The Liver - Key to supporting circulation & lowering stress

Part XI of "Decoding the Mysterious Language of TCM"

It's been a while since I've written anything for my series on decoding the mysterious language of TCM. Today I want to introduce the Liver:

Not a day goes by in my clinic that I'm not addressing the Liver channel in some way. The reason this organ system is so important from a TCM perspective, is that it is responsible for regulating the smooth flow of Qi and storing Blood. In other words, the Liver is responsible for making sure that all of the other organs are receiving enough Qi and Blood to function smoothly, and as such are essential in supporting healthy circulation.

In classical texts, the Liver is compared to an army general who is responsible for coordinating the smooth flow of resources throughout the physical body as well as managing the general direction of our life in a mental or spiritual sense. Thus it influences our ability to make and execute plans and our sense of direction in life, and it governs our aspirations and dreams of bettering our self.

Unfortunately, the demands of modern living can be a great challenge to the Liver, which becomes hampered and stuck under stress. When it's ability to regulate the smooth flow of Qi stagnates, we experience feelings of frustration, irritability and anger. On a physical level, stagnation usually manifests as digestive complaints, tension and pain.

The Liver's relationship to Blood is an important one especially for women's health. Because it stores the Blood, it influences the health of the uterine lining, while its Qi regulating function, governs the discharge of that lining during menstruation. Any imbalances in the system, will lead to painful, heavy or absent periods and many other gynecological issues.

The other aspect of Liver-Blood function is that it supports our muscle tissue, tendons and ligaments. Sufficient Liver Blood means healthy, supple muscle tissue and smooth movement. When there are imbalances or deficiency, we experience tension, tremors, and spasms.

Making sure that we have ways to manage stress in our life and learning ways of releasing stress from our bodies is essential to maintaining health and a sense of well-being. Making regular acupuncture a part of your life is a great way to do just that and should be considered an important element in your health maintenance.