Liver Blood Deficiency is a ‘syndrome‘ in Chinese medicine. Once it arises it tends to be chronic. In other words, it is hard to get rid of without treatment.
However, many people experience mild symptoms of it as they grow older or when they are tired.
You’ll make more sense of this page if you first read our page on Liver Blood.
The following symptoms may occur to some extent in people with this form of Blood deficiency. (Blood is a really important concept in Chinese medicine and it forms the basis for who you are, so you might also wish to read that page – Blood.)
Going back to Liver Blood deficiency symptoms, 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 see the box at the very foot of this page.
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!
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.
Liver Blood is a sub-category of Blood, formed by Stomach, Spleen, Lungs, Ming Men and Heart.
If any of these is deficient, so eventually will be your Liver Blood. When food you eat is deficient in nutritive quality, this will affect your 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
Poor nutrition, poor digestion and poor eating habits are a major cause of Liver Blood deficiency.
Whatever you eat, after eating always take a little rest or, even better, go for a gentle walk!! Photo by Arek Adeoye
Serious blood loss from haemorrhage. Because there is less Blood to store, the Liver cannot nourish the tendons and the eyes and cannot spare it to produce healthy periods.
Kidney Qi deficiency can lead to deficient Liver Blood. There are many ways this can happen: too many to list here, but click on the link for an explanation. If you want a summary (which leaves out several important aspects) it means ‘over-strain’. You’ve overdone it: pushed yourself beyond your ability to recover.
In women, Liver Blood deficiency usually co-exists 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.
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.)
I’ve noticed symptoms of Liver Blood deficiency in people who have had chemotherapy. It can be very disconcerting and Western medicine usually reassures you that it may take time to go. From what I’ve seen, it may take a long time to go; if ever.
Chinese medicine has had some success, using moxa on a range of specific acupuncture points, and I’ve seen an electric pulse treatment for the soles of the feet that provides a form of stimulation that helps some people: but you probably need to do this regularly to get benefits. (Why do moxa and electric pulses make a difference? Because they are both comparatively YANG so stimulate Qi to flow: that Qi ‘leads’ the Blood, so bringing Liver Blood back to the extremities, providing nutrition and sensation.)
Over-use of your eyes, for example from staring at computer screens, or mobile phones, or TV or … uses up Liver Blood. Probably because people who stare at screens (for work or play) also don’t exercise enough, and maybe eat poorly, they make themselves more susceptible to Liver Blood deficiency. Sitting still for long periods easily leads to Blood stasis which means not enough Blood flows round to refresh our tissues, including our eyes. Hence you get Liver Blood deficiency in your eyes, and elsewhere.
Screen time isn’t usually a main cause of this syndrome, but I think it’s becoming more of a problem as people work from home on their computers then spend the evening staring at television or their mobile phone screens. It’s not just that doing this means we are staring fixed focus, but that our eyes lack the variety of colour, shapes and movement that challenge our eyes in normal ‘outdoor’ life.
Another cause is almost exactly the opposite! Driving vehicles for long periods without rest also depletes our Liver Blood. This occurs, I think, because although we are normally looking ahead, then in our mirrors, then at the instrument panel and then ahead again, we are focussed on the road and other drivers so aren’t looking much at the scenery. More important however, is the long-term tension involved, which leads to a form of Liver Qi stagnation. This in turn stops moving Blood properly so you get a mild form of Blood stasis, which sitting in one position for too long can also produce.
As already mentioned, that Blood stasis can lead on to Liver Blood deficiency – this page.
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.
Chinese herbal experience over 2500 years points to various herbal formulae that can help. Caution! Not all are sold on taste!
Of course, you should reduce actions that cause it or make it worse!
What can you do to help yourself?
Liver Blood is classified as a yin substance, 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.
For your Liver Blood deficiency diet you need to consider several matters.
Better nutrition means not just more foods containing what’s good for you and less foods containing what’s bad, but
I guess your eye didn’t read that paragraph very carefully because it was so *BORING!*
Please, go back and read it. All the excellent Liver Blood deficiency food advice that follows won’t work unless you eat food properly, giving yourself time to enjoy and digest it!
ALSO – Important! If your body is sick, avoid raw, iced or cold foods or drinks. That’s also really important! If you eat nothing but raw and chilled foods, you may get a syndrome called Stomach Cold and Deficient. Then, whatever you eat, even if it’s the best possible Liver Blood deficiency diet, simply won’t end up in you! You’ll just shoot it on through you and out.
A Waste of money and time!
What you should do instead is to 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.)
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:
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 properly back then! But you can be sure that I use its suggestions now. The link above gives you access to it for free.
To reduce Yang, consider the following:
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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.
And many people in the past were surrounded by greenery.
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.
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.
You could try Dr Mercola’s Nitric Oxide Dump. 4 minutes to aerate your body and encourage your Liver to do clever things for your blood!
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, these days you may have reservations about eating bat droppings, but other prescriptions – formulae – exist for Liver Blood deficiency.
The following acupuncture points are often use in support of Liver Blood, or ones with similar effects:
Note: some of these points nourish Liver Yin or Kidney function that supports the Liver, others assist the Stomach and Spleen to produce better Blood in general, some tonify the Liver, and so on.
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.
Read about the main Liver syndromes by clicking on the following links. each of which opens in a new window:
Check my collection of books:
Master Tung’s acupuncture is a hidden treasure, lost to China but recovered in Taiwan from where it spread round the world.
Knee pain has five main causes. It’s certainly worth trying acupuncture before you resort to surgery!
I think there is a part of sentence/text missing in your article. It’s in the section “reduce yang”, when you talked about a warm bed before bed: “As you lose yang you automatically incre”. Could you please complete the sentence/text? I’m really interested to know why a warm bath before bed may be good. Thanks.
Thanks for pointing this out! I’ve amended the sentence and provided more of an explanation. I hope it makes sense.
Best wishes, and thanks again
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