Liver and Kidney Yin Deficiency

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The combination syndrome of Liver and Kidney Yin Deficiency usually exists after a period of Liver Yin deficiencyLiver Blood deficiency and/or Kidney Yin deficiency.

(If you’ve just reached this page through some kind of online search, it may seem very theoretical, full of weird words and links. That’s because it’s explaining some very real and experienced feelings and bodily sensations that probably displease you. Chinese medicine is very practical and the links will lead you, I hope, to understanding why you’ve got these symptoms and how to do something about them, other than take anti-inflammatory medication, painkillers or expensive toiletries!) 

What pushes it to this next stage is the continued or extra pressure of big emotions.

Of course these emotions could have been causing Liver Qi stagnation for some time, which can itself lead to Liver Blood stagnation and eventually Liver Blood deficiency.

The big emotions that push the original syndromes over the edge include:

  • tension
  • intense worry
  • frustration
  • anger
  • hopelessness
  • depression


These emotions can arise from relationship problems, financial problems, abuse, humiliation and such-like.

For this syndrome to occur, these emotions usually have been going on for some time: you don’t reach this syndrome overnight or from an overnight transformation!

As it develops, the symptoms of Liver Blood and Liver Yin deficiency occur more frequently, together with growing signs of Kidney Yin deficiency.

Symptoms of Liver and Kidney Yin deficiency

Bearing in mind what the Liver energy does, this means that the following begin to appear more often:

  • Eye dryness;
  • Eyes blur or cannot focus easily;
  • Dryness elsewhere, often in – for women – genital organs;
  • Dryness in the throat
  • Dry hair
  • Dry skin
  • Brittle nails. This is because the Liver is said to govern and nourish the nails. When it fails to nourish them, they become ‘dry’: we experience this as brittleness.
  • Constipation or difficulty passing stools because of dryness;
    (Sometimes the Blood deficiency in the eyes leads to inflammation either of the sclera or of the eyelids);
  • For women, bleeding at periods reduces in quantity, or she may even miss a period; consequently her fertility is compromised;
  • Numbness in muscles (on either medial or lateral legs where the Liver and Gall bladder channels traverse) but also elsewhere;
  • Tingling in legs and arms (Liver Blood fails to nourish)
  • Sleep patterns are disturbed meaning either frequent waking, often around either 1pm (relates to the Liver) or 3am (relates to the Kidney) if you put the light out around 11pm: in severe cases, you may wake at these times no matter when you went to bed; also, because the Shen cannot rest in the Liver Blood calmly, there is much restlessness and dreaming: 
  • …possibly talking in sleep; 
  • …possibly sleep-walking too. 
  • Often irascibility in the morning;
  • Head: dizziness and difficulty hearing
  • Headache either at the vertex (Liver) or the Occiput (Kidney)
  • Lumbar back-ache (Kidney deficiency)
  • Sweating, usually at night, and often starting around 3am (Kidney time)
  • Nocturnal emissions
  • Ear noises – tinnitus – from Kidney Yin deficiency
  • Tongue: very thin (rootless) or non-existent coating. Colour may be normal. Only if there is deficient Heat does it become red.
  • Pulse: floating and empty.


Moisturisers you might be tempted to use if you have liver and kidney yin deficiency
Photo by The Creative Exchange on Unsplash

You can bring this on yourself even faster if  you do things that weaken Liver Blood (click the link for more on this) or overstretch Kidney function (- basically, you’ve been over-working).

This can lead to Empty Heat

If, in addition, Empty Heat appears on top of this, you get other symptoms – see here.

Many of these symptoms in the upper body or the head occur because Clear Yang cannot ascend properly, so cannot bring with it enough Blood. Eg, blurred vision, deafness, dryness, deficient-type headaches.

Return from Liver and Kidney Yin deficiency to Insomnia.

Click to get back to Syndromes.

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