This is a different point of view from that of Western medicine. Primary RLS is primarily seen as a neurological disorder. It is assumed that the production of the neurotransmitter dopamine is impaired.
In this blog I will delve a little deeper into the vision from Chinese medicine. I don’t think Western medicine is a panacea. East and West can complement each other and learn from each other.
What is a liver
The liver is a versatile organ located in the upper right side of the abdominal cavity. The liver weighs 1.5 kilos.
The organ plays an important role in your metabolism, among other things. Certain vitamins and minerals such as iron, vitamin B12 and vitamin D are stored and processed in the liver. The liver is also a storage place for ‘sugars’, as an energy store.
The liver makes proteins that play a role in blood clotting and the immune system.
Another function of the liver is to purify the blood. Waste products are removed through the intestines in the form of feces and through the kidneys in the form of urine.
The liver also produces about a liter of bile per day. Bile aids in the processing and digestion of fats.
There are different types of liver diseases. These diseases can be acute or chronic. The recovery capacity of the liver is great. In the event of illness, the organ continues to function normally for a long time.
Excessive use of alcohol can damage the liver. There are different stages. It starts with fatty liver. This is followed by inflammation of the liver (hepatitis). Then there is damage and destruction of liver cells (liver fibrosis). This can progress to a pre-cancerous stage of cancer (liver cirrhosis).
People with liver disease often suffer from restless legs.
Traditional Chinese medicine sees restless leg syndrome as an obstruction of blood flow.
The liver stores blood. This blood keeps muscles and tendons healthy and vital. With a weakened liver function, the blood circulation is disturbed. According to Chinese medicine, this has an effect on both physical and energetic levels.
Restless legs occur especially when the body is at rest. The blood flows back to the liver and then circulates less. Waste products accumulate in the legs and that causes the restless, unpleasant feeling.
Blood also carries oxygen in the body. According to Chinese medicine, the reduced blood circulation therefore causes an oxygen deficiency in the legs. That oxygen deficiency gives a feeling of acidification.
In a previous blog I compared the feeling in the calves with acidification after intensive exercise. The calf muscle then feels hardened. As a teenager I had that regularly, because I was an avid tennis player. Now I have hardened calf muscles without such physical exertion.
As mentioned, much less attention is paid in Western medicine to the functioning of the liver in connection with restless legs.
It is generally accepted that iron deficiency often plays a role in RLS. This is the so-called ferritin content. Its storage is in the liver. If a blood test shows a deficiency of ferritin, the doctor usually prescribes the iron supplement ferrous fumarate. An alternative to this is iron bisglycinate.
I think it makes sense for Western medicine to thoroughly investigate what role the liver could play in the development of RLS. Taking an iron supplement is symptomatic relief. Addressing the underlying problem would of course be better.