How Stress Affects Your Liver

by stephanie worth on June 29, 2012

In Chinese medicine, each of our organs has a physical and energetic function that define their role in keeping the body in balance. They all work together in harmony, and when one organ becomes out of balance, each of the other organs have to work harder to compensate for that. If this imbalance continues for too long, chronic issues can develop.

The Liver organ is responsible for the smooth movement of qi in the body. Qi is defined as the “energy” or “life force” within us, and by nature, wants to flow unobstructed through meridians in the body. The Liver is also the organ that is first affected by stress in our lives. During high times of stress or overwork, our Liver qi becomes stagnant.

Signs of Liver qi stagnation include muscle tightness and tension, irritability, and PMS symptoms in women. It can also create excess heat in the body, which can manifest as high blood pressure, red face, and headaches.

How do we soothe our Livers and prevent qi stagnation? There are many things we can do. Acupuncture is a wonderful way to move Liver qi and address the root cause of the problem, stress. Exercise, deep breathing, getting adequate rest and sleep, and practicing meditation are all good techniques to help soothe the Liver. Letting go of mistakes made in the past, working through feelings of guilt and fear, and avoiding obsessing about events that might occur in the future are also ways to help keep the flow of qi moving and fluid, rather than stuck and stagnant.

Tip: Liver 3 is a great acupressure point to help move Liver qi. It is on the top of the foot, between the big toe and the second toe. Move about an inch up from the crease between these two toes, and feel for the most tender spot, using firm pressure to massage the point. Your Liver will thank you!


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