Liver Blood Deficiency: vision, personality, stability

Tired Man
Photo by Hutomo Abrianto on Unsplash
  • Dizziness, eye problems, spasms and insomnia may be the start of it
  • Ear noises, rib pains, headaches and dry skin come soon after
  • Then anxiety, tremor and skin pallor and …
  • Women either lose their periods, or their periods are late and scanty

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.

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 wish to read that page first – 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.


Woman Smiling: helps to have clear eyes and vibrant spirits to avoid Liver Blood deficiency.
Photo by Svyatoslav Romanov on Unsplash

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!

Liver Blood Deficiency Symptoms

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.

Head Symptoms in Liver Blood deficiency

  • 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.)
  • Dry Eyes (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.
  • 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.)
man covering face using right hand
Liver Blood deficiency headache. Photo by Adrian Swancar

Movement and Spasms

  • Spasms and cramps of tendons or muscles: lack of flexibility. These cramps often occur when you start moving, and can waken you from sleep. (There are various causes of this unpleasant condition, and not least are medicines you may be taking for something else.)
  • Sometimes your hands may have a tremor
  • 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. Can cramp.
  • Movements: tremor, weak



  • In women, menses are scanty and light-coloured, with a long cycle: or you may have no periods at all – amenorrhoea.


Moods and Sleep

  • 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. This symptom of Liver Blood deficiency can lead on to Qi stagnation and the stress and depression that go with it.
  • Insomnia or poor sleep, or dreaming that prevents good sleep



  • Complexion: pallor and pale lips
  • Your body: tends to be underweight. Nails are pale.
  • Nails are pale, brittle and withered: they split easily or grow malformed. (Theoretically this occurs on your big toenail first.)
Dry skin is often a symptom of Liver Blood deficiency
Brittle nails and dry skin. Photo by Sharon McCutcheon
  • Skin may be dry and crack or itch
  • 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 Liver Blood Deficiency – what’s the Aetiology?

1/ Food, Food habits, Digestion and Background issues

Liver Blood is a sub-category of Blood, formed by StomachSpleenLungsMing 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

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


Poor nutrition, poor digestion and poor eating habits are a major cause of Liver Blood deficiency.

A gentle walk after eating often improves Liver Blood deficiency
A walk in the park after lunch?! Photo by Arek Adeoye

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

2/ Serious Loss of Blood

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.

3/ Kidney ‘Energy’ weakness

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.

4/ Female issues

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.

5/ Occurring with another Liver syndrome

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

Stomach channel points mostly help build Blood for Liver Blood deficiency
Many Stomach Channel points help to build Blood.

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!

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

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.

1/ Better Nutrition: Liver Blood Deficiency Diet


Healthy Food is vital to clear Liver Blood deficiency
Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash


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

  • 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 it before returning to work – perhaps a short walk in the open air?


I guess your eye didn’t read that paragraph very carefully because it was so *BORING!*

Doh! $^&*

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 othing 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.)

Food for Liver Blood deficiency:

  • Cold foods – foods that tend to cool or chill you. You should avoid most of these.
  • Hot foods – foods that tend to warm you. For preference, eat more of these warming foods.
  • Blood building foods. Very important to help your Liver Blood and for stability in your personality.
  • Protein for healthy Blood. Vegeterians and vegans won’t like this, but meat is a good source of protein. 
  • And read our page on Nutrition.


2/ Better Sleep

sleeping baby on gray cushion. Sleep is really important if you have Liver Blood deficiency.
Deep sleep helps to cure Liver Blood deficiency. Photo by Tara Raye

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:

  • Your bedroom should quiet, cool and completely dark
  • 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 recuperative sleep
  • The hours before midnight often give better sleep than those after. If you feel sleepy at 9.30pm, why not go to bed? And 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

Eye exercises may help Liver Blood
What pleaseth the eye may help Liver Blood. Photo by Bence Halmosi

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.

Reduce Yang

To reduce Yang, consider the following:

  • Avoid stimulating drugs, such as caffeine (eg coffee), especially in the evening before bed.
  • Stop 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.
  • No 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!


A Warm Bath before Bed may help Liver Blood!

  • 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. As yang reduces you automatically increase the proportion of yin. (Here’s an analogy, though not a perfect one: just as, in a vote with 10 voters all voting, if you start with 5 voting for something and 5 against it, they’re equal at 50% each. But if 2 people from the against camp change sites to the for camp, the proportion of ‘for’ voters increases to 70%.)


woman floating on water: a warm bath before bed in the evening may help you sleep more deeply so improve Liver Blood.
A warm bath before bed! Photo by Timothy Dykes
  • However, make sure it’s a warm bath and not a boiling bath. If the water is too hot it might shock you and upset the normalising processes in your body.
  • Equally, if the water is too cold, it will either chill you, leading to an invasion of Cold – read more about Cold Invasion by clicking here, or stimulate yang too much, as described in my page on How to Take a Cold Shower for health! That extra yang might keep you awake!
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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.

Walk in the park. Good for the eyes and for Liver Blood
Photo by Hung Tran on Unsplash

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.

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, so consider other possibilities.

A Good Supplement for Liver Blood

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.)

A good supplement may help Liver Blood deficiency
Supplements for Liver Blood deficiency. Photo by Sharon McCutcheon

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!

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2 Responses

  1. Dear Jonathan,

    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.

    1. Hi Don

      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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