In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the liver is one of the most important organs. It controls the flow of life energy, also known as Qi, a vital substance that affects the physiological functions of the human organs and meridians. The liver’s first priority is to keep your Qi moving smoothly. Below is an outline of the functions of the Liver and how to detect if your liver is functioning optimally.
What can cause the liver to become stagnant?
When the Liver is prevented from doing its job, the energy from the liver (Liver Qi) becomes stagnant, which can cause problems that involve pain. Factors that can cause the liver to become stagnant include:
- Excessive mental exertion
- Prolonged negative emotions (frustration, stress, anger, resentment etc.)
- Emotional fluctuations
- Women’s health issues (PMS, PMDD, hormonal problems)
The liver regulates and stores blood
The liver regulates how much blood is circulating in the body and stores blood when we are resting or sleeping. It then releases it again once we start moving and doing physical activities. The idea is, the less blood the liver reserves, the more problems a person is likely to have, as you’ll essentially be ‘getting by’ on the limited supply of blood in the liver that is being stored.
The liver regulates emotions
Another function of the liver is regulating the free flow of Qi while using the liver- blood’s supply. Those who have livers that function optimally and reserve enough blood have the ability to bounce back from emotional problems much faster than those who have poor reserves and are able to find emotional harmony. However, people with poor reserves tend to feel exhausted by their problems, which prolong feelings of sadness, depression, anxiety, and pressure.
The liver is integral to the menstrual cycle
For women, the liver functions as a regulator of the menstrual cycle. How well a liver is functioning is telling of her overall health and fertility. If Liver Qi is stagnated, there is often a liver-blood deficiency as well. This can create a host of symptoms like:
- Crying spells
- Propensity to outbursts of anger
- Breast Distention (pressure or pain)
- Irregular, scanty, or no periods
- Blurred vision and floaters
- Dry hair and brittle nails
- Insomnia, excessive dreaming
… and more.
The Liver regulates your digestive system
If you are suffering from digestive problems like ulcers, food sensitivities, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), or any other gastrointestinal conditions, there is a chance that your Liver is not functioning well. In fact, the first sign of Liver Qi Stagnation shows up as digestive problems.
Liver Qi allows digestive processes to carry out more smoothly. You will feel a difference when nutrients begin to absorb more readily into the Blood and is are carried from the intestines to the Liver, so you can say goodbye to irritability and exhaustion after eating!
How can acupuncture help?
Acupuncture addresses both situations of Liver Qi stagnation and Liver-Blood deficiencies. Points along the corresponding meridians release the stagnated areas allowing the Qi to move freely. This increases the overall blood flow in your body, which will improve your whole health and wellbeing.
Do any of these situations resonate with you? If you feel like your Liver function is waning and could use a little help, get in touch with us or set up an appointment so we can start the process of relieving your symptoms as soon as possible.