When you hear Liver Qi ‘chee’ Stagnation, what do you think? Probably the first few thoughts that come to mind are “well I have no idea at all”, “that’s not a thing”, and/or “um… what’s wrong with my liver?”
Well, in Chinese Medicine your Liver has a very specific action on the Qi –or energy- of your body. When I speak about the Liver, Spleen, Heart, etc., it isn’t your physical heart or liver- the anatomy of those organs is probably fine- it is the Chinese Medicine aspect of the energy of the meridian and TCM organ. Each meridian is associated with an organ, hence its name.
Now that you know I’m not talking about your physical liver, we can talk about what exactly Liver Qi Stagnation is!
Your Liver is a huge player in TCM, it controls the smooth flow of Qi in your body, stores blood, controls sinews, opens into the eyes, and is affected by anger. Today, we are going to only focus on the smooth flow of Qi. The smooth flow of Liver-Qi is essential to all physiological processes throughout the whole body, in every organ and part of the body. So…. When Liver Qi becomes stagnant, there is a lot of disharmony that may occur.
Common symptoms of Liver Qi Stagnation include; PMS, distended breast before period, irritability, depression, moodiness, feeling ‘wound up’, sighing, abdominal distention, irregular periods, and potentially feeling like there is a lump in your throat.
Like the majority of our society, I am or have experienced most of those symptoms at a variety of different times. Due to our hectic lifestyles, it is quite common for people to have an underlying Liver Qi stagnation. When the Liver Qi is not moving as it should, it will slowly start to effect the Spleen, Heart, and so on. That is when the bloating, poor digestion, poor sleep, head aches can come into play.
There are a few things you can do to help yourself and your Liver. By releasing endorphins and regulating Qi, acupuncture is huge in regulating the smooth flow of Liver Qi. Reducing stressors in your life will also help- take up walking in nature, meditation, and exercise. Really, whatever it might be to help you release that stress and irritability will be huge. And of course your diet will greatly affect your Liver Qi.
Eating in moderation, not eating late meals or being stressed during or after the meal. Eating pungent such as lemon and onions as well as raw foods are ‘anti-stagnant’ and will help the Liver-Qi flow smoothly. I drink lemon water every morning, it is a wonderful way to start the day and help regulate Liver Qi. Bitter foods will also help resolve Liver-Qi stagnation.
Some suggested foods are; onions, small amounts of citrus, garlic, asparagus, turmeric, chestnuts, beets, cabbage, celery, carrots, and dill. And now some foods to decrease or restrict include; cheese, eggs, deep fried foods, beer, spicy meals, pizza, nuts, refined sugars, and raw vegetable juices.
If any of these symptoms sound like you, I would highly suggest incorporating a few of these dietary and lifestyle adaptations along with acupuncture. I know it helped me!
Healing with Whole Foods – Paul Pitchford
Foundations of Chinese Medicine – Giovanni Maciocia