Seattle Acupuncture- The Liver Meridian

The liver is a fascinating organ. It performs over 500 vital functions in the body plus many more that are still being discovered. The liver plays a big role in both Chinese medicine and western medicine. In western medicine the liver produces bile which helps break down fats and carry away waste in the small intestines. It also produces certain proteins in blood plasma, it converts excess glucose into glycogen, it regulates blood clotting factors and it is a huge detoxifier, just to name a few. In Chinese medicine the liver is in charge of storing blood, regulating menstruation, controlling the smooth flow of Qi (our body’s energy) and it ensures the flow of bile. The liver is also an organ that is easily impacted by emotions and stress. Living a stressful life or living in a stressful emotional state is equally as toxic as any physical toxic substance. This means that when we are overly stressed or emotional our liver has to perform the same detoxifying functions as it would with any poisonous substance. When the liver becomes overwhelmed, the Qi stagnates causing Liver Qi Stagnation, one of the most common diagnoses for Americans in Chinese medicine. Since the liver is in charge of the smooth flow of Qi, when the liver Qi stagnates, it halts the smooth movement of Qi in the entire body. Here are the common symptoms of liver Qi stagnation- hypochondriac pain (pain in the area on the side of ribs), moodiness, depression, feeling of a lump in your throat, chest tightness, irregular periods, and breast tenderness before the period.

The liver meridian has a total of 14 acupuncture points. The meridian starts from the inside of the big toe, goes up the foot, up the medial side of the calf, up the medial side of the thigh, up the groin, and ends in the area where the liver is located. The liver meridian is also called the Foot Jue Yin whose paired meridian, the Hand Jue Yin, is the pericardium meridian. The liver is considered a yin organ whose paired yang organ is the gall bladder. The liver is manifested in our nails, it opens to our eyes, it is the element of wood, it has the color green, it’s season is spring, its taste is sour and its primary emotion is anger.

The liver meridian encircles the genitals which shows how it has a huge influence on that region. One of the biggest influences is with female menstruation. If the liver Qi is stagnated it can make the period irregular, it can cause emotional swings during PMS and it can cause pain in both the lower abdomen and the breasts.

The liver meridian is the last meridian the Qi flows through before the energy cycle starts all over again, beginning with the lung meridian. This shows a connection between the lungs (and lung issues) and the stagnation of liver Qi. Below are the most common points used on the liver meridian.

LV-2- used to release heat from the liver meridian

LV-3- this is one of the most popular points in acupuncture because it moves stagnated liver Qi. It is usually paired up with large intestine 4 (LI-4) to make a point set called “the four gates.” These points are located in the same area but LV-3 is on the foot and LI-4 is on the hands.

LV-5- moves liver Qi, clears damp heat from the liver and regulates the menstruation.

LV-8-this point is the most common point to tonify liver blood.

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