Chinese Medicine 101: Liver/Gall Bladder System

In order for our patients to receive more information on the fundamentals of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and associated western symptoms, we are putting together a series of very basic information of each system.  It is not meant to be all inclusive or include every combination or possibility of a diagnosis from a TCM perspective, that is up to your practitioner to figure out. Your practitioner will help you understand your specific diagnosis.


We are also including some common foods that a patient can eat in order to assist in balancing their energy and associated patterns.

Liver Meridian

The Liver Meridian travels from the big toe up the inner side of leg as shown in the picture.

Liver Syndromes

The Liver System in TCM is different in many ways than what we think of as the liver system in western medicine.  The liver element has the following correspondences:

  • Yin  associated Yang organ is the Gall Bladder
  • Color: Green
  • Flavor: Sour & Acidic
  • Emotion: Anger, irritability and jealousy
  • Tissue: Ligaments and tissues
  • Sense: Vision
  • Element: Wood


The Liver Qi in TCM has the following etiology and associated pathology signs/symptoms:

  • Maintains the free flow of Qi – Distending pain in the chest and hypochondriac region, pain in the chest, emotions: anger, irritability, and depression
  • Stores Blood – Hemoptysis in stomach, epistaxis in lung, uterine bleeding, menstrual flow involving Spleen, Chong and Ren Channels.
  • Controls Tendons – Deformed, dry lusterless nails, lack of flexibility, numbness, contractions, and spasms
  • Opens into the eyes – Redness, swelling of the eyes
  • Paired with Gallbladder – Jaundice, bitter taste in mouth, affects bile secretion, vomit bitter fluids

Liver Qi Stagnation:

  • Distention and pain in the sides
  • Suffocating sensation in the chest
  • Tendency to sigh
  • Melancholy, depression, anxiety and stress
  • Irritability, sudden onset of anger
  • Lump in throat or “Plum Pit Qi”

Liver and Stomach:

  • Vomiting
  • Acid regurgitation
  • Abdominal distention

Liver and Spleen:

  • Diarrhea
  • Poor appetite
  • Nausea

In women:

  • Irregular menses
  • Dysmenorrhea
  • Distension and pain in breasts before and during menses

Western symptoms: Neurosis, Menstrual disorders, PMS,  Mastitis, Scrofula

Dietary recommendations:

Rye, Artichoke, Carrot, Shiitake, Beetroot, Broccoli, Leek, Onion, Blackberry, Cherry, Date, Mulberry, Orange, Pine kernel, Pistachio, Carp, Eel, Mackerel, Shrimp, Trout, Beef, Chicken (liver), Pigeon, Pork, Quail, Venison, Aniseed, Fennel seed, Hawthorn, Licorice, Oregano, Sage, Turmeric, Barberry bark, Blue cohosh, Celandine, Chaste Tree, Cramp bark, Dandelion root, Gentian, Mistletoe, Lavender, Microalgae, Motherwort, Mugwort, Myrrh, Parsley seed, Passion flower, Pollen, Rhubarb root, Saw Palmetto, Scullcap, Spearmint, St Johns Wort, Vervain, Sugar (brown), Molasses, Chamomile, Coffee, Spirits, Tea, Wine, Beta-carotene, Royal Jelly

Liver Yin Deficiency.

  • Afternoon fever
  • Night sweats
  • Insomnia
  • Blurred or impaired vision
  • Dizziness
  • Dry eyes
  • Dry throat
  • Dry skin
  • Headaches
  • Menses light or late
  • Nervousness
  • Night blindness
  • Thirst
  • Tinnitus

Western symptoms: Chronic eye disease, Hepatitis, Hypertension, Menopause, Menstrual issues, Meniere’s Syndrome, Neurosis

Dietary recommendations:

Geranium, Jasmine, Rose, Royal Jelly, Chrysanthemum, Hops, Black Cohosh, Beef, Chicken (liver), Pigeon, Pork, Abalone, Clam, Cuttlefish, Eel, Octopus, Oyster, Flax, Pine kernel, Sesame, Lima bean, Soybean (black), Strawberry, Raspberry, Plum, Orange, Avocado, Mulberry, Kelp, Tomato, Spinach, Artichoke

Liver Fire Flaring upwards:

  • Severe, splitting headaches
  • Dizziness/Vertigo
  • Sudden tinnitus or deafness
  • Red face
  • Red, swollen, painful eyes
  • Irascibility, with violent angry outbursts
  • Inpatients/restlessness
  • Dry mouth with bitter taste
  • Insomnia
  • Constipation or dry stools
  • Thirst
  • Vomiting sour or bitter liquid
  • Yellow or dark urine

