Liver Qi Deficiency

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Pattern factsheet

Chinese name: 肝气虚

Pinyin name: Gān Qì Xū

Associated TCM concepts: Liver Qi Deficiency / Empty


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

Pulse type(s): Weak (Ruo)

Tongue description: Pale or normal

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. 

Diagnosing Liver Qi 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 Qi Deficiency will tend to exhibit weak (Ruo) pulses.

Practitioners also learn to read from a long list of seemingly unrelated symptoms. Here patients with Liver Qi Deficiency might experience symptoms like dizziness, blurred vision, floaters in eyes and nervousness (full list here above).

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 with Milkvetch Roots (Huang Qi) as a principal ingredient. 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 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 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 with Bupleurum Roots (Chai Hu) as a principal ingredient. 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