Liver Blood Deficiency

Liver Blood Deficiency is a 'syndrome' in Chinese medicine. Once it arises it tends to be chronic. In other words, it is very 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 a greater or lesser degree 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 click here.

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!

Symptoms of Liver Blood Deficiency

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.

  • 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.)
  • Eyes are dry (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.
  • 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
  • Insomnia or poor sleep or dreaming that prevents good sleep
  • 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
  • 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.)
  • Nails are pale, brittle and withered: they split easily or grow malformed. (Theoretically this occurs on your big toenail first.)
  • Skin may be dry and crack or itch
  • In women, menses are scanty and light-coloured, with a long cycle: or you may have no periods at all - amenorrhoea.
  • 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.
  • Your movements: tremor, weak
  • Your complexion: pallor and pale lips
  • Your body: tends to be underweight. Nails are pale.
  • 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 this - what's the Aetiology?

1/ Liver Blood is a sub-category of Blood, formed by Stomach, Spleen, Lungs, Ming Men and Heart.

If any of these Organ energies is deficient, so eventually will be your Liver Blood. If 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 who go on diets and in
  • people who don’t eat enough for their needs.

(I'm not sure whether the teenager in the picture is a girl, however.)

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

2/ Serious blood loss from haemorrhage from which it can be hard to recover. 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 Qi deficiency can lead to deficient Liver Blood.

4/ In women, Liver Blood deficiency usually coexists 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/ 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

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.

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.

Better Nutrition

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 before returning to work - perhaps a short walk in the open air?

In general, if your body is sick, avoid iced or cold foods or drinks.

Instead 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.)

Click to find out more about

  • Cold foods - foods that tend to cool or chill you
  • Hot foods - foods that tend to warm or heat you

Read our page on Nutrition.

Better Sleep

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:

  • A quiet, cool, completely dark room
  • 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

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 free.

Reduce Yang

To reduce Yang, consider the following:

  • Avoid stimulating drugs, such as caffeine (eg coffee), especially in the evening before bed.
  • Avoid 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.
  • Avoid 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!
  • 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 you lose yang you automatically incre


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.

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.

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, you may have reservations about eating bat droppings, so consider other possibilities.

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.

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!

Booking Consultations with Jonathan Clogstoun-Willmott

Click here to see when Jonathan is available, or to BOOK your appointment online. 

Alternatively, ring him on 07950 012501 or freephone (only free to telephone within the UK) 0800 298 7015.

If you live in the Edinburgh area of Scotland, where the author of this site and of the books described below works, click on Edinburgh Acupuncturist. Otherwise, click on BAcC.

Jonathan Clogstoun-Willmott Books

All the books in the 'Chinese Medicine in English' series should be fully accessible on Kindles and Kindle apps. (Or you can buy the softback print editions, of course.)

('Western Astrology and Chinese Medicine' published 1986, was never available in a Kindle version.)

Request! Please!

If, having read one of my books you can write a review - preferably positive - that would help others decide whether to read it.

You can put your review on Amazon or, on this site, here.

And if you think it was terrible?

Well, let me know so I can improve it for the next person. (Ideally let me know before cursing it in public!)

Here are some of the books I (Jonathan) have written.

Subscribers to Kindle Unlimited can borrow the first four for 'free'.

Qi Stagnation - Signs of Stress

Yin Deficiency - Burnout and Exhaustion

Yang Deficiency - Get Your Fire Burning Again!

Yuck! Phlegm! How to Clear Your Phlegm ...

Western Astrology and Chinese Medicine

Published 1986 and, amazingly, still selling. Western Astrology and Chinese Medicine was apparently used back then by at least one acupuncture college to help students understand Chinese medicine! See Reviews.

Seven Reviews so far for Yuck Phlegm. (Despite the lurid cover, it explains the five main types of phlegm and what works best for each type. I hope it's easy to read and will be much more useful than all the websites on the subject.)

Lots of people suffer from Liver Blood Deficiency - do you?

If you think you have symptoms of this, and would like to share them with other readers, do please tell us about them!

What Other Visitors Have Said

Click below to see contributions from other visitors to this page...

Liver Blood 
Was just told about this. Had acu treatment today. Was given Liu qei di huang wan. We'll see what happens.

Liver Blood 
I have been receiving Acupuncture for about the last 12 months for Liver Damp Heat and blood deficiency. A few months before finding my acupuncturist …

Click here to write your own.

Click to return from Liver Blood Deficiency to Liver Functions

Didn't find what you were looking for? Use this search feature:

Click Here for Acupuncture Points on Facebook!