Stagnant Liver-Qi turning into Fire

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Pattern factsheet

Chinese name: 肝郁化火

Pinyin name: Gān Yù Huà Huǒ

Associated TCM concepts: Qi Stagnation Liver Liver Qi Stagnation

Related conditions: Menstrual cramps Spontaneous flow of breast milk

Diagnosis

Common symptoms: Anger Thirst Red face Red eyes Red lips and twenty four other symptoms

Pulse type(s): Wiry (Xian)

Tongue color: Red points on the sides

This pattern develops from Liver Qi Stagnation, which creates excessive amount of Heat and then turn into Liver Heat. It manifests with a feeling of heat, a red face and desire to drink.

From a mental emotional perspective, patients tend to be irritable, anxious, moody and prone to outbursts of anger. This differs from Liver Qi Stagnation where patients are more able to repress their anger.

A diet overly rich in hot-energy foods (such as red meat, spices and alcohol) can trigger the development of Heat from Qi stagnation.

Diagnosing Stagnant Liver-Qi turning into Fire

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 Stagnant Liver-Qi turning into Fire will tend to exhibit wiry (Xian) pulses as well as a red points on the sides tongue.

Practitioners also learn to read from a long list of seemingly unrelated symptoms. Here patients with Stagnant Liver-Qi turning into Fire might experience symptoms like feeling of distension, irritability, feeling of heat and menstrual cramps (full list here above).

Herbal formulas used to treat Stagnant Liver-Qi turning into Fire

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 with Chinese Gentian (Long Dan Cao) as a principal ingredient. Invented in 1682 AD, it belongs to the category of formulas that clear Heat from the Organs.

Besides Stagnant Liver-Qi turning into Fire, Long Dan Xie Gan Tang is also used to treat Damp Heat in the Liver or Liver Fire Blazing.

Read more about Long Dan Xie Gan Tang

Jia Wei Xiao Yao San

Source date: Ming dynasty

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Key actions: Clears Liver and Spleen Qi Stagnation. Tonifies Spleen. Clears Deficient Heat. Nourishes the blood.

Formula summary

Jia Wei Xiao Yao San is a 10-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula with Bupleurum Roots (Chai Hu) as a principal ingredient. Invented in Ming dynasty, it belongs to the category of formulas that harmonize Liver-Spleen.

Besides Stagnant Liver-Qi turning into Fire, Jia Wei Xiao Yao San is also used to treat Liver Qi Stagnation or Heat in the Blood.

Read more about Jia Wei Xiao Yao San

Dan Zhi Xiao Yao San

Source date: 2002 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Key actions: Clears Liver Fire from Stagnant Liver Qi.

Formula summary

Dan Zhi Xiao Yao San is a 8-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula with Mudan Peony Bark (Mu Dan Pi) as a principal ingredient. Invented in 2002 AD, it belongs to the category of formulas that clear Liver-Heat.

Besides Stagnant Liver-Qi turning into Fire, Dan Zhi Xiao Yao San is also used to treat Kidney Yin Deficiency.

Read more about Dan Zhi Xiao Yao San

Xuan Yu Tong Jing Tang

Source date: 1826 AD

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Key actions: Pacifies the Liver. Removes Stagnation. Drains Fire. Unblocks the Meridians.

Formula summary

Xuan Yu Tong Jing Tang is a 10-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula with White Peony Roots (Bai Shao) as a principal ingredient. Invented in 1826 AD, it belongs to the category of formulas that invigorate Blood and dispel Blood Stagnation.

Read more about Xuan Yu Tong Jing Tang

Diet recommendations

Avoid excessive hot-energy foods (such as red meat, spices and alcohol) 

Special highlight: the link between menstrual cramps and Stagnant Liver-Qi turning into Fire

White Peony Roots (Bai Shao) is the key herb for Xuan Yu Tong Jing Tang, a formula used for menstrual cramps caused by Stagnant Liver-Qi turning into Fire

The cramps caused by this pattern usually happens before or during the period. The symptoms are similar to these from Liver Qi Stagnation but more intense. The menstrual blood is dark purple and the flow is heavy. The patients is often irritable and gets angry easily. They feel thirsty and have a sensation of heat in their body. Dry stools is also a typical symptom. 

Liver Fire is a consequence of a long-term Stagnation of Liver-Qi. It should be treated by eliminating Stagnation rather than...Read more about menstrual cramps

Special highlight: the link between spontaneous flow of breast milk and Stagnant Liver-Qi turning into Fire

Mudan Peony Bark (Mu Dan Pi) is the key herb for Dan Zhi Xiao Yao San, a formula used for spontaneous flow of breast milk caused by Stagnant Liver-Qi turning into Fire

Typical symptoms for spontaneous flow of breast milk caused by Stagnant Liver-Qi turning into Fire: Thirst Insomnia Headaches Dense milk Irritability Constipation Breast distention Bitter taste in the mouth Distention and pain in the chest and hypochondria

Recommended herbal formulas: Dan Zhi Xiao Yao San, Long Dan Xie Gan Tang

Alongside Spleen and Stomach Qi Deficiency, Liver Fire is the other key pattern causing a spontaneous flow of breastmilk. Since the Liver is connected to nipples through the Liver Channel, Liver Fire agitates the breast milk and pushes it out. This is a Excess type of pattern, therefore the milk appearance is rather dense and yellow. 

Long term emotional stress such as anger, frustration, resentment or a sudden emotional upset can lead to Liver Qi stagnation. If untreated for a while, it can...Read more about spontaneous flow of breast milk