Liver Qi Stagnation: The Pathology Everybody Has!

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If you live in the world today, chances are you have some form of one of the most common Chinese medical diagnoses, Liver Qi stagnation.

Liver Qi what now? Gah! All this Chinese medicine lingo is so confusing. Well... wait, it doesn’t have to be! Let me break it down for you.


Remember that in Chinese medicine, all of the meridian systems are named after organs in the body. When we talk about Liver, Spleen, or the Heart, for example, and you see it with a capital letter, the scope of the meaning of the word is much larger. When you see Liver in this post, you can know that it means the energetics of the organ as well as the actual organ. This includes the meridian system, the emotional connection, and the actual physical lines in the body the meridian comprises—in this case, the inner leg line, your adductor muscles.


Qi = Energy (roughly). Everything is Qi, just like everything is energy—physics taught us this, and, well, there is no arguing with physics!


This one is simple. Stagnation simply means the stuck-ness of something—that something is not moving.


A pathology is an imbalance in your system. Altogether, Live Qi stagnation pathology is an imbalance caused by something not moving along your Liver meridian. See? Not as complicated as it first sounds!

Now that you know the breakdown of the pathology, how can do you know if you have Liver Qi stangation? Allow me to tell you some common signs that might signal you have some (or a lot) of this Liver Qi something or other.

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Possible Symptoms

Irritability, depression, displaced anger, tight muscles, pain anywhere in the body, feeling restless, PMS, headaches, irregular and/or painful periods, constipation, inappropriate anger, frustrated easily, abdominal pain/discomfort, mood swings, sighing, sensation of a lump in the throat, excessive sleep, or hiccups. Hmmmm, you say… interesting!

What causes LV Qi stagnation?

Stress and lack of movement are two BIG players here. In addition, the Liver organ system is most susceptible to imbalance in the Springtime. Meaning that during this time of year, the above mentioned symptoms can flare more easily than during other times. In order to really take care of this organ system, now is the time to start paying more attention to it, before we are full swing into the Spring season.

Why is it important to pay attention to this sort of thing?

Understanding how your body works and how the seasons actually affect us is the first step in embarking on your own personal health journey. This is one of the foundational principles of Chinese medicine, a medicine that was created as a preventative means to wellness above all else.

When the Liver is in balance, it is a strong force to be reckoned with. You’re more likely to experience a lot of forward progress, determination, and healthy amounts of focus and clarity on how to get a job done, whatever that particular “job” (think dreams, hopes, desires)  may be. And who wouldn’t want to be working proactively toward a healthy life like that?

Unfortunately, many people have the mindset “If I’m not sick, I’m healthy,” and the problem with that is that we are not trained to see the symptoms of early illness or disease. For the most part, we do not know how to correct imbalances early on. We do not know how to properly deal with emotions—i.e. not pushing them down, not taking them out on those who do not deserve it, and so on; and we do not know how to tap into the energy of the body and the world around us to create an environment and a lifestyle conducive to optimal health. We will have pain and brush it off, or a nagging headache and say that’s normal—when in reality these are symptoms that our body is trying to tell us that something is not in balance! We need to learn to listen and to tap in EARLY if we want to live a healthy, disease-free life.

What’s more is that a MAJOR cause of disease is stagnation. There is usually some form of stagnation in every illness or ailment and the Liver is the organ system in charge of clearing, moving, and breaking up stagnation.

3 Easy tips to balance your Liver Qi this spring!

1 - Move!

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The best way to take care of your Liver and ensure that you are harnessing the energy of this organ system is to move your body. There is so much flexibility with this, whatever you like to do to get moving, is A-OK. Some people like walking, others biking, some yoga, while others still like dancing! Anything goes. Just get going, not tomorrow, not next week, but TODAY.

If movement and exercise is totally out of your lifestyle at the moment, start with small little tricks like taking the stairs or parking further away at work so that you have a longer walk through the parking lot!

2 - Let emotion out in a healthy way!

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When I first did therapy, my therapist introduced me to a “rage room”. It took me about 3 years to actually use it, but when I did, I felt amazing! My rage room back then consisted of a punching bag that we hit with a bat, but there are so many ways to let out pent up emotions so they do not stagnate and lead to disease.

Some easy and accessible examples are:

  • Screaming while alone—in the car, woods, or at your house when no one else is around

  • Jumping up and down and shaking out your limbs

  • Writing a “rage page” in your journal where you get all of your feelings out (Note: the secret to this though is that you must throw the page away after and never look back at it again. Reminder that we are letting things out, not trying to dwell on them more)

  • Taking an exercise class like kickboxing

3 - Get acupuncture, or at least acupressure!

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If you can, schedule yourself an acupuncture session with a licensed practitioner—stick to an acupuncturist here and not someone who just does “dry needling”. Dry needling is the subject of a future blog post, but long story very short, if they are just doing dry needling you will not get the benefits of a well rounded treatment that will actually help with your root pathology, whether that be Liver Qi stagnation or something else.  

If that is not in the cards for you, start tuning in to your own body. Begin with self massage, the feet and the hands are good places to begin. In particular, between the webbing of the fingers and the toes and assess for stagnation. How can you tell if there is stagnation? If there is pain, sensitivity, built up heat or cold, or numbness/tingling. Instead of focusing on a particular point this month, start to become intuitive with your own body. Pain = Stagnation = Energy not flowing = built up accumulation = disease at some point in the future. Start to get friendly with your own energy and begin to understand your body more!

If you want to learn more about how to take care of your own body, prevent future disease, get yourself feeling your best, and take your health quite literally into your own hands, check out my online course about just this! Our March module goes into much further detail about the Liver, arguably one of the most important systems in your entire body!

Here’s to Happy Liver Qi,

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