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Like Liver Qi stagnation, Liver Fire is common.
© Christos Georghiou - Fotolia.com
That's not all. Common to this syndrome are other symptoms like:
If it becomes severe, 'flare up of Fire of Liver' (that's the wonderfully flowery way Chinese medicine often describes syndromes!) will damage the Liver’s function of storing the Blood which can lead to nose–bleed (epistaxis) and vomiting of blood (haematemesis).
Heat rises, so all the symptoms of flaring up of Fire of Liver, whether mild or severe, are in the upper body and head.
The key feature is irascibility. The patient often displays this but may complain about it too and if not, you must enquire - it’s important, because another condition – Liver Yang rising – can also have this, but it lacks the irascibility of Liver Fire.
Soon after I began practising acupuncture, my mentor Dr Mary Austin gave me one of her patients.
I now think it was probably a little test, but also I realised later on that perhaps she and he didn't really get on.
He was in his fifties, grey-haired and, I thought, very self-possessed. He said he had a slight headache.
For me, a slight headache usually gets better overnight, so just needs rest. He said, firmly, this was not the case; sleep did not help.
So I dutifully took his case. Time went by with me enquiring politely about his reaction to the weather (enjoy the sun), his temper (very good), his bowel actions (perfectly regular thankyou), what position he slept in (very comfortably so I tend to forget but thank you for asking), what he felt like during a headache (want to get rid of it), his parents and grandparents and their health (I think he rolled his eyes but out of loyalty to Mary Austin he soldiered on) and lots more like that.
Used as he was to Mary Austin's immediate diagnoses, he eventually got a little restless.
Looking back on it, I'm a bit embarrassed, but that is how I'd been taught and I felt I should leave no stone unturned.
Eventually, with remarkable control, I now realise, he asked me whether he had told me enough about his headache and did I have a diagnosis.
I thought it perhaps time to take his pulses. Now, at that stage of training in the UK we had hardly heard of the huge and sophisticated benefits from Chinese medicine's contribution to understanding the pulses, and I could just about distinguish between a fast and a slow pulse and between a strong and a weak pulse.
Remembering that he was a mild-mannered man with a slight headache, I took his wrist and approached his radial artery with confidence that his pulse would be a little weak and perhaps slow.
I have to report to you that so strong was his pulse that it nearly knocked my fingers off his wrist. Not just strong, but fast.
Slowly putting things together in my brain, I began asking better questions.
Could he tell me more about his headache?
'NO HE BLOODY WELL COULD NOT!' (Those capitals should be quadruple size - he was yelling at me.)
Now I began realising everything I'd missed.
YES HE BLOODY WELL DID AND I SHOULD HAVE ASKED BEFORE: FOR INSOMNIA; CONSTIPATION; BLOOD IN HIS URINE; TINNITUS AND DIZZINESS. (Quadruple Capitals, multiplied by now.) (There may have been other medications but I've forgotten - this was probably 1980.)
Although I wasn't familiar with Liver Fire, I certainly knew what to do - call Mary Austin! Together we worked out a treatment plan, using points that, when I learned about it later, I realised benefit Liver Fire.
I'm glad to say they worked, and he became a loyal patient until he retired and moved abroad.
So learn to ask the right questions. Know your theory and syndromes. Be Observant.
And if you're an acupuncturist and just starting, be very suspicious if you're sent patients by your mentor.
Aetiology of Flare-up of Fire of Liver
If you ignore these tendencies, they can lead to Liver Wind, which is not such a bed of roses! So enjoy spicy meals in moderation.
Of course, if you grew up in a culture where spicy food was the norm, your body may have adjusted to it in youth. From then on you may need more spicy food than others to maintain health. But even so, I would argue, you probably remain more prone to this condition.
Read about other Liver syndromes by clicking on the following:
Liver Functions in general including Liver Qi Stagnation
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.
NB You can also order 'Qi Stagnation - Signs of Stress' from your bookseller.
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