Liver Yin Deficiency

At a glance

Key attributes

Chinese name: 肝阴虚      Pinyin name: Gān Yīn Xū

Pattern nature: Empty

Pattern hierarchy: Specific pattern under Yin Deficiency

Common combinations: Kidney and Liver Yin Deficiency

Causes

Precursor patterns: Liver Blood Deficiency Kidney Yin Deficiency Liver Fire Blazing and one other possible precursors

Common causes: 1. Diet, 2. Emotional stress, 3. Physical over-exertion, 4. Profuse Blood lose

Diagnosis

Common symptoms: Cramps Insomnia Dry eyes Dry hair Dry skin and nineteen other symptoms

Pulse type(s): Rapid (Shu), Empty (Xu), Wiry (Xian), Floating (Fu)

Tongue description: Normal or red color on the sides with no coating or rootless coating

Treatment

Treatment principle: Tonify the Liver, nourish Yin, clear Empty-Heat

Common formulas: Qi Ju Di Huang Wan Bu Gan Tang

Pathology

This is a type of Empty-Heat pattern arising out of Liver Blood Deficiency or Kidney Yin Deficiency. It shares similar symptoms as Liver Blood Deficiency, such as blurred and impaired vision, numbness or tingling of limbs, scanty menstruation or amenorrhoea, dull-pale complexion, muscle pain and weakness and etc. 

Liver Yin Deficiency's major differences from Liver Blood Deficiency are the extra signs of Dryness and Yin Deficient Heat, such as dry eyes, red cheekbones and tongue without coating.

When Liver Yin Deficiency is developed as a pattern, it sometimes causes Empty-Heat. The Heat is called "Empty" because it appears not due to an Excess of Yang energy but rather due to lack of Yin cooling factors in the body. This causes the cheekbones to get redder, thirst with desire to drink in small sips, night sweats and a feeling of heat in the palm.

Patients' mental health also sometimes gets affected. When there is Liver Yin Deficiency and Empty-Heat at the same time, it disturbs the Ethereal Soul which loses its root and not anchored in the Liver. Therefore, it ‘comes and goes’ excessively, resulting in anxiety, insomnia, dream disturbed sleep, mental restlessness and an excessive mental activity in terms or plans, projects, dreams, aims which are pursued in a rather ‘scattered’ way.

Causes

Precursor patterns: Liver Yin Deficiency can derive from Liver Blood Deficiency Kidney Yin Deficiency Liver Fire Blazing Liver and Heart Blood 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, less Blood for the Liver to store, hence the pattern of Liver Blood Deficiency, which is always the precursor of Liver Yin Deficiency.

Emotional stress: Emotional stress such as sadness and grief can consume Liver Blood directly.  On the other hand, these emotions may also first harm Qi, which then resulting in poor Blood formation.  Therefore, the pattern of Liver Blood Deficiency occurs, which is always the precursor of Liver Yin Deficiency.

Physical over-exertion: Excessive physical exercise mainly harms the Spleen Yang. As a result, the Spleen's foods transforming and transporting function is impaired, thus less Blood can be generated and stored in the Liver.  Excessive exercise also injures the sinews. Since the Liver controls, moistens and nourishes sinews, which in long run, can give rise to Liver Blood Deficiency, which is always the precursor of Liver Yin Deficiency.

Profuse Blood lose: The Liver stores the Blood. Therefore a serious haemorrhage (such as during childbirth or long term heavy periods) can also lead to Deficiency of Live Blood, which is always the precursor of Liver Yin Deficiency.

Diagnosing Liver Yin Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Rapid (Shu), empty (Xu), wiry (Xian) or floating (Fu)

Tongue description: Normal or red color on the sides with no coating or rootless coating

Main symptoms: Cramps Insomnia Dry eyes Dry hair Dry skin Dizziness Amenorrhea Depression Malar flush Night sweats Blurred vision Scanty periods Muscle weakness Afternoon fever Floaters in eyes Tingling of limbs Hot palms and soles Dull-pale complexion Numbness in the limbs Dream disturbed sleep Feeling of aimlessness Diminished night vision Withered and brittle nails Thirst with desire to drink in small sips

Diagnosis commentary: Key characteristic symptoms of this pattern are the blurred vision, dry eyes and tongue without coating.

Treating Liver Yin Deficiency

Treatment principle

Tonify the Liver, nourish Yin, clear Empty-Heat 

Herbal formulas used to treat Liver Yin Deficiency

Qi Ju Di Huang Wan

Source date: 1350 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Key actions: Nourishes Kidney and Liver Yin. Improves vision.

Formula summary

Qi Ju Di Huang Wan is a 8-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula. Invented in 1350 AD, it belongs to the category of formulas that nourish Yin and tonify.

Besides Liver Yin Deficiency, Qi Ju Di Huang Wan is also used to treat Liver Yang Rising or Interior Wind.

Read more about Qi Ju Di Huang Wan

Bu Gan Tang

Source date: 1742 AD

Number of ingredients: 7 herbs

Key actions: Tonifies and regulates the Blood. Nourishes the Liver Yin.

Formula summary

Bu Gan Tang is a 7-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula. Invented in 1742 AD, it belongs to the category of formulas that tonify Blood.

Besides Liver Yin Deficiency, Bu Gan Tang is also used to treat Liver Blood Deficiency or Liver Wind agitating Internally due to Liver Blood Deficiency.

Read more about Bu Gan Tang

Diet recommendations

Eat plenty of grains, legumes, a little meat, cooked vegetables, greens, milk and black and aduki beans. The foods which decongest and aid the Liver include vegetables, bitter foods, dark leaf greens, such as kale, collards, dandelion, beet and mustard greens. Lemons also clear Heat and congestion from the Liver.

Avoid spicy, greasy and fried foods, caffeinated foods and drinks including coffee, black tea, cocoa, colas and chocolate, nuts and nut butters, chips of all kinds, avocados, dairy (except warm milk with cardamom and honey), alcohol, drugs, chips of all kinds, turkey and red meats and stimulants. 

Try other therapies such as meditation, contemplation, cupping over the back and oil massage. Otherwise, resting is also very important in nourishing Yin. 

Avoid mental over-work, physical over-exertion, overwork or excessive sexual activity. Also avoid saunas or hot tubs and it will consume more Blood and Yin. 

Try stretching or light exercise such as Yoga, Tai Chi, or Qi Gong, swimming or walking. 

Related conditions

Diabetes mellitus Diabetes insipidus Cataract Glaucoma Central retinopathy Optic nerve atrophy Optic neuritis Diabetes Ophthalmalgia Photophobia

Consequence patterns

Kidney and Liver Yin Deficiency

If left untreated Liver Yin Deficiency can lead to Kidney and Liver Yin Deficiency

Kidney Yin Deficiency

The Liver stores the Blood and the Kidneys stores the Essence. Both elements are interdependent. Prolonged Liver Yin Deficiency can lead to lack of Kidney Yin. 

Heart Yin Deficiency

Liver Yin effects the Heart Yin and cause Heart Yin Deficiency. 

Liver Yang Rising

Prolonged Liver Blood Deficiency can always need to Yin Deficiency as Blood is part of Yin. For female patients, Liver Blood or Yin Deficiency is the most common cause of Liver Yang Rising. 

The typical symptom is headache. The patients often have two kinds of headaches, a mild one from Liver Blood or Yin Deficiency and occasional attacks of a severe, throbbing headache from Liver Yang rising. 

Liver Wind agitating Internally due to Liver Yang Rising

Liver Yang Deficiency can cause Liver Yang Rising. If it is not treated for some years, it can agitate internal Liver Wind.