Liver Blood Deficiency

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Pattern factsheet

Chinese name: 肝血虚/肝血亏虚

Pinyin name: Gān Xuè Xū / Gān Xuè Kuī Xū

Associated TCM concepts: Liver Blood Deficiency / Empty Blood Deficiency


Common symptoms: Cramps Insomnia Dry hair Dry skin Dizziness and thirteen other symptoms

Pulse type(s): Choppy (Se), Fine (Xi)

Tongue color: Pale

The Liver stores Blood, that is the reason any Blood Deficiency often involves the Liver. This pattern has an impact on areas the Liver relates to, such as the tendons, the eyes, the nails and women's menstruation. 

It arises from the same causes as general Blood Deficiency, such as a diet poor in nutritive elements or lacking in Blood forming elements such as meat and grains. Such diet impairs the Spleen which as a result fails to perform its transformation function, which means that not enough Blood is produced. A natural result is that less Blood is then stored by the Liver, hence the Deficiency. 

Emotional stress such as sadness and grief may also lead to Blood Deficiency by initially harming Qi, which then cannot play its role in the making of Blood. A serious haemorrhage (such as during childbirth) can also, quite logically, cause Liver Blood Deficiency. Kidney Qi or Essence Deficiency are yet another common cause, because the Kidneys play a role in the Blood formation. 

Lastly excessive physical exercise can also cause Liver Blood Deficiency as such level of exercise injures the Spleen and Kidneys Yang. As the Spleen and Kidneys weaken, Blood Deficiency appears since the Food Qi of the Spleen is a key ingredient in the production of Blood and the Kidneys are the origin of Tian Gui, which makes menstrual Blood. This is the reason why women athletes often develop amenorrhoea. Excessive exercise can also injure the sinews and then the Liver: in the long run, this may also lead to Liver Blood Deficiency.

Diagnosing Liver Blood Deficiency

The Liver is a so-called "Zang" Organ. Learn more about the Liver in Chinese Medicine

Diagnosing a pattern in Chinese Medicine is no easy feat and should be left to professional practitioners.

In particular one has to know how to differentiate between different types of pulses and tongue coatings, shapes and colors. Here patients with Liver Blood Deficiency will tend to exhibit choppy (Se) or fine (Xi) pulses as well as a pale tongue.

Practitioners also learn to read from a long list of seemingly unrelated symptoms. Here patients with Liver Blood Deficiency might experience symptoms like scanty periods, blurred vision, dizziness and numbness in the limbs (full list here above).

Herbal formulas used to treat Liver Blood Deficiency

Si Wu Tang

Source date: 846 AD

Number of ingredients: 4 herbs

Key actions: Restores and nourishes Blood. Stimulates Blood circulation.

Formula summary

Si Wu Tang is a 4-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula with Prepared Rehmannia (Shu Di huang) and White Peony Roots (Bai Shao) as principal ingredients. Invented in 846 AD, it belongs to the category of formulas that tonify Blood.

Besides Liver Blood Deficiency, Si Wu Tang is also used to treat Blood Deficiency or Blood Stagnation.

Read more about Si Wu Tang

Diet recommendations

Lamb, clang gui and ginger soup, bone soups, milk, black and aduki beans, congee, all cooked foods. Also be careful to not skip meals.

Most important herbs used to treat Liver Blood Deficiency