Liver Blood Stagnation

At a glance

Key attributes

Chinese name: 肝血郁结      Pinyin name: Gān Xuè Yù Jié

Pattern nature: Full

Pattern hierarchy: Specific pattern under Blood Stagnation

Causes

Precursor patterns: Phlegm Liver Qi Stagnation Liver Blood Deficiency and three other possible precursors

Common causes: 1. Emoional stress, 2. Diet, 3. Overwork

Diagnosis

Common symptoms: Dry skin Epistaxis Infertility Purple lips Purple face and nine other symptoms

Pulse type(s): Wiry (Xian)

Tongue description: Purple tongue or purple spots on sides.

Treatment

Treatment principle: Smooth the Liver, move Qi and Blood, eliminate Stagnation.

Common formulas: Xiao Yao San Chai Hu Shu Gan San Ge Xia Zhu Yu Tang and one other formulas

Pathology

Liver Blood Stagnation usually develops from other patterns and Liver Qi Stagnation, Cold and Heat are the three most common ones. Sometimes Qi Deficiency, Blood Deficiency and Phlegm can also be the precursors. 

Liver Qi Stagnation is the most common cause. If left unchecked for a while without being addressed properly, it eventually leads to stagnant Blood in the Directing and Penetrating Vessels. Both vessels have a great impact on the menstruation function in women. It can typically cause dark and clotted menstrual blood as well as menstrual cramps and irregular periods.

Pain caused by Liver Blood Stagnation is often sharp and stabbing. It usually fixed in one place in the abdomen or chest. Sometimes swelling or mass comes along as well. It usually happens to women, but occasional men can also experience pain due to Liver Blood Stagnation.

The Liver stores Blood and it manifests in the nails. Therefore Stagnant Liver Blood causes purple or darkness in patients' lips, tongue, face and nails.  Sometimes there may be vomiting of Blood and epistaxis if the Liver Channel is blocked.

Liver Blood Stagnation shouldn't be taken lightly as it can potentially lead to very serious conditions such as coronary heart disease or stroke.

Causes

Precursor patterns: Liver Blood Stagnation can derive from Phlegm Liver Qi Stagnation Liver Blood Deficiency Liver Qi Deficiency Obstruction Of the Spleen By Dampness with Liver Qi Stagnation Pericardium Blood Stagnation

Emoional stress: Prolonged suppressed or overly expressed frustration, anger or resentment can largely disturb the normal Qi circulation and cause Qi Stagnation in the Liver, which then can develops to Liver Blood Stagnation.

Diet: Unhealthy diet rich in stimulants, drugs, fatty and oily foods, recreational drugs, alcohol, coffee, black tea can give to Liver Qi Stagnation, which then develops to Liver Blood Stagnation.

Overwork: Overwork without sufficient rest over a long term can cause Liver Qi Stagnation, which may develop to Liver Blood Stagnation.

Diagnosing Liver Blood Stagnation

Pulse type(s): Wiry (Xian)

Tongue description: Purple tongue or purple spots on sides.

Main symptoms: Dry skin Epistaxis Infertility Purple lips Purple face Purple nails Abdominal pain Painful period Abdominal masses Purple petechiae Vomiting of blood Hypochondrial pain Irregular menstruation Dark clots in menstrual blood

Diagnosis commentary: Key characteristic symptoms of this pattern are the dark and clotted menstrual blood and purple tongue.

Treating Liver Blood Stagnation

Treatment principle

Smooth the Liver, move Qi and Blood, eliminate Stagnation. 

Herbal formulas used to treat Liver Blood Stagnation

Chai Hu Shu Gan San

Source date: 1602

Number of ingredients: 7 herbs

Key actions: Disperses Stagnant Liver Qi and Blood. Alleviates pain. Harmonizes Blood.

Formula summary

Chai Hu Shu Gan San is a 7-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula. Invented in 1602, it belongs to the category of formulas that promote Qi movement.

Besides Liver Blood Stagnation, Chai Hu Shu Gan San is also used to treat Rebellious Qi or Heart Vessel obstructed.

Read more about Chai Hu Shu Gan San

Xiao Yao San

Source date: 1107 AD

Number of ingredients: 6 herbs

Key actions: Harmonizes the function of Liver and Spleen. Relieves Liver Qi stagnation. Nourishes the Blood.

Formula summary

Xiao Yao San is a 6-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula. Invented in 1107 AD, it belongs to the category of formulas that harmonize Liver-Spleen.

Besides Liver Blood Stagnation, Xiao Yao San is also used to treat Liver Qi Deficiency or Rebellious Liver Qi invading the Spleen.

Read more about Xiao Yao San

Ge Xia Zhu Yu Tang

Source date: 1830 AD

Number of ingredients: 12 herbs

Key actions: Invigorates Blood. Eliminates Blood Stagnation below the diaphragm. Stops pain. Promotes Qi movement.

Formula summary

Ge Xia Zhu Yu Tang is a 12-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula. Invented in 1830 AD, it belongs to the category of formulas that invigorate Blood and dispel Blood Stagnation.

Besides Liver Blood Stagnation, Ge Xia Zhu Yu Tang is also used to treat Blood Stagnation or Qi And Blood Stagnation.

Read more about Ge Xia Zhu Yu Tang

Shi Xiao San

Source date: 1108 AD

Number of ingredients: 2 herbs

Key actions: Invigorates Blood. Dispels Blood Stagnation. Eases pain.

Formula summary

Shi Xiao San is a 2-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula. Invented in 1108 AD, it belongs to the category of formulas that invigorate Blood and dispel Blood Stagnation.

Besides Liver Blood Stagnation, Shi Xiao San is also used to treat Blood Stagnation or Qi And Blood Stagnation.

Read more about Shi Xiao San

Diet recommendations

Avoid hot, spicy, caffeinated, fried and greasy foods. Also avoid nuts and nut butters, avocados, cheese and dairy, chips of all kinds, turkey and red meats, alcohol.

Avoid drinks such as coffee, black tea, cocoa, colas and chocolate, drugs and stimulants.

Eat plenty of grains, legumes, vegetables and dark leafy greens, such as kale, collards, dandelion, mustard, beet and mustard greens. Lemon juice also helps decongest the Liver.

Try other therapies such as moxibustion, cupping over the back and breathing exercises. 

Consequence patterns

Dryness

Blood is a form of Body Fluids and both elements are inter-transformable. Therefore, Stagnant of Liver Blood can impair Body Fluids generation and cause general Dryness.