been bitten by a tick or spider or if I'd been sick or had a sinus infection. I told him I'd been feeling fine. Then a couple of days ago I realized about three months ago I had a tooth with a metal filling chip off. The filling is still on. It was part of the tooth itself that chipped off. I'm going in Monday to try to get it pulled. I'm hoping this has nothing to do with the tooth. But when this is over I'm going to try some heavy metal detoxing and see if it does me any good. Richard."
10/23/2010: Janette from Santa Monica, California replies: "Hi Richard, Thanks for the update! Just a reminder - don't rule out potassium! Easy to find veggies and fruits high in potassium. You might be low in this AND magnesium. Good luck. I am sure you will find a cure."
01/22/2012: Srahlf from Manitowoc, Wi replies: "My eye started twitching (non-stop, practically) about a week ago, so I went to the eye doctor. He told me to drink two 8 oz. glasses of tonic water for a week. Tonic water contains quinine, which blocks the receptors to the nerve... or something like that. Anyway, two days into it and it has calmed down quite a bit. If it comes back, I have to get some prescription eye drops. I think I'll try the magnesium and potassium also. Can't hurt. The doc also said that the twitching is normally from underlying stress, which is what everyone else tried to tell me... but I don't feel particularly stressed."
01/24/2012: Jazzdivamom from Placentia, Ca replies: "Hello All, Unfortunately, I have suffered from BFS most of my adult life (I'm 54 ). I get them everywhere. I've had vigorus muscle twiches in my left arm for the last two weeks. They are so annoying they sent me to the hospital last week. Dr. Gave me Ativan, anxiety meds, but they only make me sleepy only to have he twitching present when I awake! Otherwise, they are so bad I can't sleep, or concentrate, which is critical since I'm desperately in need of and searching for employment... Try sitting at the computer while it feels like a frog is jumping inside your arm! My best friend just had some magnesium mailed to me today, high potency 400mg. I just took one and I'm tempted to take 2. I need relief so bad. I've tried Flexeril a muscle relaxer in the past, it does help however it relaxes me so much so I can't function, and a side effect is it relaxes my throat muscles that take about 2 months to get my normal singing voice back! As a pro singer I don't want anything messing with my vocal cords.
I do believe lack of sleep and stress brings my twiches on but it takes a lot to get them to subside.
Prayer, magnesium, sleep, a job... All will help I hope. Any other suggestions are welcomed!
04/03/2012: Ebonysstory from Columbus, Ohio, United States replies: "Hi, I have been reading everyone's post. It seems like adults have this problem, however my daughter is 9 (10 in May). In October she came home with twitching pain in her elbow, from there she starting having these spasm "episodes" as we call them. She becomes lethargic (like she is dosing off to sleep) and then she starts twitching in her arms, legs, now her eyelids, her eyes roll back. No it's not seizures she was tested. One side of her face sometimes twitches as well. She is now home schooled because they were concerned for her safety. Now she begins making moaning sounds when she has these episodes, they have become a lot worse happening all the time. She is only 9 and has not had any stressful events in her life. She has all the symptoms of BFS plus she also has the moaning and lethargic symptoms as well. The doctors are giving us no help. So if anyone has any ideas from your experience. It would be great. Thanks
Eartha (Mother of Ebony)"
04/03/2012: Candy from Fort Madison, Ia replies: "I would get her started on some transdermal magnesium for starters."
04/04/2012: Debbie from Melbourne, Australia replies: "I would take her off all dairy and gluten and keep her away from processed foods. I would be giving her green smoothies (chlorella, spirulina and wheatgass) and keep her diet organic. It would at least be helpful to her body. There may be something toxic in her system and the green smoothies and a toxic clean up may help her.
I agree with Candy that Transdermal magnesium may help, (that is Magnesium Chloride) in the bath water. A good website is magnesiumforlife about transdermal magnesium.
It must be very distressing. Has she had any vaccines lately? Has this been going on long? Was it triggered by something? What is her diet like?"
04/04/2012: Detroit Metro Holistic Mom from Novi, Michigan replies: "Children often grow very fast and can't get enough calcium in their foods for their needs. Calcium will take care of her issues, not magnesium. Try calcium lactate by standard process because it's highly bioavailable. You'll need to giver her about 10 a day for a while. They are small. I know this will work because I have a friend who's son had the same issue and the local chiropractor... Dr. Tent, suggested this. It was amazing to see the results."
04/04/2012: Detroit Metro Moms Network from Novi, Michigan replies: "I wrote in but think I replied to wrong thread. I replied to "remedies needed". Well I was reading this post and thought I would mention that my friends son had similar issues and symptoms and he was 6. She had been to doctors and just so happened to mention this issue to her chiropractor when she was in for her appointment. Dr. Tent is a legend around this area and he suggested calcium lactate at 10 a day. Said that he was growing so fast but wasn't absorbing his calcium from foods and that calcium lactate was ionized and the best for bioavailablity. (Standard Process brand). They are small so don't worry but it also comes in powder for some children who can't swallow tablets yet. This will help relax the muscles from freezing up and help with sleeping and muscle and bone growth. She likely had a growth spurt and the minerals are not in her foods. -in good health"
04/14/2012: Jpar from Placentia, Ca replies: "I too have these terrible twitches. I do believe the magnesium helps and melatonin at night. One thing that sets off my muscle twitches is anything with aspartame in it. So I have been off of diet soda for 3 years, but any diet food or sugar substitute with this in it will make it worse. And drinking lots of water helps."
04/21/2012: Redeemer from Prior Lake, Mn replies: "Is there a difference between the pill form and oil? I just started taking the pills and it hasn't done much good, but it's only been 1 week."
[BETTER BUT NOT CURED] 08/20/2013: Dan from Long Island, Ny: "Benign Fasciculation Syndrome: 2 things I have found helped me... Drink sea salt Iodized mixed in water and 3 or 4 magnesium pills, and also rub your muscles with foot powder composed of magnezium and zinc.... This does help."