Liver Blood Deficiency

Liver Blood Deficiency is a 'syndrome' in Chinese medicine. Once it arises it tends to be chronic. In other words, it is very hard to get rid of without treatment.

However, many people experience mild symptoms of it as they grow older or when they are tired.

The following symptoms may occur to a greater or lesser degree in people with this form of Blood deficiency. You might notice just one or two of them if you have the condition mildly: more as it progresses.

By the way! If, having read this, you think you have symptoms of this syndrome and would like to share them with us, or you would like to contribute to this page, please click here.

And what if you don't have Deficiency of Liver Blood? What if you have excellent levels of Liver Blood?

Then you probably have Bright Eyes and you're full of fun!

Symptoms of Liver Blood Deficiency

The following are common signs of this kind of deficiency but I wouldn't expect you to have all of them! In fact you might have only a few of them, with more developing as your deficiency deteriorates.

  • Dizziness, faintness: - for example on or after exertion, or from standing up too fast from a seated or lying position
  • Vision is poor or blurred, especially later in the day or after too long at your computer, or after reading for too long or watching films or TV. Eyes may ache from tiredness. (Poor vision can mean difficulty focusing far and near, or greater sensitivity to the sun, or to bright light, or to glare.)
  • Eyes are dry (actually this is really a Liver Yin deficiency symptom but it often occurs with Liver Blood deficiency), often with floaters. Floaters are little black specs that you can see against light surfaces.
  • Spasms and cramps of tendons or muscles: lack of flexibility
  • Sometimes your hands may have a tremor
  • Insomnia or poor sleep or dreaming that prevents good sleep
  • Numbness of limbs (arms fall asleep if you keep them still for too long, or during sleep)
  • Muscle weakness, twitching or trembling
  • Intercostal pain - ie pain between your ribs
  • Ringing in the ears (occurs if Liver Yang excess symptoms occur with Liver Yin deficiency): known as tinnitus.
  • Headache at the vertex - the topmost point of your head. (However, a deficiency of Liver Blood can lead to an excess of  Liver Yang, which produces other kinds of headache including migraines, for instance.)
  • Nails are pale, brittle and withered: they split easily or grow malformed. (Theoretically this occurs on your big toenail first.)
  • Skin may be dry and crack or itch
  • In women, menses are scanty and light-coloured, with a long cycle: or you may have no periods at all - amenorrhoea.
  • Your moods: anxiety, lack of confidence, poor short-term memory. Can occur with a lack of assertiveness, then a tendency to sudden outbursts that you can't maintain.
  • Your movements: tremor, weak
  • Your complexion: pallor and pale lips
  • Your body: tends to be underweight. Nails are pale.
  • Tongue: pale or pink, especially at the sides. Dry. Tongue coat may be thin or normal.
  • Pulse: 'thready' and 'forceless' (technical terms for your acupuncturist). 

How do you get this - what's the Aetiology?

1/ Liver Blood is a sub-category of Blood, formed by Stomach, Spleen, Lungs, Ming Men and Heart.

If any of these Organ energies is deficient, so eventually will be your Liver Blood. If food you eate is deficient in nutritive quality, this will affect Liver Blood. Click to read more on Nutrition.

The sort of food eaten matters too, even if otherwise nutritious: food lacking protein leads to Liver Blood deficiency and this is noticeable in

  • teenage girls who go on diets and in
  • people who don’t eat enough for their needs.

(I'm not sure whether the teenager in the picture is a girl, however.)




Whatever you eat, after eating always take a little rest or go for a gentle walk !

2/ Serious blood loss from haemorrhage from which it can be hard to recover. Because there is less Blood to store, the Liver cannot nourish the tendons and the eyes and cannot spare it to produce healthy periods.

3/ Kidney Qi deficiency can lead to deficient Liver Blood.

4/ In women, Liver Blood deficiency usually coexists with Liver Qi Stagnation. Trapped Qi easily transforms to Heat, especially before the monthly period, giving signs of Liver Fire or Liver Yang Rising. When Liver Qi stagnation interferes with the Spleen energy, the process of transforming food into proper nutrition for your body, and then transporting that nutrition to where it's needed, is weakened, leading to even more Liver Blood deficiency.

5/ This syndrome can combine with Liver Yin deficiency to create conditions for internal Wind to occur: trembling becomes extreme, embarrassing and very hard to control. (Some of the symptoms of Parkinson's disease, like the tremor, are often classified in Chinese medicine as being due to Liver Blood and Liver Yin deficiency, though the dementia that accompanies it, and other symptoms, are more due to Kidney deficiency.)

Treatment for Liver Blood deficiency

What your acupuncturist will do is Tonify Liver and Nourish Blood.

Acupuncture is often an excellent way of treating this. But you'll almost certainly need more than one treatment, and your acupuncturist may suggest some foods or supplements to help.

Of course, you should reduce actions that cause it or make it worse!

But you can help yourself!
Some Liver Blood deficiency advice!

What can you do to help yourself?
Liver Blood is classified as a yinsubstance, so when you have a Liver Blood deficiency, you need to increase Yin and decrease Yang.

To increase Yin, the two easiest ways are better nutrition, and more sleep. You can also do exercises for your eyes. Read more about ways to increase Yin at Yin Deficiency.

