Liver Qi Deficiency

At a glance

Key attributes

Chinese name: 肝气虚      Pinyin name: Gān Qì Xū

Pattern nature: Empty

Pattern hierarchy: Specific pattern under Qi Deficiency

Causes

Precursor patterns: Liver Qi Stagnation Liver Blood Deficiency

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

Diagnosis

Common symptoms: Fatigue Timidity Dizziness Indecision Depression and twelve other symptoms

Pulse type(s): Weak (Ruo)

Tongue description: Pale or normal

Treatment

Treatment principle: Smooth the Liver, regulate Liver Qi, generate Liver Blood, tonify the Kidneys and Spleen.

Common formulas: Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang Si Wu Tang Xiao Yao San

Pathology

It is more common to see Liver Qi Deficiency accompanying other patterns.

The most obvious one is Liver Qi Stagnation. One of Liver's main functions is to ensures the smooth flow of Qi throughout the body, in all Organs and in all directions. This function is impaired when the Qi in Liver is Stagnant, thus the general Liver Qi is weakened. The typical manifestation is distention in the hypochondrium, chest, epigastrium or abdomen. There are also emotional problems such as depression, anxiety, anger or restlessness. It can also cause irregular menstruation. In this case, use Xiao Yao San which is major in smoothing the Liver and invigorating Qi.

If the Live Qi Deficiency is causes by Liver Blood Deficiency, and there are symptoms like irregular menstruations, use formula Si Wu Tang.

Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang can be used to treat Liver Qi Deficiency caused by lacking of Liver Yang. It can treat symptoms like poor appetite , abdomen distension and general fatigue. 

Causes

Precursor patterns: Liver Qi Deficiency can derive from Liver Qi Stagnation Liver Blood Deficiency

Overwork: Overwork without sufficient rest over a long term can cause Liver Qi Stagnation, then leads to the Qi Deficiency.

Emotional stress: Emotional stress such as frustration, anger, resentment sadness and grief can consume Liver Blood directly and stagnate Liver Qi. As a result, it causes Liver Qi Deficiency.

Diet: The Spleen is responsible for making Blood which then get stored in the Liver. The Spleen function can be largely weakened due to a diet poor in nutrition or lacking in Blood generating foods, such as red meat or grains. As a result, it cause Liver Blood Deficiency.  Also, excessive consumption on stimulants, drugs, fatty and oily foods, recreational drugs, alcohol, coffee, black tea can cause Liver Qi Stagnation.  Both pattern can leads to Liver Qi Deficiency.

Diagnosing Liver Qi Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Weak (Ruo)

Tongue description: Pale or normal

Main symptoms: Fatigue Timidity Dizziness Indecision Depression Nervousness Irritability Easily scared Poor appetite Blurred vision Lack of courage Restless dreams Floaters in eyes Frequent sighing Abdomen distension Irregular menstruation Hypochondrial distention

Diagnosis commentary: Key characteristic symptoms of this pattern are the Hypochondrial distention and pain, irregular menstruation and general fatigue. 

Treating Liver Qi Deficiency

Treatment principle

Smooth the Liver, regulate Liver Qi, generate Liver Blood, tonify the Kidneys and Spleen.

Herbal formulas used to treat Liver Qi Deficiency

Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang

Source date: 1247

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Key actions: Tonifies Qi of the Spleen and Stomach (Middle Burner). Raises the Yang. Detoxifies. Lifts what has sunken.

Formula summary

Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang is a 10-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula. Invented in 1247, it belongs to the category of formulas that tonify Qi.

Besides Liver Qi Deficiency, Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang is also used to treat Qi Deficiency or Qi Collapsing or Qi Sinking.

Read more about Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang

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. Invented in 846 AD, it belongs to the category of formulas that tonify Blood.

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

Read more about Si Wu Tang

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

Read more about Xiao Yao San

Consequence patterns

Gallbladder Deficiency

The Gallbladder represents the Yang aspect of the Liver so, when the Gallbladder is deficient, Liver Qi is also deficient, resulting in an indecisive character and depression.

Liver Blood Deficiency

Liver Qi deficiency usually implies some degree of Liver Blood Deficiency.

Liver Blood Stagnation

Deficient Liver Qi fails to move Blood, hence this pattern.