Liver Yang Ascending

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Liver Yang? If you’ve ever been angry or emotional, (perhaps because of Liver Qi Stagnation) you’ve probably experienced Liver Yang energy ascending. Usually the mood passes and you return to normal.

However, when the mood continues for too long, or becomes habitual, the symptoms of this syndrome are what you can expect. In itself it’s not usually dangerous, unless it leads onto the next stage, Liver Wind, which you certainly don’t want.

By the way, although Chinese medicine understands how the liver works in Western medicine, its view is very different in many ways.


Symptoms of Liver Yang excess


Yang Ascending


  • Headache commonly on the sides of the head and the temples (not at the vertex which is more commonly associated with Liver Blood deficiency)
  • Headache in or above the eyes
  • Visual disturbances, even changes in eyesight
  • Tinnitus ie ringing in the ears, sudden loss of hearing
  • Dizziness, often with a distended feeling in the head
  • Head may feel heavy, and you may have a tendency to stumble
  • Dryness in your mouth and throat
  • Nausea, even vomiting, because the Liver energy may interfere with your Stomach and Spleen energy
  • If Liver energy does interfere with Stomach and Spleen energy, then possibly phlegm in sinuses, eustachian tubes, throat or nose
  • Insomnia, vivid dreams
  • Restlessness
  • Mood: Hard to calm down, irascible, frantic, worked-up feeling, even angry shouting
  • Complexion: Possibly redness and a hot sensation in the face or upper part of the body
  • Because this syndrome often arises from Kidney deficiency, there may also be a sore or weak lower back and knees, and dry mouth or throat.
  • Tongue: red, particularly on the sides of the tongue, unless the main problem is Liver Blood deficiency when it may be pale
  • Pulse: wiry or, if there is Liver Blood deficiency, fine or choppy

Aetiology of Liver Yang excess – what caused it?

There are two main contributory causes for this syndrome.

To start with there is usually some deficiency of Liver Yin or Liver Blood. If you were in good health these would anchor the Yang of the Liver. (Yin and Yang should more or less balance one another: read more about this under Yin and Yang.) In turn, Liver Yin deficiency can itself be caused by deficiency of either Kidney Yin or Kidney Yang.


Anger contributes to Liver Yang rising
Mr Angry


The other contributory cause is strong emotional tension, usually held in or contained over a long time, such as anger or resentment. This causes stress! See Liver Qi Stagnation for more about this.


Treatment of Excess Liver Yang

Subdue Liver Yang, tonify Liver Yin and/or Liver Blood.

(Sounds easy, doesn’t it! Actually, with acupuncture it often is, unless the underlying causes can’t be sorted out.)

What can you do to help your Liver Yang imbalance? Some Liver Yang advice!

Ongoing stress of some sort is usually the cause. If you haven’t already done so, read up on Liver Qi stagnation.

This may be from work, or relationships, difficult upbringing, or sensitivity to allergens, or from a weak digestion or insufficient food of the right kind, or poor eating habits, or … (put in your own suggestion here!)

If your digestion or food intake or eating habit is the cause…

  • you should improve your diet,
  • make sure you eat foods appropriate to your needs,
  • chew your food well before swallowing it and
  • learn to eat when you are relaxed and not too tired (eg for most people, don’t eat late at night)
  • not to eat when you are working nor when you are reading exciting or stress-inducing literature, nor in non-convivial company.


Make time for yourself to ease out of Liver Yang excess
Photo by Aron Visuals on Unsplash


Then you need to make more time for yourself. Easier said than done! But gentle exercise is usually good. Do enough to get you slightly out of breath daily for twenty minutes. Try walking!

Is Stress the Cause?

If stress is the cause, then exercise will help. The more vigorous the better – but within your physical ability of course. As just mentioned, fast walking is good.

Then time to reflect: or meditate: or pray: or listen to music of a relaxing nature. Some people find counselling effective as a way of dealing with their problems. As you’ve read above, Liver Yang symptoms rise upwards, and taking time to reflect, or meditate, or pray, or talk, can – all of them – help take energy downwards again.

If you like relaxing therapeutic massage, book a slot for yourself regularly. (Men! Do this too: women have long since realised the benefits of this and there’s no point being arrogant about it when it can be so effective.)

Sleep! Rest! Help Spleen Yang!
All Time Not Spent in Sleep is Wasted

And don’t forget SLEEP! Try to get to sleep earlier. Remember the old advice that one hour before midnight is worth two hours’ sleep after it? Try it, even if that means you wake up earlier than normal. Getting enough good sleep is three-quarters of the battle!

But in the long run, you need to sort out whatever is causing the stress. If nothing else, make sure you can see your way out of it eventually; that you have a good holiday in prospect, or you know that the cause of your stress will end at some time not too far off.

This might mean that you learn to deal with a stressful situation. It could be either by asserting yourself or negotiating a better deal. It could even be leaving the job for something else. However, dare I say it, sometimes you just need to work harder and more efficiently!

Get some Acupuncture!

Finally, get some treatment from a good acupuncturist. He or she recognises the imbalances your body is suffering, and how to deal with them. Acupuncture can often help you faster than anything else.

So take a holiday … BUT … before your holiday … in particular, have some acupuncture sessions before departing. Otherwise you’ll take a week to relax before you start enjoying your time off. Having acupuncture before you leave is like giving yourself an extra week’s holiday!

What if you no longer get real painful migraines, but just visual disturbances, perhaps when you are stressed or over-tired?

Because Liver Yang ascends when not rooted in Liver Yin or Liver Blood, both of which in turn are rooted in Kidney energy, especially Kidney yin energy, probably you are deficient in Kidney qi and possibly Liver Blood, the latter being really important for your sight. If your problem is Kidney deficiency, then probably you’ll have some of the other symptoms of Kidney deficiency, like backache: for more see Kidney Syndromes.

Liver Syndromes

Read about the main Liver syndromes by clicking on the following:

Liver Functions in general including Liver Qi Stagnation


Deficiency situations:

Liver Yin deficiency

Liver Blood Deficiency


Stagnation situations:

Liver Blood Stagnation

Liver Channel Cold Stagnation


Heat and Fire situations:

Liver Damp Heat

Liver Fire


Qi rising or moving:

Liver Wind

Liver Yang rising


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