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Liver Qi Stagnation is very common in both sexes, but probably slightly more so in women.This is such an important subject that we've actually got another page on Qi stagnation, which helps to explain even more how it causes other more serious conditions.
There is usually an emotional dimension too: a strong tendency to feel depressed with frequent sighing, self-doubt, crying and impatience, even outbreaks of temper.
Often bowel movements are uncomfortable or difficult, or there is pain in the bowels relieved by bowel movements. Pain tends to be tightening, drawing, pulling or it may move around from place to place.
Tongue: colour may be normal or red at the sides, with a thin coating
The key symptom is this feeling of distension, of what some people call a ‘stuffy’ feeling, eg in the chest, and the emotional picture.
Mostly these sensations aren’t caused by any organic change in the liver organ itself but by emotional factors, the main one being anger or frustration. These cause dysfunction along the Liver acupuncture channel where the sensations are experienced.
By the way, when you have Stagnant Liver Qi, you may not realise it. You'll just be depressed, moody, angry or upset! (Others will eventually notice, however.)
Apart from taking some exercise to help improve your condition, don't try to treat yourself unless you really know what you're doing!
Penny Brohn (she who started the Bristol Cancer Help Centre) once remarked that 'sick people' take 'sick' decisions.
Bringing together what needs to be done is one of your Liver energy's functions. When your Liver Qi isn't flowing smoothly you'll tend to do the wrong thing.
Or you'll feel powerless to decide what's right for you.
Other reasons for distension
Organic changes resembling Stagnant Liver qi can be caused by enlargement of the liver organ, hepatitis and cirrhosis...
Distension of the abdomen can also arise in many other conditions that include Stagnant Liver Qi as part of their symptom picture.
Just a few examples:
There are many more examples, but the distension related to Stagnant Liver Qi is usually dependent on emotional factors, so it comes and goes depending on emotional reactions.
Another pointer to it being Stagnant Liver Qi is that distension doesn’t always occur over the whole area of the abdomen but over parts of it, and palpating the distended area often makes the distension move elsewhere, like gas.
In practice (ie clinically) you don’t often get all these symptoms at the same time. For example, distending pains in the costal (side) and hypochondria and lower abdomen seldom coexist.
The main cause is mental ‘irritation’.
This is a nice term covering many mental and emotional conditions, including anger, resentment, fear, frustration and melancholy. Being urged to do something when there isn't time for it is a classic for producing this syndrome - especially if you don't want to do it, or can't see why it should be done at all, either now, or by you.
One of the reasons Eastern philosophies emphasise the importance of a calm mind is to minimise the likelihood of Stagnant Liver Qi.
If Qi is flowing smoothly, then Liver Qi stagnation doesn’t occur. Any action or therapy which eases the flow of Liver Qi will ease Liver Qi stagnation. For example, taking exercise is often effective as it pushes Qi round the body, so it can’t stagnate.
Problems arise where circumstances prevent free motion of Qi. For example, if someone is criticised by other people but dare not speak up despite his anger, you have a recipe for Stagnant Liver qi.
Where Stagnant Liver Qi 'attacks' the Stomach, the descending function of the Stomach will be disrupted and so there may be not only the usual Liver Qi stagnation symptoms such as distension and a stuffy feeling in the chest, but also nausea, sighing or belching.
But if the chief pain is in the epigastrium (the area above your belly-button and below your ribs) and is better for belching, always suspect Liver Qi stagnation first.
If Liver qi stagnation ‘attacks’ your oesophagus (the tube from your throat to your stomach), it will feel like a foreign object is stuck in your throat, blocking it. This is traditionally described as being like a stuck 'plum-stone', but you might feel it as the inability to swallow, or a tightness there.
A characteristic of Liver Qi stagnation is that, unless it has been around for a long time, the symptoms tend to go when the problem is solved or when you are not thinking about it.
It also eases when
you are laughing, because laughing - assuming it is from something
joyfully funny - moves your energy out of what is called your Wood phase and on into what is called your Fire phase. (I've explained this in my book on Qi Stagnation, below, but it's a big topic for this website and is not ready yet.)
When the Chong channel (sometimes called the Penetrating channel) is affected by this syndrome, you get irregular menses and abdominal pain. The Chong channel, one of the ‘extra-ordinary’ channels, is also called the ‘Sea of Blood’ and is intimately connected with the quantity, quality and flow of Blood.
Being intimately connected to the monthly cycle, the chong channel is also affected by Qi stagnation. Indeed, one could say that the monthly cycle can produce or exacerbate Liver Qi stagnation if there is the slightest trace of Qi stagnation around in the first place.
You can read even more about how Liver Qi Stagnation, this most vital of the Liver functions, affects your life, here.
1. Liver Qi Stagnation (this page)
Alternatively, ring him on 07950 012501 or freephone (only free to telephone within the UK) 0800 298 7015.
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.)
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'.
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.
Six 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.)
3000 years of Chinese being stressed, and at last, here's a book showing how all that experience can help you!
By the author of this website, it explains in simple English how to use stress to improve and enhance your life.
NB You can also order 'Qi Stagnation - Signs of Stress' from your bookseller.
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