Liver Wind covers a range of health hazards that occur suddenly and potentially lethally. Understanding it enables us to take precautions and even prevent it happening.
There are three categories, with different symptoms and different causes, but they all share a certain group of symptoms common to all.
Chinese medicine is wonderfully visual. Liver Wind shows itself by seeming to push upwards, so it affects the upper parts of the body.
If you wonder about the use of the word 'Wind', think what wind in the trees looks like. They move, the leaves flutter, the tree is restless and its stance, off to one side, is urgent and pressing.
The higher the wind, the more the tension in the tree and the more urgently the leaves try to fly away.
What this image doesn't suggest is the heat. But usually, in Chinese medicine, if something pushes upwards, it has a Yang-heating effect. This is more noticeable in healthy, plethoric people, like children.
In older people, it is usually more gentle, but can be more chronic.
Healthy Small Children
If you have small children then you may already have seen Liver Wind happening to your children. This usually happens during a fever, perhaps induced by catching a bug. Read - below - both the general symptoms, plus those from Heat generating Wind.
Older people in poor health
Or perhaps you have an older relative, perhaps fallen on hard times, not well nourished and weakened by chronic disease, who begins to get what looks like Parkinsons disease - a tremor? Followed by dementia as they get restless and wander around. Read - below - about how Liver Blood deficiency can be a cause.
But for older people who, perhaps, are also prone to irritability and bad sleep (and as you get older this becomes completely understandable!), especially habitually, then what Western medicine causes a 'stroke' becomes possible and if the symptoms fit, it may be what Chinese medicine calls Liver Wind from Liver Yin deficiency.
Subject to extreme Climactic Heat
Anyone who is caught in a long very hot drought without the means to cool themselves properly or take enough fluid. Heat works like an inferno, heating up so much that suddenly like hot air, the Liver Wind rushes up in side. Read below about Heat Generating Wind.
Tongue: deep-red colour and a thick yellow coating
Pulse: wiry, rapid and full
Treatment of Liver Wind caused by Heat generating Wind:
Clear Heat, control Wind and relax the Liver.
Tongue: may be deviated and peeled red
Pulse: floating and empty, or sometimes wiry, fine and rapid
The immediate trigger which makes Liver Yang rise is often emotional, with Liver Qi stagnation caused by ongoing anger or frustration.
Treatment if caused by Liver Yang rising:
Control Liver Yang, restrain Wind and nourish Liver Yin.
Tongue: pale and deviated
Treatment if caused by Liver Blood Deficiency:
Subdue Wind and tonify Liver Blood. However, in addition, one must clear phlegm from the Heart and calm the Shen – the spirit.
All these symptoms may appear at different times or together. This means that treating this condition may require use of different treatment methods.
Transmission of what is called pathogenic heat from the exterior to the interior, attacking Liver Blood. This Heat generates Wind.
If prolonged, this invasion of heat consumes the Yin of the Liver, and deprives the tendons and muscles of nourishment, leading to spasms, convulsions and numbness. This often occurs in the acute stage of febrile disease, such as during measles, epidemic meningitis or encephalitis-B.
It can also occur in very hot conditions, especially in the old, whose Liver Yin is reduced - see below.
Treatment: clear Heat and subdue Wind.
From severe Liver Yin Deficiency
This occurs when the conditions for Liver Yang rising have developed which takes place over a period of time. Generally speaking it occurs when either Kidney Yin or Kidney Yang is deficient, both of which can lead to Liver Yin deficiency.
Kidney deficiency (either of Yin or Yang, or both) occurs mostly as you grow old and weaker. It can also happen after severe illness.
There is then some event which stimulates Liver Yang beyond the ability of (the weakened) Liver Yin to restrain it. This trigger could be an event causing or exacerbating Liver Qi Stagnation, or a period of great heat in the environment.
For more about this and its treatment click Liver Yang.
From severe Liver Blood deficiency
Here the coma doesn’t arise from the Wind itself but from invasion of the Heart and Pericardium by pathogenic Heat. This is why coma is listed here, even though it doesn’t arise from Liver dysfunction itself.
Treatment: because both Liver and Heart may be involved, both must be treated. The aim is to subdue Wind and nourish Liver Blood, but also to clear phlegm from and calm the Heart.
Usually the symptoms of Liver Blood deficiency would have been apparent for a while however.
Read about the main Liver syndromes by clicking on the following links. each of which opens in a new window:
3000 years of Chinese being stressed, and at last, there's a book about it!
'Qi Stagnation - Signs of Stress' by the author of this website, Jonathan Clogstoun-Willmott, puts in simple English what Chinese medicine knows about Stress.
Once you get the idea, it can be a revelation. Not only does it explain what happens during stress, but it suggests what you can do to help yourself, what works, and why.
Full details? Click Qi Stagnation - Signs of Stress.