Western symptoms: Acute conjunctivitis, Glaucoma, Hypertension, Meniere’s Syndrome, Menopause symptoms, Retinal hemorrhage, Otitis media

Dietary recommendations:

Kelp, Gooseberry, Seitan, Broccoli, Plantain, Spinach, Water chestnut, Agar, Lemon, Lime, Mulberry, Plum, Abalone, Clam, Quail, Licorice, Aloe, Barberry, Chrysanthemum, Feverfew, Gentian, Lady’s mantle, Mugwort, Plantain, Rose, Spearmint, Valerian, Wood Sorrel, Violet, Dandelion root, Beta-carotene, Vitamin A, Clary sage, Chamomile, Jasmine, Rose

Liver Blood Deficiency:

  • Dizziness
  • Insomnia with dreaming
  • Eye problems (dry eyes, floaters, blurred visions, night blindness)
  • Muscle weakness, spasms, or numbness
  • Sallow complexion
  • Pale lips
  • Irregular or scanty menstrual flow
  • Dry, withered or pale fingernails
  • Dry skin
  • Irritability, easily frightened

Western symptoms: Anemia, Chronic eye disease, Chronic hepatitis, Hypotension/hypertension, Menstrual issues, Neurosis

Dietary recommendations:

Artichoke, Beetroot, Dandelion leaf, Spinach, Shiitake, Kelp, Avocado, Cherry, Date, Mulberry, Soybean (black), Tempeh, Sesame, Carp, Cuttlefish, Eel, Mussel, Octopus, Oyster, Beef, Beef (liver), Lamb (liver), Pork (liver), Nettle, Gentian, Microalgae, Pollen, Wheatgrass, Yellow Dock root, Molasses, Dangui, Folic Acid, Iron, Spirulina, Vitamin A, Vitamin B complex

Liver Yang Rising:

  • Irritability
  • Dizziness
  • Flush face
  • Tinnitus
  • Insomnia
  • Headache
  • Palpitations
  • Red, dry eyes with the feeling of grit in the eye
  • Dry mouth and throat with bitter taste in mouth

Western symptoms: Hypertension, Hyperthyroidism, Meniere’s Syndrome, Menopause, Neuraesthenia

Dietary recommendations:

Geranium, Jasmine, Rose, Royal Jelly, Chrysanthemum, Hops, Black Cohosh, Beef, Chicken (liver), Pigeon, Pork, Abalone, Clam, Cuttlefish, Eel, Octopus, Oyster, Flax, Pine kernel, Sesame, Lima bean, Soybean (black), Strawberry, Raspberry, Plum, Orange, Avocado, Mulberry, Kelp, Tomato, Spinach, Artichoke

Stagnation of Cold in the Liver Channel:

  • Pain, distention, fullness and cold in lower abdomen
  • Swelling and pain in the scrotum, alleviated by warmth
  • Cold limbs
  • Fear of cold and desire for warmth

Western symptoms: Disorders of the testicles, Hydrocele, Inguinal hernia, Intestinal spasm, PID, Prostatitis, Variocele

Dietary recommendations:

Basil, Jasmine, Spirits, Wine, Saw Palmetto, Rosemary, Asafoetida, Bay, Chive seed, Fennel seed, Mussel, Shrimp, Trout, Pine kernel, Cherry, Lychee, Leek, Fennel bulb

Liver Wind:

Caused by blood deficiency:

  • Blurred vision
  • Dizziness, vertigo
  • Numbness of limbs
  • Tremor or tic of hands and feet
  • Spasms or involuntary movements of the limbs
  • Involuntary shaking of the head

Caused by extreme heat in Liver:

  • High fever
  • Convulsions
  • Neck stiffness
  • Severe vertigo
  • Coma
  • Difficulty speaking

Cause by Liver Yang rising:

  • Dizziness with severe vertigo
  • Headache
  • Numbness and tremor of the limbs
  • Twitching of hands and feet
  • Unsteady gate
  • Deviation of the mouth and eyes
  • Tinnitus
  • Sudden loss of consciousness
  • Facial paralysis
  • Hemiplegia

Western symptoms: Anemia, Huntington’s, Parkinson’s Disease, Urticaria, Cerebrovascular accident (CVA), Meningitis, Epidemic Encephalitis, Essential hypertension, Aphasia, Epilepsy, Migraines

Dietary recommendations:

Rye, Broccoli, Celery, Dandelion leaf, Water chestnut, Hijiki, Kelp, Nori, Wakame, Grape, Mandarin, Mulberry, Soybean (black), Eel, Quail, Blackcurrant leaf, Cleavers, Couch grass, Horsetail, Lovage root, Parsley seed, Tea


Call Now Button
WP-Backgrounds Lite by InoPlugs Web Design and Juwelier Schönmann 1010 Wien