Liver Damp Heat: jaundice to fever and discharges

Photo by Hello I'm Nik ?? on Unsplash

There are several ways to acquire Liver Damp Heat, but a lack of moderation in your appetites is a good start: read more about this under Aetiology, further down the page.

Exactly which Appetites do I mean?

In the biggest sense of the word ‘Appetite’, I mean Life.

But if you don’t moderate your appetite for the following, you’ll probably end up with Liver Damp Heat, amongst other problems:

  • Exotic food
  • Rich food
  • Junk food
  • Alcohol and drugs
  • Sex (Sexually transmitted diseases often produce Liver Damp Heat)
  • Hot climates especially if damp
  • Too many prescribed medications, or taken in excess



Of course, you won’t get all the following; at least let’s hope not!

  • Fever- Stuffy ‘fullness’ in chest and abdomen
  • Distending pain, feels full and oppressive, often better for cold and aggravated by pressure or even touch
  • Various kinds of headache, more often on the sides of the head or around or in the eyes
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Appetite loss
  • Jaundice
  • Swelling of the abdomen
  • Pain in the hypochondrium (under the ribs on either side, usually the right side)
  • Discharges that are smelly and yellow (for example, in women, also from vagina) and may itch
  • Bitter and/or sticky taste
  • Inflammation, eczema, redness, sores, pain and itching of the sexual organs including scrotum and vulva 
  • Fatigue and a feeling of heaviness
  • Aversion to heat
  • Skin rashes, often vesicular or papular, with itch
  • Thirstlessness. If thirsty, no desire to drink
  • Usually prefer cool drinks
  • Urine usually dark and may be hard to pee, may burn
  • May have diarrhoea and foul-smelling stools, or diarrhoea alternating with constipation
  • Sluggish and irritable. May have orange complexion from jaundice.
  • Tongue: looks red, with a yellow and sticky or greasy coating
  • Pulse: slippery, wiry and rapid


Most people with these symptoms will feel ill and hot, and prefer open, cool air. However, not always: someone broken down by long years of illness may prefer warmth and prefer to avoid cold air.  

It is also possible to have someone at the early stage of the condition who doesn’t yet feel ill. 

Other forms of Liver Damp Heat that might seem unconnected include athlete’s foot, usually between the fourth and fifth toes or in the arch or sole of the foot, and some discharges from the eyes, if the sclera or other parts of the eyeball are inflamed.

Aetiology of Liver Damp Heat

Damp conditions, environments or foods that produce damp (see above and more below) prevent the free flow of Liver Qi, producing Liver Qi stagnation symptoms, (distension, nausea etc). This stops the usual direction of flow of bile, forcing it into the Blood, causing jaundice. 

The presence of Heat with Damp produces continuous fever-like symptoms, although if not actual fever, then symptoms of heat. 

So hot, damp, climates create the environment for this.

If someone has suffered Liver Qi Stagnation for a long period this will produce Heat in their bodies.

Combined with Damp you get Damp-Heat.

(By the way, I’ve written a book on Stress and Qi Stagnation, quite a big subject.)

However, external conditions such as hot weather can combine with Spleen-caused Damp to produce Damp-Heat.

Gallbladder Damp Heat is fairly similar and can increase it.

For this Liver syndrome to occur, usually Spleen qi must have been affected so that the Damp can arise in the first place. 

This means that diet and worry, for example, could have been contributory factors, because they affect the Spleen. 

Foods that, over-eaten, tend to cause this condition include:


Greasy fatty food produces Liver Damp Heat
Copyright amirali-mirhashemian-unsplash
  • Rich food (fatty, greasy)
  • Dairy foods
  • Junk food
  • Highly-spiced food
  • Alcohol
  • Meat, especially roasted, grilled or fried
  • Foods eaten too fast, or under mental or emotional pressure
  • Many social drugs incline towards Liver Damp Heat


Bad eating habits also contribute to this.

Treatment of Liver Damp Heat

Easy to say, not necessarily easy to do:

  • resolve dampness, 
  • clear the Heat, 
  • calm the Liver and Gall Bladder.


What can YOU do about Liver Damp Heat?

If this condition goes on for too long, untreated, the experience of Chinese medicine is that it can turn into something worse, Phlegm.

Phlegm when combined with Fire, as in Heart Fire or Liver Fire can cause dizziness, mental illness, stroke and epilepsy. Trust me, you don’t want Phlegm. (I’ve even written a book about it!)

So what can you do about this?

Easy to say, not necessarily easy to do!

  1. Moderate your appetites: control them
  2. Avoid Damp-inducing factors
  3. Treat Liver Qi stagnation
  4. Reduce exposure to factors causing Heat
  5. Get expert acupuncture! For instance, acupuncture treatment for jaundice is often very helpful.
  6. Try to reduce the number of drugs and medications you take
  7. Eat plenty of fresh food, lightly cooked, including vegetables, fruit and fish (if you can find healthy, unpolluted fish)
  8. Drink plenty of water (unpolluted, filtered, pure)
  9. Rest; light exercise; sleep; friendly support
  10. Avoid factors that upset or excite or anger or stress you
  11. Cut out, or greatly reduce aggravating factors such as:
  • Wrong foods
  • Bad eating habits
  • Harmful sex
  • Alcohol and drugs
  • Eating hastily or when tired


What will your Acupuncturist Do about Liver Damp Heat?


Careful diagnosis of Liver Damp Heat
Photo by Helloquence on Unsplash


First, a careful assessment of your condition and circumstances, during which he’ll take your pulse and look at your tongue and eyes.

He may palpate both your abdomen and along your acupuncture channels. He may look for sore points on your body or limbs. Importantly, he’ll take notes – careful notes.

Eventually he’ll make a diagnosis. That diagnosis tells him what he must do and the order to do it.

He’ll probably give you a lecture. In China it’s called ‘re-education’! He’ll want you to do things to help yourself, (see above) otherwise what he does may not work so well.


Acupuncture Forehead calms Liver Damp Heat


Then he’ll choose acupuncture points to use, some to relax you, some to clear damp and heat, some to calm your Liver energy.

After treatment, you’ll probably feel calm, in less discomfort, and you may sleep better.

Your family or friends may then find you easier to live with. You will almost certainly need a number of acupuncture treatments, although often even one leaves you feeling calmer, in less discomfort and more confident about your future. However, if you have addictions, you may need professional help for them.

Read more about the Liver functions

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