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In the West, we rarely think about the health of our liver or gallbladder – until something goes wrong. Chinese medicine practitioners, however, treat imbalances in the Liver or Gallbladder systems daily. In addition to the classic liver and gallbladder conditions, Chinese medicine effectively treats related disorders like stress, tension headaches, high blood pressure, conjunctivitis, cystitis, and shingles.
The Liver is a yin organ that works alongside its paired yang organ, the Gallbladder. Together, the Liver and Gallbladder ensure smooth circulation, healthy digestion, reproductive health, and detoxification. Mentally, the Liver and Gallbladder manage stress, anger, and courage. When an imbalance occurs in the Liver and Gallbladder system, stress and dysfunction result – often throughout the body.
The Liver is seen as the “general” of the body, ensuring that everything runs smoothly. As such, the Liver is also most susceptible to issues that involved constraint, stress, tension, or dysfunction. The Liver is closely related to the reproductive cycle and can impact the menstrual system, childbirth, and postpartum disorders. The Liver is connected with the eyes and can be involved in eye disorders.
The Gallbladder is an important, although often overlooked, organ. It rules the sides of the body or issues that are one-sided. Its biomedical digestive function (secreting bile) is likened to maintaining a digestive fire in the Chinese medical view. The Gallbladder is associated with emotional imbalances in which a person either lacks courage or has difficulty making decisions.
The Liver ensures a smooth flow of qi and blood throughout the body. Stress, emotions, diet, injury, or other issues can cause the flow to stagnate, or even stop in some areas. This creates friction and leads to disharmony. The most common disharmonies that involve the Liver occur with the either the Lungs (stress leading to cough attacks), the Stomach (stress or anger leading to loss of appetite or nausea), and uterus (excessive bleeding or irregular cycles).
Addressing Liver and Gallbladder health is common in Chinese medicine. Since this system is responsible for the healthy flow of qi and blood through the entire body, it is necessary that the Liver and Gallbladder are healthy themselves. Acupuncture is often used to help improve the Liver’s regulating function, reduce stress, and relieve tension. It can help reduce blood pressure and calm Liver-related emotions like anger. Soothing exercise like qi gong or tai chi is also commonly recommended to keep the Liver relaxed.
There are many formulas dedicated to bringing balance back to the Liver system. Many involve either smoothing the qi of the Liver, reducing heat or “fire” in the Liver, or nourishing the Liver’s yin and blood. These different actions help to address specific patterns that lead to issues like hypertension, migraines, ulcers, painful periods, infertility, and more.
The following are important herbs used in our popular formulas to heal the Liver or Gallbladder.
Chai hu/ Bupleurum: Chai hu is used in many Liver formulas, especially those that treat headaches, malaria, liver disease, and digestive disorders. In studies it has shown to be hepatoprotective, meaning it helps to promote the general health of the Liver.
Xiang Fu/ Cyperus root: Xiang fu has the ability to open and relieve pain along the sides of the body, specifically the ribcage and chest. It is also a powerful herb to relieve menstrual pain.
Dang gui/ Angelica root: Dang gui can both move qi to regulate the Liver function and nourish the Liver’s yin and blood. Because of this dual function, dang gui is a common ingredient in many formulas that treat Liver imbalances.
It’s time to give the Liver and Gallbladder the care they deserve. Chinese herbal medicine offers formulas to treat Liver or Gallbladder conditions, as well as relieve general stress and prevent future health concerns. Shop our collection of Chinese herbal formulas that heal the Liver and Gallbladder.
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