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5 Signs You Have Liver Qi Stagnation and What to Do About It


The practice of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has a long history that dates back thousands of years. Though there are countless studies showing the success of TCM treatments, some of the language and terminology used does not always correspond directly to diagnoses within Western medicine.

One example of this is the concept of liver qi stagnation. Though this is not a diagnosis in Western medicine, it is a rather common diagnosis amongst practitioners of TCM.

The Concept of Qi

Qi, or the driving force behind all activity, does not have a direct English translation. It can be closely associated with a person’s energy or life force. When practitioners of TCM discuss the concept of qi stagnation, this is may refer to a lack of energy that may be coupled with disharmony.


Is liver Qi stagnation common? Liver Qi Stagnation Symptoms

Liver qi stagnation, or liver chi stagnation, is a very common imbalance found by practitioners of TCM. The Liver channel is responsible for moving energy from all parts of the body back to liver. When qi stagnation occurs, the energy flow obstructed, it results in the slowing or ceasing of the body’s transportation of vital fluids. Its causes may be the result of underlying heart, kidney, and spleen issues. It may also be the result of both mental and emotional imbalances.

One way to quickly check if you have Liver Qi stagnation is by using a tongue diagnosis. A tongue signifies Liver Qi stagnation will tend to be pale, with thin white coating and a red tip.

Liver Qi stagnation is usually related to Qi deficiency. Qi deficiency symptoms include fatigue, shortness of breath, and low energy. 

Five Signs You Have Liver Qi Stagnation

The symptoms that are associated with liver qi stagnation can vary greatly and may be different from person to person. Not all symptoms are not always present, but rather some may have one or two prominent signs/symptoms with several others being less apparent but still present. Read on to learn more about liver qi stagnation symptoms.


1. Pain or discomfort anywhere along the sides of the body

Since liver qi stagnation may be accompanied by blood stasis or blood stagnation, it is not uncommon for sufferers to experience blood stagnation symptoms including pain and discomfort. This may present in the chest or on the sides of the abdominal area. Some women may even experience pain in their breasts. 


2. Mood swings and frequent sighing

Another liver qi stagnation symptom is mood swings. This, along with other variations to one’s mental state, may also indicate additional underlying issues such as kidney yang deficiency. Frequently sighing may also be an indication that you are suffering from liver qi stagnation.


3. Becoming angry and being easily frustrated

Anger and frustration can be a double-edge sword when it comes to liver qi stagnation. Not only are an abundance of anxiety and fear possible symptoms, but they can also be possible causes. Incessantly focusing on the negative may result in stagnation. Liver qi stagnation has been found to correspond with both emotional issues as well as stress.


4. Menstrual irregularities and Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS):

Since the liver acts as the regulator of the menstrual cycle, women may experience delayed, irregular, or heavy periods. These can be accompanied by menstrual pain and sore breasts. Some women may even experience mental stress associated with PMS.


5. Digestive imbalance

 Certain dysfunctions of the digestive system could also be indications of liver qi stagnation. Issue such as pain in the abdomen and diarrhoea may indicate stagnation. Some may even experience feelings of fullness, mucous in the stool, and gas.

Learn more about Liver QI stagnation from our TCM experts!

Liver Qi Stagnation Diet

There is good news as it pertains to liver qi stagnation symptoms. Small changes in diet can go a long way to help alleviate the symptoms listed above. Since qi comes not only from the air around but also from certain foods, it is important to choose foods that will not lead to stagnation.

It is also recommended to avoid cold foods as they can lead to stagnation due to their ability to weaken the digestive system. In addition to cold foods, it is important to eliminate fried foods, dairy, and junk food. Instead, choose a diet that is rich in warming foods. These include such options as pumpkin and lean meats like chicken. Flavoring your food with spices such as ginger and cumin will also add to the warming effect. Cooking method should also be considered when trying to relieve liver qi stagnation symptoms. Using such techniques as grilling, steaming, or roasting will help to restore qi. 

Exercise for Liver Qi Stagnation

Walking, jogging, dancing, swimming, and cycling are all useful for reducing Liver Qi stagnation. Aerobic exercise requires one to inhale a large amount of fresh air, which can improve the circulation of Qi and Blood, and boost metabolism and other organs’ functioning. Taiji is also recommended because it helps to restore energy balance inside our bodies and supports the co-working of the organ’s system.

Acupuncture for Liver Qi Stagnation

If you want to accelerate the process of relieving Liver Qi Stagnation, acupuncture can be an affordable and effective method to combine with your diet plan. During an acupuncture session, needles will be used to stimulate acupuncture points for liver qi stagnation, which will boost Qi circulation and help Qi flow freely again in the body.

Herbs for Liver Qi Stagnation

In addition to the aforementioned dietary changes, there are a variety of herbal options that will help to improve Liver qi stagnation symptoms.

Xiao Yao Tang

This herbal blend has a long history of use in TCM. It aids in eliminating or reducing stagnation so that qi may flow more freely. It is often recommended for the treatment of nausea, gas, bloating, and general stomach discomfort. We recommend speak with your healthcare practitioner before trying this blend of herbs if you are pregnant.

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* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. We can’t guarantee the treatment result, as the symptoms of conditions are unpredictable and vary greatly from person to person. The treatment length and recovery time also varies for individual. Please visit our consultation page where a specialists will discuss your care and provide a consultation, and the treatment will be designed to meet your individual needs.

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