In traditional Chinese medicine the Liver is the organ that governs the smooth flow of Qi throughout the whole person, in both body and mind. To be in a good state of health – physically and emotionally - the body needs to have a smooth, uninterrupted flow of Qi. When the Qi flows continuously and in the proper direction the body organs function properly and the overall body state is harmonious.
In traditional Chinese medicine the Liver is compared to an army general. Just like an army general on the field the Liver is the strategist in the proper advancement of body functions, ensuring the smooth flow and proper direction of Qi. Thus it is said that the Liver is also the origin of courage, confidence and determination, and governs our capacity to plan our life. People with healthy Liver are good leaders and decision makers, they are calm and confident, and have faultless judgment. On the other hand people with stagnated Liver are chronically stressed, impatient, angry and/or depressed. (1)
Another major function of the Liver is to store and regulate the blood volume in the body. When the body is at rest the blood flows to the Liver to restore energy. Whenever the body is active the blood flows out of the Liver to nourish it. Thus the Liver controls the sinews. As the nails are a figurative addition to the sinews the Liver also manifests in the nails. Therefore tendon, muscle, joint weakness and/or pain as well as brittle nails indicate that the Liver blood is deficient.
Because of its function to store the blood the Liver also plays a major role in governing the menstruation in women. Depending on how it stores blood and if the Qi flows uninterrupted (which as said above is also governed by the Liver) women’s menstruation manifests as healthy or pathological.
In traditional Chinese medicine each organ connects to a certain sense organ. The Liver opens to, connects to and nourishes the eyes. A good, healthy vision mirrors a healthy Liver, while poor vision and any problems with the eyes such as poor or blurry vision, night blindness, glaucoma, cataracts, dry and itchy eyes, red eyes, floaters, etc. indicate Liver pathology.
(1) Maciocia, Giovanni (1989). The Foundations of Chinese Medicine. Nanjing: Harcourt Publishers Limited
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