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The Liver Organ System as Seen by Traditional Chinese Medicine

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The function of the liver in Western medicine is to manufacture and produce bile. Bile is important for the detoxification of blood and the breaking down of fat. In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), however, the liver has functions that are quite different from that described by Western medicine. In TCM, this organ’s responsibilities include the control of the circulatory system, the autonomic nervous system (the part of the nervous system that govern actions that the person has no voluntary control of), and the central nervous system of the body. Besides these, the liver also governs the function of sight.

The liver, in TCM, is the organ system that is responsible for the dissemination and flow movements going on in the body. The proper flow of things is stimulated by the liver. It guarantees and sets the proper movement of body fluids, blood, and qi as well as their distribution all throughout the body. The liver performs three specific functions with regards to its spreading and flowing responsibilities: it improves the digestive attributes of the spleen, regulates emotions, and also regulates qi.

Qi Flow Normalization

The performance of the meridians and the organs are dependent on the flow of qi. The dissemination and flow of qi all through the body in turn depend on the liver’s normalizing capacity. A dysfunctional liver can mean that something is disrupting qi flow resulting in imbalance and disharmony. When these problems become systemic, illnesses and other health conditions follow.

The Regulation of Emotions

Emotions are normal when the liver is in balance. The health of one’s emotions is based on the harmony of blood and qi. A normal and uninterrupted liver qi flow generates a relaxed emotional environment inside. So if the flow of liver qi stagnates due to liver disharmony, then anger, depression, and other forms of emotional disturbances can develop.

Improving the Digestive Function of the Spleen

The spreading and flowing attributes of the liver helps readjust the spleen’s digestive functions. A dysfunctional liver would mean that spleen qi flow is poor. The effect of this is poor conveyance and transformation of digested food leading to symptoms such as diarrhea, belching, nausea, stomach pain and other complications.

Liver is Where Blood is Stored

The liver is the organ that regulates blood flow and stores blood. The blood moves and leaves the liver when a person exercises. The blood then travels to the area of the body that needs it. When the person rests, the blood goes back to the liver for it to be stored once more. If there is insufficient blood in the liver, the eyes are usually the one’s to first suffer from this deficiency. The eyes receive inadequate nutrition and become dry and rough. The person can begin to experience headaches from this blood inadequacy.

The liver Opens Into the Eyes

The lover and the eyes have a close relationship with each other. This is because they both are connected to the energy channel of the liver. Vision quality depends on how much nourishment the eye receives, this nourishment comes from blood which is stored in the liver. We can always glean if a person has a liver problem by observing the health of the person’s eyes. Blurred vision, for example, is usually caused by inadequate liver blood. Heat and dampness in the gallbladder and liver can lead to jaundice, a health condition that manifests as yellow eyes.

The Tendons are Also Governed by the Liver

Liver function is closely tied to tendon movement. If there is insufficient blood stored in the liver, it may result in the poor nourishment of the tendons. This can result in stretching or bending difficulty, limb numbness, and spasms. The health of the toenails and fingernails rely also on nutrients on the blood stored in the liver. When a person has an adequate liver blood supply, his/her nails will appear moist and pink; blood insufficiency will cause the nails to look pale, brittle, and thin.

Ivelisse DeJongh is a Miami acupuncturist and the medical director at DeJongh Acupuncture Clinic.

Written by Valerie

November 10th, 2015 at 3:07 pm