Liver Blood Stasis: ‘Stagnation’ of Liver Blood

Photo by Rebekah Blocker-unsplash

This – Liver Blood Stasis – sometimes looks rather like Liver Qi stagnation, not least because if Liver Qi Stagnation goes on for too long, Qi will stop moving. What happens then? You get a traffic jam!

Because Qi  (in Chinese medicine) moves Blood, the Blood stops moving too. Then you have this syndrome of stagnation or ‘stasis’ of Liver Blood.

So one can lead to the other, and to treat it you must also, and first, treat Liver Qi Stagnation.

Unfortunately, the symptoms of Liver Blood Stagnation are usually more severe than those of Liver Qi Stagnation.

(By the way, these phrases, such as ‘Liver Qi Stagnation‘, are part of the theory of Chinese medicine. In Chinese medicine Qi stagnation is a major ‘syndrome‘  and describes what happens when you’re under stress, and what you can do about it.)

Symptoms of Liver Blood Stasis

  • Main Pain locations: abdomen, flanks, breasts, side of ribs, groin
  • Type of pain: fixed, boring, stabbing or distending
  • Often sensation of a lump in the throat
  • Nose bleeds
  • Vomiting blood


In women:

  • Dysmenorrhoea – painful before but particularly during periods (though it can occur at other times too)
  • Mood: depressed, irritable, can be violent
  • Irregular periods
  • Scanty periods
  • Haemorrhages or periods which drag on for ages
  • Blood of menses is dark, purple and often clotted

Fire cracker - what Liver Blood stasis can feel like
© Christos Georghiou –
  • Breasts swell and are painful, especially during periods
  • Masses can be palpated in the abdomen. These masses don’t move around: they are fixed in their location
  • Complexion: dark, dusky
  • Note that there may be tumours or growths, and masses which are hard and immobile on palpation both in the abdomen and elsewhere.
  • Tongue: purple colour, purple distended veins on the underside of the tongue: may be bluish on sides of tongue. Tongue coating, normal or thick
  • Pulse: wiry or choppy
  • The Key feature is the dark, clotted menstrual blood and the purple colour of the tongue.


Aetiology of Liver Blood Stasis – How You Get this!

Stagnation of Liver qi over a long period is nearly always the cause. In traditional Chinese medicine, (very different from Western medicine!) Blood moves only because Qi moves it. If there isn’t enough Qi to move it because the Qi is stagnant, then the Blood will stagnate too.

Since the cause of Stagnant Liver Qi is nearly always emotional, in particular anger or frustration, it is these emotions, held over a long time that are the root cause of Liver Blood stasis.

An ancillary cause occurs because of prolonged Qi Stagnation, when the whole system has slowed down. Here there isn’t enough Qi, and what little there is is stagnating. So sometimes it is necessary to help the body make more Qi, but clearing the Stagnation of Qi comes first.

(You could think of that like this. If traffic isn’t moving, it could be because there aren’t enough cars on the roads. Or it could be that all the lights are turned to red. If they are all red, putting more cars on the road won’t help, because they’ll be unable to move!)

Having said all that, I have treated some women with Liver Blood Stasis where there was not only an emotional cause, but an inherited tendency (ie the mother and even the grandmothers had it) AND there had been an ectopic pregnancy and various operations. 

Surgery – Photo by JAFAR AHMED on Unsplash

Surgery almost always causes Blood Stasis which, when with Qi stagnation, makes Liver Blood stasis more likely.

In this case, when treating painful periods, there is more to be done than just ease Liver Qi stagnation, important though that is. One must also adjust what is called Chong Mo, which looks after the way the membranes inside you protect and support your inner organs.


Treatment of Stagnant Liver Blood

First disperse the Stagnant Liver Qi so that Liver Qi flows smoothly, then regulate the Blood. Acupuncture is usually very effective for this and so are Chinese herbs. 



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