The Liver is the yin aspect of the wood element in the body.  Compared to the Gall Bladder (the yang aspect of the wood element in the body) the Liver is solid.  This means that it is the yin aspect of a yang element.  The wood element is particularly concerned with growth and blockages to growth and so the need to take action.  Ideally we grow smoothly and easily – and are able to readily deal with any blocks to this process.

The Channel

The Liver channel flows from the inside of the foot up the inside of the leg, around the external genitalia and across the abdomen.


Traditionally the Liver is said to be in charge of “The free flow of qi”.  This means that we can move smoothly from seeing a vision and devising plans to implementing them.  It also applies at the daily level – combining a good balance of activity and rest and moving smoothly from one to the other.

Getting ‘Hyper’ and Getting ‘Stuck’

If you feel like you are on overdrive then this is a liver problem.  The traditional saying is that, “The Liver tends to excess”.  If you can’t sit still and rest and are always planning the next initiative this is a Liver imbalance.  Likewise if you feel you can’t get stuck and feel chronically frustrated and/or depressed this indicates a Liver imbalance.


The Liver stores blood.  This makes it of particular importance for the female cycle.  It also makes it important for sleep.  The blood is said to return to the Liver when we sleep.


Insomnia, where our head is racing and we are thinking furiously indicates a Liver problem.  Likewise any disturbance to a woman’s cycle may involve a Liver problem (in our culture, where we are asked to live by the clock rather than in accord with our bodily rhythms, this is not uncommon).

Tendons and Nails.

The Liver governs the tendons.  These are the parts of our bodies that provide flexibility.  People who are particularly of a Liver body shape are ‘string beans’ or a ‘bean pole’.  These people are usually tall and skinny.  They often surprise us by being able to work longer and harder than those with more prominent muscles.  This is because it is the tendons that are being used.  (They will also often walk with a clumping gait and (in men) have a prominent ‘Adam’s Apple’.)

If there is a Liver problem the nails will be not be healthy (they may be soft, withered, deformed or chipped).

The Eyes.

The Liver is important for our vision.  This is true of our physical eyes and for our vision of our lives and what is possible in the world.

Dry eyes, nightblindness or dryness of the eyes indicate a Liver imbalance.  Likewise, having no vision or being unable to plan is a Liver problem.

The Health of Your Liver.

  • Sleep

Do you go to sleep easily and wake refreshed?

Do you have a problem getting to sleep because you are still thinking?

  • Planning and Doing

Can you move smoothly from seeing your vision to taking action?

Does your day have a rhythm and flow to it?

For women: does your cycle flow smoothly and easily?

32 Responses to “Liver”

  1. J Trout says:

    Do you think acupuncture could help someone with Lupus and Fibromialgia? I have a freind who is only 47 with both of these conditions. She can’t take over the counter meds for pain for some reason and doesn’t like to be drugged up all the time. J

  2. Evan says:

    It can definitely help with the symptoms, at least.

    How much it can reduce or ‘cure’ these conditions I’m afraid I don’t know enough about them to say.

    However it can definitely help with the pain and other symptoms.

  3. Viv;=) says:

    Hi Evan,

    As the liver makes cholesterol, is there any way to bring high cholesterol down (for people who don’t want to take medications) besides changing the lifestyle.

  4. Evan says:

    Hi Viv,

    It depends what you mean by lifestyle. There are foods to support the liver (in TCM these are the leafy greens). There are exercises of various kinds to help with a sense of flow (which is the province of the liver). There are herbs which should be able to assist (though this is really a kind of medication – though one with less side effects than western medicines, when correctly administered.)

    Acupuncture will help the liver and so may assist with cholesterol levels over time. Not a quick fix though.

    Hope this helps.

  5. Don Yuan says:

    Looks perfectly straight to me. Of course, I’m also the type of person who allegedly [ahem! allegedly] agree with everything.

  6. James Chen says:

    Intesting, being an regular at a local acupuncturist, I read up on how acupuncture works a lot, but it’s intresting to read up on how body parts is seened from an acupuncture point of view

  7. Evan says:

    Thanks James.

  8. Acupuncture does work. it helps me deal with my allergies and also i use acupunture for relaxation.

  9. Kieth Carles says:

    Thanks for the post it educated me haha.

  10. Vickie Volkman says:

    I’m very interested in this, and have been doing research. I was recently diagnosed with a form of colitis. My liver enzymes are up, I’m awake around 1:00 AM every day, and my cycles are messed up. Can acupuncture really help this? If so, how often would I need to do it?