Better Nutrition

Better nutrition means not just more foods containing what's good for you and less foods containing what's bad, but time to choose the food, cook it, eat it properly (no rush, chew well, don't get stressed when eating,) and take time afterwards to digest before returning to work - perhaps a short walk in the open air?

In general, if your body is sick, avoid iced or cold foods or drinks. Instead eat food that is warm to the touch and don't worry about whether cooking it has destroyed all the vitamins. (In the long run vitamins are important, of course, but not in the short run unless you clearly have a major deficiency in one or more of them.)

Read our page on Nutrition.

Better Sleep

Deep restful sleep renews your mind and body and is the next best thing for Liver Blood deficiency. Click for the Chinese way of thinking about sleep and insomnia and the reasons for insomnia.

Meantime, consider the following ways to help yourself:

  • A quiet, cool, completely dark room
  • A bed that is comfortable, with a clean mattress and enough linen: neither so much you overheat, nor so little that you wake shivering
  • Unless you live where insect attack is a problem, or the air is too hot or cold, or outside is too noisy, ensure a supply of fresh air. Try opening the window!
  • Don't eat or drink too much before retiring to bed, though for some a warm drink works wonders
  • Avoid alcohol in the evening for a proper restful sleep
  • The hours before midnight often give better sleep than those after. If you feel sleepy at 9.30pm, why not go to bed? IAnd then, if after enough sleep you wake early feeling wonderful, well, there's no crime in rising early!
  • Pillows or blankets placed strategically between or under your limbs or body can make sleeping more comfortable
  • Avoid reading exciting literature before putting the light out
  • Don't watch TV or work at a computer for several hours before going to bed. (The colours can upset the way your brain works when it's trying to go to sleep.)

Eye Exercises for Liver Blood Deficiency

There are eyesight exercises you can learn which help your eyes refresh themselves. Even closing your eyes and taking a few deep breaths can make a difference.

Many years ago, my father gave me a book to read when he realized that my sight was beginning to weaken. (He was right!)

I wish I'd read it back then! But you can be sure that I'm using it now. Click on the image to find out more.

Reduce Yang

To reduce Yang, consider the following:

  • Avoid stimulating drugs, such as caffeine (eg coffee), especially in the evening before bed.
  • Avoid over-stimulating your body with vigorous exercise just before bedtime. However, a 10-minute, gentle walk works very well for many people.
  • Avoid getting too hot or too cold before bedtime.
  • Avoid large meals just before bedtime. Leave at least three hours between finishing your meal and retiring to bed.
  • Try to clear your mind of problems before going to sleep. If you can't easily do this, try writing down in a notebook beside your bed the problems you want your mind to produce solutions for by the morning. Put them in order, then hand them over to your subconscious!
  • For some, a warm bath before bed works well, the intention being that when you get into bed you are gradually losing heat - losing yang - which leads to easier dropping off.
  • SLOW DOWN!

Precautions

Nowadays we use our eyes intensively for most of our activities. Electric power means we can read, write and view 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. In the past, when it got dark, we went to bed, providing more time for sleep, and consequently, recovery of Liver Blood.

So we are over-using our eyes and this leads to Liver Blood deficiency.

It's important that if you work at a computer you make time to rest your eyes regularly: preferably every hour for a few minutes go and do something other than stare at a screen.

If you can, surround your workspace with green plants, or have a window nearby with a view out to a garden or park.


At break-time, go for a walk outside and walk fast enough to get out of breath for twenty minutes. Or go to a gym and do a medium work-out. Or do some yoga: anything to move and work your body and lungs that doesn't put more strain on your eyes.

There are nutritional supplements that help. In Chinese medicine a traditional herbal mixture for eye conditions caused by Liver Blood deficiency contained bat droppings, because bats have good eyesight and eat insects that supply what you, and they, need.

However, you may have reservations about eating bat droppings, so consider other possibilities.

We favour a supplement that has piles of published independent clinical research about it - probably more than any other nutritional supplement available. It includes lots that's good for vision.

Derived from real vegetables and fruit it contains what you need in the right proportions for general nutritional needs: easily absorbed.

To read about it and the clinical research they've had done on it click here. (Opens in a new window.)

Liver Blood Deficiency can be both a cause of, and caused by, long-term stress, in the form of Liver Qi Stagnation. I've written a book about it. Find out more below.

Other Liver syndromes

Liver Syndromes

Read about the main Liver syndromes by clicking on the following links. each of which opens in a new window:

There are other kinds of Yin deficiency too!


Booking Consultations with Jonathan Clogstoun-Willmott

Click here to see when Jonathan is available, or to BOOK your appointment online. 

Alternatively, ring him on 07950 012501 or freephone (only free to telephone within the UK) 0800 298 7015.


If you live in the Edinburgh area of Scotland, where the author of this site and of the book described below works, click on Edinburgh Acupuncturist. Otherwise, click on BAcC.


3000 years of Chinese being stressed, and at last, here's a book showing how all that experience can help you!

By the author of this website, it explains in simple English how to use stress to improve and enhance your life.

For the Latest Reviews of 'Qi Stagnation', click here!

NB You can also order 'Qi Stagnation - Signs of Stress' from your bookseller.



Lots of people suffer from Liver Blood Deficiency - do you?

If you think you have symptoms of this, and would like to share them with other readers, do please tell us about them!

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Liver Blood 
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