Liver Fire Blazing

At a glance

Key attributes

Chinese name: 肝火上炎      Pinyin name: Gān Huǒ Shàng Yán

Pattern nature: Full

Common combinations: Liver Wind agitating Internally due to Liver Fire Liver Fire insulting the Lungs

Causes

Precursor patterns: Liver Qi Stagnation Liver Yang Rising Pericardium Fire

Common causes: 1. Prolonged emotional stress, 2. Unhealthy diet or alcohol abuse

Diagnosis

Common symptoms: Thirst Tinnitus Deafness Red face Red eyes and twelve other symptoms

Pulse type(s): Rapid (Shu), Wiry (Xian), Full (Shi)

Tongue description: Red body, redder on the sides, dry yellow coating

Treatment

Treatment principle: Clear the Liver, drain Fire.

Common formulas: Long Dan Xie Gan Tang Dang Gui Long Hui Wan

Pathology

Many of these symptoms are located in the upper-parts of the body because the nature of Fire is to flare upwards. As such we have the red face and eyes, the temporal headache, dizziness, etc. The headache is typically very intense, throbbing in character and located on the temples or felt in the eyes.

Liver-Fire also ascends to the ears and causes sudden onset tinnitus and deafness. The tinnitus will be experienced as a high-pitched whistle.

Fire also tends to agitate the Mind, located in the Heart. This gives rise to relatively strong mental–emotional symptoms such as the outbursts of anger. In Liver Fire Blazing, those symptoms are typically more pronounced than those of Liver Yang rising or Liver Qi stagnation.

The bitter taste in the mouth is caused by Liver Fire rising to the throat and mouth. It can also be caused by Heart Fire but if that's the case it's only present in the morning after waking up. Bitter taste in the mouth caused by Liver Fire Blazing is there for the whole day.

Liver Fire Blazing doesn't only affect the upper-parts of the body. It also dries up Body Fluids, resulting in constipation with dry stools and a concentrated, dark urine.

More rarely it may cause Heat in the Blood so much that it causes it to leave the vessels, much like earth's "fluid", lava, is pushed out of a volcano when heated. When this happens it gives rise to bleeding symptoms such as epistaxis (nosebleed), haemoptysis (coughing of blood) or haematemesis (vomiting of blood).

The Red tongue body reflects the Heat and the redder color of the sides reflects its location in the Liver. The dry yellow coating confirms that it is Full Heat (as opposed to Empty).

Causes

Precursor patterns: Liver Fire Blazing can derive from Liver Qi Stagnation Liver Yang Rising Pericardium Fire

Prolonged emotional stress: A longstanding state of anger (expressed or repressed), resentment or frustration makes Liver Qi Stagnate and eventually "implode", giving rise to Heat.

Unhealthy diet or alcohol abuse: Heat in the Liver can arise from excessive intake of alcohol, drugs, caffeinated foods and drinks, hot foods such as lamb and beef and fried and greasy foods.

Diagnosing Liver Fire Blazing

Pulse type(s): Rapid (Shu), wiry (Xian) or full (Shi)

Tongue description: Red body, redder on the sides, dry yellow coating

Main symptoms: Thirst Tinnitus Deafness Red face Red eyes Dizziness Epistaxis Dry stools Dark Urine Haemoptysis Irritability Constipation Haematemesis Outbursts of anger Temporal headaches Dream disturbed sleep Bitter taste in the mouth

Diagnosis commentary: The main characteristic symptoms of Liver Fire Blazing are the temporal headaches, the irritability, the red face and eyes and the Red tongue with yellow coating. A Red tongue with redder sides and a dry yellow coating is enough in and of itself to diagnose Liver Fire.

Treating Liver Fire Blazing

Treatment principle

Clear the Liver, drain Fire.

Herbal formulas used to treat Liver Fire Blazing

Long Dan Xie Gan Tang

Source date: 1682 AD

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Key actions: Clears Heat and Fire from the Liver and Gallbladder. Clears and drains Damp-Heat from the Lower Burner.

Formula summary

Long Dan Xie Gan Tang is a 10-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula. Invented in 1682 AD, it belongs to the category of formulas that clear Heat from the Organs.

Besides Liver Fire Blazing, Long Dan Xie Gan Tang is also used to treat Damp-Heat in the Liver or Liver Fire insulting the Lungs.

Read more about Long Dan Xie Gan Tang

Dang Gui Long Hui Wan

Source date: 1172 AD

Number of ingredients: 11 herbs

Key actions: Drains Liver and Gallbladder Fire Excess.

Formula summary

Dang Gui Long Hui Wan is a 11-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula. Invented in 1172 AD, it belongs to the category of formulas that clear Heat from the Organs.

Read more about Dang Gui Long Hui Wan

Diet recommendations

Avoid excessive intake of alcohol, drugs, caffeinated foods and drinks (including coffee, black tea, cocoa, colas and chocolate), hot natured foods such as lamb and beef and fried and greasy foods, chips of all kinds, nuts and nut butters, avocados, cheese and dairy, turkey and red meats, hot and spicy foods, drugs and stimulants.

The foods which help reduce Liver Fire include vegetables, bitter foods, dark leafy greens, such as kale, collards, dandelion, mustard, beet and mustard greens, lemon, watermelon, cucumber and mung beans.

Emotionally it is extremely important to find constructive ways to express and release the pent up anger, frustration, irritability and resentment. Find work which is satisfying and enjoyable. Discover creative outlets and actively pursue them.

Consequence patterns

Liver Yin Deficiency

Liver Fire can dry up Yin and may therefore induce a deficiency of Liver Yin.

Heart Fire Blazing

Liver Fire is easily transmitted to the Heart, giving rise to Heart Fire Blazing: this is more likely to happen when severe emotional stress is the cause of the problem.

Heat in the Blood

If left untreated Liver Fire Blazing can lead to Heat in the Blood

Liver Wind agitating Internally due to Liver Fire

If left untreated Liver Fire Blazing can lead to Liver Wind agitating Internally due to Liver Fire

Pericardium Fire

Liver Channel and Pericardium Channel are related within the Terminal Yin (Jue Yin) Channel. Therefore Live Fire can cause Pericardium Fire or vice versa. 

Liver Fire insulting the Lungs

Fire tends to rise and therefore Liver Qi rebels upwards towards the chest. In time, it may prevent Lung Qi from descending.