  11. Evan says:

    The answer is almost certainly. I can’t really say more than this general reply.

    You’ll need to get to an acupuncturist so they can see you. How long it takes and how often you need it will depend on how severe the problem is and how long you have had it. It may also involved herbs and dietary change.

    For the acupuncture it is possible it may be twice week for 10 weeks. This would be a common scenario.

  12. Vickie Volkman says:

    Thank you very much for your response. I will definitely make an appointment.

  13. nomiks says:

    The comment above is right, of course it is.

  14. Excelente artículo says:

    Buena información! Me gustó leerlo y me sirvió, gracias. Si te interesa, yo administro un sitio web con muchos datos sobre Reducir Abdomen.

  15. my mom suffered colitis last year and it was quite an expensive disease..:*

  16. David says:

    I’m curious, a lot of this makes sense but one thing i find that education and research in TCM/Acu lacks is siting sources. Where did you get this information? (not questions just curious). It seems every practitioner i go to they have some theory and it all comes out different. I know I have a liver problem and when i go for treatment for my liver, they end up telling me I have some spleen something or kidney something and always change the diagnosis. I franktly just want to treat my liver.. frustrating.

  17. Evan says:

    Hi David,

    The theory base for TCM acupuncture was formalised by the Chinese government in the 1960’s. This was the basis of the Barefoot Doctor movement in China.

    Since then there have been various texts – which all basically re-state the same data in somewhat different forms.

    Giovanni Maciocia has a good one.

    It’s confusing but people have chosen to translate Chinese terms with similar Western ones. In TCM the ‘organs’ of the body have functions different to the western ones – which includes psychological functions.

    For instance in western medicine the Kidneys are water filters in TCM they contain the life essence we are born with.

    These ‘organ’s’ functions are related to other organ’s functions.

    Thus in TCM the spleen is in charge of digestion. So problems with digesting oil can involve both the spleen and the liver. Because digestion is one source of energy for our living, if this is disrupted, it can affect the other organs. This may be what is going on with what appears to be the confusing diagnoses you’re getting.

    I have written my own approach to TCM theory. It is waiting on illustrations but I can send you the bare text if you like. It is quite long but you can just look up the parts relevant to you. Let me know your email and I’ll send you the text.

    Hope you find a way to get the problem fixed.

  18. David says:

    Oh okay sure that sounds good. What’s the best way to give you my email without spammers getting through? I would love to hear and read the text and illustrations.

    if you are the admin, i put it under “mail” when i typed up this comment. if not it’s dl e e 4 2 7 AT yahoo! dot com (all one word no spaces and of course no exclaimation mark for yahoo)

  19. Millie Wood says:

    my dad suffered from colitis a couple of years ago, this disease is quite painful”`-

  20. Val Lowber says:

    I made a video about this, would you mind checking it out and maybe leaving a comment on what you think about it? (I left the url in the “website” box) thank you!

  21. Connor Bell says:

    Colitis can be prevented by just drinking lots of fluids and concentrating on high fiber diets”~”

  22. Kunigunde says:

    Are you going on a trip to a particular place for the first-time? Will you be setting foot in a foreign and unfamiliar soil? This blog site is created for you. I have been to many places, and the first time I stepped into unfamiliar territory I had to feel my way and rely on what I have on-hand especially when all I had were travel books, maps and print-outs from the web. My friends and I make our own itinerary. It is truly advisable to check out anything about the place before going on a trip. Yet, you need not necessarily hire a travel agent or tour guide to get you around every time you visit a place for the first time. A little help from locals can add spice to your first-time travels. It can give you the freedom to explore the place and enjoy the feeling of not spending much, based on my own travel experiences. You can take my word on some tips and information on the places I visited but feel free to be creative and be adventurous. I may offer some advice here and there but, as they say, “experience is the best teacher”. So, read on and find out more about my first-time travel adventures.

  23. colitis is damn right painful when you have it. i am really afraid of this disease”,;

  24. ted says:

    I was wondering, speaking of the liver, I have chronic depression and was wondering if there was an herbal formula to help with my aches and pains.

    Thanks so much

    PS xiao yao wan didn’t help

  25. i was suffering from colitis a couple of months ago and believe me, the pain is horrible .,~

  26. Tanya says:

    Hi people
    my husband has PSC of liver and he done ERCP twice but the
    doctores wore not able to open his right side of his billducts so
    iam thinking abut ocupuntcher now
    the docters said there is just one type of cure for PSC desse
    iamvery sad and I need help please
    thank u.

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