Traditional Chinese Medicine and the Liver

David McCluggage, D.V.M., C.V.A.

The Traditional Chinese Medical (TCM) Liver
  • The TCM Liver has the following functions:
  • Ensuring the smooth flow of Qi
  • Storing Blood
  • Controls the Sinews (ligaments and tendons)
  • Opens into the eyes
  • Manifests in the nails
  • More than any other TCM organ, the Liver is responsible for the immune system and its function
Patterns of Liver Disease
  • Stagnated Liver Qi
  • Caused by emotional problems
    • Frustration
    • Anger
    • Resentmen
  • Produces
    • Behavioral problems
    • Obsessive/compulsive actions
    • Anger, depression
  • Can invade other organs producing a variety of physical problems

Specific Patterns of Liver Disease

Stagnated Liver Qi

  • Invading the Stomach, causing slow digestion, poor crop emptying, vomiting and nausea
  • Invading the Spleen, causing diarrhea
  • Invading the Small intestine, causing constipation
  • Impair movement of Blood, causing
  • Decreased fertility, cause vaginal and uterine problemsImpede the flow of Qi to other organs and the movement of blood, both will negatively affect the function of the "western" immune system
  • This will have the potential to lead to chronic infections, especially those of the liver and respiratory system

Liver Fire Blazing Upwards

    • From the Invasion of Wind Heat or from Stagnation of Liver Qi
    • Produces red swollen eyes ("conjunctivitis")
    • Also seen with certain viral infections and chlamydial infections

Stasis of Liver Blood

    • Produces infertility in hensCan produce vomiting of blood and nose bleeds
    • Dries out the nasal and sinus passages, predisposing birds to infections

Liver Attacking Stomach

    • A variation of Qi Stagnation
    • Produces poor digestion and assimilation of nutrients

Liver and Spleen Disharmony

    • A Variation of Qi Stagnation
    • Poor digestion, diarrhea

Thus Liver Qi Stagnation (produced by many things, but commonly from the stress of a captive life) often produces

  • Gastrointestinal disorders
  • Poor digestion
  • The lack of the free flow of Qi to the body will produce
    • Chronic immune deficiencies
    • Predisposing animals to the development of infections, allergies, hormonal problems
Eventually Overt Liver Disease Develops

Liver Disease can include a variety of different signs that must be dealt with:

Fluid build-up

Fire Toxins


Hepatitis, inflammation

Blood Deficiency

A variety of Traditional Chinese Medical diagnoses, which all need to be treated with the appropriate acupuncture points and herbs

Acupuncture For Liver Disease

    • Vary by the pattern of liver disorder, general points include:
    • BL 18, BL 19, LIV 3, GV 9, ST 36, GB 35, BL 40, LIV 13, SP 6
Herbal Combinations for Liver Disease
    • Vary by the pattern of liver disorder

Eclipta (Seven Forest)

Ecliptex (Health Concerns)

Bupleurum/Gardenia Formula (Damp Heat)

o bupleurum 15%

o peony 15% (5% each of peony, red peony, moutan)

o gardenia 15%

o forsythia 15%

o astragalus 15%

o salvia 15%

o tang-kuei 10%

Zhen Wu Tang (KI Yang vacuity with Liver Cirrhosis)

o Aconite 20%

o Atractyloides 20%

o Poria 20 %

o Zingibers 20 %

o Peony 20 %

Long Dan Xie Gan Tang (Gentiana Combo)

o Hepatitis, gallbladder damp-heat, liver fire

Xiao Chai Hu Tang (Minor Blupleurum)

o Disharmony of Liver and Spleen, with Liver Qi Stagnation and a Spleen Qi vacuity

Xiao Yao San (Bupleurum and Tang Kuei; Easy Wanderer)

o Stagnation of Liver Qi and Blood

o Blood Deficiency

o Spleen vacuity

Jia Wei Fu Mai Tang (Modified Pulse Restorative Decoction)

o Liver and Kidney Yin Vacuity

o Usually acute, with heat signs, dehydration, jaundice